About Airborne and Frequently Asked Questions              

Paragliding developed from the introduction of "Ram-Air"  parachutes, designed by NASA as a method of returning the Apollo to earth. In the end it was dropped in favour of three huge round parachutes, which could not be guided or slowed down and so splash down was the answer. The millions of US dollars invested were not wasted. A French military parachutist decided to try and fly his Ram Air parachute from a mountain. The sport of Parapente (against the ground) was born. Since then the progress with computer design and materials technology has given steady progress with performance and safety. From a parachute we now have a serious glider, able to fly easily to cloud-base and many hundreds of miles - and it fits into a small ruck-sack. Without growing your own wings, there is no easier way to fly!

On this page, you will find out more about the history of Airborne, how we operate and help you and we answer a number of frequently asked questions.  Please click below to 'jump' to the section of interest;

Meet the crew

Paragliding FAQ's

Where do you fly?

Airborne has a consortium of centres throughout the UK, the original centre is based in the south Pennines close to Manchester and Leeds. Situated within easy reach of the M6,  M1 & M62 motorway networks. Our main slopes are within 1 hour of Birmingham & Nottingham, 30   minutes from Liverpool, and just 25 minutes from Manchester and 35 minutes from Leeds.

We normally meet at 10.30am and after a brief theory session, you will be on the hill learning how to control the paraglider, initially on the ground. Once you can manage this you will attempt to make your first flights on gentle nursery slopes and will be no higher then a set of  kitchen steps. As your skill and confidence increases, you will progress higher up the hill to make longer, higher flights. At this stage we will use two-way radios to guide you safely through the air, Soon you will be soaring like a bird, airborne for hours! Where appropriate Dual Control Paragliders may be used.  On completion of your CP course you will be invited to register with the Airborne Club and the British Hang Gliding & Paragliding Council, so that you can take advantage of annual insurance cover and many other benefits.

We also run many training courses abroad. These are accelerated courses and you will learn much faster due to better weather and top drivable big mountains.

Can I get insurance?

Yes, click here

Do you operate all year?
Hours of Business & Flying Schedule

Is there a weight limit?

Yes, but its more important to be reasonably fit with weight in proportion to height. Our normal maximum weight on school equipment is 18st / 115kgs. However, we can by prior arrangement take up to 22 stone providing you are reasonably athletic. It is possible to buy a paraglider capable of taking a pilot of up to 220kg!! We prefer tandem passengers to be below 17stone/110kg - 17.5stone/115kg is our maximum. Click here to see inclusive packages.

Is there an age limit?

Yes, to fly solo by law you must be at least 16. You may fly tandem with an instructor and parental consent from 12 upwards. The maximum age we will teach you is 70. However there are pilots flying well into there 70's! If you are over 55 or have a medical history, eg diabetes, heart condition etc, you will need a doctor to sign a health declaration.

Is there a syllabus?

Yes click here

Overseas courses operate on specific dates throughout  the year. In winter these are in Spain or Tenerife. Click here for holiday course details

How do you start?
Our philosophy is learning by experience. You will NOT spend tedious hours in the classroom.

To see some training photographs, click here

Pre-take off drill: we always do our pre-flight checks using SHOWER.

 S.H.O.W.E.R. This is a mnemonic, a useful memory aid, that competent pilots use before they commit to taking off. It covers  a check list of safety aspects, for example the S is Suspension, it includes, sail, (that's what holds you up!) suspension lines and straps that fix you into the machine.

Guess what the O stands for? If you don't know - Answers can be found here

Can I teach myself Paragliding?
It is true that paragliders are the most simple of aircraft. Most people can learn to launch, turn, and land in about an hour and a half of instruction. This is partly possible because we control the situation, assess the conditions and make safety decisions for our students. What cannot be taught in this period of time, however, are all the things necessary to make flight decisions on your own. In order to do this safely, it is necessary to have a comprehensive knowledge of weather, equipment and safety procedures. The pilot certification program encompasses these things. Self teaching has been shown to be a key factor in the accident data compiled by the BHPC (British Hang Gliding & Paragliding CooperativeIT HAS PROVEN TO BE VERY DANGEROUS TO TRY TEACHING YOURSELF!

Do I need to take all my days at once?
No, in fact with British weather it is unlikely that you will get a full course completed in one go. Most people come at weekends or two days at a time. Unless you are very fit that will be enough anyway! If you what a rapid training course, you need to consider out training courses abroad

What is a Paraglider?
A paraglider is a foot-launched, ram-air, airfoil canopy, flown and landed with no other energy than the wind, gravity, and the pilot's muscle power. It gets lift from the wind and sun, providing a way to soar along a ridge or to rise in the warm air of invisible, thermal currents.

