Gary Brown's (aka "Gadget Gary")
Powered Paragliding (PPG), Aviation & Flying Page
Greetings fellow aviation enthusiasts! My name is Gary Brown -- aka "Gadget Gary" (a nickname appropriately bestowed upon me by family/friends) -- and this is the start of my personal Internet site to detail my Powered Paragliding (or "PPG") ultralight aircraft flying adventures.

I'm a licensed private pilot and "certified air nut" who lives in the beautiful city of West Chicago, Illinois with my precious family who, among other blessings, were gifted with tolerance of my many hobbies. I've been flying fixed-wing general aviation aircraft since 1992 and fortunately my family has enjoyed that aspect of aviation by flying with me to various places. But I put my family's tolerance to the test when, back in 1999, I first witnessed PPGs flying at Singer Island beach and I shouted: "I want to do that!".

What is Powered Paragliding (PPG)?

In short: It's the most incredible form of aviation that I have ever experienced! It has proven more fun than any other general aviation aircraft I have ever had the opportunity to fly (including single-engine, multi-engine and jet aircraft). No kidding!

The longer answer: A powered paraglider is the ultimate in personal flight aircraft -- a small, safe, transportable, personal, foot-launched vehicle -- that permits a pilot to easily, safely and very controllably fly thousands of feet in altitude or just inches off the ground. Imagine the experience of running on your own two feet to take-off, fly and eventually land again... virtually anywhere! Yeah, it's very... "god-like".

A Powered Paraglider is classified as an Ultralight Aircraft by the FAA (primarily because it weighs under 256 pounds) and its operation is governed by FAR Part-103. A basic PPG setup is comprised of the following:

  • Paramotor (backpack engine/propeller)
  • Paragliding Wing (like a parachute)

The Backpack Motor

The backpack motor (or paramotor) is just that... a motor! But connected to a big spinning propeller. This is what provides the thrust for sustained flight. You might think that having a large, spinning, high-revolution propeller inches from your back might be completely unsafe... but it's not -- it does have a protective guard. It just deserves respect!

The paramotor is typically driven by a 2-stroke engine (although four-stroke motors are slowly emerging onto the market) or anywhere from 80cc displacement to greater than 200ccs -- depending on the amount of thrust required for the pilots weight. It typically weighs 50~100 pounds, produces 85-200+ pounds of thrust, carries enough fuel for up to 3-hours of flight and can be electric or manual (pull) starting.

The average cost of a paramotor is $4,500 - $5,500 (less when purchased used).

The Paraglider Wing

The paragliding wing (or parachute -- or, more accurately... "inflatable wing") is simply a paragliding wing (the ones used for the sport of Paragliding -- a non-powered version of the sport flown from mountains and beaches where the pilots use thermals (hot rising air) or wind shear to generate lift. Select a wing suitable for your weight.

The average cost of a paraglider wing is $1,800 - $2,300 (less when purchased used)


PPGs usually fly at about 20~30 MPH -- they take-off and land much slower (which is how you can launch/land on your feet). They can fly to very high altitudes (I think the record is currently ~18,000 feet above sea level) but are usually flow very low to enjoy the scenery. Duration depends on the efficiency of your wing/motor combination, but on the average a pilot can stay aloft for 2.5 hours.


Are these things safe? That's a very good question -- perhaps the most important (in my opinion). I'm a husband and loving father who has a passion for my family and this wonderful life I have been gifted with. I don't want to cut my time short with any of them -- I want to grow old with my wife and see my kids savor life.

That said... I've accepted greater risk by flying these and other aircraft. It is NOT risk-free. It is, however, safe -- just don't confuse safe with "risk-free". Many consider driving a car "safe"... but it's not "risk-free". Suffice it to say, flying is an added risk. But it can be done safely.

