Who can learn paragliding?
Almost everyone. You don’t need any special skills or knowledge, everything is taught. You have a normal physical condition. However, you don’t have to be a trained athlete at all.
I suffer from vertigo…
Of course, it depends on how much your fear of heights is. A normal level of fear of heights is a natural reflex that is present in everyone. Strangely enough, people with a strong fear of heights appear to have little or no problem when flying. It’s a different feeling and the fact that you’re sitting in a harness and staying far away from the ground and obstacles also helps. The pedagogical tandem flight is the preferred way to get used to the feeling of air. If you have any doubts, talk to us about it and consult your doctor if necessary.
Although it does help for some people, paragliding is not a therapy to get rid of vertigo.
Is there a certain age limit?
Although no exact minimum age has been determined, we ask that you be at least 14. If you are a minor, a written admission from your parents or guardian is required. And the maximum age? There’s none except in your own head! If you are fit and motivated, your age can’t be a problem. If you have any doubts about your health, talk about it with your doctor. Your condition is addressed and the first impressions when flying are strong emotions.
Should I be in good shape?
You should have a normal physical condition. However, you don’t have to be a trained athlete at all.
What if I’m not in perfect condition?
We can adapt the program to some extent to take that into account; it does not necessarily have to be a problem. But we do need to evaluate whether it does not pose a security risk. So it depends on your precise capabilities. A conversation with one our instructors can bring clarity.
Is a medical examination required?
No medical examination is required, but you should have a normal physical condition. Normal vision is also needed, glasses or lenses are not a problem. You don’t have to be a trained athlete.
If you have doubts about your health or have certain points of attention (weak heart, lungs,..) then you should definitely consult with your doctor first.
A good guideline is whether you are allowed to drive a car medically. If you’re allowed to drive, you can probably allowed to fly.
There are adapted programs such as for example for people with lower limb paralysis. With adapted material, pilots can become almost completely autonomous. Depending on your exact condition, we can see what’s possible. It is possible that we will have to refer you to another school that has the right equipment. A conversation with one our instructors can bring clarity.
Is it dangerous?
Paragliding is a active outdoor sport, so it has clear risks, as with all active leisure activities, accidents can never be completely ruled out. However, paragliding is not more unsafe than other active sports, even statistically. By the way, you essentially make every sport as safe or unsafe as you want. A good training is the basis for a safe practice of paragliding. This goes hand in hand with raising awareness of the student-pilots to maintain a sensible approach to handling risk, and to always remain cautious, even if you have a lot of experience.
Why do the initiations take off on different training slopes?
In all flight activities, the wind and especially the wind direction is of great importance. That’s why we choose the lesson slope according to the wind direction, and also the wind strength. In some strong winds, some places are better shielded than others.
What happens if the weather is worse than anticipated?
For the basic courses on the training slope, information is always provided by e-mail on the evening before or the morning of the training day. The instructor will have access to the latest weather reports and, if the daily forecast is indeed too bad, we will cancel the lesson.
On the training days / weeks, we usually have multiple opportunities. But of course, the weather is not an exact science. If the weather is so bad that for 3 or more days we cannot fly, then proportional reimbursement of your training fee will be provided.
Are there different disciplines?
Yes, you have the distance flying (XC or cross-country) in the mountains and in the flat lands, as in Belgium which in itself are 2 very different ways of flying. Then there’s the acrobatics, which also has its own competitions.
What conditions do our instructors have to meet?
In Belgium the free flight is regulated by the national federation: The Belgian Free Flight Federation VZW (BVVF). This includes the management of flight sites, recognition of schools, certificates, exams, relationships with the government, and so on. The federation also determines which rules the schools must comply with. One of the rules is that a school must have instructors approved by the federation. In order to become an instructor, you need to have a lot of experience and take the required training program. More information about the instructor certificate and other certificates can be found on the website of the BVVF.
Obviously we only work with BVVF certified instructors for our school activities.
How long does it take before I can fly autonomously myself?
