The British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association is the UK Governing Body for hang gliding & paragliding.


The British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (BHPA) is the UK governing body for the sport of hang gliding and paragliding, and is recognised by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the Royal Aero Club and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

It was formed in 1992 when the British Hang Gliding Association (BHGA) and the British Association of Paragliding Clubs (BAPC) merged. Participation in the sport has grown considerably since the early days, and the Association now has over 60 affiliated clubs, and around 7,000 individual members.

One of the prime objectives of the Association is to promote the highest possible safety standards within the sport. It does this through education, testing and training.

The BHPA takes its educational role seriously and publishes a Monthly Club Bulletin aimed at affiliated clubs and schools, and Skywings a monthly magazine aimed at individual members.

In the UK the BHPA is responsible for hang glider airworthiness, and issues a Certificate of Airworthiness for Type (C of A) when a glider has passed extensive tests for structural integrity, and demonstrated vice free handling in the air.

If subsequent operational experience ever suggests a possible cause for concern, the Association immediately undertakes an investigation, and if necessary issues a Safety Notice. These are sent out to all instructors and clubs, and are published in Skywings. Safety notices may also be downloaded from the BHPA web site.

Pilots also have to be tested, but first they have to be trained.

Initial training must be undertaken within a BHPA registered school. Through its Schools Inspection Scheme the Association ensures that tuition is provided by competent licensed instructors, working to a common syllabus and Pilot Rating Scheme.  

The BHPA Pilot Rating Scheme

Elementary Pilot [EP]
A student rating normally awarded half way through an ab-initio training course at a BHPA registered school.
This associates closely with stage 2 of the FAI (HG) Safe Pro Scheme,
and is similar to stage 2 of the FAI (PG) Para Pro Scheme.

Club Pilot (Novice) [CP]
The minimum rating required to fly unsupervised within a UK club.
This exceeds stage 3 of the FAI (HG) Safe Pro scheme,
and is equivalent to stage 3 of the FAI (PG) Para Pro Scheme.

Pilot [P]
The minimum rating recommended before flying cross country unsupervised.
This is equivalent to stage 4 of the FAI (HG) Safe Pro Scheme,
and similar to stage 4 of the FAI (PG) Para Pro Scheme.

Advanced Pilot [AP]
The highest rating currently awarded by the Association.
This exceeds stage 5 of the FAI (HG) Safe Pro Scheme,
and is similar to stage 5 of the FAI (PG) Para Pro Scheme.

Beyond Club Pilot

Once Club Pilot rating has been achieved, students can leave the school environment and continue their flying careers within a local club. Club coaches now take over from school instructors, and oversee further progress through the Pilot Rating Scheme.

Each of the five clubs, who currently make up the Welsh Free Flight Federation, produce a local Sites Guide indicating the minimum pilot rating required to safely fly each of their sites.

Welsh Free Flight Federation club members are also members of the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association. BHPA membership includes third party liability insurance cover. Qualified recreational pilots (CP or higher rating) flying solo with WFFF clubs are consequently covered for 3rd party risks up to a maximum of £2,000,000 for any one incident.

For guidance on BHPA membership fees and suplementary charges visit the BHPA fees page. To learn more about the work of the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association and the benefits of membership, download a Membership Application Form, or fly off and visit the BHPA web site. Link to BHPA Skywings Web Site

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