Paragliding is a fun sport that evolved from parachuting in the mid 80's. Clever designers, manufacturers and safety authorities have used modern day technology and materials to create a lightweight and effective way for us to fly.
The whole package is very transportable. A paraglider with harness and all associated equipment weighs around 15kgs and fits into a moderate sized back pack that stores easily into the boot of a car. Recent sports class paragliders have speeds of around 55kph and glide angles of more than 10:1 and before marketing have been designed and certified to conform to a number of very strict safety tests.
Paragliding is pure gliding flight in it's simplest form and using rising thermic air it's possible to climb to great heights and fly long distances. Current records exceed more than 6000m in altitude and over 500kms of straight flight.
WHY LEARN IN FRANCE AND THE NORTHERN FRENCH ALPS?
During the months from late April to mid November the Northern French Alps have good training conditions. There is an average 24 flying days a month with the majority suiting beginner training. The other days are never wasted and offer either good hill/ground training conditions or essential classroom work! More details on the weather can be found on our Flying Weather page.
Other advantages of learning to fly paragliders in the mountains is the variation in training conditions introducing the pilot into both soaring and thermic conditions with immediate long flights from relatively high flying sites. We are blessed with a variety of excellent training hills, slopes and flying sites suiting all standards and levels of pilot and learning to fly can start from 14 years old.
WHAT ARE THE COURSES AND QUALIFICATIONS?
Under the British training and licensing structures The British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (BHPA) there are four levels of internationally recognised license.
The Elementary Pilot Certificate (EPC) is the first and basic license is issued once you have completed some easy tasks and flown a number of solo flights. The EPC course is fun and a great introduction into the sport: learning is easy and progression is made quickly.
The next level, the Club Pilot Certificate (CPC), is a little more involved and once achieved allows the new pilot to free fly without supervision! The training includes dynamic soaring and in our case thermalling in the mountains. Click here for the EPC - CPC syllabus with personal instruction.
The third level, the Pilot License allows the pilot off the leash to make their own cross country flights, and last but not least is the Advanced Pilot Certificate, the final test for the master of paragliding flight!
TRAINING AND LICENSING?
The BHPA (British Paragliding and Hang Gliding Association) controls the training, the licensing structure, clubs and schools. Pilots free flying in the UK are required to belong to the BHPA, a flying club, and hold at least the CPC license. The UK license is recognised outside the UK and an IPPI (international Pilot Proficiency Identification) card can be obtained to augment the BHPA card for all countries where paragliders are flown. See the BHPA Website for more details!
In Europe there are many schools offering good paragliding training but these courses do not always follow the BHPA training syllabus. Without BHPA training and the final stamp from a qualified BHPA instructor from a registered BHPA school a license issued would not be valid in the UK!
From time to time we are asked if we can train to other country's syllabus and the answer is yes we are happy to teach to any level and cover what training tasks we can in our environment. Most countries have a training syllabus for paragliding flight that we can download and print. However, final signing off for the qualifiction can really only be acheived from the country the syllabus has been formulated from. If you are not sure then please contact us and we'll search out the details for you!
WHY THE ALPINE FLYING CENTRE?
The Alpine Flying Centre is a BHPA registered foreign school offering Elementary Pilot Certificate (EPC), Club Pilot Certificate (CPC) training and above. We use the latest equipment and pride ourselves on teaching to the highest of standards. We prefer to think that we produce pilots rather than just a student with a qualification! Your instructors Dennis and Gillian Trott have taken many new pilots from the beginner stage through thermalling and cross country courses and into competition flying.
Dennis holds a BHPA Senior Instructors license, the French BEES (Brevet d'Etat d'educateur sportif) instructors license, 1st degree, and a professional tandem rating. Dennis started flying paragliders in 1990 and hang gliders in 1997. He has been teaching and guiding since 1993 and has more than 23000 hours on hands-on teaching and amassed over 4500 hours of personal airtime with the majority of his flying in the northern French Alps.
Gillian an accomplished XC pilot, BHPA Instructor and Coach and has been teaching full time since 2007. Gillian has been flying paragliders since 2001 amassing hundreds of hours of personal airtime with the majority of her flying in the northern French Alps.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO LEARN?
All courses are available from late April to mid November and our training program changes throughout the year, depending upon the weather. During the spring and summer months most solo flights will take place early in the morning and/or from 16.00 onwards. The flying periods at lunchtime are often a little too strong for new pilots, until progression is made. However, there is plenty of daylight during these periods and we often work late into the day. The stronger lunchtime periods are not wasted as there are valuable launch techniques and strong wind ground training to learn. Later in the year, August onwards, the midday flying conditions are gentler: it's then possible to fly throughout the day making up for the slightly shorter periods of daylight.
HOW TO START - EPC COURSES?
Direct Instruction or one-to-one tuition is probably the best way of learning this sport: you have your own personal instructor for concentrated tuition. However we'll take two students at the same time, if they are a friends or they are teamed with one another then the daily charge is reduced for both students.
Elementary Pilot Certificate (EPC) course generally takes 3 or 4 days to complete. With good progress some of the CPC tasks are looked at plus the added bonus of a little thermal flying when conditions allow. The classroom theory, examination training and exam taking are included in the course.
Download the BHPA Elementary Pilot Training Guide and learn all about the EPC training! You can also find our own EPC and CPC Training Syllabus in the next section below.
The CPC course takes around 5 or 6 days and a number of flights will include thermalling techniques. Click here for the EPC - CPC syllabus with personal instruction.
