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How to learn paragliding ?


Do you want to learn to paraglide and fly on your own? But before you take the plunge, or jump in, you need to learn the basics. And these basics include reading this article! Because to learn paragliding you need to do a course in a school. Here I explain you everything about the course of a paragliding course.Are there any special conditions to enrol? Where can I take a course? How much does it cost?

Look no further! You will find below a description of each course allowing you to learn paragliding and to improve your skills. You will also find a detailed programme and a price range. This will give you an idea of what you are getting into, without going into detail and exhaustiveness, for that you will have to check with your school.

To date, I have been able to identify the following courses, which I have also been able to test in my paragliding career.

You will also check where to do your paragliding lessons?

Yes, there is more to learning to paraglide than just the beginner lesson. There are many other stages to go through to make you an experienced paraglider. And the training lasts a lifetime!

How to learn paragliding ? The basics

As an introduction, we can say that for paragliding learning and improvement, paragliding schools have been more and more numerous in France for several years. Always supervised by professionals (instructors with a national certificate), in groups and from 14 years old, these schools give access to different formulas called courses. These lessons are available either during the week for 5 days in a row, or at the weekend (note that a minimum of 2 weekends is required!)..


Learn to paraglide with the initiation course: attention, imminent take-off!

A course for beginners is a very good start! It is the first step to learn paragliding and discover the joys of free flight. In this lesson you will :

  • Discover paragliding equipment. What is a paraglider? What are its components? You will have an educational approach on the presentation of the material: paraglider / harness / rescue.
  • Doing the school slope. That is to say, you will be introduced to the gestures and techniques for taking off and landing safely on a light grassy slope. This is when you will feel the first sensations of flight. Or how to get a kick out of a 3 second flight!
  • Discover the theoretical and technical aspects. Notions of flight mechanics and elaboration of the first flight plans (take-off, approach, landing).
  • Make your first solo flights. The dream becomes reality! And it happens faster than you think! Depending on the weather, the number of flights can vary during a lesson. You will learn the basics of how to take off, turn, pitch, roll, and especially land. The flights are done in the morning, when the weather conditions are the calmest.
  • At the end of day, you can watch a video debriefing of this crazy adventure.

How to learn paragliding - paragliding information

Learn to paraglide with the progression course: the bird comes out of its nest!

This course is suitable for pilots coming out of the initiation course or for pilots who feel a bit rusty and want to take it easy. In other words, you have the basics, but you feel you still need to work on your confidence and decision making. Assimilating the basics of riding is also about progression.

It is supposed to lead you to a major step in your life as a pilot: autonomy! During the progression lesson, you will :

  • fly at several different sites
  • refine your take-off and landing techniques
  • multiply the exercises in flight (pitch, roll, ears) which will allow you to fly in thermal lift later on
  • improve your weather analysis
  • deepen the construction of your flight plan
  • study a little theory, again and again (otherwise it wouldn’t be fun)
  • debrief via videos

Learn to paraglide with the improvement course: fly on your own !

The improvement course is a continuation of the progression course. You have the basics, you have the confidence, but you still need a little technique to be really comfortable in certain situations. Step by step, you will develop your skills until you reach total autonomy. This lessons are is also suitable for pilots who wish to be accompanied to discover the magnificent French heritage sites (without any chauvinism ;)). What we will teach you:

  • fly at different sites (old and new)
  • perfect your piloting techniques by continuing the exercises in flight and on the ground
  • make your first flights in thermal conditions, which corresponds to lift flights (weather permitting)
  • to train yourself on the analysis and theory that will allow you to pass the initial pilot’s licence if you wish.

Learn to paraglide with the single surface course: to reach the summits!

You won’t find this type of course anywhere in France, especially if you come from the North (I’m not making fun, I come from there ;)) or from Brittany… Mountain flying has become more and more popular in recent years thanks to the evolution of equipment: single surface gliders, light gliders, reversible harnesses, strings, etc. Paragliding schools are beginning to specialise in the practice of “hike and fly”.

How to learn paragliding with light equipment - paragliding information

This course is aimed at pilots or future pilots wishing to practice rando flight. With light equipment, especially the glider and harness, you will discover the joy of hiking with the ascent, the arrival at the summit and the descent…in paraglider! Besides the benefits of being in the mountains, your knees will thank you! Of course, during this course you will learn about pre-flight analysis (choosing the right summit, the right orientation according to the weather), analysis on site but also acquire the necessary gestures for take-off and landing. And all this under the supervision of a mountain leader or mountain guide, no less!

