How to start or find instructor for paragliding offpeaks

Have you ever wanted to learn paragliding?

So, you want to learn paragliding? Before you jump, here’s a little history about how it all started, back in 1954.

That year, Walter Neumark predicted (in an article in Flight magazine) a time when a glider pilot would be “able to launch himself by running over the edge of a cliff or down a slope … whether on a rock-climbing holiday in Skye or ski-ing in the Alps.”

In 1963 Canadian Domina Jalbert invented the Parafoil, which had sectioned cells in an aerofoil shape; an open leading edge and a closed trailing edge, inflated by passage through the air – the ram-air design.

After inspiration from an article on slope soaring in the Parachute Manual magazine by parachutist and publisher Dan Poynter, three friends [Jean-Claude Bétemps, André Bohn and Gérard Bosson] calculated that on a suitable slope, a “square” ram-air parachute could be inflated by running down the slope. Bétemps launched from Pointe du Pertuiset, Mieussy, and flew 100 m. Bohn followed him and glided down to the football pitch in the valley 1000 metres below. “Parapente” (pente being French for “slope”) was born.

From the 1980s, equipment has continued to improve, and the number of paragliding pilots and established sites has continued to increase. The first (unofficial) Paragliding World Championship was held in Verbier, Switzerland, in 1987, though the first officially sanctioned FAI World Championship was held in Kössen, Austria, in 1989. Foot-launched powered hang glider associations exist worldwide, with the US Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association and the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (BHPA) being two of the largest.

How to learn paragliding

Paragliding is one of those sports that does require preparation (no, you can’t just borrow a glider and jump off a cliff!). However there are shortcuts: if you have always wanted to follow the birds, look no further and use OffPeaks to find an instructor near you, or near your next holiday destination, for a tandem flight. A good instructor will not only give you an introduction to the technicalities of flying and managing your equipment before and after your tandem flight, but they will be able to tell you where you can learn further, so that you’re able to fly solo very soon. Let us know in the comments when you do take your first flight!

About the Author Hugo Elliott

Hugo's an endurance and adventure sports nut who's completed the Swiss KIM, London Marathon and Ironman Switzerland. When he's not in the 'office' he can be found out cycling or ski touring. He co-founded OffPeaks.

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