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Frequently Asked Questions

Is paragliding the same as parasailing, parachuting, or BASE jumping?

How is paragliding different from hangliding?

What can I do with a paraglider?

Is paragliding scary?

How much does a paraglider cost and last?

What do you need to know when purchasing your first glider?

How do I get started?

Do I need a license to fly?

How long does it take to learn?

What is the history of paragliding?

How does it work?

What are the three types of flights?

What is the chase crew?

What does it take to be a pilot?

Q: Is paragliding the same as parasailing, parachuting, or BASE jumping?

A: Not even close!  Parasailing is what you do out on the ocean behind a boat.  This requires no skill at all, and your at the mercy of the boat operator.  He drags you up and down and you've probably had too much to drink if your on vacation.  This is definitely not paragliding! Parachutes are designed to be deployed during a free-fall from an airplane and to then descend to the ground.  We don't deploy our paragliders.  We inflate them like a kite, and ease them overhead.  Base jumping is a form of paragliding for those crazy souls who like lots and lots of risk for a rush that lasts a few seconds.  These lunatics jump from cliffs, bridges, buildings, or any other high altitude platform.  Our gliders don't endure the stress to the lines that parachutes lines do.  We launch from gentle sloping hillsides with our gliders already inflated overhead ready to fly.  We can check the glider and abort before we launch if we don't see something we like.  Launch is never rushed.  We can pull the glider overhead and stay there kiting it until we decide to launch. Paragliders are much lighter and aerodynamic, designed to go up rather than down.

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Q: How is paragliding different from hangliding?

A: You will be flying solo your first day of paragliding instruction, which is one of the advantages of the sport. However, in order to acquire the basic skills necessary to fly on you own without instructor supervision, you need to complete the course and get your P2 rating.  Some schools will spit you out in five days, but Eagle Paragliding gives you eight days of training.  This takes place at the training hill for an average of three days, then we head to the mountains for the rest of your training. Whether you complete your training in consecutive days or spread out over several months is up to you, although the more concentrated the training, the better.

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Q: What can I do with a paraglider?

A: Paragliders are designed to soar.  The flight duration record is over 11 hours, and the distance record is 300 kilometers.  In training, your first flights will be off a gentle 200 ft. slope.  As you progress and become more skilled and confident we will take you to the mountains.  This is where the paraglider is used for its designed purpose--SOARING! Average recreational pilots, utilizing thermal and ridge lift, routinely stay aloft three hours or more.  Pilots soar to altitudes of 18000 ft. and travel cross country for great distances.  Paragliders can be carried and launched off most mountains.  Paragliders have been flown of almost every major peak in the United States and Europe.  Once you become an advanced pilot you can pioneer launches in never flown.

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Q: Is paragliding scary?

A: Paragliding is the simplest and most serene way to fulfill man's oldest dream -- free flight!  The pilot jogs down a simple slope and glides away from the mountain. Most people are afraid of heights. Fear is somewhat an apprehension of the unknown. Your fear will fade as your confidence in your ability to operate in a reasonable manner grows. Your instructor will help you identify your capabilities and limitations. You'll learn that altitude is usually your friend. There is no free falling or jumping off cliffs.  The launches and landings are slow and gentle.  Once in the air, most people are surprised by how quiet and peaceful the experience is.  The solo lesson requires more effort(physical and mental) than a tandem flight lesson.  The tandem flight lays the basic groundwork necessary to become your own pilot.  If the idea of watching the sunset from a comfortable seat in the air, supported by the buoyant evening air, with perhaps an eagle or hawk joining you off your wing tip, appeals to you, then paragliding is for you.

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Q: How much does a paraglider cost and last?

A: A new paraglider & harness will cost somewhere between $2,800 and $3,800.  After four years of fairly active usage and exposure to UV light from the sun, a paraglider is generally in need of replacement.  This of course varies with how you care for your equipment.  Its easy to test your lines and sailcloth for strength and thus determine your need to replace your paraglider long before it becomes unsafe.  Harness and reserves should last indefinitely with good care.  Most pilots who get into the sport also purchase a two-way radio, and a variometer(which tells you whether and how fast you are going up or down).  Radios run about $250, and variometers run from $150 to $350.  Good used equipment is often available for half the price though it will have a shorter life-span.  In addition, because the sport is evolving rapidly,  newer paragliders can have significantly better performance and behavior than older ones.

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Q: What do you need to know when purchasing your first glider?

