Flying over water with a paramotor always presents us with a risk of drowning from a possible engine failure, wing malfunction or simply a pilot mistake.
There are specific water rescue systems than can be bought and added to your paramotor. There is also the wear a self inflating life jacket / vest not under, but along with your harness.
Obvious pros and cons of the purpose made design:
+ The frame fitted rescue system is neat and easy to leave in place.
– it’s added weight and I don’t always fly over water.
+ it’s made specifically for this purpose.
– it’s expensive.
Obvious pros and cons of the life vest option:
– I have to wear it with my harness and put it on correctly.
+ it’s not part of my machine so I only take it when I’m going to fly over water.
– it’s not made specifically for our sport.
+ it’s cheaper, typically being well under £100
Now the not so obvious pros and cons:
+ the vest can just keep your head clear of water.
+ the vest will keep you afloat once you release your motor harness.
– the built in system does not work so well with an empty fuel tank and you could end up face down in the water.
– the life vest must be worn correctly with you paramotor harness, in order for it to be effective.
+ the built in system has more overall buoyancy.
How do you wear the life vest and then your motor harness, it is important for the inflating part of your vest to be visible and showing outside your motor harness. See the video below.
Watch these video demonstrations from separate manufacturers testing Paramotors in water.
PAP testing in water with and without the Pilot life vest. Note how they wear the Life Vest.
PAP testing in Water
EC-Extreme testing various methods of keeping afloat, not all good ones either.
Water Rescue System PPG Testing
Nirvana demonstrating the AGAMA water rescue system.
AGAMA water rescue system
Footflyer test of the Agama system
Footflyer test of Agama water system
Agama system used in real water landing accident.
Real headcam footage of water landing.
Which ever system you choose, it seems clear that any of them would be better than none. Not flying over water at all is the safest option or only flying over water that is extremely shallow.