Learn to hang glide.

Learn to Hang Glide

Solo on a Stubby at Blaenavon Learning to fly a hang glider can be great fun and isn‘t as difficult as you might think.

Instruction for beginners is readily available from a UK wide network of BHPA registered schools.

These offer a wide range of courses that combine practical instruction on the hill, with an explanation of airlaw, meteorology and the principals of flight.

During training a strong emphasis is always placed on safety, and students are encouraged to progress at their own individual rate.

Initial training takes place on gentle slopes, with three tether ropes attached to the glider. These are later slackened, and then finally removed when your instructor is certain that you are ready to progress to true solo flight.

If you‘re just looking for a taster, it‘s possible to book a one or two day course. On the other hand if you‘re yearning to stay aloft for hours at a time cruising along with the birds on warm currents of rising air then you‘ll need to attend both an EP and a CP course.

An EP (Elementary Pilot) course will take a minimum of 4 days, at the end of which you‘ll be able to self launch on a training glider and make a short flight with a ground clearance of around 40ft.

Given the right conditions another four days could see you well on your way to completing your CP (Club Pilot) course. This is the absolute minimum level of skill required before students are able to leave the school and start to fly within a local club environment.

Club coaches now take over from school instructors, and are able to guide you through the tricky transitional period, and oversee your long term development as a pilot.

Later on, after you‘ve been flying for a year or two, you might even want to consider taking a paragliding conversion course, and that way have the best of both worlds.  

It all sounds too easy doesn‘t it?

In the right conditions, learning to fly a hang glider is actually fairly straightforward. Unfortunately the weather is often less than ideal, and the ensuing delays can be a test of patience and determination. But it really is worth it in the end!

How much will it cost?

A one day introductory course costs around £160
A two day taster course costs around £290
An Elementary Pilot Course costs around £610
A Club Pilot Course costs around £550

You will also need to take out third party insurance cover through membership of the BHPA. The cost of this is sometimes included in the tuition fees quoted by schools. Annual membership of the BHPA also entitles you to receive a copy of Skywings magazine each month.

Initially the school will provide all the equipment required, but later you will need to purchase your own. New and second hand equipment can often be purchased directly from the school, or privately through advertisements in Skywings magazine.

An intermediate glider will cost around £1,900 - £3,000 new, or £600 - £1,500 second hand. A new full face helmet will cost around £90 - £150, and a second hand harness anywhere between £125 - £250. A new reserve parachute will set you back a further £350 - £400.

Once you have obtained Club Pilot (CP) rating, joined a local club and logged around 30 - 40 hours you may want to buy a high performance glider.

This can cost as little as £400 - £600 for an older but servicable glider, or you can spend around £1,200 - £2,400 for a more recent second hand model. A new high performance glider is however likely to set you back in access of £4,000.

Most schools are also dealers, and should be able to offer detailed advice and arrange a demo flight on a suitable glider.

What‘s the next step?

The next step is to contact one of the BHPA registered schools operating in Wales to discuss the courses they have on offer. If you‘re still unsure about taking up hang gliding, you can always arrange to meet the school on the hill. That way you can see the teaching techniques the school uses at first hand, and talk to some of their students.

So, go on give it a try

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