How to become a paraglider tandem pilot ➞ Everything you need to know!

Since time immemorial, the human being has dreamt of flying. At Overfly Tenerife, we make your dreams come true! Today, we want to talk to you about how to become a paraglider tandem pilot. However, if you are interested in paragliding, you can find many other posts related to this topic in our blog. For instance:

  • Thermalling techniques: How to thermal your paraglider better
  • What is acro paragliding? ➞ Everything you need to know about this sport!
  • 5 paragliding stunts that you should know before practicing acro paragliding

How to become a professional tandem paraglider pilot — Pro Tandem Qualification

If you want to know how to become a paraglider tandem pilot, you should know that the Pro Tandem qualification is the best choice to make your dreams come true. It is intended to train tandem pilots with solid skills and experience. Pilots will learn to operate in such a professional way and — among other things — their main objective is to be able to work efficiently with a high safety level.

Prerequisites to become a tandem pilot

If you want to take the APPI professional tandem pilot exam, you have to be previously certified as a non-commercial tandem pilot for at least one year in order to show proof of a minimum number of 100 tandem flights as a pilot.

Information about the examination

It is a double validation, due to a master plus another instructor or master will give you the exam.

  • Theoretical exam: an exam with 50 questions. To pass the exam, you must get 80% of success at least.


  • Practical exam — 3 parts:
    1. Maintenance of the paraglider trims control.
    2. Practical flight exam based on a professional tandem operating:
  • Attention and care of the passengers.
  • The efficiency of time. It must take less than 10 minutes between “passenger intake paraglider in the bag” and “ready to take off”.
  • Written briefings and procedures
  • Being an expert in direct and reverse take-off techniques.
  • Being functional over a great range of conditions and loads.
  • Use and management of the camera, which is a GoPro stick. This way, you will be able to take pictures and videos of your flights.
  • Management of safety during the whole flight process. You must make sure that everything is correct during the take-off, during the flight, and during the landing.
  • An excellent technique for the acceleration, visual, and trajectory control of the paraglider.
  • Excellent technique in take-off exit. This is extremely important for getting the passenger into the harness while you keep piloting.
    1. You must perform: two flights in tandem, 2 inverted turns during 25 seconds with the paraglider stabilized, and another 2 turns in the same direction during 20 seconds with the paraglider stabilized too, one technique for descending fast, U-shape approach, minimum 4 seconds straight final, and land two times on foot in 30 metres diameter target.

➛ On the one hand, the exam will be automatically over if something fails in the safety procedure.

➛ On the other hand, the instructor can cancel the exam if he or she judges that action is dangerous. For example: during the take-off, landing, or uncontrolled manoeuvres.


According to APPI standards, APPI pro tandem pilot has to be able to practice the commercial tandem activity with a high level of safety and efficiency.


APPI rules that you must know


– Acro is not allowed in tandem above ground.

– You need a special authorization to fly acro above ground, and it can be given by a master (under his or her responsibility).

– Acro is not allowed in tandem above the water below 200 metres/surface.

– Acro is allowed in tandem above water above 200 metres if the paraglider is 10G certified, it has 2 emergency parachutes (or just one, but Rogallo type) and a rescue team ready to be used.

– Any mean to go down is allowed in an emergency situation.

XC in tandem

XC is allowed in tandem with non-commercial or pro qualification. It requires SIV tandem certification and solo perform certification.

APPI pro tandem pilot

– You have to carry a certified emergency parachute (except for dynamic soaring).

– You need a certified harness.

– Your tandem gear must be in good condition.

– It is mandatory a third party liability insurance (if it is available).

– If you have an accident, you must report it in APPI system.

– You must show your flight certificate to passengers. It is mandatory to show your name and your APPI number, APPI logo and website address.

– You have respect all the rules and regulations of the country where you are flying.

– Act in an exemplary manner.

– You always have to welcome visiting APPI pilots.

Validation of your skills

Any tandem pilot who is not an APPI member should ask for recognition of his or her skills. The process consists of attending a 5 days Pro-workshop and takes the exams at the end of the workshop. To be qualified as an APPI pro tandem pilot, you have to be provided with a proof of:


– A minimum of 150 tandem flights as a paraglider pilot, 3 years of experience and one year of tandem operating.

– First aid certificate.

– Proof of advanced SIV certification.

