Introduction to Ultralight Airplanes

Choosing a Paragliding School

Your teacher, your interest's sail

I believe that throughout our lives, teachers and coaches play a key role in defining our interests. I mean think about it, when you were 7 and you loved Math and hated English, was it because you as a 7-year-old student could differentiate between your capabilities and creativity in each?! Sure not, it was because Miss. Jefferson the Math teacher was an angel and Mr. Harley the English teacher was a demon!

3 good reasons to pay for a paragliding lesson

Unlike many other sports, paragliding is not a self-learning sport by any means. You can't just buy the gear and go up in the air in no time! Basically you need an instructor to do 3 things:

  1. To introduce you to the sport and help you try it by yourself for the first time. Maybe you will not find it as easy or joyful as it was on TV!

  2. To make sure you are safe up there and monitor your errors that could be fatal sometimes. Note that we are not talking about twisting ankles here; it could be your neck!

  3. To give you the license

License?! Like a "flying license"?!

Oh yes, considering that you are in the USA allow me to tell you this. Paragliding is an 'air' sport, therefore it is regulated under the Federal Aviation Regulations which state that you do not need a license to fly.

But... some states have specific flying policies. For instance, to fly in certain cities or regions you have to take a training course which will ultimately award you a license.

This license is called the Novice program and it follows the recommendations and guidelines of an association called USHGA (United States Hang Gliding Association). You can take classes in the first part (Para 1) which will allow you spread your wings then the other parts (Para 2 and 3) in case you want to get more into the depth.

If you are not in the USA you may eventually not need a license, but I wouldn't rely on that.

How much does it cost?

Almost all paragliding schools give you a one or two-day introductory class for $200-$400 in order to get your feet wet. This class is very important as it helps you decide whether or not to go on with this school/instructor or with paragliding as a whole.

After you decide to proceed to Para 1 you will probably pay from $300-$400 for the 2-days program which will give you the basic license.

Para 2 and is a bit more expensive, ranging from $1500 to $3000. Also you need up to 2 weeks in order to finish it.

How to find a good paragliding school?

Like any school, a quick pre-visit to the school's website, 'training hill' or office will tell you a lot about what you are getting in return of your money. Here are some points to inquire about:

  • The USHGA rating of the instructors (yep, they do have ratings for instructors as well as pilots and the highest of all is called 'Advanced Tandem Instructor').

  • The number of hours per each class and the training days. In case the school is in a region which is subject to climate changes, expect that the course duration may take more than planned. Some schools have a 'back up hill' in case the wind direction or speed change!

  • Instructor:Pilots ratio. This is a very important factor in the price differences between schools and between packages in each school.

  • Availability of DVDs or handouts.

  • Last but not least, the friendliness of the instructor!

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