How to Learn to Paraglide

If you’re learning to paraglide or would like to learn to paraglide, then good on you! It’s a great hobby/sport/form of flight. It’s adventurous, yet somewhat relaxing and it leads you to spend time in some of the world’s most beautiful locations.

Decide if You Really Want to Paraglide

If you’re deciding whether paragliding is something you want to learn, it’s a good idea to try it in its most non-committal form. This is a tandem paragliding flight. Unless you have some good connections with a highly experienced pilot with a tandem paragliding harness, your first taste at paragliding will probably be tandem paragliding through a tourism operator.

You’ll get a good view of the experience of taking off, being in flight and landing. You won’t have the responsibility of controlling the paraglider and you won’t know the full thought process and decision making a pilot makes. But if you’re not focussed on the amazing view you’ll be able to watch and see what a pilot does. It’s a good opportunity to ask what your pilot is doing and how they fly to the conditions.

Most people enjoy these experiences, but how many act on this enjoyment and take up paragliding? Realistically not many – when most go home they go back to their regular lives. Ask yourself – when you return home do you still have a strong urge to learn to paraglide? Do you wish that on your tandem flight that you were in control and not just a passenger?

learning to paraglide

Paragliding Courses

If you said “yes” to both of these questions, this is when you should act on this feeling, enroll in a training course and commit to learning to paraglide. Most countries and popular paragliding locations have providers who offer training courses, particularly mountain or coastal locations. In comparison to other forms of human flight such as skydiving, the barriers to entry are low. Some courses can be conducted in as little as 8 days, where you are then free to fly by yourself.

Where not against these quick courses, as long as they’re taken with the intention of them being the first step in learning to paraglide. The advantage is that they teach you the basics and get you up in the air quickly. The downsides is that you are unlikely to experience flight in a number of conditions. Soaring, thermals, flying over water, flying in mountainous regions, flying in wind, flying when there is a lack of thermal activity, the list goes on. There are many conditions which require different skills. You could also experience changing conditions while you’re in the air – you need to know how to use your equipment and knowledge and make smart decisions while in the air.

It’s a good idea after your training to continue flying with some experienced paragliders. They can help recommend places to fly in your local area which are suitable for your ability. They are also good to fly with when flying in new conditions.

Many countries have paragliding clubs and associations where you can meet experienced pilots who are willing to offer advice. These include the USHPA in the United States, SAFA in Australia, and the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association in the United Kingdom.

It’s also a good idea to learn about meteorology. Learn about different clouds and their effects on thermals. Learn to prepare for your flight even before you’ve taken off. A sound knowledge of the best weather for paragliding will enable you to not only enjoy paragliding more, it’ll keep you safe so you actually can paraglide more!

Purchase Your First Paraglider

There are similarities in purchasing your first paraglider and your first car. If your first car was a Ferrari, you’d probably end up in a crash! If you purchase a paraglider wing that’s designed for speed, you’ll probably struggle to control it and be at a high risk of crashing.

There is temptation for those with a bit of money, to purchase a really good wing now and not need to buy again for many years. It’s recommended that beginner pilots start of with an EN Rating A rated paraglider wing. These are easiest to control and to regain control when it’s lost. It can be tempting to purchase a fancy intermediate level wing so you don’t need to upgrade as early, but really you’re putting yourself at risk and reducing your enjoyment.

One area you shouldn’t scrimp on is safety and equipment, make sure you get a radio, sat nav and reserve parachute.

Paragliding Licenses & Memberships

In most countries paragliding is considered a ‘self regulated sport’ with no licence required for solo flying. However, some clubs and associations may ask to see some form of certification stating that you have undertaken training before you can join.

Some paragliding launch areas will request all pilots have national accreditation (e.g. USHPA, SAFA, British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association etc) as well as the local club membership members or purchase a visiting membership. This is to ensure that pilots have adequate levels of skill to fly and manage the hazards at that site and not put themselves or others in danger. There’s no need to feel down about this or not want to take advice from other paraglider pilots, the paragliding community is a friendly and welcoming place. Meet new people, paraglide in new locations, challenge yourself in different conditions and enjoy!

You are also required to abide by the laws in your country regarding restricted airspaces such as flight paths, airports and military bases. Pilots should also avoid flying too low over buildings, roads, powerlines and schools.

