You have decided to take the plunge? Do you want to finally learn to fly a paraglider on your own? This could be the best idea of your life!
If you are determined to embark on this adventure, you must surely have many questions: how to go about it? Who is paragliding for? Who should you turn to? How much does it cost?
Today we're going to answer all your questions.
First of all, the thing we can advise you to do before learning to fly solo is to have already discovered the sensations of paragliding during a paragliding tandem flight. To know if you like it, if you are comfortable in the air, ... But if you make the step to learn to fly, it is surely that you have already experienced these unique feelings.
Let's get to the heart of the matter: who is paragliding for?
Don't worry, paragliding is a sport that many people can practice. You don't need to be in great physical condition to paraglide. In fact, all you need to do is take a few steps at take-off and land on your feet and you will have done the hardest part of the job. Moreover, you will see that paragliding is a sport practised by people who are quite heterogeneous in terms of age. We see students of 15-16 years old on the course, but also 65 years old, even if the average age is around 35-40 years old. So you have no excuse not to start paragliding!
It is during courses in paragliding schools that you will be able to discover the activity and then improve your level as the courses progress. Paragliding schools generally offer 5-day courses, of different levels, each with well-defined objectives in the evolution of your practice. These courses take place in small groups in a friendly atmosphere.
The guarantee of quality of paragliding schools in France is the certification of the French Federation of Free Flight (which manages paragliding as well as other free flight sports). It certifies the quality of learning and safety with professional instructors who are state-qualified, as well as the respect of a quality charter. There are many in France, located all over the country, even if most of them are in areas where there is relief: Alps, Pyrenees, Massif Central, Massif des Vosges, Brittany, ... It's up to you to choose in which area you would like to discover paragliding.
The first step is to do your paragliding initiation course. The main objective is to bring you to the end of the course, to make your first solo flights, guided by the instructors on the radio. During this week, you will start with ground inflation exercises on flat ground and then continue your inflation training on increasingly higher slopes during the first days. Learning how to inflate and handle the glider on the ground is the most important point before you can fly. During these training exercises on the slope, you will probably make your first mini-flights a few meters above the ground!
Of course, it is also very important to have some theoretical aspects. During the initiation course, you will learn how a paraglider flies, the technical aspects of the glider, the flight, once in the air how to steer the wing, the landing phase, ... In fact, you will see all the theoretical aspects essential to make your first flights at the end of the week when the instructors think you are ready. The first big solo flights are always unforgettable memories and extraordinary sensations for the trainees!
After this course you will have done some solo flights but guided by your instructors. To start flying alone on a site, it is strongly advised to do a "progression" course which will allow you to arrive, at the end, at a level of total autonomy on basic sites in calm conditions by always working on your technique on the ground on a school slope, but also in the air to arrive at control and total understanding of your glider. You will also see flight plan and landing exercises to help you visualise your objectives and your flight plan.
Afterwards, there are other courses to improve your piloting and progress further in paragliding: work on longer flights with thermals, discover new paragliding sites in France, discover figures and acrobatics, ... But you still have a little time before you get there.
Yes, you can also deepen your knowledge thanks to books to learn paragliding such as the manual of free flight, paragliding initiation and progress, thermal flight, small manual of mountain weather...
True reference books covering all aspects of the discipline from why a paraglider flies to aerial restrictions and good piloting practices, you will discover or revise all the fundamental notions to practice this sport safely.
Do I need to have my own paragliding equipment to come on a course?
It will depend on the level of the course but of course for the first course, schools will not ask you to buy any equipment. First of all, because you probably don't know how to choose your glider, also because you don't know the paragliding world, and finally, because you don't know if you will continue to practice afterwards, ... But the most important reason is for your safety! The schools take for the first courses, school gliders, easy to handle, with a much higher passive safety than other gliders which limit the possible difficulties in flight for the students.
During the first two courses, the instructors will be able to advise you personally, if you wish, on how to choose your paragliding equipment in order to have a glider, a harness, etc., adapted to your person and the practice you want to do afterwards!
Paragliding is a very affordable free flight sport compared to other sports such as aviation, paramotor, hang gliding, ...
The price of a paragliding course will vary according to the schools and the services they offer. At Freedom Parapente, a 5 day course costs 690€. If you have always dreamed of flying solo and you just want to do an "initiation" course, it will only cost you the price of a course! You will also have to pay a licence to the FFVL to be insured in case of an accident, which is a few dozen euros depending on which one you take.
If you really want to start paragliding, if you are sure you like the sensations, ... you will have to do two paragliding courses and then buy your equipment to be totally autonomous and fly alone afterwards. At Freedom, we offer a reduced price package for the first two paragliding courses: 1250€ instead of 1380€. As for the equipment to start, the prices vary according to several criteria (recency of the equipment, condition, models of gliders, harnesses, ...). For a complete pack (canopy, harness and reserve parachute), it can go from 1500€ for second hand equipment to 4500€ for new equipment.
Finally, the price range for paragliding alone is between 2500€ and 5800€, depending on the equipment chosen. Find all informations on prices page.
Now you know everything you need to know about paragliding! At Freedom we offer paragliding courses for all levels (beginners to advanced); in an extraordinary environment, at the foot of the Puy de Dôme. Don't hesitate to ask about our courses, our school, our team of enthusiasts, ... Beyond that, we also offer a shop and a paragliding workshop for the maintenance of your equipment.
Starting at Freedom is like joining a big paragliding family!