Paragliding training information

  1. General information about paragliding and our training program.  After reading the General information page, decide if you would prefer free flight (PG) or powered flight (PPG).  You can change your mind later if you want.  If in doubt, it is always better to start with free flight because learning to fly a paraglider without a motor is the priority.  The Dream of Human Flight is now a Reality - The Joy of Paragliding – a fine video production by Steve Crye showing the elements of why we love to fly.

    All basic training is done via towing at the turf farms in Santa Teresa.  Follow this link to read a detailed description on how and why we do it this way.  Here is a tow of a new student (Hunter Davis) and some typical tows at the turf farms (video by Steve Crye).  Shelley Ballard-McKinlay created this fun video of towing at the turf farms.  Here is an hour long video of a recreational "high tow" on Highway 9 in south central New Mexico (video by Steve Crye).  Of interest is the launch and landing, in particular.

  2. Tuition costs  Paragliding (PG)  Powered Paragliding (PPG)  You must pay your tuition in full before we can schedule for training.  Tuition is not refundable (see #3 of our legal details).  We accept checks, PayPal, and ACH transfers for payment.

  3. Equipment for flying  Typical setups for paragliding and powered paragliding.  Tuition includes the rental of all equipment required to train up to the P2 level and the early/mid PPG2 level.  We suggest that you purchase your glider and, if PPG, your paramotor towards the middle of your P2/PPG2 training.  We will advise you as to the best and most appropriate gear that fits your age, skill level, interest, natural ability, and the altitude you will generally fly in.  We are dealers for most brands of paragliding equipment but specialize in Ozone paragliders/harnesses, Sol harnesses, Sup'Air reserves/harnesses, and paramotors by Miniplane.  If you wish to purchase other brands, let us know well in advance.  Most other paramotor manufacturers may not let you demo an engine.  You will have to pay for shipping (both ways if you do not want to keep it and the manufacturer allows returns).

  4. Equipment costs  Expect to spend $3,200-$4,000 for a glider, $550-$1,100 for a harness or $5,200-$7,500 for a paramotor.  Reserves cost anywhere from $700-$950.  Miscellaneous items (helmet, reserve, radio) will add approximately another $1,200-$1,800.  PPG requires a more expensive helmet because of communication requirements.  Schedule to begin your training when you have the funds to buy your gear.

  5. Membership  All student pilots must join either USHPA or USPPA before P2/PPG2 training begins.

  6. Physical and mental requirements  This is extreme air sports.  Being out of shape or overweight is dangerous (unless you are flying a trike/quad).

  7. Textbook  Purchase the appropriate textbook for your type of training and begin your study of the material.  The first three chapters contain what you need to know.  PG: Watch the DVD video in the PG Pilot's Manual.  PPG: Purchase and watch the Risk & Reward DVD.  (If you are only training for the P1 or PPG1, step #6 is optional.)

  8. Online Curriculum  (PG only) Create a logon account and start your ground school training.  PPG students need only complete lessons 1-4.  When you complete the training successfully, let us know and we will refund the tuition paid to take the course ($52).

  9. FAQs & Tips  Study the "*" items.  Watch the training videos.

  10. Legal and operational details  These are the important details of how we operate including the legal waivers you must agree to.

  11. Schedule a meeting and begin your training!

    P1/PPG1 & tandem students:  Take a look at the appropriate training videos.  Tandem students (PG or PPG) must also study this one page introduction required by the FAA.  Once these steps are completed, we can schedule your flight.

    P2/PPG2 students and above:  a.)  Join USHPA (PG) or USPPA (PPG)  b.) Purchase your textbook and study chapters 1-3 and the respective DVD  c.)  For PG create your account for the Online Curriculum and complete lessons 1-4.  Once you have completed these steps, contact us to schedule a meeting at our shop where you can complete the paperwork, start your training in the simulator, and schedule flying.

Flight school is conducted at the Evergreen Turf farms.  Ground school is at our shop.

"If you are too busy to practice kiting your glider, you are too busy to train."

Generally, we schedule flight school during weekends and holidays, weather permitting.  However, we can also schedule at other times when the student is available.

WARNING: Do not purchase paragliding equipment before you begin training as you will likely make an expensive and, possibly, dangerous mistake. We can continue training pilots from other schools who purchased their glider from that school. Otherwise, you must train with whomever sold you your equipment1.  If you think formal training might be a waste of time and money, take a look at this page and this one.

Flying PG along the White Mountains, Owens Valley, CA.  It does not get better than this.  The launch was about 20 miles in the distance known as "Piute".  Mt. Whitney is just visible in the distant right.

Paragliding in the White Mountains, Owens Valley, CA

Notes on our training program

As a PASA certified school, Southwest Airsports, LLC operates in accordance with all PASA safety guidelines and school standards.

Instruction at Southwest Airsports is 100% personal, comprehensive and includes towing certification and how to fly in a high altitude, mountainous desert environment – the most difficult there is.  When a student pilot graduates from Southwest Airsports, he will be able to fly as safely as possible anywhere in the world with confidence.

Paragliding training in our beautiful southwest!

paragliding in south central New Mexico

Paragliding is the closest thing to being a bird that there is.  All other aircraft go down from there.  No one has any idea what being a bird is like until he flies a paraglider.  Below, going cross-country at cloudbase over central Florida.

paragliding over central Florida

Extreme air sports like paragliding take years of practice to learn to do well.  Pilots must be patient!  The rewards for diligent and long term effort are, in our opinion, without equal, especially if you learn to thermal well.  You will join an elite and tiny group of humans in the world who experience things ONLY the birds can.  Want to know first hand what it feels like to exit and enter boundaries in the atmosphere?  It's an unseen world that only hang glider and paraglider pilots – and the birds – know.  Study the Turkey Vulture and the Albatross – we fumble along compared to these amazing geniuses but their Creator intended them to fly so we can't be too jealous.

Gliding along at cloudbase in south central New Mexico.  (photo by Steve Crye)

paragliding in south central New Mexico 

Los Tanques launch, Cauca River Valley – near Roldanillo, Colombia

paragliding at Los Tanques, Columbia 

1Purchase of equipment from Southwest Airsports helps to offset the overall cost of training pilots.  If you would go to a new car dealer, request a test drive of a particular car, then shop around for the best price and buy the car elsewhere, Southwest Airsports is not the school for you.

Turkey Vulture