From the beginning of time, you’re told accidents happen. If you trip and fall, “accidents happen.” If you make a mistake in a sport, “accidents happen.” If you knock items off of a store’s shelf, “accidents happen.” But the reality is, accidents don’t have to happen and many of life’s common accidents are easily avoidable.
That’s also not that not all accidents are harmless! This is especially true when it comes to paragliding. When you’re hundreds of feet in the air, a simple mistake can be detrimental to your safety. More importantly, paragliding is a safe sport if you’ve completed your pilot and paragliding lessons, and executed your vital skill set and knowledge during flight. So, no – accidents don’t just happen.
To ensure a safe, exciting, adrenaline-rushing experience when you’re flying high in the sky, go through this checklist before launching. While the tips and skills to safe paragliding are significantly more elaborate than this list, a little self-assessment with 10 steps can go a long way.
It’s easy to get distracted when you’re getting ready to launch. After all, you’re incredibly excited and just want to get your feet off the ground. However, being absent minded during your pre-flight check is a big “don’t” of paragliding. So, dedicate your full attention during this time.
You know what you have to do prior to launching, but you should also have a pre-flight sequence that you’re confident and comfortable with. As long as you get all of your pre-flight checks done, the sequence in which you do them doesn’t really matter in which order – for the most part anyway.
No one in this world is perfect, and mistakes are a part of every day life. However, when it comes to paragliding, you want to have as little mistakes as possible, which is why this checklist is so important. However, if you do make a mistake, don’t get down on yourself. The best paragliders in the world know how to analyze, understand and learn from their mistakes so they don’t happen again.
The weather plays a huge role in your paragliding experience. In many ways, it controls your flight. So, never underestimate the power of the weather or how quickly it can change. Always be aware of the current and forecasted weather for the rest of the day. The weather channel may be calling for thunderstorms in the middle of the night, but a change in wind can bring those storm clouds rolling in in an instant. So, be aware at all times.
With the prior mentioned, it’s highly recommended to be familiar with the elements of the sky. Clouds can tell you a lot about the kind of weather that’s rolling in. Since you can see for miles during flight, you want to be able to recognize unpredictable weather before it rolls in. So, take a blast to the past, and learn about the clouds! It could save your flight and life one day.
I hear this question all the time: Should I fly a paraglider or the one with the motor (PPG or paramotoring)?
My answer is very easy: Both!
Why? Because those 2 activities are totally complementary and I think that doing one without the other is missing half of the big picture.
What about PPG?
Something I hear often when I fly with paraglider pilots is that PPG is noisy, which is true. And because of that, it's difficult to find flying spots in our area. The neighbors can get tired quickly of hearing the noise. It's like having a lawn mower over their house. Hearing that noise repeatedly or for too long can become annoying, and that is really understandable.
So the smart thing to do is to take off and never stay over the same spot more than 10 to 15 minutes. That amazing toy gives you the option to cruise around. Another option is to go fly over no man's land or small airports.
Yo can fin a lot of info on the national association the USPPA
Some of our favorite videos:
- If you respectfully fly away from people that are nearby, and know the basics about ultra light regulations and the airspaces, then the PPG is an amazing toy.
- First, if you have a big open field free of obstacles, you can take off in any wind direction, giving you a lot of flying options without having to drive for miles to find a take-off facing the wind.
- Second, since you don't depend on natural lifts like thermals, you can say goodbye to "sled rides" that last 5 minutes. Every time you go, you can quickly log airtime and practice your flying skills, making PPG a fantastic toy to get better at flying in general and log tons of hours of airtime.
- Being able to log in hours of airtime quickly means you can keep your skills sharpened year-round.
- In flat land, if you want to fly free flight you need a winch operation (requiring machinery and a tow operator). But with the motor, all you need is a big open field free of obstacles (of course away from restricted airspaces and with the landowner's approval).
- First, it's recommended to fly in smoother conditions. Flying bumpy thermals is not comfortable with the engine weight on your back, and landing with the engine when the landing zone has thermal active air can be very tricky. So PPG is best early in the morning and late afternoon or evening (at least on thermal days).
- The noise,
- The weight, and
- The storage and maintenance require a garage.
- Traveling: You need a rack on your car or a pick-up truck, so carpooling is limited and traveling by plane is doable but requires some mechanical work since you need to totally disassemble the unit.
