Who are we?
Head over to our About Us page for more information on who we are, what we do, and why we’re the best choice for all your air sports needs.
How are we different?
•We are educators first and foremost, not sales people or a media & marketing machine. We are here to teach, not sell you unnecessary equipment. It’s not uncommon for us to talk you out of equipment you don’t need.
•We are on-site every day. Christopher Grantham, the owner, with 20+ years of teaching experience, will be your primary instructor. Large school operators often turn the day-to-day operations over to less experienced instructors and/or apprentices, losing sight of how the school is operating.
•We literally wrote the book. The USHPA syllabus was developed by Christopher Grantham and is the result of decades of teaching experience around the world. Before its adoption by USHPA it was already in use by the largest flight schools in the nation and is currently being adopted by the Canadian free-flight organization. The syllabus has also become the basis for the Speed-Flying and Paragliding Instructor syllabi in use by USHPA and HPAC.
•We adhere to the USHPA recommended operating limitations. The USHPA guidelines are the result of decades of experience and in place to minimize risk. Knowing and understanding those guidelines early in your career will set you up for success as a pilot. To that end, we will stop flying when the conditions exceed the limitations. Long flying careers don’t come from many flights in one day, they come from many days of flying.
•We are the only school in the area that uses the two safest launch areas and landing zones for your required mountain flights. The result is that over the decades we’ve never had to do a tree rescue for any student and off landing-zone landings are less than one third of the local average. Our safety record is unmatched.
•We ensure you’re getting the best possible equipment. Ozone, Gin Gliders, and Advance are the worlds best and biggest brands with the largest research & development programs. As a result they are consistently at the top of the podium at competitions, and top of the stack in pilot reviews. If another brand can beat them, we’ll start stocking that, but we will never sell you 2nd or 3rd tier equipment. No other school in the area offers the top brands.
•The Santa Barbara and Ojai pilot communities support us! We often get high-fives from community members about how we teach, our attention to safety, and the skills we focus on. When recommending a school, pilots who may have learned elsewhere will send their significant others, friends, and family to us. We are honored to have earned their trust both for instruction and equipment needs.
•Our students are welcomed into flying communities around the world. Fly Above All students are known for having exceptional skills and judgement. When visiting other areas, having our name on your certification puts other pilots at ease and opens doors to more flying areas.
How many days per week do you train and when can I start?
Every day! If the weather is good, chances are high that we’re teaching. Santa Barbara offers great weather year-round and while there are occasionally days that are too windy, or is blessed with the occasional rainstorm, the weather here doesn’t change much. Our best guess is that it’s teachable in excess of 300 days/year.
The schedule does fill up and we do try to keep classes small so the earlier you schedule the better. Some students will try to do it all in consecutive days, while others will prefer once/week. We’re here for you whatever your schedule.
What kind of equipment will I learn on, and when do I need my own?
Fly Above All uses EN A (the safest rating) paragliders from your very first day until you are ready to move on to your own glider. We primarily use Ozone gliders for training as they are safer, easier, and from the top manufacturer. We will never put you on a higher performance or more demanding paraglider until we feel you are ready. It's counterproductive to your learning process and nerve wracking for us!
Don't be lured into buying gear early! We recommend students purchase equipment AFTER they have completed the USHPA required tasks. We want you on the safest possible equipment for the critical moments in your course. When we feel you have a solid grasp of the fundamentals, only then will we recommend you step up to your own equipment. Some schools will force you to buy your own gear 2-3 days in. This is a high-risk maneuver designed to reduce wear on their own equipment and has nothing to do with your safety.
What does equipment cost and do I have to have it?
Fly Above All gear packages are discounted for students and typically run $5800 before tax. That’s for a top of the line Ozone or Gin glider, harness (usually Ozone, Advance or Gin), reserve (Ozone), radio, and some extra parts for reserves and harnesses. By comparison you could expect to pay $6300+ elsewhere for lesser known brands, and not have a choice of harnesses.
You do need to have your own equipment in order to finish the P2 certification, Speed-Flying, or Paramotor course. You will want to do the mountain flight on your own gear, and be able to stay current after graduation.
Is Paragliding, Speed-Flying, or Paramotoring dangerous?
There is always an inherent risk in airsports. However, it’s generally NOT the equipment or the altitude that poses the risk. In most, if not all cases, accidents can be traced back to errors in judgement. If you make good choices, fly equipment appropriate for your skill level, fly in reasonable weather, maintain your equipment, watch out for other people, and seek out responsible and thoughtful mentors, the risk can be mitigated to very low levels. Instructor Christopher Grantham has been flying since 2001 with no accidents. There is a lot to be learned beyond the mechanics of flying a paraglider and part of that includes good judgement. Seek out schools & mentors who make good choices, follow the recommended operating limitations when teaching, and teach to USHPA standards, and you’ll be starting out on the right path.
What are the physical requirements?
You don’t need to be an Olympic athlete to paraglide. Being in good shape, able to run short distances, and jump off a 2 ft platform are a good start. Our maximum weight for the 1 day and P2 courses is 230 lbs and the minimum weight is 88 lbs. For tandems our maximum weight is 200 lbs. We’ve had students as young as 13 years old but anyone under 18 will need to get adult permission. Our oldest student was 83.
Where do I meet on the first day?
We’ll meet at Elings Park, 2550 Cliff Dr. It’s a slightly hidden entrance. Take the driveway uphill until you can make a left through a low black gate onto a dirt road. Follow the dirt road up to the top of the hill. The dirt road makes a loop and is one-way so be sure to stay to the left when it forks.
What do I bring?
Long pants, athletic close-toed shoes, water, and sunscreen are a good idea. We will break for lunch and there are places to eat nearby but you’re welcome to bring lunch. If you have a ski helmet or similar that you love you are welcome to bring that but we provide helmets as well.