Fly Sonoma is an independently owned and operated distributor of paramotors and powered paragliding equipment in the San Francsico Bay Area of Northern California. We have partnered with several of the most innovative companies in the industry to ensure that our customers and students get the best value and most rewarding experience as possible out of their involvement in this sport.
Our mission is to provide you with solid, revolutionary gear, prompt and honest customer service, and a foundation of professional, in-depth training with a strong focus on success and safety.
We have chosen to represent a very specific set of brands, and our reasons behind this are simple. After experiencing firsthand the poor quality of copied wings and motors, and the unethical business practices of the companies behind those products, we vowed only to support paramotor and paraglider companies that innovate and contribute to the sport, instead of stealing and copying the designs of others.
Do I need a license to fly a Powered Paraglider? Can I just teach myself?
There is no FAA licensing required, since Powered Paragliders are regulated as Ultralight Vehicles under Part 103 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. However, as easy as these machines are to fly, this does not mean you should teach yourself. Serious injury or death can occur if you attempt to operate a PPG without adequate training, so we strongly suggest you seek instruction from a qualified USPPA instructor. Simply put: training costs far less than hospital bills.
Other companies offer training in 3-5 days. Why do you suggest a 10-day course?
We have chosen our training partner, Team Fly Halo, because their 10-day Paramotor course produces some of the safest, most skilled new pilots in the sport. Unlike companies who sell spare parts at a profit, ours are sold at cost as we prefer to promote good technique and superior skills over having new pilots break things left and right because they received sub-par training.
The course fee for Team Fly Halo’s 10-day classes also covers lodging, which you are unlikely to find elsewhere in the industry.
What is the benefit of purchasing certified vs. un-certified wings & paramotors?
Most paragliders are tested and given an EN or DHV/LTF certification by one or more standardized testing agencies in Europe. These certifications allow you to make an informed decision on your purchase based on certain flying qualities and reactions to emergency situations. An EN-A certification is given to beginner wings, EN-B signifies an intermediate wing, and certifications of EN-C and EN-D are given to wings that should only be flown by very experienced pilots.
A number of companies sell beginner and intermediate wings that are not EN or LTF certified. These brands should be approached with caution, as their main motivation for not certifying wings is to increase their bottom line by cutting development and manufacturing costs. Some companies will only certify one size of a specific glider, assuming that the other sizes will behave in a similar manner, and thus saving the company upwards of $10,000 in certification costs per glider size. We suggest avoiding glider companies who follow these practices and cannot show genuine EN or LTF/DHV certifications for every beginner/intermediate glider in their product line.
As of right now, there is no standardized certification for paramotors. There are, however, certification standards for harnesses, which are the most important parts of paramotors pertaining to pilot safety while in flight. The Scout Paramotor’s harness, swing arms and their pivot points have been load tested and certified according to EN 1651. These components were certified for a load of 5,085.2lbs or 15Gs with a pilot weight of 330lbs. We look forward to seeing more companies put this level of care and development into their paramotors in the near future.
A number of companies claim to have "The #1 best-selling paramotor in the US" and they sell cheaper gear than you do. Why does yours cost more?
There are plenty of great brands out there, but unfortunately a few companies continue to pass off 12 to 15 year old designs as “cutting edge” and “industry standard”. Many of these cheaper brands are simply copies or continuations of old paramotor and wing designs, with little to no original R&D actually done by the companies who make them. This works well if you want to market gear based on price point alone, but does not result in long-term customer loyalty or satisfaction.
The paramotor and wing manufacturers that we represent produce only original designs, and are transparent about the origins of their equipment. We prefer to support companies who make contributions to the sport instead of only making withdrawals.
How safe is paramotoring?
Paramotoring is quite simply as safe as you make it. If you have obtained adequate training, use good judgement, fly appropriate equipment and stick to maneuvers within your skill level, you will be successful, safe and have tons of fun in this sport.
What if the engine quits?
As paramotor pilots we are constantly asked what happens if the engine quits! The paraglider is an extremely efficient wing with up to a 10:1 glide ratio, and most of our landings are conducted without power from the engine. If the engine quits — as long as we are at a safe altitude — we can glide to a safe, soft landing as with any routine flight.