Everyone is different, and the notion of autonomy actually remains a bit vague, so it depends on how intensively you are engaged, how quickly you pick up certain skills and insights and so on. But generally speaking, after 3 week trainings or about 30 flights, many people have sufficient autonomy to fly themselves, whether or not with the guidance of more experienced pilots. We strongly recommend doing this in a club or with friends. You learn from each other, you keep an eye on each other and can improve each other. The paragliding community is a very open community and new pilots are always helped and assisted with advice. Airsport will continue to assist your further evolution with the club formulas or with SIV or thermal internships.
Do I need material myself?
For the training you don’t need anything, all the necessary equipment is provided by Airsport and its use is included in the prices. If you are certain you want to continue and fly autonomously outside the school, you can invest in your own material. Airsport can help guide you on your choices and we also sell starter-kits and second hand material at good prices.
What should I bring to the training slope?
You need to make sure that you wear appropriate clothing, that can withstand some wear and tear. High (ankle firming) shoes (e.g. mountain shoes). Long trousers and a long-sleeved t-shirt are also recommended. Also a pair of gloves helps. Provide plenty of water and a packed lunch.
What should I bring on an high flights training week?
You will receive a list of essentials at the information meeting that is held for each training. It mainly involves clothing, sunscreen, gloves, sleeping and washing utensils and so on. The necessary material (wing, radio, seat harness, helmet, …) will be provided by Airsport.
I would like my partner or my family to accompany me on a training.
This is possible, and certain training weeks lend themselves more to this than others. Some of the training locations have little to do for people who don’t participate in the internship, but there are also destinations that lend themselves to it. If different couples or groups express that wish in a certain period of time, we try to propose the location accordingly. Both near (Vosges) and in more exotic places (Spain, Morocco, Turkey) there are locations where water, sun and sights unite with nearby flying sites.
What clothes should I provide?
You need to make sure that you wear appropriate clothes that can withstand some wear and tear, and high (ankle firming) shoes (e.g. mountain shoes). Long trousers and a long-sleeved t-shirt are also recommended. Also a pair of gloves helps.
Is there an insurance?
The Belgian Free Flight Federation (BVVF) has a specific contract with terms that all persons who practice the sport can enjoy in the context of an approved school and all members of the BVVF.
For all the students we take out a (calendar) year insurance, which costs 25 euros. This insurance is mandatory and covers the liability of the instructors towards the students, and the liability of the students to third parties. This also covers rescue or search costs and (rather limited) cover for medical expenses. However, this insurance does not cover matters such as cancellation or repatriation. It is best to take out a separate travel insurance. Europe Assistance covers (last checked January 2019) paragliding in their standard policies.
Am I going to have to study theory?
There are a number of theory lessons provided. These include meteorology (learning to read the weather, different cloud types etc..), aerology (why does a wing fly, what is a thermal,…) and regulations (where can I fly, what are the priority rules,…). However, it is not difficult or much. If you want to get your certificate, you will also have to take a theory exam on this topics with the federation.
How do I get the pilot’s license?
You have to meet a number of conditions in order to be able to apply for the certificate from the BVVF. There is a practical part and a theoretical part. In summary, you can say that you must have made at least 60 flights that must meet certain conditions. You have to be able to prove this by your pilot passport. In it, you write down all your flights, and these are marked by your instructor or other observers.
In addition, you must pass a practical and a theoretical exam. You can find the full terms and conditions in detail on the website of the BVVF.
Airsport prepares you fully for obtaining the certification of paragliding pilot and XC pilot, and can also take the practical exam. If enough candidates, we can also plan a theory exam in our premises with the cooperation of the BVVF.
Can I spread the training over several years?
Of course. It can take you as long as you want, although after a period of inactivity you will have to practice again to get back to your previous level. It’s a bit like cycling, the basics you don’t forget quickly. However, it is clear that regular practice keeps your level high. Therefore, be very careful if you start flying again after a period of inactivity. Some people, who fly very little, prefer to continue to do so within the framework of the school. This allows them to enjoy the sport without worrying about their level of autonomy or without their own material.
What after training?
In fact, you will always keep on learning, even after many years of experience. Your level can always grow. Usually together with a group of friends who fly together, and there is a large community in Belgium that keeps in touch via forums and meets up online. Have a look at our Club activities or take a look at our facebook group (you have to request access first).