- A common mistake we see is that some newcomers feel that, because of the motor, they just need to press the gas and off they go! The reality is that you still need to master your take-off and landing skills. Just pressing the throttle will not get you off the ground.
Usually, with PPG, if you master the ground skills and landing phase, everything is pretty easy, especially in 5 mph steady wind. Everything becomes a lot more technical early in the morning, for example, when the wing is a bit wet, there is no wind, the ground is slippery with a bit of dew on it, etc. In that situation, you need to have a reliable technique for a smooth take-off and landing.
Regular practice is key, but if you invest a little of your time, you will have a blast with it.
What about Paragliding?
You can find a lot of info about paragliding on the USHPA web site
The usual feedback I hear from paramotor pilots, is that in the paragliding world we do a lot of “parawaiting”. That can be true since we rely more on the wind/thermal conditions; sometimes you need to pick your time wisely like a fisherman or a surfer.
I love paragliding. I love the hike to launch, the preparation, the wait on launch and the reading of the local conditions. Since you can't rely on the motor, timing for the take-off is important—looking at the clouds, the birds, the shadows in the valley.
You are really connected with a constantly changing element. Kind of like a wind surfer, for example.
While flying, a paraglider pilot is more tuned to the actual local conditions, constantly looking for signs of lift like a bird of prey. So it's an approach that requires more patience and that's more connected to the elements.
- Slightly cheaper since you don't have the cost of the engine.
- Since they can not rely on the motor, paraglider pilots tend to have a better feeling of the air (i.e. how to optimize their climbing rate in thermal air or their glide to reach a landing zone).
- The equipment is very easy to carry around; it's a backpack, so you can easily travel around the world by plane, car, bus, subway, etc.
- For outdoor people, you can hike and fly.
- Easy to go up mountains using gondola and ski lifts at ski resorts.
- Carpooling is an option: You can have 3-4 people with their gear in a regular car/SUV.
- You might have to wait hours upon launch to have a good opportunity to fly.
- Sometimes, when the conditions are different than what the weather report was forecasting, you'll drive to your site, hike to launch and it won't be flyable. It's frustrating but it's part of the game.
- In some situations, you'll drive and hike out only for your flight to last 5 minutes. Bummer, but again, it's part of the game.
All in all, it's flying and doing it with or without a motor has its pros and cons.
As a paraglider pilot, it took me a long time to get over the noise part of PPG but I enjoy all my PPG flights and the hours it provides. And when the wind conditions are good, paragliding gives me this incredible feeling of connection with the elements.
Don't hesitate one bit—if you can, fly both ways!
This part prescribes rules governing the operation of ultralight vehicles in the United States. For the purposes of this part, an ultralight vehicle is a vehicle that:
(a) Any person operating an ultralight vehicle under this part shall, upon request, allow the Administrator, or his designee, to inspect the vehicle to determine the applicability of this part.
No person may conduct operations that require a deviation from this part except under a written waiver issued by the Administrator.
Certification and registration.
(a) Notwithstanding any other section pertaining to certification of aircraft or their parts or equipment, ultralight vehicles and their component parts and equipment are not required to meet the airworthiness certification standards specified for aircraft or to have certificates of airworthiness.
(a) No person may operate any ultralight vehicle in a manner that creates a hazard to other persons or property.
(a) No person may operate an ultralight vehicle except between the hours of sunrise and sunset.
Operation near aircraft; right-of-way rules.
(a) Each person operating an ultralight vehicle shall maintain vigilance so as to see and avoid aircraft and shall yield the right-of-way to all aircraft.
Operations over congested areas.
No person may operate an ultralight vehicle over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons.
Operations in certain airspace.
No person may operate an ultralight vehicle within Class A, Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport unless that person has prior authorization
Operations in prohibited or restricted areas.
No person may operate an ultralight vehicle in prohibited or restricted areas unless that person has permission from the using or controlling agency, as appropriate.
Flight restrictions in the proximity of certain areas designated by notice to airmen.
No person may operate an ultralight vehicle in areas designated in a Notice to Airmen under [§91.137, §91.138, §91.141, §91.143, or §91.145 of this chapter, unless authorized by:
Amdt. 103-6, Eff. 10/11/2001
Visual reference with the surface.
No person may operate an ultralight vehicle except by visual reference with the surface.
Flight visibility and cloud clearance requirements.
No person may operate an ultralight vehicle when the flight visibility or distance from clouds is less than that in the table found below. All operations in Class A, Class B, Class C, and Class D airspace or Class E airspace designated for an airport must receive prior ATC authorization as required in §103.17 of this part.