Is a Paraglider the same thing as a parachute?
No, a paraglider is similar to a modern, steerable skydiving canopy, but different in several important ways. The paraglider is foot-launched from the ground either by running down a hill or being towed into the air. The construction is generally much lighter, as it doesn't have to withstand the sudden shock of opening at high velocities.

Is this like BASE Jumping?
No, BASE jumpers open their parachutes to land after they free-fall from bridges, cliffs, or buildings. Paragliders launch from hillsides with their glider already opened for flight. If the glider isn't flying properly the launch can be aborted before leaving the ground. An important distinction!

What's a Parasail?
That's what you ride at the beach. It's a modified parachute connected by a rope to a boat. The driver of the boat determines where you go and where you land. Paragliders fly free. In a parasail you're a passenger, in a paraglider you are a PILOT.

What is the difference between a Hang Glider and a Paraglider?
The hang glider has a rigid frame maintaining the shape of the wing, with the pilot usually flying in a prone position. The paraglider canopy shape is maintained only by air pressure and the pilot is suspended in a sitting or supine position. The hang glider has a "cleaner" aerodynamic profile and generally is capable of flying at much higher speeds than a paraglider.

Is a Paraglider the same thing as a parachute?

No. A Paraglider is similar to a modern, steerable skydiving canopy, but different in several important ways. The Paraglider is a foot-launched device, so there is no "drouge" 'chute or "slider", and the construction is generally much lighter, as it doesn't have to withstand the sudden shock of opening at high velocities. The Paraglider usually has more cells and thinner risers than a parachute.

Why would anyone want to fly a Paraglider instead of a Hang Glider?
Many pilots fly both. The paraglider is more portable and suitable for back packing to launch sites. It folds down into a pack weighing as little as 8kg, complete. Conversely, a hang glider, weighs around 50kg, needs a vehicle with a roof rack for transportation to and from the flying site, as well as 30 minutes to set-up and strip-down. Paragliders are ready to fly in 5 minutes. It's also somewhat easier to learn to fly a paraglider.

How "physical" is it?
In the UK paragliders are currently flown by pilots from 15 to 75 years of age, female and male. Hiking to launch is good exercise but many sites can be driven to. Good pilots find that finesse is more important than brute strength.

How much does a Paraglider cost?
This varies between makes and models, but a new middle of the range canopy, helmet, and harness will cost around 2,500. High quality equipment is worth the investment. In addition to the canopy and harness most pilots purchase a reserve parachute and other safety equipment. Two-way radios, GPS position finders, and a variometer complete the equipment for advanced pilots who fly cross-country.  Between instruction and new equipment most pilots invest somewhere around 4000 for their complete flying equipment in a backpack, ready to go. Starter pacages are extremely affordable -  with used equipment and professional training included. Click here to see inclusive packages.

What is AFNOR and DHV certification?
Those are two norms developed for the certification of paragliders, AFNOR in France, adopted by SHV and most countries, DHV in Germany. Without going into detail at this point, their categories essentially classify which paragliders are suitable for which pilot levels. Those categories are Standard, Performance, Competition in AFNOR/SHV and Class I, II and III in DHV. Paragliders are not certified by the FAA. But the voluntary certification as described above is certainly a good indication for what is generally suitable for a beginner, intermediate or very advanced pilot.

How long does a Paraglider last?
Generally four years of average use. This obviously depends on how and where it is used. Ultraviolet rays from the sun and physical abrasion on harsh terrain are the greatest source of canopy deterioration. 300-500 hours of exposure to UV is considered the normal life, depending on the quality of materials being used. Canopies are routinely tested for strength. Long before they become unsafe their flying performance will typically mark the need for replacement.

How high and far can a paraglider fly?
The current world's distance record is over 200 miles. In the UK flights of over 100 miles are not uncommon. Paragliders are restricted from flying above 18,000 feet. (Oxygen is normally used above 10,000.) Paragliders have been launched from the highest mountains of the world including Everest.

How can I get started and how long does it take ?
A Tandem flight with an instructor will give you a first impression, a beginner Funday or weekend will actually get you flying on your own (with radio supervision). Training proceeds from the "bunny hill" where you hardly get off the ground to ever higher launches.  To become a certified Club pilot you will have to invest several weekends, and this will be fun, since you want to go fly anyway. Paragliding can be dangerous. Learn with a certified instructor. If you are still not convinced buy the Training Video  by email.

Do I need a license to fly?
Legally no. No license is required to paraglide or hang glide. Paragliding and hang gliding is governed by the Civil Aviation Authority and  is a self-regulated sport under the auspices of the British Hang Gliding & Paragliding Council (BHPC) which certifies instructors and they issue pilot's ratings based on experience and skill. However to own a paraglider and go fly it, you should have the knowledge and skills that you acquire with these ratings.

