Powered Parachute Flying at Sunset

Gary Hamilton takes to the winter sky in his powered parachute in Greenville, IL.

Photograph by Roy Beisswenger

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Becoming a Sport Pilot Certified Flight Instructor for Powered Parachutes

The times have changed and no longer does someone have to become an instructor in order to fly a two seat powered parachute. If you want to buy a machine and just take up friends and family, the sport pilot license is for you.

However, if you want to be able to train others for fun or profit, you do need to become a flight instructor in order for your student's time to count towards a rating. This article will tell you the steps you need to become a CFI.

If You Are Already an FAA CFI for Aircraft Other Than Powered Parachutes:

If you are already a CFI and want to get the privilege (That's what the FAA calls it and I agree!) to train in powered parachutes, you first need to be endorsed for the Sport Pilot privilege to fly Powered Parachutes. Next, you need to visit an existing Sport Pilot Powered Parachute CFI, get trained up to standards, and then visit another Sport Pilot Powered Parachute CFI to get your proficiency check for powered parachutes. A proficiency check is almost identical to a full DPE/SPIE check ride, but can be accomplished by a CFI.

Of course if you work things right, you can get both your Powered Parachute Sport Pilot AND CFI privileges at nearly the same time and save a little time and money.

If You Are Somebody Getting Started From Scratch:

If you are getting started flying now or are at the point where you want to become a CFI, remember that the very first step is to get the privilege for the type of aircraft you want to instruct in. That means becoming a Sport Pilot for Powered Parachutes (or the endorsement if you are already a pilot). If you haven't done that yet, pay special attention to your instruction received since your plan is to be an instructor yourself one day. You will be in a unique position to learn what works and what doesn't work from a student's point of view. As you work towards your own instructor rating, those observations should make you a better instructor.

Once you have your pilot license and want to take that next step to CFI, here are the things you need to do:

Step 1. Know what the FAA wants.

The FAA is interested in making sure that anyone wanting to become an instructor has three things. Those are:

  • Flying knowledge.
  • Flying experience.
  • Proficiency in flying an aircraft.

The good news is that flying is a powered parachute is far simpler than flying most anything else in the world. The FAA requirements to become a CFI for powered parachutes reflect that. Those wanting to become licensed in other aircraft have to spend more time gaining flying experience and have to do more to demonstrate proficiency in their respective aircraft than you will as a powered parachute CFI applicant. However, the standards are higher much higher than someone simply wanting to learn to fly for themselves. After all, you need to know more than your students!

Step 2. Gain the necessary knowledge.

You will need to complete two knowledge tests in order to become a Sport Pilot CFI. They are:

  • Flight Instructor Sport Powered Parachute
  • Fundamentals of Instruction

Both of the tests are taken by computer at testing centers. Neither test is simple and both require a significant amount of study and preparation.

There are a couple of ways to get the knowledge needed to pass those tests. If you are the home study kind of guy or gal, ASA offers a couple of great products to prepare you for the knowledge tests. What you are looking for is either the Certified Flight Instructor Test Prep Book or the Certified Flight Instructor Test Prepware for your computer. You can get both of these products from Adventure Productions (along with some other great training aids).

Another way to get training is to attend a CFI sport pilot ground school. The advantages to a ground school are many. First, a ground school prepares you for more than just the knowledge test. It also provides you with the necessary knowledge need to pass the practical test that you will also need to complete.

Besides a FAR/AIM, there are publications that a powered parachute CFI should be familiar with. The ones below are available in print form from Adventure Productions or other places. You can also download them for free with the links below. The files are in PDF format and some are rather large. In any case, there is a lot of good information here!

Step 3. Get your flying experience and prepare for your check ride.

In order to become a sport pilot (assuming you don't already hold an FAA rating already) you will have to gain a certain amount of aeronautical experience working with a flight instructor. In the Federal Aviation Regulations, §61.411(g), the FAA requires that in order for you to be able to apply for a sport pilot license in powered parachutes you must:

  • Log at least 100 hours of flight time as a pilot
    • Including at least 75 hours of flight time as the Pilot in Command in a powered aircraft.
    • Including at least 50 hours of flight time in a powered parachute.
    • Including at least 15 hours of cross-country time
    • Including at least 5 hours of cross-country time in a powered parachute.
    • Including at least 15 hours of flight time as pilot in command in a powered parachute this is a light-sport aircraft.

    Normally, this experience needs to take place in an N-numbered machine with a Certified Flight Instructor specializing in powered parachutes. However, until January 31, 2008, this experience can be accomplished by an ultralight instructor with ASC, EAA, or USUA as long as:

      • The student receives the training after becoming a student in the ASC, EAA, or USUA ultralight training programs.
      • The instructor is an Ultralight Flight Instructor in good standing with the organization
      • The training is conducted in a two seat ultralight trainer.
      • In some cases, the student may have to pass the ultralight organization's requirements to become an ultralight flight instructor with that organization
      • The student has to acquire a letter from the ultralight organization which acts as, "a certified copy of your ultralight pilot records from an FAA-recognized ultralight organization, and those records must-
        • Document that you are a registered ultralight pilot with that FAA-recognized ultralight organization, and
        • Indicate that you are recognized to operate the category and class of aircraft (powered parachutes) for which you seek sport pilot privileges"

    This means that you CAN get training from a BFI or UFI, however paperwork and logging requirements must be met AND you still have to get a recommendation from a CFI-Powered Parachutes who will fill out the proper paperwork. This part of the process helps assure that you are ready for your check ride. Your instructor should be familiar with the practical test standard and be ready to train you in the areas that you will need to know to pass your check ride.

    Step 4. Take your check ride and get your license.

    Your instructor should know when you are ready to take your check ride. When you are, he will make the proper endorsements in your log book and help you fill out your FAA Form 8710-11. At that point you will be ready and able to take your practical test and get your license for sport pilot. For more information on preparing for and passing your flight test, visit Preparing for a Powered Parachute Practical Exam. The procedures for a Pilot and CFI exam are very similar. The big difference is that there is a higher standard asked of CFI for the same kind of knowledge. Also, there is the extra CFI check ride material that has to be completed. Expect a CFI check ride to take twice as long as a normal Sport Pilot check ride.

    I hope that this guide helps you to get prepared for your CFI Powered Parachute rating. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me by either E-mail or telephone!

    Roy Beisswenger
    roy@easyflight.com
    (618) 664-9706

2000 World Champion pilot, Eddie Johnson, taxis to the edge of the field in his Powrachute after providing a tandem flight at Sun 'n Fun.

Sport Pilot In 10 Days

For More Information

Roy Beisswenger
PO Box 38
Greenville, IL 62246

(618) 664-9706

• E-mail Roy •