Mandatory manoeuvres: side collapse, pitch control on dynamic spiral exit, autorotation and recovery, back fly, stall, recovery, deep spiral damped exit, and spin min 180° plus recovery.

➛ The master in charge may ask for a solo flight demonstration prior to any tandem flight if he or she has any doubt about your practical skills.

We hope that this information about how to become a paraglider tandem pilot has been useful as well as we hope that you won’t hesitate to contact us if you have any doubt. You can also do it if you are interested in our paragliding tandem flights. Because the best part of paragliding is that you don’t really need to be a pilot to enjoy one of the best experiences of your life! Remember that we are waiting for you in Costa Adeje, in the south of Tenerife.

General information about paragliding training

The Dream of Human Flight is now a Reality – The Joy of Paragliding – a fine PG video production by Steve Crye showing the elements of why we love to fly.

Paragliding: A Quick Guide

A. What is paragliding

How do we fly? Some pilots choose to have a small engine with a propeller (a paramotor) launch them into the air, just like an airplane. The paramotor is worn on the back like a backpack or attached to trike or quad (wheeled powered paragliding. This type of paragliding is called Powered Paragliding or PPG.

PPG has the great advantage of flying almost wherever and whenever a pilot wants to. PPG is not limited to special launch sites, being towed up, nor being in the mountains. Popular PPG operating areas are turf farms (below), public roads, beaches, and parks. Many pilots have tight schedules and cannot travel for an hour, wait for good conditions (which may never happen), and then go home. This is where PPG is of a great advantage. Many of us just except the additional weight and noise for convenience, including greater overall safety. Wheeled powered paragliding is not quite as convenient but is much easier for pilots who prefer the safety of a wheeled ultralight.

powered paragiding in New Mexico

A pilot can also get up in the air and stay there without a paramotor. This is known simply as Paragliding or PG. The biggest feature of PG is that it is quiet and, once up, it is the most like being a bird than any other form of aviation. The price is that PG pilots must be towed up or find a safe, suitable launch site. Often enough, a pilot will spend hours traveling and/or hiking and then only fly for 5 minutes. But sometimes, he will strike gold and fly most of the day in stunning conditions.

Often, a pilot will take advantage of convective turbulence (a.k.a. thermals) present in the atmosphere when the sun in shining. Another way he can stay up is to find air (wind) being forced to go up at a ridge, for example, because it has no where else to go.

When a pilot finds a thermal, he must stay in it. Thermals usually drift up the sides of mountains, gaining strength. A pilot can launch into one from a site located near or at the top of a hill or mountain. Birds will locate thermals and fly in the them, especially the vultures. A thermal can go to great heights in the atmosphere. The pilots in this photo are circling together (and going up) in a thermal in Valle de Bravo, Mexico.

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paragliding in Valle de Bravo, Mexico

Alternately, a pilot can find air going up in the front of mountains or large hills that is caused by winds coming in perpendicular to the range or hill. It has to go somewhere, doesn’t it? If the air is going up faster than the paraglider is sinking, the pilot can stay aloft. Typically, a pilot will launch from the top or side of the mountain or hill to either “thermal” or “ridge soar”, the respective terms often used to describe how he stays up. This pilot is launching at Mag Rim (New Mexico) for an afternoon of ridge soaring.

paragliding at Mag Rim in New Mexico

Another way of getting up is to be towed. This is the primary way we train new pilots as it is the safest way to learn how to fly a paraglider. The towline has a drogue parachute (the orange thing) connected to it so the line can be pulled in while in the air instead of dragging it along the ground after the pilot releases from tow.

paraglider being towed up

Sometimes, a pilot may run off a hill or mountain (launch) and just take a short flight, landing at the bottom. In any case, a skilled pilot can stay up for hours and, sometimes, go dozens of miles cross country. Distance is only limited by the presence of daylight as ultralights are not allowed to fly when it is dark.

Why do we fly? Paragliding permits a human being to become like a soaring bird. Through adequate training and long term practice, a pilot will become one with his glider. There is no other experience in the world like this. We and the birds are the only creatures on earth who “see” the air and what it is doing on a micro-level. Imagine being able to fly through the air similar to hiking a trail in a beautiful forest. The glider becomes an extension of your arms – you become like a hawk, an eagle, or, better, like the Turkey Vulture, one of the greatest of soaring birds. We can teach you how.

