Paragliding training information

updated April 6, 2024

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 if you have any questions.  Southwest Airsports is a PASA school and pilot safety is our 1st priority.  The bonus of this being the 1st priority is that we enjoy the thrill of flying for a lifetime.

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 – nobody was seriously injured, providencially.  Others have not been so fortunate.

Note: Public display of affection, crude jokes, or foul language have no place on our training field!

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

Paragliding: A Quick Guide

Our GOAL:  to train all pilots thoroughly and safely

Study each of these steps for how to get the most out of your training.  If you just want to know more about paragliding, read the General Information section.  Some steps only apply to P/PPG 2 students and above.

  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 latter can be foot-launched OR wheeled (trike or quad).  If in doubt about whether you would prefer foot-launched PG or PPG, it is better to start with free flight (PG).  You can change your mind at any time.  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.

    Qualified pilots may also enroll for Tow Training  (how to be safely towed up) or Tow Tech Training (how to safely tow up others for sport or compensation).  See #10 below for more information.

    All students who are just beginning their flying adventures are trained via pay-in towing because of the added safety and faster acquisition 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, students will either continue their training at a hill or mountain site (for PG) or with a paramotor at our airport (PPG).

  2. Equipment for flying  (Optional for those who enroll as P1 or PPG1 students)  We can give you expert help in choosing the best and most appropriate gear that fits your age,  skill level, interest, natural ability, and the altitude that you will usually fly in.  Typical setups and costs for paragliding or powered paragliding.  Foot-launched tuition includes the rental of all equipment required to train up to the early P2 level or early/mid PPG2 level.  We specialize in Ozone paragliders/harnesses/reserves, Sol harnesses, Sup'Air reserves/harnesses, and paramotors/trikes by Miniplane.  Other brands are available, if desired, but we do not know them as well.  Training for wheeled powered paragliding does not include the equipment which must be purchased prior to training.

  3. Physical and mental requirements – before you commit to train with us, you must meet these minimal requirements.

  4. Membership  P2 or PPG2 students and above must join either USHPA for PG or USPPA for PPG.

  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.  These texts will also be handy for future reference.

  6. Ground school  P2 students must complete the USHPA approved P2 ground school course, cost $99.

  7. 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.

  8. Operation detailswhen trainig may be canceled, refunds, missed training, dealing with fear of heights and anxiety, action plans, licenses

  9. Release, waiver, & assumption of risk (RWA)  All new students must sign, date, and return the PASA-USHPA waiver.  Please download, print, complete, and return it to us personally or 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.

  10. Tuition for lessons, ratings, requirements  Paragliding (PG) or Powered Paragliding (PPG/Trike)   As soon as tuition is paid, we can schedule training.  Students paying the discounted tuition will order their basic equipment package during their P2 training.

  11. 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.

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.

When a student pilot graduates from Southwest Airsports, he will be able to fly safely 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 an ultralight, especially 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