FAQ

Q: What is paragliding?

A: Paragliding is the simplest form of human flight, and fastest growing type of foot-launched flying. A paraglider is a non-motorized, foot-launched inflatable wing. It is easy to transport, launch, and land. Paragliders are an advanced evolutionary aircraft that can go places and do things unlike any other vehicle. The wing itself is constructed of rip-stop nylon from which the pilot is suspended by strong Kevlar lines. These high-performance fabrics coupled with a growing comprehension of our micro-meteorology have permitted the development of our incredible sport. The pilot is buckled into a harness and finds the sitting position which provides the most comfort. You actually fly like a bird, soaring upwards on currents of air. Para gliders operate in unprecedented harmony with the natural elements. Our slow flying speeds (about 15 to 25 mph) enable us to climb in small thermals and dual with the Red Tail Hawks. Red Tails are playful and it is common to share the same thermal within a wingspan. We use numerous "top landing" perches within reach of a re-launch and can put down in some pretty tight spots when necessary.

Q: What does it take to be a pilot?

A: Pilots need to get control of the wing on the ground in the beginning. After the pilot has some basic kiting skills we talk about a flight plan and begin flying. Paragliding is about finesse and serenity, not strength and adrenaline. We work to build your skills and knowledge, in order to help you exercise good judgment as a pilot. It is important for pilots to spend the first year of flying acquiring knowledge from their experiences, and from other pilots. The wonderful thing about this sport is that the learning never ends. The sport is immensely popular in Europe/Brazil and now many other countries. Pilots are as young as 10 and as old as 80. Being physically and mentally alert and prepared is more important than physical conditioning. To be a successful paragliding student and pilot, you need to be able to think clearly and listen well.

Q: How long does it take to learn?

A: You will be flying solo from our training hill on your first day of paragliding instruction, which is one of the advantages of the sport. However, in order to acquire the basic skills necessary to fly on you own without instructor supervision, you need to complete the course and get your Novice/ intermediate ratings (pilot license). Gravity Paragliding spends 8-10 days with you on your Beginner and Novice training. This takes place at the beach for 2 days, and training hill for an average of three days. Some students are fast learners and develops skills quicker than others, and the exciting high altitude flight comes sooner.  We spend at least 5 full days at the beach and training hill, and head to the mountains for more advanced training. Whether you complete your training in consecutive days or spread out over several months is up to you, although the more concentrated the training, the better. We strongly recommend our consecutive class program to get you to the basics of paragliding and done with, without retarding of your learning progress and time going back to beginning steps of your course.

Q: Is paragliding like parasailing, parachuting, BASE jumping?

A: These other activities are often confused with paragliding. Parasailing is what you do out on the ocean behind a boat. You have no steering control on a parasail, and you are at the mercy of the boat operator. Parachutes are used in skydiving from an airplane and are designed to be deployed during a free-fall from an airplane and to then descend to the ground. Paragliders are not deployed. We inflate our paragliders and fly them upwards like a kite, and ease them overhead. Base jumping is a form of skydiving. Base jumpers leap from Buildings, Antennas, Span, or Earth. Base jumpers experience free fall before deploying their parachutes and descending to the earth. Paragliders are different in many ways from these other activities. A Paraglider is already inflated before it begins to fly. We don't leap off a cliff or mountain hoping the paraglider is open and ready to fly. The wing is inflated while we are on the ground and flies away only after it is inflated. Our gliders don't endure the stress to the lines that parachutes lines do with a shock load opening. We launch from gentle sloping hillsides with our gliders already inflated overhead ready to fly. We can check the glider and abort before we launch if we don't see something we like. Launch is never rushed. We can pull the glider overhead and stay there kiting it until we decide to launch. Paragliders are much lighter and aerodynamic, designed to go up rather than down. We actually gain altitude with our activity catching thermals and rising to altitudes high than the spot we launched. Paragliders can soar for hours and cover great distances. The feeling of flying a paraglider can be very peaceful and serene.

Q: How much do lessons and tandem flights cost?

A: The One Day Lesson is $200, and the two day lesson is $378 this promotional value includes a cool custom designed Gravity Paraglider Pilot Tshirt. The great deal is, that if you enroll for full course afterwards, the cost of intro classes or instructional tandem flight, goes towards the full cost of entire course plan. You should plan on flying ALL DAY LONG if the conditions are good and you feel up to it. Tandem flights are $200, and take place in our local mountains, the local ridges, and at our world class flight park. We also provide gift certificates and if you wish to give this gift of flying to someone special,  just write us an e-mail to GravityParagliding@gmail.com for special offers that Gravity Paragliding School offers occasionaly  for those that are serious and passionate about experiencing flying a paraglider. All fees and charges paid for the daily lessons are applied toward the $1800 special price "saving package" of the Beginner, Novice, Intermediate and Advanced Training Program. After completing the Novice program you are a certified paraglider pilot able to fly without instructor supervision at most sites. Gravity Paragliding offers Custom tailored packages to help you save throughout your courses. New Pilot Packages may include: USHPA membership and Magazine subscription, $1.000.000 Liability insurance issued by USHPA, Pilot License including USHPA processing fees and certificate sign off. All equipment necessary for your training for beginning classes ONLY, Introduction to the equipment and how its manufactured and certified for safety, Transportation, Micro-Meteorology Classes, Theoretical Classes, Reserve Parachute Deployment Class, Hand Books, Beginner/Intermediated DVD's, meteorology books, Seminars ( Clinics), International Paragliding Tour packages and more. Lets choose the package that will be best for you to start flying up in the sky and earn your own wings.

