Whether you have just begun paramotoring or whether you have been doing this for a while, you know that the experience flying in the air is second to none. Summertime paramotoring is quite popular because of the ideal conditions and the comfortable temperature.
But is it possible to paramotor in the winter? The short answer is yes. But there are definitely some differences and modifications that you need to be aware of before you begin to fly during the winter.
In the winter, thermal generation comes at a lesser degree and the precipitation has a different reaction with paramotor wings. In addition, you will need to be careful of the altitudes and speeds at which you fly at.
What are Thermal Generations?
Most people wouldn’t know the meaning of thermal generations. It’s also safe to assume that some paramotor pilots don’t know the definition either. But Paramotor Prodigy is here to help!
Thermals can be best described as patches of warm air that come up through the atmosphere. Paragliders frequently use thermals in order to gain elevation in the air. However, thermals can pose certain issues to your paramotor and wing, which is why they have become important.
The warm air is essential pushed up in the air by cooler air that surrounds the thermal. But paramotors have engines, so paramotor pilots don’t need to use thermals if they want to gain elevation.
Thermals tend to do more harm than good when it comes to paramotor pilots because there is turbulent wind around them. That wind is both annoying and dangerous for paramotor pilots. But in the winter, thermals are actually rarer when compared to other seasons.
Thermals and their effects on paramotors
When the sun creates a warm pocket of air with its rays, a thermal is formed. These thermals are quite common in the middle of the day in virtually any season of the year. Though they are not as common, thermals can definitely form in the winter. Though the air is cooler, the sun can easily make a pocket of air warmer than the air surrounding that patch.
As stated earlier, paramotor pilots do not need to rely on thermals to gain elevation because they have engines to do that work for them. With those turbulent winds around the thermal, flying can become dangerous, as those winds can collapse your wing and make it difficult to fly.
Though paragliders thrive in environments where thermals are present, thermals are more of a nuisance for paramotor pilots. Paramotor interactions with them can prove to be difficult and time-consuming.
How is winter different?
Of course, winter is much different from the other seasons: it is much colder and the precipitation comes in the form of snow and could be more or less frequent, depending on the year.
But what we’re going to focus on is how winter differs from other seasons when it comes to thermal generation.
Thermals are much rarer to see in the winter than in other seasons. This is because of the increasing chance that there’s snow on the ground and the frequency of dense cloud cover. This would make it difficult for the sun to warm up a pocket of air and create a thermal. However, that’s not to say that thermals will not form in the winter.
Across all seasons, thermal generation is much more common in the middle of the day. This rule of thumb rings true in the wintertime as well. Cloud cover and snowfall will impede the formation of thermals, but you could still bump into some throughout the winter. If you are hoping to avoid thermals at all costs, you should consider heading out to the skies in the morning or late afternoon.
Snowfall: A Big Issue?
In every other season, rain is always the major concern. Heavy rain can create dangerous conditions if you’re on a paramotor and can cause your wing to collapse. But in the winter, the main concern is snow and sleet.
Any type of precipitation lays more weight onto your wing and wears it down, making it more of a possibility that your wing stalls and/or collapses in the air. But snow is obviously different than rain, so its effects could be different from when they begin to hit your wing until they are completely melted.
Your best bet would be to head in for landing once you feel even one snowflake. Precipitation is known to cause issues for paramotor pilots, so it would be best to not take that risk.
Stalling in the snowfall
When a paramotor stalls, it reaches a point where the speed is too low to allow effective operation of the controls. Rain will definitely stall your wing, but snow is just a bit more complicated because it depends on the temperature.
The first possible scenario is that you’re flying on a day where it is very cold out and there is no sign of the sun’s powerful rays. Snow may be landing on your wing, but since it’s very cold out, the snow isn’t melting. In this case, you would be relatively safe from any stalling because the snow that fell on your wing was not melting. Next, we’ll go over what happens when the snow begins to melt on your wing.
The second possible scenario is that you’re flying on a day where the sun is shining and the sky is rather clear. The snow begins to fall and you notice that just as it hits your wing, it begins to melt. As a result, you might notice that you are being slowed down because of the snowflakes that have melted once they hit your wing.
Your trouble won’t be severe at the start, but it will definitely impede your ability to fly peacefully. Once you notice that the snow is having a negative effect on your wing, you should begin your descent to land.
And if you have a strange desire to fly through rain or snow, you can do some research on hydrophobic wings. These wings can allow you to fly through precipitation without endangering the quality of your wing and the safety of your flight.
A common issue for paramotor pilots in the winter is that initial launch off the ground. We all know that in order to launch, you will need a steady running start. But if there’s snow on the ground, you might not be able to run quick enough to get in the air.
And we have a solution to this issue: the sled. If you have access to a sled, you should bring it with you the next time you decide to go paramotoring in the winter. You can place your knees on the sled and let yourself go as you use the wing to lift yourself up once you’ve gained enough speed. Be sure to have someone there to pick the sled up for you after you have launched off of the ground.
You might even get a kick out of using sledding as a way to launch your paramotor in the winter.
Pilots may land in a snowy field and relaunch shortly after without checking their wing. This could cause snow to get into the wing, probably as a result of the motor blowing the snow around. Then, launching will be even more difficult.
This scenario can simply be avoided by checking your wing before launching again.
