As you probably know, paragliding is an extreme aerial sport in which paragliding pilots fly propelled only by wind and gravity. Paragliding is not a sport that you can learn overnight on your own. You must learn how to paraglide under the supervision of a professional — a certified instructor. You will work towards achieving the five different ratings along the whole process of learning how to paraglide.
So if you want to learn how to paraglide, these are the five ratings according to the USHPA:
- Student Paragliding Rating (P-0)
- Beginner Paragliding Rating (P-1)
- Novice Paragliding Rating (P-2)
- Intermediate Paragliding Rating (P-3)
- Advanced Paragliding Rating (P-4)
Now, we will explain how to reach all these ratings step by step. Furthermore, if you are interested in paragliding information, you can take a look at other posts of our blog, such as:
- Paragliding History ➞ Let’s take a look over the origins of this aerial sport
- Thermalling techniques: How to thermal your paraglider better
- What is acro paragliding? ➞ Everything you need to know about this sport!
How to paraglide ➞ Acquiring a Student Paragliding Rating (P-0)
Try tandem paragliding with an accredited instructor
The first step towards proficiency paragliding is to try tandem paragliding with an accredited instructor. If you have a successful flying experience, that will qualify you to receive your Student Paragliding P-0 rating. Once you get this rating, you will have the chance to fly under the direct supervision of a certified instructor. If you want to schedule a tandem flight, you need to contact a qualified paragliding school.
Acquire and demonstrate a basic understanding of what paragliding is
If you want to obtain a P-0 rating, you must demonstrate to your instructor that you have acquired a basic understanding of what paragliding is, together with basic knowledge and understanding of paragliding equipment, skills and techniques. Understanding:
- The acts of launching, flying, and landing.
- The mechanics of brakes and risers.
- The deployment of a backup parachute.
- Understanding and accepting the risks of tandem paragliding.
Demonstrate your ability to listen to and work with your instructor
You must cooperate with your instructor during the tandem flight. You must:
- Follow the commands and instructions.
- Touch the paraglider in the areas indicated by your instructor.
- Run with the instructor to launch the paraglider.
How to paraglide ➞ Acquiring a Beginner Paragliding Rating (P-1)
Attend to a basic ground school and pass a written exam
In order to receive a Beginner Paragliding Rating (P-1), you must enroll in a basic ground school — which courses are offered by certified paragliding schools. There, you will acquire knowledge enough to pass a written exam, as well as the skills required to determine wind and weather conditions.
Demonstrate basic skills and knowledge of the paraglider wing
You have to demonstrate your capability to manage the paraglider wing. You must show your ability to:
- Properly layout a wing and a harness preflight.
- Launching a wing under control.
- Remaining connected to the wing while remaining clear of lines and risers before inflation.
- Deflating, immobilizing, disconnecting, and removing the wing.
- Properly packing, storing, and caring for the wing.
Launching, flying, and landing independently under the supervision of your instructor
You have to demonstrate your capability to launch, fly, and land a paraglider on your own.
- Your inflation run must be smooth and exhibit your confidence when launching. You must keep directional control. The transition from running to flying must be gentle.
- You must complete two flights to exhibit your capability to maintain a continual airspeed, fly softly and straight towards a prearranged target. Land safely.
Receive a P-1 rating
P-1 rating allows you to fly under the supervision of a certified instructor in winds of 12 mph or less. Your flights’ paths must be straight and as free of obstructions as possible.
How to paraglide ➞ Acquiring a Novice Paragliding Rating (P-2)
Attend at least eight hours of ground school theory courses
If you want to obtain your Novice Paragliding Rating (P-2), you must enroll in a complete ground school theory courses (at least 8 hours). These will prepare you to take the written Novice exam. There, you will acquire practical and theoretical information about the following subjects:
- Weather — observing and monitoring local weather.
- Launches — considering air density, slope, wind factors, and angles of attack.
- Danger signs — identifying high winds, dust storms, smoke, and shifting wind directions.