A: First, you need to know how to fly. No would-be pilot should purchase a wing before learning at least the basics of paragliding. It is the Instructors job to help you select our first wing.  Different paragliders have different characteristics and require different skill levels; we will match the glider to your particular interests, strengths, weaknesses, and skill level.  

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Q: How do I get started?

A: One way to start is to schedule a tandem flight.  When you ride along for a flight with an experienced pilot you go places and see things that wouldn't be available until you had been in the sport for a while.  We can show you the dynamics and the philosophy of making decisions in the air.  We also show you how relaxing it can be when you sit back and enjoy the view after climbing out.  After the tandem flight we can sign you up for the novice package.

Some people who watch us launch in the mountains or teach students at the training hill don't need a tandem to make the decision that this is for them.  We encourage you to come and watch us train or fly to get an idea of how this sport works.

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Q: Do I need a license to fly?

A: Paragliders are regulated under the Federal Regulations Section 103 and therefore a license is not required to paraglide.  In essence, paragliding is a self regulated sport under the authority of the United States Hang Gliding Association(USHGA).  To keep it self-regulated, pilots and instructors adhere to the policies and guidelines of the USHGA.  Local flying regulations may require the pilot to have certain USHGA certified ratings, such as P2 or P3, in order to fly a particular site.

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Q: How long does it take to learn?

A: You could be flying solo on your first day of paragliding instruction, which is one of the advantages of the sport. However, in order to acquire the basic skills necessary to fly on your own without instructor supervision, you need to complete the course and get your P2 rating.

Some schools will spit you out in a week, but Fly High Paragliding will spend the time that you'll need to be able to fly solo on your own. This takes place at the training hill for an average of five days, then we head to the mountains for the rest of your training. (average 10 lessons ) Whether you complete your training in consecutive days or spread out over several months is up to you, although the more concentrated the training, the better.

There is no "rushing" you through our course nor will we sign your P1, P2, P3, P4 or T1 until you are ready and have met all the USHPA requirements. We are dedicated to creating the perfect learning experience. Our instructors will provide you with any additional information you may need to make your learning process smooth and provide the highest level of safety

We also believe that a relaxed individually paced environment produces good attitudes and safe pilots.

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Q: What is the history of paragliding?

A: 1986-87   Paragliding arrives in the US. The gliders were squares with 8 or 9 large cells, glide ratios of 3:1, and a sink rate of 3 meters per second. Harnesses consisted of leg loops and a chest strap, with loops near the shoulders to hook in carabiners. The average flight was less than a two minute sled ride. There were 150 paraglider pilots in the US at the end of 1987.

1988   The design of the paragliders had evolved into the current elliptical design by 1988. Glide ratios were 4.5:1, soaring was becoming possible in ideal (strong windy) conditions. The American Paragliding Association was accepted, as the US governing body of the sport in September 1988. The development of detailed training programs was becoming standard practice. The first US training program was held in Bishop, CA and all ten US instructors attended. The US had approximately 300 pilots.

1989-90   As the sport continued to develop, paraglider design features and capabilities surpassed most of the current pilot's skill levels. Accidents were in the forefront as pilots pushed the limits. Gliders were achieving 4-5 hour flights, glide ratios were 6:1, and sink rate was 1.3 meters per second. Harnesses now had seats and some had speed seats. Many pilots began to wear reserve parachutes, and gaining altitude above launch became more common place. Paragliding the Magazine was started in June of 1990. The longest recorded flight in the US in 1990 was 24 miles; pilot Mark Shipman, site; Chelan Butte, Washington. There were 24 US instructors at the end of 1990 and approximately 600 pilots. The US saw the first powered paragliders, made by Adventure, in France.

1991   The APA grew to 785 members, 2with 73 certified instructors. Part of this large increase was due to a seminar, that introduced 50 current hangliding instructors. Back protection for crashes was being developed. The longest US foot launched flight recorded, was 63 miles, pilot; Bob England, site;Horseshoe Meadows to Bishop, CA. Longest US flight off tow was 81.8 miles, pilot;Robert Schwaiger( Austria), launch site; Hobbs, New Mexico. ACPULS developed the 12 test rating for certifying paragliders, (gliders were rated with 12 A's or 9 A's and 3 B's etc...)

1992-93   gliders reach 7.7:1 glide ratios, during a contest in New Hampshire. Two pilots set records in the Owens Valley, CA; Ted Boyse flew **.13 Miles and Kari Castle set the Women's World Distance for paragliding with a flight of 60 miles. Both flights began at horseshoe Meadows, near Bishop, CA. Tandem paragliding is accepted by the FAA, under the USHGA tandem waiver. The APA joins the USHGA in December 1992 with 1800 members.