Speed, Temperature, and Altitude
Wintertime means colder air. In many other seasons, the altitude and speed at which you fly usually don’t become issues while flying. However, these could potentially become troublesome in the winter because of the simple fact that they are exacerbated during the wintertime.
Most paramotor pilots understand that as you go higher, the air will become colder. It is suggested that you stay below 1,000 feet in the winter so that you remain at a reasonable temperature.
Staying warm in the air is important for a few different reasons. You want to stay warm because you want to be comfortable while paramotoring. Staying warm is also very important for your safety, as you want to keep focused on flying. Flying fast through very cold air may also get you sick, so make sure to be careful when flying around in the wintertime.
There is a direct correlation between the speed that you fly at and your temperature. During the winter, the wind is usually cold. So if you’re flying at a high speed through cold wind, it will feel even colder than it is. Surely, your flying experience will be ruined if you’re shivering the whole time.
For your safety and your experience, try to stay warm at all costs, even if that means flying slower than you normally do.
How to Stay Warm
We hope that by now, it’s clear that it is absolutely imperative to stay warm while flying your paramotor in the wintertime. You can do this by traveling slower and lower than normal, so as not to fly through particularly cold air.
You might even want to consider purchasing some hand warmers to bring along with you on your ride during the wintertime. Hand Warmers are generally inexpensive and can really keep your hands warm. For your convenience, you can place them inside the compartment on your paramotor and pull them out at your leisure.
You can also keep spare clothing inside the compartments as well. This can include a spare set of gloves or an extra hat. If you’re thousands of feet up in the air and flying at 30 mph, there’s no telling what you could drop.
And if you drop anything at that altitude, chances are that you’ll never see it again. So, keeping extras in the compartment of your paramotor could end up saving you from a dangerously uncomfortable ride in the future.
Winter flying gear
By now, you know that you should bring some extra pieces of clothing with you when you fly in the wintertime, but you might not know what to wear for winter flying.
You should definitely invest in the standard winter gear. Snow pants are a great thing to wear for wintertime paramotoring and a winter coat will also help to keep you warm. A ski mask is sure to keep your face protected from the winds and freezing temperatures.
If you’re not gonna remember anything else from this section, please remember this: layers. Nothing will keep you warmer than having multiple layers on. And for this, you don’t need to go to the store to purchase clothes that are made for winter. You can wear any clothes – shirts, sweatpants, and socks – under your winter gear to add an extra layer of protection.
But if you’re looking for layers with a cleaner fit, look no further than compression undergarments. These pieces of clothing fit tightly to your body and will help with your blood flow. Increased blood flow will also help to warm up your body while you’re enduring the cold in the air.
In the winter, gloves are a must. The last thing you want is to get frostbite on your hands, making for an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situation.
Any pair of winter gloves will be fine, but you can also decide to invest in a pair of paramotor gloves. You may even be able to find a pair of gloves that are heated! However, these gloves that are specifically made for paramotoring could cost hundreds of dollars. So you would have to decide whether the benefits of the gloves outweigh the cost.
What you shouldn’t wear: a scarf. If your scarf falls off, it can get caught in the paramotor fan. This could damage your fan, or worse, break your neck if it’s still attached to you.
The last suggested piece of winter flying gear that we suggest is a windbreaker. These jackets, which are made to combat the wind, are very useful in keeping you warm from the wind. Wind can both tire you out and make you cold, so it’s important to be protected from it during the winter.
Summer paramotoring or winter paramotoring?
You might be wondering if winter paramotoring is ideal compared to summer paramotoring. Though this question is very subjective, we’re going to outline the main points of difference between summer and winter paramotoring so that you can make a decision.
Most would say that the views that you see in the winter while paramotoring are second to none. Those misty valleys and frosty trees are so pretty. During the winter, you can simply glide in the air and soak in the beautiful, snowy white landscape.
In the summer, you have the ability of flying higher and faster than in the winter. As previously discussed, flying higher and faster in the wintertime can become hazardous and is definitely not suggested. So if you prefer the heights and speeds, summertime paramotoring might be for you.
You may also be inconvenienced in the winter because of the temperature and the snow. You will be forced to wear layers, which makes some people uncomfortable. However, this point is very subjective because some people can’t get enough of the cold.
If you’re a beginner, the wintertime could be an ideal time of the year to learn how to fly. Since it’s cold out, you will be landing and taking off plenty of times throughout the day.
If you become easily annoyed by thermals and you prefer those smoother rides, then wintertime might be perfect for you. Thermals are rarer in the winter, but still possible.
Wintertime Paramotoring: Summary
To recap, paramotoring in the winter is definitely possible and has its own benefits and drawbacks. Let’s lay them out for you. Here’s the benefits:
- Thermal generations, though useful for paragliders, are not helpful for paramotor pilots because they create turbulent winds. In the winter, these thermals are less likely to form because of the snowfall and cloud cover.
- Undoubtedly, you will be able to gaze at the snowy terrain and enjoy beautiful views if you decide to paramotor in the winter.
- Wintertime launching and relaunching could be fun. If you decide to use a sled to launch, you will be both sledding and paramotoring almost simultaneously.
Here are some drawbacks:
- In the winter, the temperature is much colder. This means that you must dress warm, wearing layers on layers on layers.
- So that you don’t get too cold, you won’t be able to fly at higher altitudes or speeds.
- Winter inevitably brings snow. Snowfall has potential to stall your wing and induce collapse if you don’t pay proper attention to it.