"Thanks Andrew for all your help, patience and encouragement during my training with you. I was always given confidence by your safety conscious and measured judgement in assessing the flying conditions and pupils competence levels. Above all it was always fun and exciting, whilst making us aware of the risks and dangers."
How long before I can fly on my own?
To fly without an instructor you will need to have achieved both your Elementary Pilot and Club Pilot ratings. The EP usually takes 4 days for average ability with good weather. The CP usually takes 8 days of good flying days. Whatever rating you have and however experienced you are it is never a good idea to fly totally on your own.
Do I need to bring anything with me?
The training does take quite a bit of energy so you will need to bring food. A light packed lunch with fruit or energy giving snacks. You will use up a lot of water even on cooler days, so bring plenty. On hot days it is wise to bring at very least two litres. Also if it is hot a brimmed hat or cap and sunscreen. There is a fair bit of paper work along the way so if you have trouble with small print please bring reading glasses.
How long is a training day?
Usually we start the training day at 11:00 and finish around 5:00 or 6:00. If we need to move site during the day due to a change in the wind direction it often means we stay out a bit longer. Some days in the summer we will start later and so finish at dusk to avoid the strongest thermals in the afternoon. If the wind picks up during the day or it starts to rain then we may have to cancel the day.
What weather do you need for paragliding training?
The main thing we need is not too much wind. If the wind on the hill is much over 15mph or particularly gusty then it will not be safe to train. Bear in mind that if the wind is forecast to be 15mph it may well be much more than that on the hill. Very occasionally we get exceptionally light winds that may be too light for you, depending on where you are in the training programme. A little bit of dampness doesn't necessarily stop training but if there is any proper rain, it will stop play.
What clothes should I wear?
Ankle supporting boots are very important as you will be running over uneven ground. Apart from that, a range of clothes that doesn't mind being scuffed around a bit. Please avoid shorts and short sleeves in the summer - loose long sleeves are best. When you are doing the hands on training you warm up quickly but on cooler windier days as soon as you take a break you can get chilly surprisingly soon.
What's the best time of year to start paragliding?
There are two answers to this - now or mid summer. Statistically late July to Early Sept seem to give us the best proportion of flyable days here in Dorset. So starting in the summer is most like to give you the best chance of getting lots of training close together. On the other hand you can get good flying at any time of year and if you are not going to get frustrated by booking days only to have them cancelled due to gales and torrential rain then it is best to book in to get started as soon as possible.
Do I need to do the EP or can I just do the CP?
Yes, you need to start with the EP course. This gives you the basic skills and an understanding of what paragliding is about - the joys, the frustrations and the risks. The CP builds on these basics, increasing your skill level and also the range of techniques you are able to do.
Can anyone come and watch?
If you would like to come onto the hill to find out more that is absolutely fine. Certain sites are more tightly controlled at the request of the land-owners so we need to be respectful of that but please get in touch to find out where we will be training. If you are training you are welcome to bring your support crew with you (they can take the pictures).
What is the maximum age for paragliding?
There is no set maximum age to start paragliding though you should fully understand the risks. If you are older you will have a greater risk of breaking something and will find it takes you longer to obtain the physical skills. Our oldest students to complete the full CP training were in their late sixties when they started and are still flying nearly a decade later.
What is the minimum age for paragliding?
To do the full courses you need to be at least 16 years of age though you can take a Taster Day at 14 or 15 provided your parent or guardian is present. If you are under 18 a letter of consent from your parent or guardian is required.
I am not that fit - is that a problem?
The good thing about paragliding is that you don't need to be exceptionally fit or strong. You do however need to be able to run fast for short bursts when necessary and most importantly walk back up the slope carrying your equipment many times over. We are able to accommodate all sorts of people and a bonus is that you often find a few days of training does wonders to your fitness levels!
What happens if the wind stops?
Luckily it is not wind that makes a paraglider fly but it does help you stay up. If the wind suddenly stops whilst you are in the air you will just gently waft down.
What if I can't get down?
A paraglider will only stay up if it is in air that is going up. Most of the time in the UK paraglider pilots fly in ridge lift - the air that is deflected upwards as wind hits a ridge. The other type of ascending air is found in thermals - a column of warm rising air. Experienced pilots can climb thousands of feet in thermals and make long distance cross country (XC) flights. If at any time a pilot wants to come down they simply need to fly out of the air that is going up and usually this is achieved by simply flying forward from the hill that you took off from. There are several techniques you can use to get down quicker that are taught in the CP course - 'Big ears' and speed bar.
Any other questions?
If you have any questions that have not been answered here please get in touch.