Who do we learn to fly with? How long does the training last? Are we autonomous after a course? Do we need to have our own equipment? How much does it cost and why?
Many questions arise when you are interested in paragliding. Don’t worry, we’ll try to answer these questions and explain the course of an initiation course, the first step to learn to fly.
With whom and for how long do you train?
Paragliding courses are offered by schools affiliated to the FFVL (Fédération Française de Vol Libre or the BHPA in England). In France, there are about 150 of them, so there is plenty of choice near you! As you may have noticed, each school offers different courses, but all of them are similar: the initiation course. This is the compulsory step to take your first flights with a paraglider suitable for beginners.
This course lasts one week, from Monday morning to Friday evening. With 6 other students and 2 instructors, you will discover this new aerial world...
A paraglider is the simplest aircraft, but this activity is still aeronautics, and therefore has a cost! Much less than other flying machines. This cost includes many hours of technical and theoretical training, and includes the wear and tear of the electronic equipment as well as the flight support (harness, glider, and reserve parachute). This is why the cost of an initiation course is 750 € for 5 days.
How does an initiation course work?
From the first day, you will discover and familiarize yourself with the language of paragliding equipment (wing, lines, brakes, harness, etc.). While remaining on the ground, you will learn to raise the glider above your head: this is called ground handling. Do it on a training slope, i.e. a terrain suitable for ground training, will be useful throughout your flying life. It is a mandatory exercise to progress and improve in the different techniques that you will use later to take off.
During two or three days, you will alternate inflation with theoretical courses on the functioning of a glider, the different approaches to the ground during landing or the basic principles of meteorology.
After several hard training sessions on the ground...you will be ready to take off and make your very first flight...
During this first flight, you will apply the theoretical lessons you have learned before to discover with a maximum of pleasure this new element in which you are. And as we know that you liked it... We do it as many times as possible until the end of the course if the aerological conditions allow it!
Flights usually take place in the morning or in the late afternoon in order to stay in calm conditions. Between flights, you will continue to train on the ground with different wind speeds, different techniques in order to improve your skills.
Our teaching is based on a real assumption of responsibility by the future pilot. It is with pleasure and awareness that the flights are made, our teaching approach is to make the future pilot proud and serene of the decisions he will undertake to land on a safe field.
Are we independent after a course?
As you have noticed, the first paragliding flights are quickly accessible to all. However, you will be supervised and accompanied by a radio for the duration of the flight. During the course, we will introduce you to the different flying sites and weather conditions suitable for beginners. In general, the instructors will explain that the morning and evening flights are suitable for your level, but please bear in mind that this is not an absolute truth as the wind strength and direction for example may change and not be suitable for you.
So yes, by the end of an initiation course, the pilot is on the way to being able to think strategically about how to move in calm air, and is technically capable of managing his paraglider in calm morning air.
Do I need to have my own equipment?
When you are a beginner, there is no need to bring your own equipment to the course, the school lends you all the necessary equipment. At Flyeo, we use "monosurface" gliders which are lighter and make learning easier.
If you want to continue flying on your own or come back to the school to improve your skills, it is a good idea to buy the necessary equipment.
To give you an idea, a pilot needs at least these 4 things to fly: a canopy, a harness, a rescue parachute and a helmet. This "beginner's pack" can be found in different ways, either new or used: with your school, on online sales sites, on dedicated Facebook sales groups or with the resellers of well-known brands, at the Coupe Icare festival, or among paragliding friends. In short, the choice is wide and a Flyeo professional can advise you.
Prices are also varied: a second hand pack can start at 2000€ while a new pack can reach twice that price.
Depending on your weight, size and means, it will be more or less easy to find the perfect pack but don't worry: a more advanced pilot will always look to sell his old equipment at some point! You should however check if it is overhauled and see its technical inspection to support this.