5 Top tips about how to do paragliding for the first time

At Overfly Tenerife, we offer you the best paragliding flights. That is the reason why we want to tell you everything you need to know about how to do paragliding for the first time. Paragliding is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Tenerife. Haven’t you tried it yet? There is no problem at all. Today we will tell you some top tips and secrets that you need to know — you will also have the chance to see some pictures, so you will see how fun it is!

We want to provide you the best paragliding experience that you could ever imagine — and that will be possible if you come to visit us in Costa Adeje, in the south of Tenerife. That is why today we are writing about how to do paragliding for the first time, in order to improve your experience as much as possible.

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We think that doing paragliding at least once in a lifetime is compulsory. So the time is now! Take the chance to do it with us during your holidays in Tenerife. There are plenty of different flights — you just have to choose which one is the perfect one for you! What about a tandem paragliding flight? Read carefully, we will provide tips about how to do paragliding for the first time. Later we will give you a brief description of each of our flights. Let’s conquer the heavens of Tenerife!

What is paragliding and how to do paragliding for the first time?

how to do paragliding first time

Before giving you our tips about how to do paragliding for the first time, you should know what’s paragliding. Paragliding is, by definition, “the sport of cross-country gliding using a specially designed parachute shaped like flexible wings”. But paragliding is so much more. We could say that it is the closest that a human being can get to the feeling of flying like a bird. It is a fun, safe way to experience flight in its simplest form.

Top 5 tips on how to do paragliding for beginners the first time

Have you ever dreamt about flying like a bird? Remember that the sky is the only limit, but in this case, the infinite sky is our ally. Let us be your pilot and we will reveal you how to do paragliding for the first time and learn to paraglide with our paragliding lessons.

Book a tandem flight

You may like the look of paragliding, but being up in the air you will probably feel that it is a very different experience of what you expected. Don’t worry, you will enjoy it anyway. The point is that you should book a tandem flight, above all if you wonder how to do paragliding for the first time or if you are still a beginner.

how to do paragliding first time

A tandem flight will give you the chance to fly with a professional. He or she will show you what it is like to fly with the birds minus the added stress of controlling the giant banana-shaped piece of fabric above your head.

Sign up for a course

If you already know how it feels to do paragliding for the first time and you consider that the experience was really worth it during your tandem flight, maybe you want to take it further and become a pilot. Yes, it sounds a bit crazy if you haven’t tried yet! But if you really want to become a pilot, you have to sign up for a paragliding course with certified professionals.

You will probably think that the paragliding course cost may be a bit expensive at the beginning. Nevertheless, you have to bear in mind that once you are set up with a license and equipment, you will only have to pay the cost of getting to the spots where you can fly. Dreaming is priceless!

Join a paragliding club

Once that you can explain to others how to do paragliding for the first time because you have your license through the Club Pilot course, you will be able to fly within a club environment. As you can guess, this means that you will have to join a paragliding club.

how to do paragliding first time

It will be better for you if you join the club that is closest to your home or even the club your paragliding school is involved in. If you join a club, you will have the chance to interact with other pilots —moreover, you will take advice from them and you will share your experiences.

Make paragliding friends and fly with them!

As we have just mentioned, if you want to find people who share your passion for paragliding, the best option is to join a paragliding club. It can be a bit overwhelming at the beginning, so it is compulsory to join a paragliding club and make friends. Hopefully, many of them will have years of experience that you can learn from, and that will help you to progress and improve your skills.

When you start your paragliding life, it can be difficult to make the right decision about which paragliding site to fly, on which day and so on. But don’t worry, because if you have paragliding friends, you will be able to get to the right place at the right time.

Find and buy the right equipment for you

Now that you are almost sure about how to do paragliding for the first time, are you wondering what to wear when you practice paragliding? It is very important to bear in mind that the wrong equipment can put you off this sport very quickly. You can ask us for advice and listen carefully – we will help you to find the perfect kit for you.

At the very least, you will need a paraglider, a harness and a helmet that meets the EN 966 standard. If you buy a new complete kit, its price will be more expensive. But if you want to buy a cheaper one, you can buy a second-hand kit for less money.

how to do paragliding first time

But be careful! If you are buying second-hand equipment, make sure to ask if the kit has a recent service record — this indicates airworthiness. We assure you that if you buy the right kit for you, you will have a long flying career — if no, you won’t probably want to get the paraglider out of its bag never again.