Q: How is the flying in Marshall Peak - Crestline ?

A: Marshall - Crestine offers the best year round paragliding in the nation. Our training hill is very consistent which allows you to maximize the time you have dedicated to your training. Our mild climate and south- south west facing mountains provide pilots with unique flying opportunities. The Local mountains produce thermal flying from the fall through the spring. Marshall Peak and Crestline offers spectacular scenery and the convenience of a paved road to our mountain launches. The coastal ridges provide soaring opportunities year round. Torrey Pines (San Diego) and Santa Barbara (Ojai) are great sites, and soarable almost everyday during the dry season, and Crestline/Marshall mountains has the big air and high altitude for advanced pilots.

Q: Where do I purchase a gift certificate?

A: A paragliding lesson or tandem flight is a unique and original gift idea. Gravity Paragliding Gift Certificates will be mailed to you or can be picked up at our office. You can simply  write an e-mail to GravityParagliding@gmail.com and you will earn a great deal for that perfect gift certificate. Make a friend or loved ones experience something exciting for a life time to their special occasion. Birthday, wedding, valentines day or any celebration.

Q: How do I get started?

A: One way to start is to schedule a one or two day lesson. You will be flying solo on your first day from our small training hill with Gravity Paragliding in most cases. Our training hill is like the bunny hill at the ski slopes for paragliding. We meet you at the hill in the morning and introduce you to the equipment. We work together on getting you control of the wing on the ground. Once we get the hang of kiting the wing on the ground we talk about a flight plan and observe other pilots making flights. When you feel ready we get you your first flight under radio supervision. You glide through the air experiencing the freedom of flight. Instructional tandem flights are another option. When you ride along for a flight with an experienced pilot you go places and see things that wouldn't be available until you had been in the sport for a while. We can show you the dynamics and the philosophy of making decisions in the air. We also show you how relaxing it can be when you sit back and enjoy the view after climbing out. We encourage you to come and watch us train at Belmont Shores beach (Long Beach) and Andy jackson Air Park (San Bernardino) or contact Gravity Paragliding to find out where pilots are going to fly from the local mountains or ridge to get an idea of how this sport works.

Q: How is paragliding different from hang gliding?

A: Paragliders fly a ram air wing while hang gliders have an aluminum frame and fiberglass batons. You can’t really say one is safer than the other. It all comes down to pilot judgment. The main difference is the speed we fly. Hang gliders fly faster which is not an advantage when it comes to landing. Paragliders have become popular because of how practical they are for travel, portability, and set up and break down times. The learning curve is quicker with a paraglider as well. You will be flying solo your first day of paragliding instruction, which is one of the advantages of the sport. However, in order to acquire the basic skills necessary to fly on you own without instructor supervision, you need to complete the course and get your Novice/intermediate Paragliding Rating (License). Gravity Paragliding graduates most students in 8-10 days of training (depending on each person) some people requires a little more time than others, and more attention goes to those, and private classes are an option. You will learn how to Fly.

Q: How much does a paraglider cost and last?

A: A brand new state of the art basic paragliding set up will cost somewhere between $4,800 and $6,700 depending on the brand. This basic set up should include a wing, harness, Boots, reserve parachute, helmet, and a radio. There are plenty of other pieces of equipment you can add to your list, but these items make up the bare minimum. You can get into used gear from $2,800 and up. Some used gear is still great for flying. We encourage you to purchase your gear from the school who is training you. You can never be sure of what you are getting when you buy a paraglider from a stranger. The wing does not have an odometer, and may have been dunked in the ocean. A school has a reputation to uphold, and has every reason to sell you a quality product they can stand behind. The sport is evolving rapidly; newer paragliders can have significantly better performance and behavior than older ones. Read the information on our Suggested Paragliding Equipment page to get more information on what to look for. Just click on Airwave and Karpo Fly link. You can also look at various Paragliding Accessories. The material on a paraglider loses its porosity after prolonged UV exposure. After years of fairly active usage and exposure to UV light from the sun, a paraglider is generally in need of replacement. This of course varies with how you care for your equipment ad the intensity of the UV exposure. It's easy to test your lines and sailcloth for strength and thus determine your need to replace your paraglider long before it becomes unsafe. We recommend doing an annual inspection on your wing. Harness last many years with good care, and reserves should last indefinitely with good care. Usually gliders, boots, helmet, radios and hanesses last for a long long time, just take good care of your gear and you may be surprised with a 8  to 10 years of life for your brand new equipment. Maybe you are thinking this is all too expensive,  just break it down in monthly payments for all the years  it could last, and still promote great times up in the air. How much is your monthly payment? Maybe cheaper than a pack of cigarrete or just that weekly night club expenses.

