What to expect on your Paragliding Course

Below you will find details of what to expect on each of our courses, whether a tandem flight, taster day, elementary pilot course, club pilot course or winch conversion… but first a few notes about how booking works…

WEATHER DEPENDENT

– If we need to call off your course, we will contact you in advance by text – generally the afternoon/evening before your booking. We reserve the right to cancel tuition at any time for reasons of safety or comfort – the instructor’s decision is final. Credit will be carried forward, but cancelled days don’t automatically roll over, so you will need to re-book.

WHO CAN FLY?

Anyone over 16 – there is no upper age restriction. You don’t need to be super-fit – there is little strength involved in paragliding, though walking up hills and carrying kit can be mildly demanding. Anyone with medical problems should think twice about flying; we don’t normally require a medical certificate, but if you do have any doubts, give us a call. Everyone attempting paragliding must be aware that it is a risk sport, and take this risk “on board”. If the possibility – however remote – of personal injury whilst pursuing a sport is unacceptable, then paragliding is not for you.

MEETING AND ADMINISTRATION

For courses we normally begin the day by meeting at Sussex Beauty spot Devil’s Dyke at 09.30am – [map and directions here]. Please be punctual. We will either remain there to train, or move off to another site if the weather dictates. BHPA paperwork will be completed at this stage, as well as an overview of the plans for the day.We will inform you by SMS text if there are any changes. We aim to begin teaching (after a weather check) at around 10am. NB FOR TANDEM FLIGHTS YOU LIAISE DIRECTLY WITH YOUR INSTRUCTOR TO ARRANGE MEETING PLACE AND TIME.

PLEASE NOTE – Although we occasionally close for overseas trips and also over xmas/new year, we teach all year round*! Weather conditions over winter and spring can often offer ideal conditions for beginners.
*apart from tandems, see next section
A summary follows of what to expect in the lessons and courses we offer, as laid out by the BHPA syllabus.

Tandem Paragliding Flight
An ideal way to get airborne and taste the paragliding experience – it’s an ideal gift, as we issue a voucher which can be presented and redeemed later (vouchers last for a full six months). A tandem flight will get you airborne after an introductory briefing, under the careful guidance of a fully-qualified and experienced BHPA Tandem Pilot; flights normally last around 15-20 minutes, although as with all gliding flight, the exact time “airborne” cannot be guaranteed. If weather/wind conditions dictate that we cannot soar for long we may have two shorter flights instead. One thing is for certain, you will experience a fantastic flight with superb views over the Sussex countryside… on a clear day you might see the Seven Sisters coastal cliffs, Brighton Town and the Isle of Wight…

After experiencing the thrill of free flight, many people go on to take up paragliding as a serious hobby. Whether you are inspired to continue paragliding or not, your first tandem flight will be an experience of a lifetime. Anyone of average fitness can take a tandem flight – we foot launch and gently land again with the minimum of effort.

All you need to do is dress in warm clothing for the day’s weather and wear flat shoes with good grippy soles and ankle support – gloves can also be a good idea. Allow up to half a day for your flight to give time to meet, get to the flying site, have a pre-flight briefing and of course the flight itself.

Please be aware that safety is of paramount importance and paragliding is potentially a dangerous adventure sport, needing suitable weather conditions. Therefore, if the weather is not suitable on a particular day we may have to cancel your flight and re-schedule for another day.

PLEASE NOTE: Tandem Flights close from mid-September to late April each year, as the extended high flights we aim to give to tandem customers depend on thermic conditions not usually found over the winter. Tandem vouchers expiry dates will be extended by the appropriate duration to give a full 6 months availability

Paragliding Taster Day
A taster day is effectively the first day of an Elementary Pilot Course (see below) – we concentrate on exercises 1 to 9 on your first day, getting you to your first hop flights as the syllabus allows. A Taster Day is a great way to get your hands on the equipment, and see how the school teaches – as such it is a perfect gift for people who are thinking of taking a course, or a fun experience in its own right. After the day, the credit can be upgraded to a full course. All you need to do is dress in layered clothing appropriate for the day’s weather and wear flat shoes with good grippy soles and ankle support – gloves can also be a good idea. Bring a packed lunch, and plenty of fluids (no alcohol). We meet at 09.30 at Devil’s Dyke (see Meeting Us section for map). Days will need to be paid for and booked in advance, and if we need to cancel for weather reasons, we will contact you by sms message in advance.

Read about the experience of a Taster Day in Sussex Magazine Village Living… Gift vouchers (redeemable any time within 10 months) can be issued for a day taster on request; you can buy a two-day voucher if you wish to have a more substantial experience covering exercises 5 to 13 – or buy a two day voucher and use it for two of you to come along – why not buy a gift and come along and have a fun day too!

Elementary Pilot (EP) Course
Usually takes around 5 days; we offer an open-ended approach to allow flexibility for the weather and abilities.

Ground Training
1-4 Introductory Talk, Site Assessment, Introduction to Equipment, Avoiding injury.
Ground Handling
5 Briefing then hands-on: wind direction flare/stall
6 Preparation hands-on: the paragliding canopy, harness and helmet
7 Inflation, take-off and landing sequence practised
8 Directional control – initiating turns

First Hops
9 Getting airborne – take-off on training slope with good control of airspeed, canopy and landing
Flight exercises
10 Eventualities briefing – dealing with the unexpected
11 Commands and communications briefing
12 Responsibilities – the student becomes the pilot-in-command
13 Flights (1) straight flights, maintaining course and airspeed
14 Flights (2) introducing turns
15 Flights (3) completing simple flight plans with increased height
Theory and Examination
16-20 Meteorology, Principles of flight, Rules of the Air, Multiple Choice exam
Final assessment of Elementary stage
20 Student reaches a standard of airmanship and attitude to continue training.

At this stage, the student is “their own pilot”, and may move on to Club Pilot level, but must remain in an environment supervised by an Instructor until the Club Pilot is completed.

Club Pilot (CP) Course – follows on from the EP Course above
Usually takes around 5 days post-CP; we offer an open-ended approach to allow flexibility for the weather and abilities.
Pre-soaring
21 Theory
22 180 degree turns to a consistent level
23 Planned approaches – Minimum 4 successful flights with landing within 10m of target
Soaring
24 Soaring flight – Minimum 3 successful flights using ridge lift to maintain gain height
25 Top landings – Minimum 4 successful flights
26 Flying with others

Improving Skills
27 Exploring the speed range
28 Accelerator system
29 Forward launching
30 Reverse launching
31 Weight shift and pitch-roll in turns
32 Cross wind and slope landings

Instability and Emergencies
33 Theory
34 Active flying
35 Rapid descent techniques
36 Dealing with an asymmetric tuck
Theory and Examination
37-41 Meteorology, Principles of flight, Rules of the air and air law, General airmanship knowledge, Club pilot theory examination assessment for Club Pilot
42 Declaration by Senior instructor

Winch/Tow Conversion Course
In association with our sister school Air Adventure, we are pleased to offer winch towing conversion courses. We not only have some of the best hill training sites on the South Downs, but we also have the perfect tow-site based directly behind Devil’s Dyke. Using the Koch static winch we can tow in any wind direction and we have the necessary Civil Aviation Authority permits to tow you up to 2000 ft above launch, and considering the highest hill in the area is aprox 700ft you will almost certainly double your air time.

Winch/Tow Conversion Courses – Minimum requirements CP
A two-day course covering theory and a minimum of ten flights. For more details contact us.