If you are interested, I recommend 2 schools in the french Alps :

  1. Alpwind : school based in Chamonix, which is a pioneer in this field. Learning at the foot of Mont Blanc has a nice side to it too, I admit !
  2. Air et Aventure : school based in Lumbin (38) on the site of the Coupe Icare. You can do your course between Belledonne and Chartreuse, two mountain ranges that I particularly like. They also have a shop that I highly recommend if you are looking for hike and fly gear or any other paragliding equipment !

Learn to paraglide with the cross country course: always higher, always further !

For those who want to go further in learning paragliding, the cross country course is the ideal solution.

This course is for pilots who want to start pushing their limits in terms of distance and flight time. A prerequisite, and not the least, is that you are comfortable with landing! Indeed, you need to be able to land elsewhere than on official landings. In the Alps or the Pyrenees, you will find many spots and schools that offer cross country courses. During the course, you will learn or refine the following techniques:

  • Self-assessment of your level of flying and your abilities according to your ambitions
  • Pre-flight: analysis of weather forecasts and aerological conditions / choice of site / information gathering (e.g. airspace)
  • Flying in lift and techniques to improve your speed and transitions. You will keep in mind to put yourself in the best conditions to make the flight last
  • The debriefing of the flight will take place at the end of the day
How to learn paragliding on cross country - paragliding information

Learn to paraglide with the FIS course (Flight Incident Simulation, SIV in french)

This is serious business! If you like strong sensations, this course will please you. And if you don’t like it, you’ll have to go through it because in the life of a paraglider, this course is highly recommended! Indeed, the SIV aims to place you voluntarily in uncomfortable flight conditions so that, if the incident occurs in a real situation, you will be able to deal with the situation. These courses are often (if not always) conducted over water, for maximum safety. You can imagine that in the event of an uncontrollable or uncontrolled mess, the coolness of a small dive will save your life. If you want to test your rescue, this is also a good time to do so. Instructors will be on hand to welcome you and rescue you with a towel and a hot tea !

There are many reasons to participate in a SIV:

  • Simply be comfortable flying.
  • xplore the flying areas of your (new) glider and gain confidence with your new toy: front collapses, asymmetric collapses, positioning in the harness, auto-rotation, evasive manoeuvres, rapid descent
  • Regain confidence after an incident in flight. It is often said in paragliding that it is easier to take 10 steps back than one step forward.
  • Begin aerobatics and acrobatics: wing-over, 360 face planet, SAT, 360 asymmetric, stall and dynamic stall, heli, and even tumbling if your heart is set on it.

In conclusion, it is advisable to do SIV courses every 2/3 years or so in order to maintain your confidence and control of your flying. A SIV course is recommended at any time in a pilot’s life, whether it is after a course or after 1000 hours of flying.

Where to learn paragliding?

Logically, I would say that the best place to do your paragliding course is the paragliding school closest to your home! Indeed, it is with this school that you will discover the nearest flying site. The one where you will fly the most at the beginning (especially if you do a course initiation)! Here are several reasons to choose a school near you:

  • Ease of access. The nearest school means less driving time to get there, and more time for you. And this time is precious, as you know 😉
  • You will discover the nearest flying site to you. I’ve said this before, but it’s very important. This is where you will train, gain confidence. Afterwards, as soon as you have a weather window to fly, this is where you will go!
  • When you fly solo, you will always have the school’s instructors to ask for advice or to discuss the day’s conditions with. It’s a kind of after sales service 😉
  • In addition to your former instructors, you will make friends with the locals. Besides your former instructors, you will make friends with the locals, who will probably be members of the local club, which you are likely to join. This is the next step after the course: joining a club. In general, you join a club near your home and you learn a lot by sharing activities with other members (themed evenings, hiking trips, piou-piou coaching, etc.)

Basically, how to learn paragliding?

To the question “how do I learn to paraglide”? The answer is necessarily with a professional and FFVL certified structure. You should not learn paragliding alone, it is much too dangerous (do I really have to say that?). Through a school or independent trainers, close to your home, it is recommended, in the course of a pilot’s life, to carry out all the courses described above (except the monosurface which is specific). From the initiation to the SIV, you will acquire all the bases to practice in the greatest serenity ;).

If you don’t have a paragliding school near you, then France is waiting for you! There are more than 150 FFVL affiliated schools in the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Jura, Alsace, the Aquitaine coast, etc. Depending on your affinities, your holiday destinations, you will have a wide choice !

Discover the map of France and find the right school for you : See the map.

Also, if you need inspiration in choosing your school, go to “paragliding spot” which includes several popular destinations in the industry 😉

So there you have it, I hope that we have covered it all and that it has inspired you to learn to paraglide. Once again, this article aims to give you the main information, the common bases that schools will offer you. Depending on your desire or your level, you are now in a position to orient yourself towards a particular paragliding course. All you have to do is contact a school and go into the details of the programme.

Bons vols ! A bientôt en l’air.


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