1994-96   Paraglider development has leveled out in terms of new innovations, more emphasis is now going into producing safe, stable gliders with a good speed range and user friendly handling characteristics. ANFOR rating changed to Standard, Performance, and Competition, rather than the A's and B's system. A typical paraglider has 7:1 glide ratio, 1.1 meter per second sink rate, and a top speed of 28 mph on average. The USHGA reported 2692 members in December. The USHGA buys Paragliding the Magazine.

1997-2000  Paragliding has really started taking off the past four years. The designs of canopies have increased performance while maintaining stability. As more and more people find out about the sport, the pilot population continues to grow. Records are being broken all the time for distance and duration. The future is bright, and things will only get better.

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Q: How does it work?

A: Paragliding is the simplest form of human flight, and fastest growing type of foot-launched flying. and A paraglider is a non-motorized, foot-launched inflatable wing. It is easy to transport, launch, and land. Paragliders are an advanced evolutionary aircraft that can go places and do things unlike any other vehicle. The wing itself is constructed of rip-stop nylon from which the pilot is suspended by strong kevlar lines. These high-performance fabrics coupled with a growing comprehension of our micro-metrology have permitted the development of our incredible sport. The pilot is buckled into a harness and finds the sitting position which provides the most comfort. You actually fly like a bird, soaring upwards on currents of air. Paragliders operate in unprecedented harmony with the natural elements. Our slow flying speeds (about 15 to 25 mph) enables us to climb in small thermals and dual with the Red Tail Hawks. Red Tails are playful and its common to share the same thermal within a wingspan. We use numerous "top landing" perches within reach of a re-launch and can put down in some pretty tight spots when necessary.

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Q: What are the three types of flights?

A: 1) Coastal Ridge Lift Flights- The wind must be coming on-shore for the ridge or cliff to be working. The direction is best when the wind is coming in perpendicular to the ridge. All this wind pushes into the cliff and has no place to go but up. This creates a giant lift band, a cushion of rising air. The wind speed usually needs to be blowing in at a minimum of ten mph for it to be working. The higher the cliff the less wind you need. 2)Sled Flights- take place when thermal activity is non-existent or weak. These are the types of flights experienced at the training hill, although the training hill occasionally gets soarable. After you receive a few days at the training hill we take you to the mountains for your first high flight. This high flight will be a direct shot toward the landing zone. A sled flight is basically a non-thermaling, or non-soarable flight. 3) Soaring or Thermal Flights-are flights when the pilot can gain altitude by navigating the paraglider into rising pockets of air called thermals. This is where the fun really begins! The pilots connects with thermals and climbs thousands of feet at a time. When a pilot reaches higher altitudes the flight plan options increase. Flying over the local mountains for hours on end is another option. These long distance flights are called cross country flights. Cross Country (XC) flying takes place at the advanced level of the sport.

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Q: What is the chase crew?

A: Having a good chase crew is very important, since most of the pilots from our camp are going to head down range. We all fly with two-meter radios, and keep in constant contact with each other. Most everybody has a radio handle that has been given by the other pilots. We relay information about the wind and weather conditions, and where everybody has landed. The chase vehicle always follows the leader. Once and a while we stick out our thumbs to hitch a ride back. Give a call if your interested in crewing, but be careful most crew members eventually become pilots.

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Q: What does it take to be a pilot?

A: Paragliding is about finesse and serenity, not strength and adrenaline. As in rock climbing, women often do much better than men because they don't try to muscle the Paraglider around. In Europe the sport is immensely popular. Pilots are as young as 10 and as old as 80. You want to be in good shape, because there may be some hiking involved. Being physically and mentally alert and prepared is more important than physical conditioning. To be a successful Paragliding student and pilot, you need to be able to think clearly and listen well.

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Carlso Picture Paragliding Instructor

Carlos Madureira

Fly High Paragliding School is owned and operated by, Brazilian born, Carlos Madureira.  He has now resided in the USA for 7 years. He has instructed and flown throughout many parts of the world. 

He has over 17 years of paragliding experience and has over 7000 flights. Now there is a premier paragliding school in Phoenix, AZ with an experienced instructor, new and used quality equipment sales and tandem services.

Fly High Paragliding School provides the most qualified instruction and tandem paragliding services available. The UNITED STATE HANG GLIDING PARAGLIDING ASSOCIATION certifies Fly High Paragliding School. Our school uses only the most advanced technical equipments for tandem flights and instruction.