While flying a paraglider or a paramotor, we usually carry a reserve parachute, for emergency situations.
While flying a paraglider or a paramotor, we usually carry a reserve parachute for
Paraglider reserve parachutes are very different from ones intended for skydiving. A paraglider one is designed to open as fast as possible to stop the pilot's fall, whereas a skydiving one is designed to open gradually to slow down the skydiver from a high-speed fall.
Its use, packing, and maintenance are different but it's your responsibility to make sure you are doing it (or are having it done by a professional) every six months.
A regular maintenance will affect the opening time and the performance of the parachute in the long run (according to manufacturers, a reserve parachute should serve its purpose for about ten years if the maintenance was done on a regular basis, i.e., at least, every six months to every year). It’s a good idea to practice a reserve extraction by hooking yourself up to a simulator before your season starts.
(You don't need to have the parachute fully extracted which would require a repack. What you can do is extract the reserve still in its bag and throw it in somebody's hands close to you while hooked to the simulator.)
The benefits of simulating an extraction are:
- Making sure you can move fluidly.
- Finding the reserve handle easily without looking.
- Confirming that the extraction requires little effort and is working properly.
- Having the opportunity to practice re-installing the reserve in the harness container.
-Closing the container pins correctly (it’s possible that when you arrive on launch, you find that one of your pins is out of its loop, so it's always good to know how to put it back properly).
- Installing the handle properly followed by a quick review of your pref-light check.
There are three main different styles at the moment
1) The round ones are more basic and simpler to use and repack. They come in "regular" or "light" versions. The lighter version is about half the size when packed (so it’s easier to put in the harness but most importantly to extract. They also weigh half as much as other ones so they’re more popular, especially with those who like to hike and fly.
2) The square ones are pretty much a recent evolution of the round ones which mean newer technology. The square shape results in a more stable reserve, faster opening, and better/slower sink rate.
3) Finally, the Rogallo style like the Beamer can be directional after opening. The main advantage is its ability to fly away from a dangerous obstacle like power lines while descending. While being directional is a great advantage, it also means there are more tasks to perform after opening it. It’s recommended to practice the reserve extraction during maneuver training over water to master its use.
Overall, you need to evaluate all aspects properly when you are ready to purchase your reserve. But it’s also imperative to understand that your reserve parachute requires a repack every six months to properly function when needed.
What we try to explain to our students is based on what we have seen at Let’s Go Paragliding over the last 15 years of teaching on a daily basis. We see a lot more students, before P2 completion or just after, fully geared up with high-end electronics. Sometimes with cockpits that would impress a competition pilot :-).
We just believe that it’s too much, unnecessary, and at the beginning simpler is better.
As an example, we’ve had students that cannot afford a full set of new gear and then pass on the variometer, flying sometimes one or two seasons without. We have observed that often, those students outperform, by their skills and senses, those that fly right away with a variometer. They are not as dependent on the variometer to give them information/feedback about what’s happening as a pilot who uses a variometer right out of the gate. So we often recommend that our students stage their use of a variometer.
All that said, each pilot has his/her own philosophy, and should use the tools available in the way that is most effective for them.
Happy flying to All!
What are the different levels of Wings or Gliders?
Safety of pilots is of highest priority in the sport of Paragliding and reputed organizations and the ambassadors of the sport take every necessary step to ensure the same.
In this scheme of things, the performance and the quality of the wing/canopy/ glider is of high importance.
No glider ever makes it to the large scale production site without getting rated and certified by standard organizations. This happens only after the glider clears some prerequisite tests conducted on it. The rating of the glider is a way to measure its performance and stability.
The rating system
The most trusted and accepted glider ratings are given by the ‘European Committee for Standardization’- CEN or in short EN and the ‘Deutscher Hangegleiter Verband’- DHV, the German Handgliding and Paragliding Organizations which has changed its name to LTF from DHV.
The EN rates the gliders in the decreasing order of stability as A, B, C and D and the LTF rates the gliders in the same way as 1,1-2, 2 ,2-3 and competition glider or 3.
The A or 1 rating is meant for a Beginner pilot, B or 1-2 for Intermediate, C or 2 for Advanced and D or 2-3 for Master pilots. The glider of rating 3 is generally meant for the extremely skillful gliders with years of experience behind their back and it isn’t something that the EN or LTF certifies.