Paragliding, however, can be one of the most dangerous things anyone can do. If you think it is like golf or racket ball, please read this essay by Will Gadd on dangerous sports. Careful and extensive training is necessary to ensure that you enjoy paragliding safely for a lifetime. We master pilots make it look easy – but it isn’t. It takes hard work and time. But it is worth it! People with average skills and modest courage can do it.

B. Certification of our school

Southwest Airsports is an accredited training facility.

  • Paragliding – Professional Air Sports Association (PASA) certified school #0023; U.S. Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association (USHPA) instructor certification
  • Powered paragliding – U.S. Powered Paragliding Association (USPPA) member and school #1672.

Southwest Airsports, LLC operates in accordance with all PASA Safety Guidelines and all PASA School Standards.

Why have a competent instructor who is an expert train you how to fly safely? This video may help answer that question.

C. What is the best type of school?

Cross Country Magazine recommends that if paragliding pilots (not PPG pilots) want to be successful flying anywhere, they should become competent in mountain flying. We are experts in training pilots to fly in the mountains.

Mike Robinson of Blackhawk Paramotors noted that teaching students on the coasts is “. like teaching someone to swim with a life jacket on the entire time.” While our school is no longer located in the desert mountains of the southwest, we still bring the experience of flying and training in “big air” to our new location, the Ouachita Mountains of SE Oklahoma and SW Arkansas. Our training is difficult and takes time – but it will help you become a safe and competent pilot.

We are a small operation and provide only private instruction. It is like receiving musical instrument instruction in a private music studio alone with the instructor versus in a classroom full of students. The cost of the former is considerably more – and for good reason. Continuous attention by the instructor to the developing skills of the student pilot helps ensure the highest level of safety possible for an extreme sport like paragliding. Group lessons are typical for this sport and the cost will be less. Prospective students need to keep this in mind. What is the real value in the end? Is an extended and safe flying career your goal or is it just to get a rating? You have to decide. Unfortunately, there are too many schools that hand out ratings without making sure pilots have the required skills. At this time, there is no feedback required from students to prove to a 3rd party that they have the skills required of the particular rating. Hopefully, this will change soon.

Safety is the #1 concern at Southwest Airsports. This sport is relatively young and we are constantly seeking ways to manage and lessen the risk of paragliding.

We do our best to have a 1st class operation. Use of crude jokes and foul language while training and flying with us is unacceptable.

D. Types of instruction PG or PPG?

PG or PPG? Read on.

1. Paragliding – free flight

PG is the more difficult to learn for the long term as a pilot must know how to launch from a hill/mountain or be towed up and know how to thermal. Knowing how to fly for hours without external power for long distances is a rewarding experience. Thorough knowledge of the atmosphere is critical for not only safety but success. Air is something we cannot see and when we successfully understand how it may work that day, its golden treasures are handily and generously given to us soaring pilots. Once in the air, you must find air that is going up and stay in it. You cannot choose as easily where you want to go nor where you may land. Thankfully, paragliders can land just about anywhere safely but it can be inconvenient.

Free flying is the most rewarding because it requires significant skill to stay up for hours in the air. Free flyers ordinarily get as high as possible so that they can glide long distances in order to find other air which is going up. Flights are always full of adventure as we almost always learn something new about the amazing atmosphere we fly in. It is quiet and peaceful. The pilot carries the least amount of weight and wears a simple harness. This makes PG a far more agile type of flight and is, therefore, much closer to flying like a bird. Free flying consumes no fossil fuels. It does not annoy people on the ground because there is no sound of a motor running. PG pilots are almost invisible a thousand feet up. We go silently and gracefully through a great ocean, often alone.

PG pilots must find a suitable mountain launch site and, if the air is calm or there is no air going up anywhere, he has to stay on the ground (unless he can be towed up). This means that the PG pilot must launch when the atmosphere is active (some hours after sunrise and before sunset). He often flies in thermals – and can get tossed around by them. PG pilots develop a tolerance for this “bumpy” air through practice. By thoroughly understanding the air we fly in, a pilot can reasonably predict how active the air is and choose to fly in appropriate conditions and not exceed his skill, equipment, or comfort level. We are an ultra light aeronautical vehicle. “Ultra light” means what is says. We are like leaves in the air. The air is king and we respect it highly in order to fly safely. This is why thorough training and discipline are essential for a safe and fun flying career. We thoroughly train our student pilots.