Is Paragliding safe?
Paragliding is as safe or as dangerous as the pilot makes it. Good equipment, proper training, and most importantly mature judgment make the sport safe. Accidents can happen though; this is an adventure sport after all.

How do you buy your first glider?
First, you need to know how to fly, and equipment can initially provided by the school. Some people prefer to purchase their own new equipment and be taught for FREE. Check out our packages

How do the packages work?
You pay for the package of your choice, new or used. Used prices start at 1500 upwards. Then you have up to 12 months to complete up to 10 training days. You can come one or two days at a time or book a whole week, the choice is yours.

What is a paramotor?
This is a paraglider with a propeller inside a cage behind the pilot, usually powered by a small 2 stroke engine. They vary in weight and power.

Do paramotors need hills to take off?
No. See a demonstration to see one take off, in this movie trailer.

Movie Trailer A great introduction to the sport of powered paragliding and learning to fly a powered paraglider. Shows what to expect from first lessons,  ...

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What happens after training?
You will be invited to join the Airborne Club. This provides many benefits - ongoing coaching, Club Sites Guide, newsletter and social events plus discounts of flying gear. * You will be required to complete a Club Application Form. Joining Fee of 97.00 is payable except when you have booked an all inclusive package, in which case it is included, Annual Club fees will be payable by Direct Debit only
You may also benefit from further training at a much reduced cost.

Imagine parking your car at a beautiful upland vantage point on a sparkling spring day. You open the boot and don flying suit and boots, then lift out your incredibly light flying machine in its carrying rucksack and trek off a few yards to where your friends are preparing to fly. After a few minutes spent inspecting your equipment you don helmet and harness, look around, allow the wind to raise the canopy - and launch off into space. This is paragliding!

What exactly is it?
Developed from parachuting canopies, modern paragliders can be soared effortlessly on windward slopes and across country in good conditions. It is the same freedom that hang glider pilots have, but a paraglider is more portable and a little easier to learn to fly. They are more hampered by strong winds than hang gliders but are easier to land in small fields. In the UK paragliding is a thriving sport and there are numerous importers of canopies and equipment. The country-wide network of BHPC clubs offers literally hundreds of flying sites and a supportive flying and social environment.

What can you do with one?
Many paraglider pilots strive to perfect their skills in cross-country flying. A summer sky filled with fluffy cumulus clouds provides abundant - but invisible - lifting currents which pilots use to gain altitude. Setting off on such a day, either towards a pre-selected goal or just drifting where the wind will take you, is one of the most breathtaking experiences available today. Most pilots will talk of the sense of privilege they feel when drifting from cloud to cloud, in almost total silence, watching the landscape unfold beneath them as they navigate across the sky.

Flights of over 150km have been made by paraglider pilots in this country. Abroad, especially in the Alpine regions, the potential is infinitely greater, and many British pilots take advantage of the paraglider's portability to visit Europe or more exotic locations further afield. For those of a competitive bent, local, national and international competitions offer challenges to novice and experienced pilots alike.

Paraglider Types
Today paragliders can stay aloft in good lift conditions and, with experience, be flown on cross-country flights. Paragliders are rated and tested and a BHPC registered club will train you on a paraglider that is rated for a beginner.

How much do they cost?
Paragliders are not cheap, although they represent one of the least expensive ways to get into the air. A new paraglider suitable for a recently trained pilot will cost up to around 2,000; used paragliders can be obtained for much less. Buying a Package represents excellent value for money.  Training to the level at which you can fly your own kit in a club environment. Apart from a glider you need a harness, helmet, flight suit and boots; later in your flying career you may choose to buy instruments and other useful accessories.

Paragliding is a great community. You'll often find championship-winning pilots comparing notes with novices; both know that theirs is perhaps the simplest and most intuitive way of flying yet devised. If you want to enjoy the challenges that only being truly at one with the elements can provide, book a training course today!

Learning to fly a paraglider
Expect a full course at a BHPC registered club to take around 8 days or more of flyable weather. You might also consider a short 4 day 'taster' course or a limited Elementary Pilot certificate.

Training is usually conducted on a gentle slope. Your instructor will explain how the canopy is laid out, inflated and controlled by its brake lines; you'll then take it in turns with other members of your group to have your first short training hops.

When you've become adept at ground handling, controlling airspeed and making gentle turns, you'll probably go to a higher hill for longer flights. The instructor may even take you up dual on a special canopy to demonstrate an exercise. As things fall into place you'll learn to soar - to stay up in favourable winds and make longer flights.

In the classroom you'll cover flight theory, meteorology and basic air law and sit a simple exam. With a positive assessment from your instructor on your flying, normally on your own the canopy, you'll be given a BHPC Club Pilot rating enabling you to fly in the club environment. You'll find that DIY takes a back seat when you've discovered the unlimited freedom of the sky!

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