Paragliding equipment and gear

Now that we have told you all the tips you need to know about how to do paragliding for the first time, you are ready to discover all the equipment that you will need for your paragliding adventure. If you plan your equipment properly, that will undoubtedly help you with your progress — moreover, it will be more quickly and cheaper.

But don’t worry, if you practice paragliding in the south of Tenerife with us, you won’t need to buy any of these things! You will just need to wear comfortable clothes, a sweater or jacket just in case it is cold, and sports shoes. Well, there is something else… it is essential to come wanting to have fun!

Anyway, if you want to buy your own paragliding equipment and gear, you must know that finding cheap paragliding gears is not so difficult — but remember that the quality of your paragliding equipment should be your biggest priority.

Bear in mind that safety is the main thing to consider while paragliding, the other factors are secondary. So, if you buy your paragliding gears from unreliable stores, it is very likely that their quality is not the best, or at least not as you wish. So you have to think that it is not just about wasting money, it is about your own security.

The paraglider wing

how to do paragliding first time

How to choose the best glider to do paragliding for the first time? Gliders are rated for their ability to recover from collapses without resistance while flying. In general, paragliders that have an EN “A” rating are thought for beginners, due to they are generally easier to recover automatically from collapses. Gliders with higher EN letter (B, C, D) ratings require more pilot input to recover.

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Collapses happen when you are flying in the air that has turbulence caused by thermals. Flying early or late in the day reduces the chances to suffer from turbulences, but flights will be shorter. This is not really important for you if you are still wondering how to do paragliding for the first time. But pilots normally choose wings, which need more input to fix problems. Why? It is due to this kind of wings generally has a higher performance.

Depending on its performance and quality, the price of your glider will vary. What class of paraglider should you choose to fly? It depends on the area where you are going to fly habitually. On the one hand, if you are going to fly just on the coasts, you will seldom experience turbulent air. On the other hand, if you want to fly over the mountainous desert, you can experience the most turbulent air in the world.

If you are the second type of pilot, your training will probably be more critical. That is the reason why we strongly recommend you to fly on the coast with us. But if you want to buy your own equipment, we recommend you to buy your paraglider according to the area where you want to fly, regardless of money.

The Helmet

Although paragliding is a quite simple sport, even for those who are wondering how to do paragliding for the first time, there is a wide variety of choices when it comes to paragliding helmets. So, which helmet should you buy? We want to help you choose the best option — therefore, let’s pay attention to a few crucial factors.

how to do paragliding first time

In terms of helmets, there are only two types — the open face helmet and the full face helmet. On the one hand, the open face helmets are basically the same as the traditional bike or motorcycle helmets. On the other hand, the full face helmets have an extra bar across the chin.

The good and the bad news are that there are pros and cons to each shape. There are people who prefer open face helmets because they say that they give a wider range of vision and create less burden.

Other people say that full face helmet offers more protection to your head and face in case of collision, although they are heavier. Full face helmets also tend to reduce a bit more the noise of the wind. This can be really useful if you need to use the radio during your flight.

In conclusion, the shape is a matter of preference. But whatever shape you finally pick, make sure that it has a good quality and it doesn’t reduce your peripheral vision excessively. The capability of seeing is extremely important to do paragliding.

The size is probably the most important factor when you are choosing a helmet. It is simple —if it is too small, it will be extremely uncomfortable. If it is too big, it will be moving during the flight and it may interfere in your vision. Moreover, having the wrong size helmet means that you won’t be as safe as you should.

If you want to make sure that the helmet is the right size, the first things that you have to do is to put it on and fasten the chin strap. Once you do it, if you feel a continuous pressure on your head, it means the helmet is too small.

how to do paragliding first time

If you don’t feel that pressure, you have to move your head around in all directions. If the helmet falls over your eyes and you can feel it sliding or if it begins to slip off when you look down, then that means that it is too big.

If none of these two things happen, then it is the right helmet for you! Bear in mind that some helmets have a removable filler that will help you to adjust and customize the size of the helmet to your head.

As we have mentioned before, you must make sure that any helmet you buy conforms to EN 966 standards. These are the European standards that specify how flight helmets should stand up to impacts and how to test for that.