The course fees include instruction on how to be towed safely. Pilots will receive the “surface tow” special skills certification by USHPA upon completion of their respective course.

2. Powered paragliding

There are two types of powered paragliding – foot-launched and wheeled e.g. a trike or quad. Can you imagine cruising along (10) feet off the ground mile after mile? You are free of roads, trails, obstacles, and anything else on the ground. You can change direction any time and everything in the world is yours to see and enjoy. You can land and take off virtually anywhere. Only powered paragliding (PPG) offers such unlimited freedom. Here is an excellent summary from the EAA of what an ultralight (a powered paraglider) is and its legal operation.

While it takes longer to initially learn than free flying, it has special rewards unique to flying the world’s smallest powered aeronautical vehicle. PPG can be done when the atmosphere is completely calm (early morning or late in the day) so a pilot can easily avoid the risks inherent with flying in turbulent air, the single factor which makes paragliding hazardous.

PPG has the advantage, on the other hand, of allowing the pilot to launch, for example, from a field in still air. He can fly for many miles just ten feet “off the deck” – something a PG pilot cannot do. PPG pilots do not have to become experts in meteorological conditions in order to fly safely – they can stay out of active air completely. Some prefer not to hike to a launch site. Some do not like being more than 500′ off the ground. (For a discussion of why this gives a false sense of security, read about flying low.) Others just like powered flight and want the convenience of launching, flying, and landing when and where they desire. Pilots endure the fuel expense, routine maintenance, the noise, and the extra weight and encumbrance for these advantages.

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Nonetheless, there are a few pilots (like the author of this article) who happily do both. It is possible to thermal with a PPG setup though it is not as easy. When PG is not possible because of the wind conditions (too strong, wrong direction, or not enough wind), or towing is not available, it is still better doing PPG rather than not to fly at all. PPG is generally done early in the morning or late in the day outside the time when thermals can be strong and when the possibility of turbulence exists.

The main difference between foot-launched PPG and wheeled PPG (trike/quad) is that the latter does not require running nor does the pilot have to carry the equipment on his back. For those who have some impairment of the back, legs, or ankles, this is an important advantage. Also, some pilots just prefer to have a set of wheels under them rather than their feet. Here is a typical launch and a flight of a wheeled (trike) powered paraglider. Below, flying along in the comfort of a TrikeBuggy from Miniplane-USA.


Why foot-launched powered paragliding? The benefits are:

  1. It is more agile (less total equipment weight)
  2. The pilot can launch and land almost anywhere.
  3. The pilot can more easily launch and land in higher winds.
  4. It has a greater cruise range and climb rate with the same size engine and fuel tank.

E. Rating systems for paraglider pilots – what skills will you learn?

PG pilots

Here is an overview of the USHPA rating system for pilots. Go here for a complete reference.

PPG pilots

PPG has the added distraction of a paramotor, especially when launching. Here is the USPPA rating system for PPG pilots.

F. Textbooks for training

It is mandatory to have the appropriate textbook to study while training and to use as a reference.

  • Paragliding (PG or free flight)
  • Powered Paragliding (PPG) including wheeled powered paragliding

G. Training location

All basic flight training is done at Robert S. Kerr Airport in Poteau, Oklahoma. Ground school is done at 24261 Palmilla Dr. Wister, OK 74766 or at the airport.

H. What should I bring to training?

I. Towing

All basic training is done via towing at Kerr Airport or, as needed, at other airports in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Learning how to fly a paraglider while also dealing with the notion of “running off a cliff” can easily result in task saturation. The 1st priority is learning how to fly – then everything else. Follow this link to read a detailed description on how and why we train by towing. Videos of typical launches and landings are included.

J. How a paraglider works

A paraglider is like an ordinary kite that a youngster would fly in a breeze. It is not some sort of parachute, even though it has somewhat the appearance of one. It is a true airfoil like the wing on an ordinary aircraft and moves through the air at about 21 mph. It has a glide ratio (distance traveled vs. rate of sink) of about 10:1 or less, depending on the design. This means it can go 1,000′ through the air and sink just 100′. The main difference between an ordinary wing on an aircraft and a paraglider is that the paraglider is flexible, being made of special fabric and that we hang, like a pendulum, from the airfoil. Hanging from the glider gives pilots a great amount of passive safety compared to any other aeronautical vehicle. The downside is that it does not handle turbulent air nearly as well as, say, a hang glider.

