Paragliding training details & tuition schedule
The P1 & P2 courses include all gear necessary for training.
All early training is done via pay-in towing which has some 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 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 at a training hill.
These advantages, however, come with 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 attending SIV clinics or flying in parts of the world which are relatively flat but have excellent conditions for flying.
All students progressing past the P1 rating must be able to launch from one of our many mountain sites.
NOTICE: Payment of the required tuition in no way guarantees that a student will successfully meet the requirements of a particular rating.
WARNING: Do not purchase paragliding equipment before you begin training as you will likely make an expensive and, possibly, a dangerous mistake. We cannot enroll students in P1 or P2 training who already have their gear unless it was purchased through a USHPA school in which they were enrolled. That is, we can continue training pilots from other schools who already own their gear.
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 can take over 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. Lessons include the use of our training equipment and ground school. Depending on schedules and 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 turf farm in Santa Teresa, NM. Beginner pilots (P1) can only fly sites under the direct supervision of an instructor.
P-1/2 PG Novice Certification Course – $2,590 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, especially in the difficult and challenging conditions we find in the air near high desert mountains. 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 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
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 Agave Hill or a similar 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
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.
Student pilot, Jason Tilley, learning how to fly at the turf farm. Is there anything more fun than this? View is looking up from the ground.
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. Our regional sites provide some of the greatest rewards and challenges that a pilot can face including Dry Canyon in the Sacramento Mountains. 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.
Part of our equipment is an ATV which we use to fetch the drogue parachute after it falls to the ground.
Below, pilot Lee Baker thermals away to cloud base from the turf farm after a tow up – he was the first to ever do this. 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. Most of the time, our skies are cloudless and the location and strength of thermals are much harder to determine.
Launching a paraglider at Agave Hill – photo courtesy of Doak Hoover