Q: What to know when purchasing your first glider?

A: First, you need to know how to fly. No would-be pilot should purchase a wing before learning at least the basics of paragliding from a well respected school. It is the Instructor's job to help you select our first wing. Different paragliders have different characteristics and require different skill levels; we will match the glider to your particular interests, strengths, weaknesses, and skill level.

Q: Do I need a license to fly?

A: Paragliders are regulated under the Federal Regulations Section 103 and therefore a license is not required to paraglide. In essence, paragliding is a self regulated sport under the authority of the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA). To keep it self-regulated, pilots and instructors adhere to the policies and guidelines of the USHPA. Local flying regulations may require the pilot to have certain USHPA certified ratings, such as P3 or P4, in order to fly a particular site.

Q: What can I do with a paraglider?

A: Paragliders are designed to soar. The flight duration record is over 11 hours, and the distance record is just over 289 miles. In training, your first flights will be off our gentle 220 ft. slope at our training hill. As you progress and become more skilled and confident, we will take you to the mountains and the ridge. This is where the paraglider is used for its designed purpose--SOARING! Average recreational pilots, utilizing thermal and ridge lift, routinely stay aloft three hours or more. Pilots soar to altitudes of 18000 ft. and travel cross country for great distances. Paragliders can be carried and launched off most mountains. Paragliders have been flown of almost every major peak in the United States, Europe and Brazil. Once you become an advanced pilot, you can pioneer launches that have never been flown.

Q: What are the three types of flights?

A:

1) Coastal Ridge Lift Flight. The wind direction decides which flying site is best to fly. The wind must be coming on-shore for the ridge or cliff to be working. The direction is best when the wind is coming in perpendicular to the ridge. All this wind pushes into the cliff and has no place to go but up. This creates a giant lift band, a cushion of rising air. The wind speed usually needs to be blowing in at a minimum of 10 mph for it to be working. The higher the cliff, the less wind you need. 2) Sled Flights- take place when thermal activity is non-existent or weak. These are the types of flights experienced at the training hill, although the training hill occasionally gets soarable. After you receive a few days at the training hill, we take you to the mountains for your first high flight. This high flight will be a direct shot toward the landing zone. A sled flight is basically a non-thermaling, or non-soarable flight. 3) Soaring or Thermal Flights- are flights when the pilot can gain altitude by navigating the paraglider into rising pockets of air called thermals. This is where the fun really begins! The pilot connects with thermals and climbs thousands of feet at a time. When a pilot reaches higher altitudes the flight plan options increase since there are more locations reachable on glide. The pilot can fly out over town, and land at the beach. Flying over the local mountains for hours on end is another option, or fly down ranging distances. These long distance flights are called cross country flights. Cross Country flying takes place at the advanced level of the sport.

Q: Is paragliding scary?

A: Paragliding is the simplest and most serene way to fulfill man's oldest dream -- free flight! The pilot jogs down a simple slope and glides away from the mountain. Most people are afraid of heights. Fear is somewhat an apprehension of the unknown. Your fear will fade as your confidence in your ability to operate in a reasonable manner grows. Your instructor will help you identify your capabilities and limitations. You'll learn that altitude is usually your friend. There is no free falling or jumping off cliffs. The launches and landings are slow and gentle. Once in the air, most people are surprised by how quiet and peaceful the experience is. The solo lesson requires more effort (physical and mental) than a tandem flight lesson. The tandem flight lays the basic groundwork necessary to become your own pilot. If the idea of watching the sunset from a comfortable seat in the air, supported by the buoyant evening air, with perhaps an eagle or hawk joining you off your wing tip, appeals to you, then paragliding is for you.

Q: How safe is paragliding?

A: Paragliding is as safe as you make it. Modern paragliding wings are very stable. Pilots are very rarely injured due to equipment failure. Paragliding accidents are likely due to a lack of judgment on the pilot's part instead of equipment failure. We can minimize our risk by becoming educated and making conservative decisions about when and where fly. Each person needs to evaluate the risk and reward of their decisions. We can make very conservative choices as a pilot and still get an amazing amount of flying and fun out of the sport. We don’t need to make risky choices about when and where we fly our wings. We can operate conservatively in a manageable weather conditions and enjoy the sport well into our golden years.