The wing fabric is very strong and non-porous. Because it is made of fabric, the wing must maintain its proper shape. This is done by a greater air pressure inside the wing than the (ambient) pressure on the outside. In this way it is like a hot-air balloon. This greater pressure is created by openings (ram air scoops) in the leading edge of the wing. When the glider is flying along, these ram air scoops insure that the interior parts of the wing will be pressurized enough to assume the shape of an airfoil. Because the wing is made of fabric, it can collapse under certain conditions. It is usually a benign event.

However, collapses can be extremely dangerous near the terrain (< 300') and why pilots must be exceedingly careful.

Dozens of lines connect the glider to the pilot’s harness which hangs about 25′ below. This distance is kept to a minimum in order to keep drag to a minimum. Some of these lines are used to control the glider’s movement through the air. Briefly, these lines allow control of the wing in essentially every way that is done on an fixed wing aircraft. A paraglider changes direction by inducing drag on one side of the wing or the other.

For a paraglider to stay in the air for long periods, pilots must find air that is moving up – often a great challenge. Air moving up can be thermals created by the sun’s heating of the ground and the air near it or air moving up at ridges. The air comes in horizontally, hits the ridge, and then moves up. We fly in that air because if we are not in air that is moving up, we will descend towards the terrain. The air must be moving up at least 200’/min for us to stay up.

However, if we have a motor (paramotor), we do not have to launch from a hill or cliff and can stay up as long as we have fuel to run the engine. Launching with an engine running full speed while on foot can be complicated and requires additional training to do it safely.

A paraglider, unlike all other aeronautical vehicles, is inherently stable. With absolutely no input it will fly straight and level. The benefit of this is that it makes it very easy to fly. If a new pilot training at the turf farms is doing something incorrectly, all the instructor on the ground has to do is say, “Hands up!” – and all will be well. The downside of the paraglider is that is very sensitive to negative G’s. That is, air which is descending faster than the glider is sinking through the air will cause the glider to collapse. This is why good pilots are always very cautious about the air they fly in. It is impossible to safely fly a paraglider unless that pilot becomes knowledgeable about the air he flies in.

Launching a paraglider is fairly easy and is done exactly the same way you would launch a kite except you are directly attached to the kite and you have to run fast or slow, depending on the ambient conditions. Landing is similar. The pilot comes in and flares the wing by pulling deeply on the brake toggles (handles) just before he touches the ground to both make the landing gentle and to slow the glider down. The trouble with us humans is that we are mono-planar, unlike the fish or birds, so when we come in for landing, we think we are falling and tend to mishandle the glider. Our natural fear of heights needs to be overcome as much possible but it will never happen completely. Flying any aircraft is a perishable skill and why constant and thorough training is essential to having a safe and enjoyable flying career. If you do not have the time to practice regularly, this sport is NOT for you.

Optional – Here is a more technical guide from on how an ultralight works.

K. Miscellaneous information

Fear of heights, mental stability, and sensory overload

What if I am afraid of heights? It depends on how serious your anxiety is. Most people (including this writer) are naturally afraid of heights but can largely overcome it with time and practice. It is common with human beings to become more fearful as they get further from the surface of the earth, their home. Actually, all pilots should feel just the opposite from a safety standpoint. Being close to the earth, but not on it, is where we always experience the greatest risk. Being 40′ off the ground is much more dangerous than being 4,000′ off the ground because at the higher altitude we have far more time to fix problems.

Mental stability and control under pressure are important qualities to have if you wish to successfully pursue training in this sport. If you easily panic, sport aviation is not for you.

Sensory overload (task saturation) is a serious problem for all pilots, new or experienced, and is why constant and regular practice is necessary. The more tasks we can do automatically (like learning how to ride a bicycle), the more mental capacity we have to focus on important things while flying such as obstacles around us and any kind of mishap while in the air. At no time is this more true than when launching and landing. No pilot can ever be good enough at these skills.

