first time paragliding
Tandem or Solo?
Many people ask us what
the best way to experience paragliding is, tandem or solo? We absolutely
feel that you will come away from the first day solo lesson with so much
more for these reasons:
First of all, you are the pilot! You will learn to inflate, kite, run,
launch fly and land the paraglider wing yourself. In a tandem, all the
work is being done for you, and you are just along as a passenger. For
some, this may be OK, but the overwhelming response to the first day
lesson is "WOW, I can't believe it was so easy to fly!"
The First Day
We arrive at Elings Park
at around 10 am in the morning, and get a wing and harness that fits your
body weight. If you don't have your own helmet (bicycle or skateboard is
OK), then we will fit you with one of ours. We will then determine if
there is any wind, and lay the canopy out on the ground facing the
direction the wind is coming. Once we attach the harness to the risers and
put our helmets on, we will hook ourselves into the harness and do a
Usually, your instructor
will demonstrate a forward inflation, so you can see how the wing is
brought overhead for inspection before launching. Running along the ground
with the wing overhead, you will see how we control the wing's direction
with the brake toggles. When it is time to bring the wing down, you will
see them turn to face the glider and pull the brake handles down to their
seat, making the wing stop and return to the ground.
We will then demonstrate how to gather the paraglider into a mushroom
shaped ball, ready for carrying. This is how we walk with the glider so we
don't drag the wing on the ground. You will also be able to ride in the
van with the wing like this back to the top of the hill when you're ready,
and there's no need to unattach or fold up each time you fly.
Now it's Your Turn!
After the brief
demonstration, it's time to get started! Start with your helmet, we want
this on securely before we get into the harness. Putting the harness on is
like putting on a vest, just lift by the shoulder straps and put your arms
through the straps. Secure the two leg straps and the chest strap, and
adjust the legs to be just in contact with your legs, not too tight,
you'll need to be able to run.
We will preflight your setup, then help you put the brake handles in the
correct hands. Scooping your arms under the risers from behind, we'll
place the "A" risers in your hands in preparation for your first
inflation. We'll help you centre yourself in front of your wing, then it's
time for action! On our command, you'll run forward aggressively, pushing
against the chest strap and lifting the "A" risers to inflate and bring
the wing overhead.
Once it's up, we will say "Contact!" This is when you will slide your
hands off of the "A" risers and make contact with the wing. You must
continue to run, or the wing will lose pressure and fall back to the
ground. Turning control is made using the brake toggles, and you will
begin to balance the wing overhead.
The Bunny Hill
Now that you have an idea
of the forward inflation technique, we are going to make it easier for
you. We are going to go up the hill a little and let you run downhill. Not
enough to fly yet, we want to see that you are developing good habits
first. These first inflations on the lower slopes will allow you to start
to feel the lift created by the wing as you run with it. As we work our
way a little higher each time, we get closer to our first flight, as the
hill slope and our glide slope are almost the same.
When you can consistently bring the glider overhead, "contact" the wing
using the brakes, and control the direction of travel while running
forward into the wind, you will be rewarded by being lifted gently off the
ground as the wing glides down the slope. This is where it is very
important that you do not over control the wing. Gentle input using the
brakes to effect your direction of travel will be the safest approach for
now. Deep, aggressive input will stop the wing, and you will not fly.
You must also remember to keep running! Many times, students are so
effected by the sensation of being lifted off the ground, that they simply
stop running and sit down. The flight is usually over very quickly when
this happens, with you sitting on the ground and the wing surging over
your head. Let's launch (and land) with our landing gear down and rolling!
Landing is done by doing what we call a "flare" just before our feet touch
the ground again. As you approach the ground (about 3 feet), you will pull
the brakes all the way down to your sides, slowing the wing down to set
you gently back on Mother Earth.
Top of the Hill
When you can show us that
you have good habits on the lower slope, we'll take you to the top of the
200 foot hill, where you will really know you are flying! Your instructor
has been evaluating the weather all morning, and will determine whether it
is appropriate for you to fly. After a briefing of the launch, review of
your flight planand discussion of the approach and landing, it's time to
set up for your flight.
This is where the real magic starts, although I must admit that on my
first flight, I was terrified! It wasn't until I returned to the top of
the hill for a second flight that I realized that this really does work,
and that I could fly safely and easily from the top of a hill with no
power. On my second flight, I looked around, looked up at my wing, then
looked up and down the coast from the viewpoint of flying and I was
You may want to have someone come along to take pictures of you before and
after these first few flights, we've seen some pretty big smiles and
bright eyes when we pick you up at the bottom of the hill! It will be an
experience you will never forget! By the end of the first lesson, most of
our students get two or three flights from the top of the hill, allowing
them to really feel what paragliding is like from a first-hand point of
you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes
turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to
- Leonardo da Vinci