How safe? Very! A rule I follow is to avoid flying in thermal conditions -- thermals can be very troublesome to flexible wings like these -- and I restrict my flying to either 3-hours after sunrise, 3-hours before sunset or overcast days only where the sun's heating of the Earth's surface is significantly reduced. I also took professional flight instruction despite my already extensive aviation experience and being a licensed private pilot. It is my opinion that the wiser man always acknowledges that he doesn't know everything.

The moral of the story: Seek good flight instruction and choose your conditions wisely. A wisdom I've adopted from one of my former flight instructors: "The superior pilot uses his superior judgment to avoid using his superior skills."

Simply Amazing

The amazing part of the entire aircraft is that it is so small. It can be taken and flown just about anywhere. It will easily fit in the back seat of a car, bed of a truck or back of a van, can be disassembled to fit into a suitcase/carrycase for travel or, if you must, on the back of any vehicle using a simple cargo carrier or trailer.

I have flown from municipal airports, private airparks, public soccer fields, ballparks, backyards, open pastures... you name it (see the pictures section below)! And it goes with me just about everywhere so that I might enjoy the world -- wherever I go -- from God's view. It's an absolutely invigorating experience. I challenge you to name another aircraft that you can do that with?

Join the Fun

If you are like me -- looking for the ultimate thrill of flight, an affordable aircraft to own/operate, and friendship with other pilots and aviation enthusiasts -- then get into this sport NOW! I welcome anyone to contact me with questions -- I'm more than happy to help you get started.

"Go, go gadget backpack powered paraglider!"

Gadget Gary Brown
1879 N. Neltnor Blvd.
West Chicago, Illinois 60185
Don't have Skype? Download Skype Here.
Boy Scout Aviation Merit Badge Counselor
Aviation Merit BadgeJust a quick note, while you're reading this page, that I am also a Boy Scout Aviation Merit Badge Counselor (for the Three Fires Council here in Chicagoland) and I can provide instruction\orientation on this (and other) Merit Badges for Boy Scouts.

If you're a Scout Leader, member or parent of a scout interested in getting help with these Merit Badges, you can learn more on my personal website at and/or I welcome you to e-mail me at to start the discussion/planning.

