Thermalling techniques: How to thermal your paraglider better

Welcome back to our blog paragliding lovers! Today, at Overfly Tenerife we want to talk about the best thermalling techniques and how to thermal your paraglider better. We will explain the following thermalling techniques in order to assist instructors, coaches, and students as a training aid in the development of good soaring flying skills.

Instructors and Coaches should be familiar with the concepts and be competent with these thermalling techniques before teaching them in practical flight training. Also, students should understand the concepts before putting them into practice during their training or an in-flight demonstration.

Furthermore, if you are interested in learning more about paragliding, we strongly recommend you to visit our blog and read our posts. For instance:

Off we go, adventurers!

Our 6 favourite thermalling techniques

Finding the best lift in a thermal is one of the most vital skills in paragliding flying. We could say that in terms of paragliding competition, half of the competition flying is about ascending the fastest, and just the other half is about gliding. The first thing that you have to bear in mind is that thermal flying is not easy, due to the lift is invisible and there is not an easy way of knowing where to find the best core.

Down below we will explain two different thermalling techniques that you must know in order to improve your thermal flight.

The count and turn technique

Fly into the lift, count for about 4 seconds and start a 360 turn. This is a basic thermalling technique, so it is one of the greatest ways to start your thermal paragliding career. Moreover, it is always useful in strong narrow cores.


Shifting Circles Technique

You must get centred on the best lift by building on the thermalling technique that we have mentioned previously. If you perceive that half of your 360 turn is in a poorer lift, you shift the 360 turn towards the better lift. As you turn back into the stronger lift, straighten up for one or two seconds and restart the 360 turns.

The classic thermalling technique

When you approach a strong thermal, you can feel how it absorbs you. What you are actually feeling is the air flowing towards the thermal. If you are flying into a headwind, then it is suddenly easier to penetrate into the wind. However, if you are going downwind, your groundspeed will increase as the thermal absorbs you.

This absorption only happens if you are flying in really strong winds and strong thermals, but it happens before you actually enter any lift. It is a sign that means it is going to be a good thermal.

When you enter the lift, the variometer starts to beep. Then, you will have to be careful and pay attention to the feedback you get through your harness from the air as the wing rides the thermal. You will have to turn one way or another so, when you hear the beeps of the variometer for the first time, you need to decide which way you are turning to.

If you feel that there is more lifting under one side of the glider and you feel how that side of the harness lifts with pressure building in the brake line. Consequently, the centre of the thermal will be off that way too.

The best way to thermal is to turn around the core where the lift is strongest. Regularly, when you enter a thermal, the variometer indicates a weak lift. Don’t turn right away — what you have to do is feel relaxed, try to concentrate on visualising the shape of the thermal, and make your first turn where you guess the core is located.


As you fly towards the core, the lift gets stronger at times, so the variometer sings out. Before turning, you have to wait until you have flown past the place where the lift is the strongest. In a strong core of 4 metres per second plus two seconds past the core brings you back to circle around it.

Remember to pay attention to your paraglider wing in order to decide how firmly you have to turn. If you notice that the pressure is uniform, you can allow yourself to draw a large circle. Nevertheless, if it feels punchy and it rips up one half of the wing, you can crank it up.

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The step climb technique

One of the best ways for gaining height whilst staying over a major trigger such as ridge is step climbing, even when the wind is blowing you away. It is a great thermalling technique for getting high in readiness for a big into wind transition.

The original step climb technique involves drifting for a few 360 turn before making a longer into wind glide to hopefully connect with the next thermal pulse from your chosen trigger. In this technique, you have to remember to take big steps when there is light wind and small steps when there is a strong wind.

The reversal turn thermalling technique

There is another useful technique that we sometimes use. When you enter a thermal and you are not sure as to which way to turn, it often means that you are exactly in the centre of the core. It doesn’t matter if you do a left or a right 360 turn — either way you are going to fall out of the side, especially if it is not a big thermal.

Hence, what you have to do is making a quarter turn to the left as you enter the core. Then, reverse the turn, leaning hard right to immediately make a right hand 360 turn. The quarter turn will enable you to alter course just before the core, so your first 360 turn can be better centred on the core.


The grim determination thermalling technique

If you decide trying this fallback technique, you shouldn’t do it in broken thermals. In that kind of thermals, you can’t do a 360 turn in lift without falling out. Probably, the most important element is that you turn firmly on the best lumps of lift, even if it is just a quarter of a turn. After straighten up in the fall, you will have to turn again in the lift. Remember to evaluate constantly your climb using your altimeter.

We hope this information has been useful in order to help you improving your paragliding thermalling techniques. Nevertheless, if you are not really interested in practice this aerial sport by yourself and you prefer to enjoy a marvellous tandem paragliding flight, we strongly recommend you to visit us in Costa Adeje. If you have any doubt or if you need more information, feel free to contact us. Overfly waits for you in the south of Tenerife!

We want to fly with you; we want to be your wings.

Best Time To Fly

What is the best time to fly your paraglider in Tenerife?

One of the most important things to bear in mind when you are going to practice paragliding is the best time to fly your paraglider. Of course, it is going to depend on factors like the place where you are practicing this sport, the time of the year and the time of the day.

If you plan to come with your paraglider and spend an excellent vacation flying on the island of Tenerife, you have to consider some things. Being an island bathed by the trade winds, the weather behaves differently from other places where you may be used to visiting to make your paragliding flights.

So now we are going to talk about what is the best time to fly your glider in Tenerife.

When is the best time of the year to fly your paragliding in Tenerife?

Weather conditions in Tenerife allow people to practice paragliding practically during the whole year, although expert pilots consider that the best time to fly is during the months from October to May — so we could say that the seasons of autumn, winter and spring are the best time of the year to fly your paraglider in Tenerife.

Some of the landing areas, especially those that involve beaches, are only available during the winter months. So, if you want to assure your descend from the highs to the coast, you must make your paragliding flight during the winter season. Nevertheless, there are some other landing areas which can be used, but you must be careful with the people at the beach!

Furthermore, you should always bear in mind that weather may change from one day to another, so we strongly recommend you to watch out the weather conditions for each day — both for the landing area and for the take-off area. The ones who can give you the best advice in terms of weather conditions are the experts of the Canary Federation of Aerial Sports (FECDA). You can visit their web page and contact them through the email or by a phone call.

best time to fly 1

When is the best time of the day to fly your paragliding in Tenerife?

Generally, any time of the day is a good time to fly. Nevertheless, we recommend starting in the morning.

The best time of the day to fly during autumn and winter would be between 10:30 am. and 17:00 pm. Due to at these hours you will find the best weather conditions and the best winds for flying at Tenerife. Later its more calm, so there are fewer possibilities to get higher.

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However, during the spring and summer seasons, the best time of the day to fly is typically from 9 am. to 7 pm., sometimes even later!

We hope that this information about the best time to fly your paraglider in Tenerife has been useful. You can also check our blog post: The best paragliding sites in Tenerife, there you can find out everything you need to know before starting your trip. Remember that if you have any doubt or if you want some more information you can contact us anytime!

overfly 8 72ppp

Paragliding flight company located in Costa Adeje, Tenerife, with more than 30 years of experience

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