These ratings are conducted by licensed agencies and are mainly meant to ensure two main aspects for the pilots-
1. That the performance and stability of the glider match with the level and skill sets of the pilots that it is intended for.
2. That the glider has undergone proper testing before it’s used for flying.
The testing of the Paragliders.
The ratings are the results of tests which are conducted under run time conditions. Sophisticated and highly precise measuring instruments are used to record accurate measurements during the tests which are only conducted by experienced pilots.
Among other things, these tests measure the time it takes for the glider to re-inflate itself and get back to stable condition without any input from the pilot after it has collapsed during the flight.
The faster the glider responds to such scenarios the lower it’s rating will be.
Generally, beginner level gliders are more stable and re-inflate themselves within 3-5 seconds, whereas gliders with higher rating can take an added 3 or 5 seconds to get back to stability. Precision cameras provide run time information about the inflationary times and also the angle the wing turned during the inflation stage.
It is always advisable to choose such wings which are intended for your level of expertise in flying.
Respect the sport and follow the standards, you will sure fly safe!
One of the biggest mistakes that new pilots make occurs in purchasing their first wing.
Paragliding is a well regulated sport; it functions under the USHPA- United States Hand Gliding and Paragliding Association. USHPA certifies pilots by rating them according to their skill and expertise in the sport of Paragliding. It rates pilots from P0 to P5 in the order of student, beginner, Novice, Intermediate, Advanced and Master Pilots.
Pilots generally start their journey as a beginner with a P0 certificate and make their way through the different levels and reach the P5 level by mastering the art of Paragliding.
The ratings are issued to reflect the completion of certain tasks by the students which are witnessed and observed by officials and licensed instructors. The ratings are also meant to regulate the pilot to fly in only such sites which are meant for his level of expertise as flying sites are labeled according to the approximate skill level required to fly there safely.
The tasks that the pilot has to go do may require keen attention to detail and very high precision. A good amount of training in these has been always beneficial. That is why it is advisable for wannabe pilots to enroll in a Paragliding school.
Student and Beginner certificate P0-P1:
Student P0 Pilot: This pilot has the basic knowledge required to understand and accept the risks of flying as a tandem passenger on a Paraglider.
Beginner P1 pilot:
A Beginner pilot has the knowledge and basic skills necessary to fly and practice under direct instructor supervision and within significant operating limitations.
The pilot understands the USHPA Paragliding rating systems and recommended operating limitations.
Students enrolled with us generally start off their training with the Introduction Day. This program is designed for those students who wish to get a feel for the sport and in the process learn the basic skills and kiting by making their first flight on the training hill.
This program also serves as a way to remove any doubt and hesitation in the mind of the students about Paragliding and in a way persuades them to take up training for acquiring the P2 pilot certificate. Once the students are convinced to take up the training program and enrolls for the P2 program, he is giving the P0 and P1 certificates together by the instructor.
Novice P2 certificate:
The P2 pilot is all that a P1 pilot is with a good judgment and has a level of maturity commensurate with the rating. Pilots must demonstrate Beginner level skills and knowledge before obtaining the Novice rating.
To acquire the P2 certificate the pilot has to complete few witnessed tasks with a minimum of 8 hours of ground school theory. The pilot should have learnt basics about the forecasting the weather, basics in launching, Understanding danger signs, landing and site orientation etc.
Once the pilot finishes the P2 program he will have the necessary skills to inflate, ground handle and control the glider. P2 certificate also lets the pilot to fly solo with glider under certain restrictions.
Intermediate P3 pilot:
The pilot has the knowledge and skills to fly most sites in mild to moderate soaring conditions, and to judge when the site and conditions are within the pilot’s skill, knowledge, and experience level.
To receive the P3 certificate the pilot should have logged in a minimum of 30 flying days, at least 90 flights and also a minimum of 20 hours of solo airtime. The P3 pilot shows exceptional abilities of flying with sound knowledge in Airspeed control, turbulence, collapse and recoveries.
The detailed report for the requirements to become an Intermediate pilot is given in the USHPA website.
Advanced Pilot P4:
The pilot has the knowledge and skills to fly technically demanding sites in strong soaring conditions, and to judge when the site and conditions are within the pilot’s skill, knowledge, and experience level.
The pilot understands the USHPA Paragliding rating system and recommended operating limitations, and the FARs and other flying rules applicable to his/her flying. To get the Advanced pilot certificate the pilot should have had a minimum of 250 flights, with a minimum of 80 flights, days, must have flown in all the 5 P3 flying sites 5 times each.