My PPG Equipment
My Flying Pictures & Videos
2010 and Beyond...
Since 2010, I've been posting all my flying photos and videos on Facebook. You can view my Facebook page at:
2010 Photos & Videos
VIDEO: Sunday Evenign Paragliding - My Son's First Video (10/17/10) VIDEO: 10 Year Anniversary Surprise Flight to Grand Haven, MI (8/18/2010)
VIDEO: Memorial Day Weekend Flight to Wisconsin Dells - Part 2 VIDEO: Memorial Day Weekend Flight to Wisconsin Dells - Part 1
PHOTOS: Flying Cessna 152 to Clow International Airport for Breakfast (4/18/10) PHOTOS: First Powered Paragliding Flight of 2010 (4/11/10)
2009 Photos & Videos
PHOTOS: Flying Powered Paragliders in the cold and snow (12/20/09) PHOTOS: Illinois Powered Paragliding Holiday Party (12/20/09)
PHOTOS: Shooting Touch & Goes in the Cessna 152 with my 4-year old son Jonathan (12/06/09) PHOTOS: Cessna Flight to Clow International Airport (K1C5) in Bolingbrook (11/15/09)
PHOTOS: Sunday Morning Ultralight Flight After Carb Rebuild (11/08/09) PHOTOS: Flying Family to Grand Geneva for Lunch (11/05/09)
PHOTOS: Flying Friends & Family to Dinner at Schaumburg Airport in the Cessna (10/18/09) PHOTOS: Ferrying Cessna back to Dupage Airport (10/4/09)
PHOTOS: Saturday Morning Flying at the Polo Field (9/12/09) PHOTOS: Thursday Evening Flying at the Harryport (9/10/09)
PHOTOS: Labor Day Sunset PPG Flying (9/7/09) PHOTOS: Labor Day Sunrise PPG Flying (9/7/09)
PHOTOS: Foggy Sunrise Flight at the Polo Field (9/6/09) PHOTOS: Evening Flights at the Harryport (9/5/09)
PHOTOS: Powered Paragliding at the Polo Field (8/30/09) PHOTOS: Cessna Flight to the 2009 Rockford Airfest at Rockford Airport KRFD (8/22/09)
PHOTOS: Cessna Flight to the Wisconsin Dells (8/15/09) PHOTOS: Evening Flying at the Polo Field (8/12/09)
PHOTOS: Morning Flying at the Polo Field (8/2/09) PHOTOS: Full Day of Fun & Flying at the Harryport (7/29/09)
PHOTOS: EAA Oshkosh Airventure Flight (7/27/09) PHOTOS: Kankakee Fly-In & Pig Roast (7/11/09)
PHOTOS: Sunrise Powered Paragliding Flight (7/5/09) PHOTOS: Freedom to Fly to Janesville (7/3/09)
PHOTOS: Hot & Humid Summertime Powered Paragliding (6/23/09) PHOTOS: Family Flight to Indianapolis (6/14/09)
VIDEO: Sunset Flying at Polo Field (6/4/09) PHOTOS: Flying Powered Paragliders at the Polo Field (6/4/09)
PHOTOS: Fun & Flying at the Harryport with the entire family (5/23/09) PDF: Evening Flying at the Polo Field (5/17/09)
PDF: Pancake Breakfast Fly-In in the Cessna 152 with son Jonathan (5/03/09) PDF: Flying Around Chicagoland in the Cessna 152 with duaghter Christina (4/11/09)
PHOTOS: Early Spring PPG Flying at Polo Field (3/21/09) PDF: Sunset Flight in the Cessna 172 to Greater Kankakee Airport (KIKK) with the Family (3/15/09)
PDF: Sunrise Flight in the Cessna 152 Flight around the Western Suburbs to see the Harryport and Polo Field Ultralight Airfields (3/15/09) PDF: Taking my Son Jonathan (4) up for his FIRST Flight in the the Cessna 152 (2/28/09)
2008 Photos & Videos
PHOTOS: IPPGA Holiday Party at Pilot Pete's Restaurant at Schaumburg Airprot (12/28/08)
PHOTOS: Ultralight Flying at Harryport (10/04/08) VIDEO: PPG Flight from Koerners Aviation to Franz on 17 Restaurant in Kankakee, IL (8/30/08)
VIDEO: Flight to Elburn, IL (8/24/2008)
VIDEO (HD): Flight to Elburn, IL (8/24/08)
PHOTOS: From Dr. Dave's Camera during our XC to Elburn, IL (8/24/08)
VIDEO: Powered Paragliding in Illinois (8/16/08) VIDEO: Powered Paragliding at the Polo Field in Sugargrove, IL (8/15/08)
PHOTOS: Flying at the Polo Field (7/26/08) PHOTOS: An Evening of Powered Paragliding at the Polo Field (7/14/08)
PHOTOS: Saturday Evening Flying at Polo Field (7/5/08) & PHOTOS: Gregory Orzikowski's DSLR Photos PHOTOS: Morning PPG Ultralight Flight in Sugargrove, Illinois (7/5/08)
PHOTOS: Evening Flight at Polo Field (6/21/08) PHOTOS: Early Morning PPG Flight at Polo Field (6/19/08)
PHOTOS: Flying Nick's Kitfox at Morris Airport (5/24/08) PHOTOS: AM Flying at the Polo Field (5/10/08)
