Paragliding training information

updated July 8, 2021

If you are thinking about paraglider training, whether powered (PPG) or un-powered (PG), please study the material below.  It will help you decide what do to and the best way to enjoy the thrill of flying like a bird.  After studying this material, you may contact us via email if you have any questions and we will do our best to help.  Southwest Airsports is a PASA school and pilot safety is our 1st priority.  The bonus of pilot safety being the 1st priority is that we have fun for a lifetime!

Paragliding – a quick guide (from Cross Country Magazine) - here are some basics about paragliders, whether PG or PPG.

Paragliding: A Quick Guide

  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), the foot-launched versions of PPG OR wheeled PPG.  If in doubt about foot-launched PG or PPG, it is better to start with free flight (PG).  Here is a fine PG video production by Steve Crye showing the elements of why we love to fly  The Dream of Human Flight is now a Reality - The Joy of Paragliding.  While this video is only about PG it largely applies also to PPG.

    New student pilots are trained via pay-in towing because of the added safety and faster learning of the basic skills.  Here are the details on why we do it this way rather than from a training hill.  After learning the basic skills for flying a paraglider, all PG students will then continue their training at a mountain site.

  2. Equipment for flying  Typical setups and costs for paragliding or powered paragliding.  Training for wheeled powered paragliding does not include the equipment which must be purchased prior to training.  Foot-launched tuition includes the rental of all equipment required to train up to the P2 level or early/mid PPG2 level.  We advise students as to the best and most appropriate gear that fits their age, skill level, interest, natural ability, and the altitude that will be flown in.  We specialize in Ozone paragliders/harnesses/reserves, Sol harnesses, Sup'Air reserves/harnesses, and paramotors/trikes by Miniplane.

  3. Physical and mental requirements – before you commit to train with us, you must meet these requirements.  This is an extreme sport and training is much safer and more enjoyable if a student is in good mental and physical condition.

  4. Membership  Once you decide that you are going to train, join either the USHPA for PG or USPPA for PPG.  This step is optional for P1 and PPG1 students.

  5. Textbooks  (Optional for those who enroll as P1 or PPG1 students)  Purchase the appropriate textbook for your type of training and begin your study of the material.  The first three chapters of each textbook are important for new students.  PG: Watch the DVD video in the PG Pilot's Manual.  PPG: Purchase and watch Risk & Reward.  Careful study of the respective video will greatly increase a pilot's safety margin and lessen risk.  Un-experienced do not know what they do not know....

  6. FAQs & Tips  Study the "*" items.  Watch the training videos.  If you are a new student, please study this information on what happens during a tow.

  7. Legal and operational details  Please study this short page about how we operate.  Items #1-7 are important to take a look at.

  8. Release, waiver, & assumption of risk (RWA)  All new students must sign, date, and return the PASA-USHPA waiver.  Please download, print, complete, and return to us via USPS to our mailing address.  Unfortunately, our insurer will not allow us to offer digital completion of the waiver.  We are sorry for this inconvenience.

  9. Tuition costs and rating requirements  Paragliding (PG)  Powered Paragliding (PPG)   As soon as tuition is paid, we can schedule training.  Students paying the discounted tuition must also purchase their equipment at this time.  If you have paid your tuition online, contact us as soon as possible so we can order your basic equipment package.  Because of the worldwide health crisis, it is important for this to be done promptly.

  10. Schedule a meeting at our shop or at an operations area and begin your training  We do our best to schedule training when you, our student, is available.  This can be any day of the week or holidays.  At all times, the weather must be safe enough to fly in.

Flight school is conducted primarily at Robert S Kerr Airport in Poteau, OK.  Special arrangements can be made for us to train at Smith Field in Siloam Springs, AR; at Grove Municipal Airport in Grove, OK; or at Talihina Municipal Airport in Talihina, OK.  We can also train active-duty soldiers and DoD contractors at various military bases throughout the U.S.  Ground school may be conducted at Robert S Kerr Airport in Poteau, OK or at our shop.

Why invest in competent training from a Professional Air Sports Association (PASA) school?  If there are any doubts, please take a look at this page and this one.  This short video demonstrates the general folly of do-it-yourself training.

Our training program is safe, fun, and personal.  You will become a competent pilot when you graduate from Southwest Airsports!

Flying PG along the White Mountains, Owens Valley, CA.  It does not get better than this.  The Piute launch is about 20 miles in the distance.  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.  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 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 the hang glider and paraglider pilots – and the birds – know.  Study the Turkey Vulture and the Albatross – we fumble along compared to these amazing geniuses.  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