EN 966 applies specifically to flight helmets — there are other standards for different sports. But you have to bear in mind that if you are going to do paragliding, you should buy a paragliding helmet.

It sounds logical, and it is — but sometimes people are tempted to buy a motorcycle or ski helmet because they are easier to find. Nevertheless, it can be very dangerous, because they won’t protect you properly in a paragliding accident.

The helmet should have two hard coatings — an inner and outer shell. On the one hand, the inner one is designed for absorbing the biggest part of the shock if you have an accident. It is normally more fragile, and it is usually made of expanded polystyrene. On the other hand, the outer one is frequently made of thermoplastic, composite fiber, or Kevlar, combined with carbon fiber.

The Harness

How to choose a harness if you are doing paragliding for the first time? The harness is much like sitting in a recliner. It has a small handle used to deploy the reserve parachute stored under the seat of the harness. The paraglider is attached to the two karabiners in the upper center. The back of the harness contains stiff foam used to protect the back of the pilot in case of collision. The modern harnesses normally include an airbag to increase the pilots’ protection.

There is also a large zippered storage area along the back of the harness for stowing gear, like the glider packing bag and anything else. Their price may vary between 390 and 1 300 euros. The vast majority of pilots spend around 750 euros on a harness.

how to do paragliding first time

By now, this is all that we can tell you about how to do paragliding for the first time. We will have the chance to show you when you come to visit us, we will be here waiting for you with our arms wide open! If you have any doubt or any question that we can answer, don’t hesitate to contact us! We will be here to help you anytime.

How to Paraglide

wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, 21 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time.

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Paragliding is an extreme sport in which pilots fly propelled only by wind and gravity. Paragliding is not a sport that you can learn independently. You must learn how to paraglide under the direct supervision of a certified instructor. Throughout the process of learning how to paraglide, you will work towards achieving different ratings. The five ratings include a Student Paragliding Rating (P-0), a Beginner Paragliding Rating (P-1), a Novice Paragliding Rating (P-2), an Intermediate Paragliding Rating (P-3), and an Advanced Paragliding Rating (P-4). [1] X Research source

Acquiring a Student Paragliding Rating (P-0)

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  • You do not any prior experience to embark on a tandem flight.
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  • Understanding and accepting the risks of tandem paragliding.
  • Understanding the acts of launching, flying, and landing.
  • Understanding the mechanics of brakes and risers.
  • Understanding the deployment of a backup parachute. [3] X Research source

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  • Follow the instructions and commands of your instructor.
  • Only touch the paraglider in the areas indicated by the instructor.
  • Demonstrate that you understand that you must run with your instructor to launch the paraglider. [4] X Research source

Acquiring a Beginner Paragliding Rating (P-1)

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Attend a basic ground school and pass a written exam. In order to receive a Beginner Paragliding Rating (P-1), you must enroll in a basic ground school. These courses are offered by certified paragliding schools. While attending this school, you will acquire the knowledge necessary to pass a Beginner Paragliding written exam, such as the skills required to assess weather and wind conditions. [5] X Research source

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  • The ability to properly layout a canopy and harness preflight.
  • The ability to launch a canopy under control. [6] X Research source
  • The ability to remain connected to the canopy while remaining clear of lines and risers (the points at which the lines attach to the harness) prior to inflation. [7] X Research source
  • The ability to deflate, immobilize, disconnect, and remove the canopy.
  • The ability to properly pack, store, and care for the canopy. [8] X Research source

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  • When launching, your inflation run must be smooth and exhibit your confidence. You must maintain directional control and control of the pendulum. Your transition from running to flying must be smooth. [9] X Research source
  • You must complete two flights that exhibit your ability to maintain a constant airspeed, fly smoothly and straight towards a predetermined target, and land safely into the wind.
  • You must complete two flights that exhibit your ability to handle variations in airspeed and land safely into the wind. [10] X Research source

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Receive a P-1 rating. When you have completed all the beginner tasks, you will receive a P-1 rating. This rating permits you to fly under the direct supervision of a certified instructor in winds of 12 MPH or less. Your flights paths must be straight and relatively free of obstructions. [11] X Research source

Acquiring a Novice Paragliding Rating (P-2)

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  • Weather—observing and monitoring local weather.
  • Launches—considering air density, slope, wind factors, and angles of attack.
  • Danger signs—identifying high winds, dust storms, smoke, and shifting wind directions.
  • Landing—considering air density, wind directions, and various approach techniques.
  • Equipment—understanding the importance of packing food, water, and wind instruments.
  • Site orientation—learning how to familiarize yourself with the protocols and layout of a site.