PHOTOS: Sunday Activities at the Polo Field (4/20/08) PHOTOS: Early Spring Flying at the Polo Field (4/5/08)
PHOTOS: Flying at Juno Beach, Florida on Spring Break (3/28/08) PDF: Article about my PPG flying in company newsletter (2/4/08)
2007 Photos & Videos
PHOTOS: PPG Flight to Kuiper's Farm Corn Maze in Elburn, IL (10/28/07) PHOTOS: Polo Field Activities (10/7/07)
PHOTOS: Flying PPG at Polo Field (10/6/07) PHOTOS: More Evening PPG Fying at Polo Field (10/3/07)
PHOTOS: Evening PPG Fying at Polo Field (9/23/07) PHOTOS: PPG Flying at Winfield Airport (9/16/07)
PHOTOS: PPG Flying at Polo Field (9/15/07) PHOTOS & VIDEO: My Second Solo (9/9/07) My return to PPG flight after beeing "grounded" nearly 10-months after the December 2006 incident (read events below). Dave and Lance joined me out at the Polo Field (in Aurora, IL) for my "second solo". :-)
PHOTOS: My Powered Paragliding Repairs (August-September, 2007) Documenting the repairs/recovery to my Paralite SkyCruiser Paramotor after my 12/17/2006 Powered Paragliding incident [below]. My excuses for the delay in return to flight include the long recovery/therapy from the wrist surgery (took nearly 2 months to get my wirst useful again and more than 5 months to get my elbow to flex sufficiently again [but it will probably not be the same ever again]), time and, of course, money to buy a new wing (since I refuse to fly the old one that dumped me on the ground).
2006 Photos & Videos
My Powered Paragliding Parachutal Stall Incident (12/17/06) Yes, on December 17, 2006, I experienced a "parachutal stall" of my paraglider while flying in Bartlett, IL; sending me crashing to the ground from an altitude of ~50 feet AGL (above ground level). The accident seriously injured my wrist and elbow. But, I *AM* alive and well (a testatment to the low energies of the sport)! This is a "subtle" reminder of the risks we pilots accept. Read more here.
Autumn Flying at Polo Field (Aurora, IL) (Windows Media Video Format - 7.2MB)
Fall flying (oxymoron?) at the Polo Field in Aurora, Illinois with fellow PPG pilots Dave and Lance. In the video you'll see many low fly-bys, aerial views of the Autumn leave colors (as seen from God's eyes) and yet another one of my failed homebrew homemade model rocket motors.
Kuiper's Farm & Harryport Flying (10/1/06)
Paradrome Labor Day Weekend Flying (9/3/06) Flying in Naperville with Jeff (8/20/06)
Polo Field (8/13/06) XC to Aurora Airport [KARR] (7/29/06)
Dupage Airport [KDPA], West Chicago, IL (7/4/06) Harryport, Elburn, IL (7/2/2006)
Mark's Park Fly-In, New London, WI (6/24/06) Paradrome, Joliet, IL (6/4/06)
Polo Field, Aurora, IL (5/7/06) Polo Field, Aurora, IL (5/6/06)
Early Morning Flying at Harryport (Elburn, IL) 4/15/06 First Flight of 2006 (Polo Field, Aurora, IL) 4/13/06
2005 Photos & Videos
2004 Photos & Videos
North Carolina PPG Flying (Windows Media Video Format - 8.3MB)
I took my powered paraglider with me to our family reunion near Lake Norman in North Carolina and performed a little demonstraiton flight for my family from a nearby High School field.
pjs.asf (Windows ASF Video Format - 3.1MB)
Flying at PJ's Airfield with Jeff, Alex, Marc & Christy in Naperville, IL
2003 Photos & Videos
ppg_solo.asf (Windows ASF Video Format - 3.3MB)
My first PPG solo flight on June 7, 2003
paraskateboarding.asf (Windows ASF Video Format - 490KB)
This is what you do when you just receive a brand new paramotor and yes have no wing to fly yet!
My PPG Links
Here are my favorite and most frequently used internet aviation resources...


Contact Me
If you are interested in Powered Paraglding (PPG), have questions about this incredible sport, are a fellow PPG pilot and just want to share some airtime or you'd simply like to see a demonstration flight, I welcome you to contact me anytime using the links below...

"Gadget Gary" Brown
1879 N. Neltnor Blvd.
West Chicago, Illinois 60185
Don't have Skype? Download Skype Here.