How to Become a Tandem Paragliding Pilot
If becoming a tandem paragliding pilot interests you and you need tips about where to start, then now you are reading exactly the page you should be reading. In this blog post, I’m going to provide you with tips about everything you need to know as a beginner, starting from how to start learning to paraglide to safety tips.
1. Register for a paragliding course
Definitely, paragliding isn’t something you can learn alone. Every professional recommends beginners to start with learning with an instructor, if they want to become a professional tandem paragliding pilot. Paragliding pilots’ course for beginners usually takes place over 12 days. Initial paragliding training usually begins with theoretical knowledge discussion about paraglider structure, its operation, site and weather assessment, aerodynamics, safety rules, etc.
Regarding the practical paragliding training, they are carried on either in flat fields or low hills, where instructors show how to inflate the paraglider, and how to manage paraglider on the ground. Students usually have their first short flights a few days after starting the course.
For instance, at Sky Club, students start their short flights on their 3rd or fourth day of paragliding training. At this phase, students are always in connection with the instructor through radio and the instructor guides the student with his/her instructions. This way students gradually learn how to paraglide alone. After completing this course students gain a national paragliding license.
With regard to the price of paragliding training courses, it varies from country to country. In Armenia, at Sky Club individual course costs 800$, while the group course price is 600$.
2. Discover what paragliding kid includes and it’s price
Before starting learning to paraglide, it is important to know the structure of a paraglider, its particulars, the way they are attached, generally what paragliding pilots take with them to the sky and of course what it will cost to buy a paragliding gear.
Most people confuse paragliders and parachutes. If you have never tried paragliding, a paraglider might merely seem like a harness that is joined to a small parachute. But looking closer you will notice that they are more complex than you could imagine.
A paragliding gear consists of a wing, a harness, lines and risers, speed bar, helmet, and a reserve parachute.
Whereas a paraglider’s wing might seem like a parachute, its form significantly varies. Parachutes have a round shape and are created to reduce our terminal speed by almost 90% so we hit the ground at a comparatively low speed so that we can land on our feet and walk away uninjured. While a paragliding wing has an ellipse shape, it’s design lets the structure stay in the air.
Canopies are normally made of tear-resistant nylon. It consists of two sheets of material with a gap between them. The two layers of material are separated from each other by cells, which catch the air and inflate the wing with air. The forepart of the wing, where the airflow enters the cells, is called the leading edge. The backside of the canopy is referred to as the trailing edge.
Lines and risers
Paragliding pilot is connected to the wing by lines, which are rigging ropes. There are normally 4 or 5 rows of lines, which work for different significant purposes. The last row of lines, which we call control lines, are connected to the trailing age. They aim to slow down the paraglider. On either side of the paragliding pilot, there are bunches of cords which we call risers. They hang the pilot below the wing. The paragliding pilot can use these risers to control both the speed and the direction of the structure.
Risers are attached to carabiners which lock into the next important component of a paraglider – the harness. A paragliding harness is a soft seat plate, where the pilot and tandem passengers seat. It has numerous straps that keep the pilot and passengers safe and give lumbar support.
The next part of the paraglider is the speed bar which is a foot control. It connects to the harness and attaches to the leading edge of the canopy. The speed bar accelerates the paraglider by changing the canopy’s angle of attack. The speed bar is particularly very useful in extreme situations to make the wing more stable.
Besides these components, paragliders always should also have their safety equipment with themselves. Paragliding pilots should never fly without the reserve parachute and a helmet, although there is only a little possibility of wing collapse.
Other things that are vital to have when going to paraglide are a pair of gloves, to not harm the hands when pulling the ropes, a pair of sturdy shoes, to avoid injuries when landing, and of course convenient and warm clothing.
Regarding the gizmos paragliders use when they are flying, these include variometers, radio connection, and GPS.
Paragliders use variometers to know how fast they are rising or falling relative to the ground. They are necessary particularly in thermal lifting. Paragliders can feel the increase of the speed when they enter a thermal but are unable to see the difference between continual rising air and continual sinking air. When the paraglider reaches a certain vertical speed, the variometer produces short audio signals and the tone is going up when the lift increases and is getting deeper when the paraglider sinks. Modern variometers also show the altitude.
Radio is another useful instrument for paragliders. Paragliders need radios to be in connection with other pilots and with the ones who don’t fly. Radios are also important for instructors during paragliding training, to give instructions to beginner pilots.
GPS (global positioning system) is another necessary equipment for paragliders. Paragliders use a GPS to evaluate their speed and to follow the predetermined routes and way-points during paragliding competitions. Many pilots also use it to analyze their flights, the routes, flying techniques to know if betterment is necessary.
Concerning the price of paragliding gear, the cost for a complete set of paragliding kit ranges from $3000-$6000. However, if you can’t afford that, you can purchase your paragliding equipment from a second-hand market at a more accessible price.
3. Find the right category of the equipment for you
Now that you know what you will need as a paragliding pilot, it is also vital to know what you should consider before buying the necessary equipment.
Actually, the paragliders for professionals and those for beginners are different. And the use of appropriate equipment is critical for pilot safety. The design of the wing should correspond to the size and competence level of the pilot. Otherwise, you will be at risk. Therefore, at Sky Club, we always advise you to discuss with your paragliding instructor before purchasing a paragliding kit. Our experienced paragliding instructors will help you choose the paragliding equipment that best fits your flying style.
4. Safety tips for beginners
Don’t make the mistake of feeling too confident after completing your paragliding pilots’ course. Safety is a thing you should take into consideration independent of how much experience you have. Be a professional or a beginner, paragliding activities include some risks, therefore taking some measurements before the flight to ensure your safety is a must.
Weather assessment through a reliable source is one of the things you should certainly do before going to paraglide. Knowing the accurate weather forecast for the day will help you avoid the risk that the weather could pose.
Another safety tip is doing a site assessment. Knowing the conditions of the site you want to paraglide in is really necessary. While selecting a good paragliding area you must take into account the visibility, thermal conditions, launching and landing zone suitability, ground barriers like power lines and so on, to avoid any hazards.
There is also a need to check all paragliding kit components to ensure that they are in a proper state and you won’t have any accidents because of their malfunction.
And last but not least, if you want to become a professional tandem paragliding pilot then keep practicing. Make efforts and sooner or later you will reap the rewards!