L. Photos

Below a student pilot begins a flight via tow. The orange drogue and towline are just visible in front of the pilot. The turn around pulley through which the towline runs is mounted on a truck over 1/4 mile away. What a place to train – it is safe and easy to land anywhere. Photo by Daniel Dominguez.

paraglider preparing to be towed up

A student pilot coming in for a landing. She is gliding along at about 18 mph and will gently touch down on the ground in about 10 seconds.

paraglider landing

Lee Baker being towed up to 9,000′ MSL on Hwy 9. The white dot near the towline is the moon. The vehicle behind us is our “chase” vehicle.

paraglider being towed up with a winch

A student pilot comes in for a safe landing after her training flight.

paraglider pilot coming in for a landing

Hooking up to the towline. The orange drogue parachute is connected to the towline. It helps us find the end of the towline after the pilot disconnects in flight. Pilot safety is our primary concern and everything is done with that in mind.

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Intensive paragliding courses for beginners

If you want to learn to fly, the best way is probably to do an intensive course, since it is proven that you progress much faster than if you give your flight lessons in a discontinuous way only on weekends. Our intensive paragliding courses are one or two weeks long.

Learn to paraglide in the sunshine of Spain

Our Paragliding Flight Center is located in Algodonales, southern Spain, unlike anywhere else in Europe, you can learn all the skills to safely paraglide in one or two weeks, meanwhile in other countries, it can take months to acquire all the skills to qualify for your pilot’s license. It is likely to be more cost effective to take a holiday with us in our variety of flying sites compared to travelling back and forth to your local paragliding area.

To become an autonomous paragliding pilot you’ll need to complete two courses:

IPPI 2 Elementary Pilot Course

This is a course for complete novices and is the first step in getting qualified to paraglide. At the end of this course, you have learned the basics of paragliding but you still need to fly under the supervision of the instructor.

This course takes one week (6 days).

IPPI 3 Club Pilot course

This is the next step in your career to become an autonomous paraglider pilot. Once you have finished this course and all the tasks of the training program have been completed, you should have the skills you need to fly unsupervised.

This course takes one week (6 days).

IPPI 2+3 Combined course EP+CP

You can also complete the full training program in a Combined EP+CP course and get the Club Pilot qualification.

This course takes two consecutive weeks (12 days)

890 € Quick view

IPPI 2 Elementary Pilot Course

Learn to fly. This paragliding course is the first degree in the education system. For beginners without experience Duration: 6 days / 7 nights. Accommodation (optional). Airport shuttle.(optional). Algodonales, Spain.

890 € Quick view

IPPI 3 Club Pilot Course

Keep learning and become an autonomous qualified pilot. For beginners and students who have already done the IPPI 2 Elementary Pilot course or equivalent. Duration: 6 days / 7 nights. Accommodation (optional). Airport shuttle (optional). Algodonales, Spain.

Sale! 1.780 € Quick view

IPPI 2+3 Combined Course

Learn to fly, from complete beginner to qualified pilot! For beginners and students without experience. Duration: 12 days / 14 nights. Accommodation (optional). Airport shuttle (optional). Algodonales, Spain.

Recognized FAI, APPI and BHPA International Paragliding School

Zero Gravity is a paragliding school recognized internationally by Federations and Associations such as RFAE, FAI, APPI and BHPA, which guarantees the quality of our courses and the professional training of our instructors.

  • RFAE, is the Spanish Air Sports Federation
  • APPI, is an Association of Paragliding Pilots and Instructors wich Offers worldwide united education system. Know more about APPI
  • BHPA, the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, provides the infrastructure within which hang gliding and paragliding in the United Kingdom. Know more about BHPA
  • FAI, World Air Sports Federation, is the world governing body for air sports.


The CIVL International Pilot Proficiency Information (IPPI Card) reflects the pilot’s proficiency and provides a standard reference by which all national rating programs may be compared. The IPPI Card is based on safety and training standards defined in the SafePro program.
For the pilot who flies outside of his known or local area, it is an easy method of providing proof of flying experience and proficiency. When a pilot travels abroad, the IPPI Card will identify the pilot skills. The IPPI Card is valid only together with a current national licence or rating card.

The learning progression consists of five stages, from basic to advanced. It also divides the participants into students, they must fly under the supervision of instructors, and autonomous pilots who can fly unsupervised.

  • IPPI 1. Student. Ground Skimming
  • IPPI 2. Student. Altitude Gliding (altitude and space to do manoeuvres, no soaring)
  • IPPI 3. Pilot. Active Flying (preparing for turbulence, recovery and descending techniques…)
  • IPPI 4. Pilot. Soaring (flying in both ridge and thermal lift)
  • IPPI 5. Senior pilot (mastering one or more advanced practices)

Here you can compare the equivalent ratings between FAI IPPI, APPI and BHPA:

What is paragliding?

