Are you looking for some kind of ultralight aircraft as the cheapest, easiest way to get your butt off the ground? Maybe you've heard of powered paragliding as well.
Technically, powered paragliders (PPG) are just one particular type of ultralight aircraft.
This page is all about the main differences between modern ultralights that look like scaled-down light aircraft, and those that are powered paragliders.
I'm assuming you know some of the basic language of General Aviation when reading this page, too.
Range, ceiling, that kind of stuff.
Note to U.S. readers: When I say 'ultralight', that's really the 'Light Sport' category of aircraft in your country. Your 'ultralight' category actually refers to an even lighter type of aircraft. So think 'Light Sport' as you read the rest of this page! :-)
I won't get into aviation regulations and training issues for these 2 types of aircraft here. These issues can be very different from country to country.
Not greatly familiar with either type? Here's a super-brief summary for each...
Ultralight aircraft are fixed-wing, fixed-undercarriage craft with 3-axis flight controls and a single engine with propeller. They usually have an enclosed cockpit. Basically, Cessnas with anorexia! ;-) (Ask your wife/girlfriend if you don't know what anorexia nervosa is.)
Actually, there are a few different types of ultralights flying today. Everything from gyrocopters to motorized hang-gliders. But aircraft like the one shown above are now the most common, except for that pusher prop!
Here's some interesting info and photos of a variety of ultralight aircraft, if you're curious about those other kinds.
Powered paragliders are foot-launched parachute-like craft with a combination of weight-shift and airbrake controls, with a pusher-prop engine hung near the back of the pilot. Weird, but it really works!
|max all-up weight||450-600 kg (990-1330 lbs)||80-250 kg (180-550 lbs)|
|t/o, landing roll||110-180 m (350-600 ft)||1-5 m (3-16 ft)|
|range||750-1500 km (400-800 nm)||90-180 km (50-100 nm)|
|duration||3 hrs typical||2-5 hrs|
|ceiling||2700-4600 m (9000-15000 ft)||5500 m (18000 ft) (world record!)|
|max speed||150-220 kph (80-120 knts)||30-65 kph (16-35 knts)|
|stall speed||55-85 kph (30-45 knts)||around 22 kph (12 knts)|
|initial cost||$50000-$120000 US||$7000-$11000 US (inc. training!)|
|running cost||$10-20/hr US||around $4/hr ('whiff of an oily rag')|