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How To Start Paragliding

Updated on May 12, 2010

Paragliding is one of the most exciting and most affordable forms of flying. If you have dreamed about flying, paragliding is the first option that should come in your mind. Here is why:

  • Unlike hang-gliders, paragliders can be packed in a back-pack
  • Fuel is not required
  • It's easy - you can fly with an instructor with zero preparation
  • No need of a plain to jump from like in skydiving.

Picture by donjd2

Your First Flight

If you want to start paragliding I recommend your first jump to be with an instructor and with their equipment. There is no point in buying a paraglider before you even know whether you will like it or not.

Find a paragliding school or club that offers tandem flights in your area. The professional instructor will pick the right paraglider and safe weather condition for you, will keep you reassured and safe and will explain you few basic things about paragliding.

Once you have made the first flight, you are likely to want more. There are two options: to keep doing tandem flights or to choose a paragliding school and start training for the real fun.

The first is recommended if you only plan to do it few more times. If you think paragliding will become your new hobby, it's better to get proper training and your own equipment. 

Choosing a Paragliding School

It's not recommended to try learning paragliding without an instructor. Yes, it's not a rocket science but you need to learn few basic things and this won't happen by reading books.

Visiting a paragliding school to take a course will ensure you are introduced the basics of paragliding, the safety requirements, and in most cases - that you have a license. In most countries and US states you need some kind of license to do solo paragliding. 

When choosing a paragliding school, check the USHGA rating of their instructors, the instructor to student ratio and the number of hours included.

It's highly recommended that you take 1 or 2 days introductory  class in the club or school before you sign a longer contract.

Buying the Equipment

Once you have received proper training you will be eager to start flying. You are almost there: you just need to buy paragliding equipment. There are three most important parts:

  • A wing: it's the most important and most expensive part. It's a good idea to ask your instructor for recommendations
  • A harness:  as a beginner you can buy a light one to save money
  • A helmet: get an air-sport helmet, not bicycle or motorcycle one 

There are a lot of other accessories you can buy like GPS, hook knife, altimeter and so on, but don't get obsessed by the buying fever! You can start thin and add the accessories over time - it's better to do this than to go too cheap on the 3 most important parts.

Well, that's it. Check out also these paragliding tips and you are ready to fly! 

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