What is paragliding?
A paraglider is a soaring aircraft, capable of flights of over 500km distance and several hours duration. They were developed from ram-air parachutes, but a modern paraglider offers a glide angle of over 12:1. They are the most portable aircraft; they can be easily carried for a considerable distance using the rucksack provided. They can be readily taken onto public transport, including aircraft.
We launch from hills and either ridge soar or find areas of warm rising air (thermals) and climb to cloudbase. While you are learning it is unusual for you to gather the skills required to start soaring in less than five days.
What is hang gliding?
A hang glider is a soaring aircraft, capable of flights of over 300 miles and several hours duration. They were developed from rogallo wings, but a modern hang glider offers a glide angle of over 20:1. They are a semi-portable aircraft; they can be easily carried by car but weigh rather too much to carry for any considerable distance. That said, I have carried one both up and down Parlick Fell!. They cannot be readily taken onto public transport, including aircraft, due to their size when packed. One must further dismantle them, 'short-packing', prior to carriage and they remain vulnerable to damage.
We launch from hills and either ridge soar or find areas of warm rising air (thermals) and climb to cloudbase. While you are learning it is unusual for you to gather the skills required to start soaring in less than eight days. Once you have qualified as Club Pilot and gained a little additional experience, you may wish to start to launch by aerotow, where you are towed into the air by a microlight. This is rapidly becoming the most popular launch method.
What is the difference between hang gliding and paragliding?
Paragliders are far less physical to master than hang gliders. They are somewhat slower, thus both launch and landing speeds are slower and they do not require such active piloting to keep them in level flight.
The sink rates, that is the speed at which they descend through the air, are similar for both types of aircraft, however, the hang glider is significantly faster. Therefore the glide angle of the paraglider is not as good as that of the hang glider.
Paragliders are easier to carry and transport.
Hang gliders last longer: a hang glider can easily last more than twenty years, a paraglider will rarely last longer than 1000 hours flying time.
A poor landing in a paraglider rarely results in injury or glider damage. A poor landing in a hang glider will often break the uprights or worse.
Hang gliders are easier to launch when conditions are strong - not necessarily a good thing!
Paragliders have a variety of rapid descent techniques available to them and can readily escape cloud suck of 10 m/s or more. Hang gliders have no effective rapid descent techniques available so they must rely on out-running any bad weather.
In Summary: For the reasons mentioned above, paragliding has marginalised hang gliding to the point where very few choose to learn hang gliding. However, they do ultimately offer more performance and many paraglider pilots are now cross-training so that they can fly both machines. Of course if you have dreamed of flying hang gliders for many a year, then really it is hang gliding you ought to learn first!
Learning To Fly
How will training proceed?
You'll begin your flying training on our nursery slopes & within a short space of time; you'll be taking your first steps into the air, all the time under the expert tuition and guidance of our instructors.
To fly a paraglider unsupervised you will have to reach the required standard of Club Pilot (Novice). This typically takes a minimum of 10 days of tuition (they do not have to be consecutive). However, your first goal will be to achieve the Elementary Pilot level (4 to 5 days).
When is the best time to learn?
With the significant effects of climate change that we are seeing we removed this item as our climate is no longer that predictable. However, due to popular demand it is back, but to be taken with a bowl of salt!
Any activity which involves the use of an aircraft has the potential for danger either to the pilot or to the public. In the hands of the reckless, just like motorcycling or skiing, it will be dangerous. However, with common sense and a good attitude it needn't be overly hazardous. Most, if not all accidents are due to pilot error and can, with good sense and foresight, be avoided.
What age limits are there?
The legal age limit for all paragliding and hang gliding based sports as pilot in command is 14. The age limit for commercial dual flight is 12 but we can, exceptionally, take up younger children where there is a special reason, e.g. terminal illness etc.
What ability and size/weight limits are there?
You must be less than 100kg clothed to fly dual. 80kg if using our disabled buggy.
You will need to total 50kg including the glider in order to fly solo. Thus if you personally weigh less than 40kg you may need to carry water ballast (we have ballast bags) to bring your total weight in flight up to 50kg.
You must weigh less than 180kg* and be able-bodied to fly school kit solo without a buggy. What goes down must first go up, so you will need to be able to climb up the hill before each flight. If you're BMI is over 35 you may prefer to train in the cooler months.
We can accommodate physically and some mentally disabled/impaired** students, including those with a maximum weight exceeding 180kg*, but the fee would have to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
There is no minimum height limit, but you must be able to negotiate the Downland scarp slopes.
There is no maximum height limit.
* If you weigh more than 180kg you may need to purchase from us a harness specially manufactured to suit your proportions.
** Students on the autistic spectrum can often be accommodated, but we would require a doctor’s letter and we cannot accept any such students onto an open-ended training course.