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Present a log of at least 25 flights. In order to receive your P-2 rating, you must demonstrate that you are capable of lowering your canopy between flights. Your log will serve as proof of your ability to do so. Present your certified instructor with a log of your flights that contains at least 25 separate entries. [12] X Research source

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  • Providing an accurate analysis of general site conditions, flight plans, and potential obstacles.
  • Demonstrate 5 consecutive forward inflations and 5 consecutive backwards inflations.
  • Complete 180° turns in each direction.
  • Complete 5 landings within 25 feet of a predetermined target.
  • Explaining proper canopy maintenance, adapting a flight path, and the rules of traffic. [13] X Research source

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  • You must maintain visual contact with the landing zone.
  • You may not fly when base winds exceed 12 MPH.
  • You may not fly when peak gusts exceed 15 MPH.
  • You may not fly when the maximum gust rate reaches 5 MPH within 5 second. [14] X Research source

Acquiring an Intermediate Paragliding Rating (P-3)

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  • At least 30 logged flying days
  • At least 90 flights
  • At least 20 hours of solo airtime [15] X Research source

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  • The ability to analyze and explain the conditions of your site and flight plan.
  • The ability to maintain complete control during inflations of the canopy, launches, and landings.
  • The ability to complete 360° turns in each direction.
  • The ability to vary and control your airspeed at different wind rates. [16] X Research source

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Receive your P-3 rating. After completing all the requirements, you will receive your P-3 rating. This rating signifies that you are capable of assessing sites and determining whether your training has equipped you to fly. This rating still subjects you to adhering to operating limitations, such as avoiding steep turns near the ground. [17] X Research source

Acquiring an Advanced Paragliding Rating (P-4)

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  • 250 logged flights
  • 5 intermediate level flights at 5 distinct sites, 3 of which must be inland flights
  • At least 80 logged flying days
  • At least three intermediate level 1 hour flights from 2 distinct locations in thermal lift without sustaining ridge lift.
  • At least one intermediate level 1 hour flight in ridge lift without sustaining thermal lift
  • At least 75 hours of logged airtime
  • Flown at least 5 different canopies [18] X Research source

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  • The ability to prepare your harness, canopy, and backup reserve parachute.
  • The ability to analyze and report conditions.

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  • The ability to remain connected to the paraglider while remaining clear of lines and risers.
  • The ability to maintain control over all inflations and launches.
  • The ability to complete smooth and safe landings on your feet.
  • The ability to complete figure 8 turns.
  • The ability to land within 10 feet of a target at least 3 times.
  • The ability to complete and reverse 360° turns at various wind speeds.
  • The ability to collapse the wings up to 50% while maintaining directional control.
  • The ability to prove to an instructor that you are not a risk to spectators, other pilots, or the site. [19] X Research source

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Receive your P-4 rating. After completing all the necessary requirements, you will receive your P-4 rating. This rating signifies that you have the skills and knowledge to assess and fly technically demanding sites. The operating limits for a P-4 pilot include remaining 30 feet away from another glider in smooth air conditions and 100 feet from another glider in turbulent air conditions. [20] X Research source

Community Q&A

Why do USHPA ratings require so much training? Most people can get a sport or private pilot’s license in twenty-five hours. The student solo certificate in fifteen to twenty hours.

For paragliding in the U.S., you can get a USHPA P-2 rating with 30-45 flights depending on opportunities to demonstrate required skills. During this time, a flight could be what is called a sled ride and last as little as 3 minutes, or if one is lucky last a 1-2 hours. It took me about 40 flights (approx 6.5 hours of actual flying time) before I received a P-2 rating. Once you have a P-2 rating, you can fly without supervision but to ensure safety at this level one should fly in conditions recommended for this rating. Also you are really soloing from the 1st flight (Unless the first flight is a tandem), so really it’s easier to be a paraglider pilot if you live in certain areas.

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