Paragliders look vaguely like parachutes as these are from where they evolved. However, they are very much more. Paragliding is now at a very exciting stage in its development, from being just a fun method of descent from the hills; Paragliding offers the pilot the sensation of true free flight for hours upon hours. Using modern high-performance materials a canopy only weighs a few kilograms and packs neatly into a rucksack. This makes this “aeroplane in a bag” totally portable and can complement other sports such as skiing and mountaineering.

Learn to paraglide: Steps to become a Pilot.

Paragliding is a potentially dangerous sport, so under no circumstances should you try to fly a paraglider without proper training. Your first step must be to enrol in a course offered by a certified paragliding school. While attending a school, you will acquire the knowledge necessary to fly safely.

The structure of the paragliding courses can be different in every school but the content is similar.

Professional instructors will teach you how to become a safe, competent rated paragliding pilot. During your course, you will do a minimum number of flights which includes ridge soaring and thermalling. The course also will include theory classes and you will have to complete a written exam before you are qualified to fly unsupervised.

Do I need a license to paraglide?

In most of the countries, a license is not required to paraglide, but there are some countries where you must get a paragliding pilot rating to fly. Some local flying regulations may require the pilot to have certain certified ratings.

Paragliding is normally regulated under the National Aerial Federation. It is a self-regulated sport, pilots and instructors alike adhere to the policies and guidelines of the Federation or another Association.

For your own safety and the safety of the other pilots, it is highly recommended to learn in a recognized and professional school and to get a rated license to confirm you have been trained.


I had a brilliant time flying with Ivan. It was my first time paragliding but it most definitely will not be my last. Completely proffessional outfit. Would recommend them to anyone. I even got to fly with an Eagle.

Just finished a week long course with Jose and the team at Zero Gravity. Extremely pleased. Very professional, friendly outfit who made us beginners feel very welcome. Achieved 9 flights in a week, including 4 solo’s – plus all the classroom time and ground handling…More

Absolutely outstanding! My second visit from the U.S. to fly with the great instructors from Zero Gravity. Once again, Pablo, Luisma and Jose were very attentive in teaching and guiding me through my week of flying. Their equipment is brand new, their instruction is tailored…More

Awesome school to learn to fly with. Every effort is made to get you flying. By the end of our EP course we had done several tandem flights and 4 proper15/20min flights from the summit of Algodonalez and ridge soaring. The other school the students…More

.. not only was this my destination, its where the guys at Zero Gravity go for their students and customers every day. A safe, fun, friendly team who genuinely care about your safety and guide you along a learning trajectory that is right for your…More

review rating 5

Excelente grupo. Muy buenos lugares para volar. Recomendado.

Francisco Pardo

review rating 5

Una experiencia para repetir! Monitores muy profesionales y un trato genial. El vuelo se hace muy ameno y seguro. Recomendadísimo!

Laura Pérez

review rating 5

Second time with Zero Gravity (Paragliding Spain) Perfect service with lots of patience and help

Ben McIntyre

review rating 5

Thank you Pablo, Luisma, and Ivan for such a wonderful experience! Can’t wait to fly again

Shannon Forsythe

review rating 5

My husband and I have just spent a brilliant two weeks with the fantastic Zero Gravity team doing our EP and CP qualifications, back to back. We could not recommend them highly enough, they have been absolutely amazing. All the team are extremely knowledgeable with many, many years experience of paragliding each, but they are also excellent teachers and make the complicated concepts of flight and meteorology accessible at an entry level; a combination of skills which is rare. The courses are a mixture of theory and practical sessions with tandem flights used in the early sessions which really builds confidence when you then take to the sky solo. Safety is given top priority with multiple kit and radio checks and the guys go the extra mile to find the best conditions for your level. We flew from five different sites during our two week stay, completing 14 solo flights each. Be prepared for long days (often starting at 8-9am, with a couple of hours for lunch, and finishing at 8-9pm if the conditions are right) – the focus is always on getting you in the air, safely. Our top tips for beginners would be to bring gloves, a wind proof and long trousers / long sleeved tops as you will get some scrapes and bruises and it can be chilly at the top of the mountains. Above all though, you will have a lot of fun and we both want to say a big THANK YOU to José, Pablo, Luisma, Javi & Ivan for a fantastic two weeks!


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