The P4 pilot will display elite skills and expertise in the art of flying as given in the report by USHPA.
Master pilot P5:
For pilots who wish to further diversify their skills in the sport of Paragliding, and to recognize the achievement of the expert skilled pilot who has experience beyond the Advanced level, there is a designation of Master Pilot.
No site will be designated as requiring Master skills. The pilot will fly using good judgment and have a level of maturity commensurate with the rating. The P5 pilot will display exceptional skills and expertise in the art of flying as given in the report by USHPA.
For most recreational and occasional flyers, being an Intermediate Pilot or even a Novice pilot will be sufficient to fly at most flight parks. As mentioned above, it is always advisable to enroll for Paragliding training to hone your skills.
At Letsgoparagliding, we nurture the hidden talents in all of our students. Come fly with us!
Now that you’ve read more about paragliding, paragliding lessons and the introduction day that we at Let’sGoParagliding offer, you might be thinking of shopping around for schools and programs to help you get started on your paragliding adventure. This is great. One of the most important things when you’re learning any kind of extreme sport is to have a good repoire with those that will be teaching you to paraglide. You want to feel comfortable with what you’re learning as well as trust that your teachers are as good as they say they are.
However, you can’t just go with a “good feeling” that you have about your school of choice. So, we’ve put together a list of what you should be looking at when you’re choosing a paragliding school that will be the best for you:
Don’t just price shop or you might get second rate paragliding instructions. You should know that most paragliding courses run about the same in an area. Some will be slightly higher or lower, depending on what the course offers. If you meet someone that offers to teach you to paraglide for a very low price you should consider finding another paragliding school.
While the feeling you get from a paragliding school is important, you should take the time to check on credentials of the school and/or instructors you’re thinking about taking classes from. Since paragliding can be dangerous, you want to make sure that you’re going to learn the ins and outs of safety, equipment and how to use it all properly. You also want to make sure that your instructors are certified so that you’ll have the best experience possible.
Since you don’t want to have to buy all your equipment before you even know that you want to pursue paragliding, it’s a good idea to go with a paragliding school that includes the cost of using their equipment into the price of the instruction package you’re thinking about taking. At Let’sGoParagliding, all of your instruction packages, from the introduction day to becoming certified to fly on your own, include the cost of equipment usage.
You also want to ensure that the instruction package you’re paying for will work with your schedule. Nothing is fun if you can’t make it work with your family and work life. That’s why we offer flexible scheduling and packages that work with your time so you can get the most of your paragliding experience.
Paragliding should be fun. You should be able to learn how to fly, but you also want to get in the air as soon as possible. We understand that you’re willing to learn, but you want to know what it’s like. That’s why we’ve worked to offer you a hands-on flying experience right from day one of your instruction.
If you’re still not certain that you want to paraglide, why not consider an introduction day to get you started? We want you to love paragliding as much as we do, and when you choose Let’sGoParagliding, you’re going to get to see how it feels to fly.
Before you decide that you want any kind of paragliding lessons, you want to know who your instructors are. You want to know that they are good at what they do and that you’re going to be safe and learn as much as possible.
We get this and that’s why at LetsGoParagliding, we provide many different training programs to meet your needs. You can enjoy an introduction day that will give you the basics of your equipment and let you get started on your first little flight. This is where you’ll decide if you want to pursue paragliding or not. It’s a full day of fun, excitement and outdoor activity. When you get in the air though, don’t be surprised at the thrill you feel.
If you’ve decided that you want to learn to fly on your own, we offer programs for this too. We offer packages that work with your schedule and time so you don’t have to feel pressured. At the end of our P2 program, you’re going to be able to fly without direct supervision from your instructor. Of course, you’ll have some limitations – you won’t be an expert yet, but this is a great way to get out and start enjoying nature the way the birds do.
We also offer programs that can help you to get to where you want to be when it comes to your experience level. So, whether you’re happy being a novice or you want to fly all on your own, we’ll be with you every step of the way.
We believe in the sport of paragliding. We know it’s exciting and thrilling, but we also know how things can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Since we feel passionate about paragliding, we want you to feel the same way, which is why we walk with you every step of the way.
What you’ll experience:
What you won’t find:
If you know that you want to try paragliding, consider LetsGoParagliding for your paragliding experience. You’ll get excellent training and have the experience of a lifetime.