Congratulations! You’ve decided to take the first step towards discovering and embracing the joy of free flight. As a paraglider pilot you will have access to the sky in ways you may have only thought possible in your dreams.
Paragliding is one of the most personal and intimate ways to fly. Be prepared to be awed, excited, inspired, and exhausted in the best ways possible after each and every flight.
You will discover an entirely new view of the world through the unique perspective that paragliding offers. You have officially started down a path that most people rarely venture and few will ever fully experience or appreciate.
The educational material contained in this guide is in NO WAY meant to replace the hands-on experience an individual can get from a school, educational facility, or trained instructor. Please use this information as a companion to your daily training and practice only. The intent of this guide is to enhance the student experience and help create a more consistent standard of education in the P2 training process for pilots in the United States.
Choosing a School and Instructor
|In recent years there have been many changes to the way schools, sites, clubs, and events are afforded insurance to cover the inherent risks with this sport. As a result, school and instructor options have become more limited and expensive. With this in mind it is paramount that you do your homework when researching where to do your training. Ask lots of questions, talk to someone at the school, talk to former students, look for instructors who have received the USHPA Instructor of the Year Award, and above all else: go meet with the instructor(s) you will be working with. Some schools even allow a day of training for free to determine if you will be a good fit with the system and approach that the school uses.
Check out the links on our home page to USHPA and PASA for information on all the certified and accredited schools and instructors in the U.S.
Regardless, be sure to look at as many options as you can before spending any money. Some of the best schools offer credit towards gear purchases when you do your P2 training with them – and you will definitely be needing gear as soon as you finish your training, if not before.
Interacting With Your Instructor
Not every school or instructor is a perfect fit for every student. The best instructors will understand this fact and make every effort to find the best way to teach you to fly safely. If you feel like you aren’t getting the best quality of instruction, don’t be afraid to talk to your Instructor about your concerns. Effective communication between you and your instructor is critical for your success as a paraglider pilot-in-training. Be honest and be prepared to listen with an open mind.
Most schools have gear available for the training process and its use is included in the cost of your P2 training course. If not, it is wise to carefully consider what gear will be best suited for your initial beginner skill level as well as what kind of flying you intend to do. It is best to do lots of research and have a lengthy conversation with your instructor before you buy any gear – they will ask lots of questions and help determine the best potential type of gear for the type of flying you plan on pursuing.
Almost all paragliding wing manufacturers make several quality beginner level gliders. Talk at length with your instructor about gear purchase options, if you are limited to a certain budget there is a good chance that quality, lightly-used gear can be found.
At some schools, everything you need for your training will be provided, so don’t feel obligated to get anything other than maybe a helmet and some decent gloves ahead of time.
Some schools recommend or require buying certain smaller pieces of equipment (helmet, radio, etc) before you begin training so you get familiar with your personal gear and gain a level of comfort with it through the training process. It is best to have a good long conversation about any gear you want to purchase with the instructor or school where you will be training – the more you communicate before your training begins, the better prepared you will be.
The best instructors give you all the tools, skills, tricks, and every last bit of helpful information they can. Be mindful of any claims that one way is best or one piece of gear is best. Much of what you will learn and how it applies to flying smart and safely is very situational specific
Contact as many schools and instructors as you can and be ready to start learning with an open mind on your first day of training.