What a time to be alive! Paragliding has passed its pioneering days of the ’80s and ’90s. This post gives you ten great reasons why you should start paragliding lessons today.
1. Global growth
Paragliding is growing all over the world. Germany has some 40000 paragliding pilots. China passed 10000 pilots years ago. Iran has over 6000 paragliding pilots. In the Turkish town of Oludeniz, over 300 pilots make a living as tandem paragliding instructors. The worldwide growth has resulted in more companies making equipment. More events, schools, instructors, books, and more flying destinations for you to visit.
2. Paraglider performance
There has been increased competition between equipment producers. This has resulted in continuous gains in paraglider performance and safety. Previously, one needed a “high performance” glider to any sort of big distance. Back then, these “high performance” gliders came at a cost of reduced stability. These unstable gliders would collapse frequently. You had to be an expert pilot to fly those old hot ships. Giving just the right amount of input at the right time to keep the glider open and flying. Today, however, our paragliders are much better designed. You have the benefits of passive safety built into the glider. Today’s student gliders are capable of flying hundreds of kilometres.
3. Improved community knowledge
Over the past 40 odd years of paragliding, our knowledge has grown too. Today we make better decisions on and when and where to fly. We’ve learnt from the mistakes of the pioneers. The worldwide growth has led to a growth in schools and instructors for whom it is worthwhile to teach skills. Gone are the days when you got your license and were then out on your own to continue learning. Schools such as ours have created licensed pilot programs. These programs enable the licensed pilot to continue learning. The competition aspect of paragliding has led to improvements in our knowledge. There’s nothing like a competitive environment to learn what works best and what doesn’t. The knowledge gained by competitive passes on to their non-competitive peers.
4. More flying sites
The growth in people participating in paragliding has no doubt created more flying sites. In my time as a paragliding instructor, I’ve witnessed several new sites created in the Western Cape. The Du Toitskloof Pass takeoff site has undergone significant changes. Changes which we are proud to have initiated. These changes have resulted in this site becoming the favourite among many recreational pilots at all levels.
5. Lighter paragliding equipment
Gains in material strength has led to lighter fabric manufactured by textile companies across the world. Fabric such as those produced by companies such as Porcher Sport is known for its lightweight and durable properties. Today you can own a complete paraglider kit for under 2kg! Light-weight kits such as these have even created a new discipline of paragliding called “run and fly”. This is a bit on the extreme side of things. The average complete kit for a beginner weighs around 12kg. These sorts of weights combined with special backpacks have been a game-changer. Paraglider pilots today hike up mountains with ease before starting their paragliding flight. For those who prefer driving to takeoff, the lighter gear is easier to store in a car boot.
6. Travel restrictions
Covid-19 has forced us to spend more time in our local regions. By learning how to paraglide you will have tons of fun without needing to travel far. Can you imagine just how fun it is to fly from Lions Head down to Hout Bay? I guarantee you that when looking down on the turquoise waters of Camps Bay you’ll think it’s Mauritius!
7. Increased student training options
One of the factors in South Africa’s stunted growth in paragliding has been tandem paragliding. Paragliding instructors have prioritised tandem flying with tourists over solo student training. Think about it, you could earn R1000+ from a 10minute flight or earn the same amount teaching a student for a full day. Covid-19 has decimated our tourism numbers though. Resulting in several instructors returning to the solo student training aspect of paragliding. NB. Air School Paragliding is not one of those schools. Our major goal is to grow paragliding in South Africa and the rest of Africa. Solo student training is at the heart of our business.
8. Paragliding as a career/business
There’s little doubt that tourism will return and the travel restrictions will disappear. Every low point in human history is followed by high points. You can be sure that the opportunities for paragliding business will grow. The question is whether you will be ready to capitalise on this when the growth comes? R1000+ for a ten-minute flight…
So far we’ve talked about the various outside factors that warrant you learning how to paraglide today. Now let’s focus a little more inward. Paragliding is a physical activity. As we get older, we get a little slower, it’s just a fact of life. The earlier you learn to paraglide the better. If there’s one thing that almost every paragliding pilot regrets is not starting sooner. Today, countries such as France even incorporate paragliding lessons into secondary school learning. Pilots who started at a young age in the modern era of paragliding have helped grow paragliding. Their young brains and quick learning abilities pushes paragliding into new eras of knowledge and performance. This doesn’t mean that you need to be a teenager to start. FYI – the legal age to start paragliding lessons in South Africa is 14 years old. You can start paragliding training at 60 if you wanted to. But it does mean that you’ll unlikely represent South Africa at the Paragliding World Cup if you start at this age.
How often do we leave things for “one day”? Too often. There’s never going to be a perfect time to start anything. If you’ve ever thought that flying would be fun, start paragliding lessons today. Check out our various options for beginners. Give us a call. Send an email. Send a WhatsApp. Take that first step. Why? Because one day may not ever come.