Paragliding training details & tuition schedule

IMPORTANT  Do not purchase paragliding equipment before you begin training as you will likely make an expensive and, possibly, a dangerous mistake.  We are unable to enroll students in P1 or P2 training who already have their gear unless it was purchased under the supervision of another USHPA school.  That is, we can continue training pilots from other schools who already own their gear.  The main reason for this is that the prospective student may have the correctly sized and type of glider, maybe not.  If not, it adds substantial risk, time, and frustration to the training environment.  PILOT SAFETY IS OUR FIRST PRIORITY!

The P1 & P2 courses include all gear necessary for training.

Early training is done via pay-in towing which has significant advantages over launching from a hill or cliff:  1.) Pilots have more time in the air for each flight because they begin their flights (after towing) much higher than at a training hill.  2.) Pilots can repeat flights in much less time because they launch from the same place they land.  3.) Training is safer because the launch routine (when the pilot's feet are still on, or near, the ground) can be stopped almost immediately and completely, something that can be difficult or impossible at a training hill.  3.) Task saturation is less and overall comfort of the student pilot is greater.  It may be daunting for someone who has never flown to launch from a hill or cliff.

These advantages, however, come with considerable additional expense which includes an ATV, an additional person to operate it, two trucks (one for the winch and one for the turn-around pulley), and the winch itself.  These extra expenses are reflected in the tuition.  Students will have better, faster, and more thorough training, overall.  Those who learn how to tow will be at a greater advantage when that is the only way available to launch, such as when attending SIV clinics or flying in parts of the world which are relatively flat but have excellent flying conditions.  Towing is an essential skill that all paragliding pilots should have.

As P2 training progresses, students will also launch from one of our mountain sites.

NOTICE:  Payment of the required tuition in no way guarantees that a student will successfully meet the requirements of a particular rating.

Tandem training flights – no charge

Foot-launched tandem training flights are a good way for someone to get an introduction to paragliding, either free or powered.  Please see our tandem operations page for more information.  The weight limit for persons wanting to fly tandem is 190 lb, not 200 lb as mentioned in the physical and mental requirements section.

P-1 PG Beginner Package – $850 for 3-7 days

The time needed to train varies depending on the weather, student availability, and/or student ability.  This package will allow you to explore the magic of piloting a paraglider and allow you to complete the first phase of certified training – a P-1 rating for successful students.  We provide everything for you to succeed, including a syllabus to study for the test, equipment use for flying, and as many flights as you need to complete the course.  Sometimes the course is extended another day or more if weather conditions are restrictive.  The entire price of the P1 Beginner Package can be credited toward the P2 Novice Certification course if the student decides to continue training to become an independent pilot.  Depending on schedules and weather conditions, the course may be spread over several days or a week or more.  The student will be towed into the air using our pay-in stationary winch at a nearby airport.  Beginner pilots (P1) can only fly sites under the direct supervision of an instructor.

P-1/2 PG Novice Certification Course – $2,190  7-21 days

The time needed to train varies depending on the weather, student availability, and/or student ability.  Become a solo novice pilot.  This course includes training for both the P1 and P2 certifications.  It is intended to teach you how to be a safe and confident pilot.  Instruction and practice will prepare you to decide how and when to safely fly your paraglider without the direct supervision of your instructor.  Those who have already completed the P-1 training at Southwest Airsports will get a credit towards their P-2 tuition equal to their paid P-1 tuition.

P-3 or P4 PG Certification – $550 4-14 days (no charge for our school graduates)

The time needed to train varies depending on the weather, student availability, and/or student ability.  Pilots who wish to become certified as P3 and above must meet all of the USHPA requirements (P3 – paragraph 12-02.15 or page 25; P4 – paragraph 12-02.16 or page 27).  Pilots who train to the P3 level or above must be able to successfully fly a mountain site.  For pilots on their way, Jocky Sanderson made a helpful video on cross country flying called Speed to Fly: A Complete Guide to Cross Country Paragliding (2001) but it is no longer available.  However, instructor Had Robinson collected some helpful notes on the video.

Crossover Training (PG to PPG or PPG to PG) $350  2-5 days (no charge for our P2/PPG2 graduates)

The time needed to train varies depending on the weather, student availability, and/or student ability.  Students who already have a P2 or higher rating will need less instruction and time to become PPG-2 and vice versa.  Pilots may choose to earn USHPA Certification. This will allow the pilot to free-fly a paraglider at many soaring sites. Students must provide their own powered paragliding equipment.

PG SIV Clinics

Please go here for information and an important warning concerning SIV clinics.

A student pilot coming in for a safe landing after a tow.  Is there anything more fun than this?

paragliding flying overhead

Additional Notes

Your training will include syllabus study materials, a computer based log book (by request), ground school, and hands-on instruction.  It does not include the textbook.

Our courses will prepare you for mountain flying. You will learn how to layout your wing and do a preflight check. Become more at ease with both forward and reverse launches. Learn to control your wing through turns and mild turbulence. Begin the study of meteorology and its effects on flight and much more.  It includes the use of all equipment needed for training – paraglider, harness, helmet, and radio.

We recommend that pilots purchase a glider at some point when progressing through the P2 program of study.  This will greatly help you later on, as you gain more experience with your own glider instead of a school glider.  Students who have their own glider will be able to practice kiting on their own time and thus gain much more out of their course of instruction.  Kiting skills are essential for pilot safety.  It is one of the most important skills a pilot can learn that will dramatically reduce the risks of this sport.

Successful graduates of this program will be certified as Novice Pilots (P2) and authorized to fly P2 rated sites without the direct supervision of an instructor.  Pilots who make it through our P2 certification will be some of the best trained pilots of any paragliding school.  We spend the time to ensure that you can safely fly anywhere in the world.  Building your confidence in flying in safe conditions is what we strive for.  If you train with us, you will have the skills you need to always fly safely.

Below pilot Lee Baker thermals away to cloud base from tow.  There is no greater thrill than using hard earned skills to stay in the air for hours at a time using the sun's energy as our "engine."  We rarely have the buoyant air that Lee experienced that day.

paraglider thermalling at cloud base

Jason Tilley launching at Buffalo Mountain

paragliding at Buffalo Mountain OK 

Turkey Vulture