How I learned to fly paramotors

I learned to fly at FlyMIPPG in central Michigan

I remember standing at my kitchen island checking Facebook and somehow I came across FlyMIPPG around July 2018. I remember seeing that they were and Aviator PPG alliance partner… and they were right here in Michigan. I quickly checked to see where the heck St. Johns, Michigan was. HOLY COW. It was only an hour and forty minutes away from my house. An Aviator alliance school within a couple hours of me!!! I pinged Mike right away. Mike Cotter is one of the founder/owners of FlyMIPPG and handles student onboarding, sales, and overall customer success. He also teaches at the school. I got on the phone with Mike and asked a few questions and assumed I’d be waiting weeks or even a year to book training.

The instructors

Everyone at FlyMIPPG instructs. Mike Cotter and Justin Fox are the two owner/founders and they have Bob Harris on staff as a third instructor. Bob is the nicest guy you’ll ever meat and he’s a highly experienced parachute jumper and jump site manager. Mike is like a big kid in the best way. He loves paramotoring. He loves running a paramotor school. He loves creating a great experience for students. Justin is the grown up in the room that makes sure students get from point A to point B. He also builds his own line of titanium paramotors called the Sky Fox so if you have mechanical or technical questions he’s your man. Jon Eisele is also a friend of the school and was a guest instructor during my class. He also helped Justin and Mike get the school off the ground by leading the early classes using his PPG training program which he perfected while working at Aviator PPG in Florida. He now teaches for the EAA in Wisconsin(Experimental Aircraft Association).

How much did it cost?

I won’t talk about the price of training because that changes over time, it can go up or down. What I can say is that after a week of intense training and having one of best times of my life, I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was worth every penny. You’ll make so many memories during your time that are priceless. Also be prepared to make a group of new friends. And apart from food and lodging, you don’t have to worry about a thing. The school includes use of all of their gliders and paramotors (fuel included). You can bring your own camper and stay on the grounds or rent a bedroom in the bunkhouse for less than a hotel or stay in a hotel or campground nearby. If I had to do it over I’d borrow and camper because I think that’d be a really fun way to stay up there. All three of the instructors bring campers.

Don’t cheap out on equipment and buy it from FlyMIPPG

A big issue with paramotor equipment is that it breaks a lot and the manufacturers have bad reputations for taking supporting their products. They blame the customer for every issue that happens so even if you have an obvious in warranty repair you’ll be paying for it out of pocket much of the time. I’ve read about this time and again and experienced it myself when my airbox failed on my 25 hour Moster 185 which caused a prop strike. Luckly I bought my Parajet through FlyMIPPG so they went above and beyond to take care of me.

The school’s location

The school rents the bunkhouse and a hanger from Dick Lyon who owns the privately owned, public use airport called Forrest Hill. Forrest Hill is like paramotor nirvana. It’s absolutely beautiful. Dick Lyon came back from the war and built the airpark. There are several houses on the airpark and many lots available. It’s a sleepy airport. There wasn’t a single departure or arrival of any GA traffic during my week there and there’s really only one resident that is actively flying out of the airpark. It would be amazing if there were more homes and pilots living there. There are two grass strips and the runways are surrounded by fields.

This is Bob’s Funk which calls Forrest Hill home.

What I wish I had known

What I would do differently

My next goals

  • I want a long distance, cross country capable machine so I’d like to build my own frame and install an Atom 80 for fuel efficiency.
  • I’d like a more efficient, cross country capable wing. Possibly an Ozone Sirocco 2. I flew the Spider 2 and didn’t find all that different than my Mojo and I still couldn’t keep up with my friends on faster wings.