- Landing — considering wind directions, air density, and several approach techniques.
- Equipment — understanding the importance of packing food, water, and wind instruments.
- Site orientation — learning how to familiarize yourself with the protocols and layout of a site.
Present a registration of at least 25 flights
You must demonstrate that you are able to lower your wing between flights. Your registration will be proof of your capability to do it. You must present the registration of at least 25 flights.
Demonstrate your mastery of 26 individual skills
You must demonstrate your capability to complete 26 different skills. These include:
- Providing an analysis of general site conditions and potential obstacles.
- Demonstrate 5 consecutive forward and another 5 backward inflations.
- Carry out 180° turns in all directions.
- Carry out 5 landings within 25 feet of a prearranged target.
- Knowing the rules of traffic, adapting the flight path and explaining proper wing maintenance.
Receive a P-2 rating
P-2 rating allows you to fly without the supervision of a certified instructor. Nevertheless, you must observe strict performing limitations. These limitations include:
- Maintain visual contact with the landing area.
Not to fly when:
- Base winds exceed 12 mph.
- Peak gusts exceed 15 mph.
- The maximum gust rate reaches 5 mph within 5 seconds.
How to paraglide ➞ Acquiring an Intermediate Paragliding Rating (P-3)
If you want to obtain an Intermediate Paragliding Rating (P-3), you must count on at least:
- 90 flights
- 30 recorded flying days
- 20 hours of airtime by yourself
Demonstrate your mastery of paragliding theories and skills
You must be proficient in many different paragliding theories, protocols, and skills. Aside from demonstrating your abilities, you have to pass the Intermediate Paragliding written exam too. You must prove your ability to:
- Explain and analyze the conditions of the site and flight plan
- Keep control during the inflation of the wing, launch, and landing
- Carry out 360° turns in all directions
- Control and vary your airspeed at different wind rates
Receive your P-3 rating
P-3 rating means that you are able to assess sites and determine if your training has equipped you to fly. This rating still has operating limitations, such as avoiding steep turns near the ground.
How to paraglide ➞ Acquiring an Advanced Paragliding Rating (P-4)
Advanced Paragliding Rating (P-4) allows you to perform technically challenging flights. You must meet these requirements:
- 250 recorded flights
- 5 intermediate level flights at 5 different sites, 3 of which must be inland
- 80 recorded flying days (at least)
- 3 intermediate level 1 hour flights (at least) from 2 different locations in the thermal lift without sustaining ridge lift
- One intermediate level 1 hour flight (at least) in ridge lift without sustaining thermal lift
- 75 hours of recorded airtime (at least)
- Flown 5 different wings (at least)
Demonstrate your mastery of advanced skills
You must pass the Advanced Paragliding written exam and sign a statement assuming the risk for advanced paragliding. You must also exhibit the ability to:
- Prepare your wing, harness and reserve parachute.
- Analyze and report paragliding conditions.
Demonstrate your ability to create and execute a flight plan
- Remain connected to the paraglider while remaining clear of lines and risers
- Keep control over inflations and launches
- Carry out smooth and safe landings on your feet
- Carry out figure 8 turns
- Land within 10 feet of a target 3 times at least
- Carry out and reverse 360° turns at different wind speeds
- Collapse the wings up to 50% while maintaining directional control
- Prove to an instructor that you won’t endanger anyone
Receive your P-4 rating
P-4 rating means that you have the skills and the knowledge necessary to assess and fly technically demanding sites. The limits for a P-4 paragliding pilot include remaining 9 metres away from another paraglider in soft air conditions and approximately 30 metres feet from another paraglider in turbulent air conditions.
How to paraglide — Tips
- Review your flights with your instructor.
- At the beginning, it is a good idea to write a detailed account of every flight in a record book: details of the flight, location, height gained, weather conditions, and so on.
We hope that this information about how to paraglide has been useful. If you have any doubts or you need more information or if you are interested in our flights, don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be pleased to help you! You can also take a look at our paragliding guide and learn more about how to paraglide!