Course and/or task completions can be booked for those who may have started their CPC training with another school. Also, pilots from all countries who are part way through their training are welcomed as we specialise in helping partly trained pilots complete their outstanding tasks.
Intermediate and Post CPC Courses?
We also offer an Intermediate/post CPC course where we can really enhance the skills of the new pilot. See here for details.
HOW MUCH AND WHAT IS INCLUDED?
Direct Instruction is perfect for the student preferring complete personal attention. Direct Instruction costs 220 Euros a day/student or 380 Euros a day for two students. Please note we are happy to take two students as long they know each other, or by agreement of both parties if a shared course is preferred.
If you consider that many schools in the UK charge more than £165 a person/day in a school group course where progress could be slow then our charge for personal tuition is very good value.
For the training, if required, we can rent you a LTF 1 and/or EN A/B gliders, high quality harness with reserve parachute, helmet and radio at 40 Euros a day. We have separated this cost as some clients have their own equipment. Please note: as equipment is of limited size there is a naked weight limit of 100kgs.
Transportation to and from the training/launch/landing sites is included in the fees, but not cable car costs, though cable cars are very rarely used during early training.
When BHPA - EPC and CPC training with Dennis and Gillian it's necessary to be a BHPA member. The 3 month BHPA membership is £53 Sterling + £22 a once only joining fee. Or you could take the 12 months/annual membership at £99 + the £22 joining fee.
Both memberships give the necessary third party insurance cover that's required for training. However, this insurance does not have any medical cover: this should be taken using a holiday insurance. Air sports Insurance Bureau Ltd is a good option if insurance is required. Tel. +44 2380 268351 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Join the BHPA with us before training commences or go to http://www.bhpa.co.uk and join before the visit. It's worth taking the full annual membership as the CPC licence will only be issued to full members.
For your part; you will need to bring ankle high/supporting walking boots or good trainers with a good grip, long sleeved top and long trousers, a lightweight windproof top, gloves, sun tan cream, plenty of bottled water and lunch, though there are restaurants at the training areas.
Transport from the airport, accommodation, meals, personal health and repatriation insurance. For somewhere to stay at please go to the Accommodation page for details.
Air sports Insurance Bureau Ltd is a good option if insurance is required. Tel. +44 2380 268351 or e-mail to email@example.com
When can I buy my own equipment?
Once completing the EPC course and you have been smitten by this amazing sport, it's time to consider purchasing your own gear to use during CPC training/completion, this way you will become familiar with your glider and harness and be ready to fly with once qualified. Needless to say you can complete your training with our equipment and consider a purchase at a later date!
For training we use the Advance Alpha 6 paraglider. it's an EN-A rated glider. Not only is it one of the best training gliders, but it's probably the best first glider purchase for new pilots. It has exceptional handling, easy to launch, it's a great thermalling and a very good confidence building, beginner to early intermediate/XC glider, and it's safe. Perfect for the first 50 hours + of flying. See the details here: Advance Alpha 6
The harness we fly/train you with is the Kortel Kool and has very good security, comfort and stability. See the details here: Kortel Kool
Out of school the Kortel Kool, the Kortel Karma 2, the Advance Axess Air 2 and the Advance Success 2 are all very good harnesses. They are not the cheapest on the market but they offer excellent protection, safety and security, comfort, ease of use and they are the best quality available. See our shop page for further details. Flyers Shop
At all times you fly with a reserve parachute, as this is a regulation during training. Even though the chances of ever needing to throw a reserve is close to 'O', it is your last chance and we highly reccomend you always fly with one.
We offer very good prices on new glider/harness and reserve parachute packages. Plus we move on our school gliders and harnesses at very good prices. If other preferences have been made please let us make you an offer as we are agents for all makes of gliders and harnesses. Please note; new gliders, harnesses and reserve parachutes often require advanced ordering, depending upon colour and size.
Once qualified we highly recommend you stay with an EN-A rated glider for a while, though the temptation is always there to move up to something a little more performant. We will teach you about glider security ratings and performances during your CPC training. There are four levels, EN-A, B, C, D and as the glider rating/performance increases it's a little less secure and requires more experience to fly.
We have a series of Pod Casts on Equipment and Safety Issues that are well worth listening too: click here for the details - Pod Casts.
Flying paragliders is more of a career in soaring and thermalling, we never stop learning, that's why it's such a fantastic sport and becoming competent within oneself sometimes takes a little longer!
To help understand what's involved in the training we definitely advise the new student reads 'Touching Cloudbase' and/or looks at the excellent DVD 'Learn to Fly' before they visit us for their training. The knowledge gained will be invaluable! We have them in stock!
Touching Cloudbase' by Ian Currer is explanatory and very educational, with detailed information for the necessary EPC and CPC exams.
It's also an excellent read for the new pilot It costs just 35 Euros plus postage and is worth every centime. We have this in stock!
For those who prefer watching a DVD. Here is the Learn to Fly paragliding
film. This DVD is perfect for all new pilots with 3D animation bringing to
life many of the hard to visualise concepts which are so important for us to
understand. Details on airflows around hills and mountains, turbulence and
convergence, dynamics and thermal lift plus aerodynamics of lift and drag,
speeds to fly and so on! This excellent DVD is just 39.95 Euros plus
postage! We have this in stock!
Here is some great reading from BRUCE GOLDSMITH, World Champion pilot and one of the World's most experienced glider designers. Fifty Ways to Fly Better is essential for all pilots who want to reach their potential. It is packed with the latest techniques from Bruce Goldsmith and some valuable tips from the world’s best pilots and instructors. 35 Euros plus postage. We have this in stock!