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What is paragliding?

Paragliding is as close to flying like a bird as you will ever get. It is free flight in its purest form. A paraglider is a foot launched flying wing. It is convenient, easy to carry, easy to setup, and easy to fly. Paragliders are constructed from nylon and coated with a UV protectant. The pilot is suspended from incredibly strong kevlar lines in a harness positioned like a reclining chair for maximum comfort in the air. When flying, you can actually soar like a bird- taking advantage of rising air in the form of thermals or ridge (wind) lift.

Are paragliders the same as parasails?

Most people have a tendency to confuse paragliding with parasailing. Parasails are large parachutes generally pulled behind a boat at a beach or lake. Paragliders are launched from hills, mountains, cliffs, or from tow winches. Paragliders are closer to a 747 than a parachute. A parachutes purpose is to bring you down to the ground slowly. The purpose of a paraglider is to climb into the air allowing you to fly for hours at a time and covering many miles of terrain.

Hang gliding vs. paragliding?

The major difference lies in the wing shape and design. Hang gliders are solid wing structures, utilizing an aluminum frame to create a V-shaped wing that resembles the stealth bomber. Paragliders are soft wing structures (no internal frame) that once inflated have an elliptical shape. Because paragliders have a slower flying speed they are much more forgiving. As a result the learning curve is usually quicker on a paraglider. Also, paragliders fold up into a small bag.
Total weight of the paraglider, harness, reserve parachute, helmet is usually around 25-30lbs. A hang glider rolls up into a bag that is about 15ft. long and weighs 70-100lbs. Paragliders are carried in a large backpack, whereas hang gliders require a vehicle with extra racks. Obviously paragliders are the more convenient of the two. Hang gliders will always be faster than paragliders because of their solid wing structure, yet with the slower flying speed, paragliders tend to be much more maneuverable, and can fly in lesser conditions.

Safety: paragliding or hang gliding?

The main factor concerning pilot safety in either of these sports is pilot attitude. There is a saying in the flying community, "There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots." The bottom line here is that incidents occur due to pilot error. Very rarely do we see equipment failures. The majority of accidents occur because pilots were flying in weather conditions that were too extreme, or pilots were performing dangerous maneuvers close to the ground. Our main concern in your training is pilot safety. We can teach you how to judge meteteorological conditions, physical terrain dangers, and weather changes, but it is up to the pilot to judge whether the conditions are safe to fly in.

Are there any age restrictions?

Paragliding is about peace and serenity. Paragliding does not require a large amount of physical strength. More important than actual physical conditioning is mental alertness. On the other hand if you are looking to lose a couple of pounds paragliding is a great way to get yourself back into shape. We have trained pilots as young as 9 (with a guardian learning as well) and as mature as 82.

What certifications do I need to fly?

Paragliding works on a certification system. Pilots receive ratings throughout their flying career that should reflect the pilot skill level. The ratings are as such:

Para 1: Beginner Pilot - Student can only fly under instructor supervision and instructor radio contact.

Para 2: Novice Pilot - Student is now considered a full fledged pilot and can fly solo at nearly 90% of our flying sites nationally.

Para 3: Intermediate Pilot - Student has now passed a number of flight requirements and has amassed many logged hours. At this point you are considered a competent pilot and can fly almost every site safely.

Para 4: Advanced Pilot - This requirement is met by logging hours and flights, and acquiring a great deal of knowledge regarding weather and FAA regulations. From this point you also may enroll in a certification course to receive your tandem rating.

Para 5: Master Pilot - There are only a handful of them in the United States. This is the most prestigious rating to be acquired. Chad Bastian, of Fly Above All is one of them.

What will it cost me?

The training will be the first cost that you incur. At Fly Above All, it costs $1500.00 to receive your P-2 or Novice rating. The P-1 rating allows you to practice under the direct supervision of an instructor (student rating). Most of our students are enrolled to acquire their novice rating, but will fulfill the requirements for their beginner rating along the way.
You will use school equipment at no charge during your novice training. At some point you will decide that it's time for your own gear. This includes a harness, helmet, reserve, and glider. A full kit typically costs between $4,000 and $6,000 depending on what you aquire. If properly maintained, this equipment will last you 3-5 years.

Can I find used equipment?

Used equipment is available from a number of different sources. The problem is that it is hard to tell if used equipment is safe. The number one factor that damages paragliders is UV exposure. It is hard to really know how much UV exposure a glider has received. Pilots will tell you it only has 80 hours of flight time on it, but how many 100's of hours was it sitting in the sun? We do occassionally carry used equipment from former students that have upgraded their gliders. In this case we are in a good position to accurately judge the number of hours of flight and UV time the glider has been exposed to as well as the general upkeep it's been given. We can also perform an inspection to assure that the glider is still within specifications. Because our purchasing protocol is so particular, quality used equipment may be difficult to find in your size and budget, so a lot of patience will be required to find the best deal for you. Our recommendation is to buy new equipment the first time.

How do I get started?

The best way to start is take a day lesson at our training hill. During this hands-on lesson you will learn to not only handle the glider on the ground but you will fly on your own (under radio supervision) from our 200 foot training hill. We have some of the best instructors in the US, including the 2012 Instructor of the Year, available 7 days a week. This means that we are available to work around your schedule. Once you discover the wonder of paragliding, this day lesson can be fully applied to your Para 2 (Novice) certification.

How long will the course take?

The Para 2 program generally takes 6-10 (average 8) days to complete. Because Fly Above All averages less than 3 students per instructor, you will receive the personal attention you need to advance your skills quickly. But learning to paraglide well will be a long time obsession. Once you have trained with Fly Above All, you're part of our family. You will be encouraged to join us for fun flying trips several times a week as well as have the opportunity to take part in more formalized courses, clinics and tours.

Why learn at Fly Above All?

Click here for a synopsis of why you should choose Fly Above All!

Click here for lesson prices or come visit our beautiful location.

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