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Your paragliding holiday questions answered

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A paraglider may look vaguely like a parachute or commonly confused with a parasail or parasailing because this is where it has evolved. Paragliding is now at a very exciting stage in its development, from being just a fun method of decent from hills, paragliding now offers the pilot the sensation of true free flight for hours upon hours. Using modern high strength materials a canopy only weighs about 7kg and packs neatly into a rucksack. This makes this "aeroplane in a bag" totally portable and can complement other sports such as skiing and mountaineering.

The paraglider wing is an inflatable structure. It consists of a row of tubes open at the front and closed at the back joined together side by side. The wing moving through the air keeps these tubes (or cells, to give their correct name) inflated. The air goes in the front but can't get out the back. These cells are cut into the same cross sectional shape as an aeroplane wing and it is this "aerofoil" section that provides the lift to our wings. The pilot is supported underneath the wing from a web of lines, each one with the strength to support the pilot alone. These lines are then attached to risers, a strap like device that is then itself attached to the pilots harness.

The harnesses we use for training are very simple but the ones used by the experienced pilots can look like a bucket seat taken from a racing car. These incredibly comfortable harnesses can come with airbag back protection systems to protect the pilot from unplanned hard landings, built in reserve parachute systems and all sorts of electronic instrumentation ranging from digital altimeters to global positioning systems. Cross-country flyers can look more like astronauts than paraglider pilots! The pilot holds a control handle on each side to steer the glider into turns. The control lines run to the rear of the canopy from these handles and by pulling smoothly down on one line at a time, one side of the wing slows down there-by turning the glider. With these controls you can perform anything from a gentle turn, to a screaming spiral dive, slow the wing down for landing and damp out turbulent air.

Paragliding is predominantly seasonal in Britain, the best of the season is from April/May to September. There have been exceptional years and if you are persistent there are occasional windows over winter when you can get some really lovely crisp soarable days. We don't fly in rain and need a maximum wind speed on the hill of at most 15mph for training. We also fly in no wind at all as we can provide our own inertia to inflate the canopy simply by running. For those pilots looking to fly a little more over then they tend to head south to Spain or the Canaries.

You can do many different things with a paraglider. You can hike up a large mountain and use the paraglider to fly back down again but soaring ridges is the most common form of paragliding in Britain and the rest of the world. When the wind blows directly onto a ridge or hill, the air is diverted over the top creating a "wave" of lift. We can soar or surf this "wave" to stay airborne for hours. After your flight you simply land back on the top of the hill where you took off from. Flight times can be anything between 5 minutes and how long one can hold their bladder!

Flying is a tremendously personal thing, for some soaring around on a beautiful coastal site while abroad on holiday with the family or a green British hillside is divine, others like to thermal with the birds and see how high they can get before the sun sets. The ultimate challenge for some pilots is to fly cross- country using rising thermals of hot air to climb to "cloud base" covering great distances. The current world record is over 400km and in Britain, just over 180k from North Wales to Luton…avoiding the airport!

Don't think for a minute that paragliding is a specialist Sport. Britain has a comparatively small number of flyers, around 7- 8,000, of which Paragliding pilots make up 4- 5,000 the rest are hang glider pilots. However between the French and Germans alone there are around 60,000 pilots, the Swiss boast another 20,000. These figures are based on registered flyers. It’s difficult to say precisely how many Americans, Canadians. Kiwi’s and Australian pilots there are plus the Japanese…. Basically you can fly virtually everywhere in the world. The simple fact is that massive amounts of people are and have tuned into one of the most pleasurable experiences you can do…that is free flight!

Thermalling is flying around in circles to stay in the areas of best lift exactly the same way as the birds, like kites & buzzards or Griffin Vultures (which you see in this country all year round). Average good climb rates in Britain during the summer are around 400 feet per minute although 900 to 1000 feet per minute is not unheard off.

There is nothing to compare to the buzz you get from banking a glider onto it's wing tip and rising skywards in a strong, smooth thermal, ground features getting smaller with every turn. One student on his first trip abroad said to me following his first thermic flight "I am so glad that I’ve not gone through my entire life without experiencing that incredible flight". All this and more is open to you in the world of paragliding and it is one of the few adventure sports where women can compete on equal terms with men as physical strength or body weight is not an issue.

Our Mentor plus Paragliding holidays are aimed at low airtime pilots, balanced courses and holidays to educate and teach pilots new skills to get the best from their flying and go cross country on a paraglider using thermals.

As with any transport, paragliding is a safe as you chose to make it:

Sadly no flying machine can offer complete impassive security. Whether it is a charter flight, balloon, jet fighter, latest aeronautical invention, there is a perceived and appreciable risk with everything you do. Paragliders and hang gliders are not power driven so there is no risk from engine fire or malfunction. If you maintain what little equipment one carries there should never be any reason for structural failure. However, you must be aware that there are potentially inherent dangers in Paragliding. By nature of it being a semi-rigid structure, flying the glider in rough or turbulent conditions beyond ones experience can lead to canopy instability. Paragliding can be as safe as you make it, fly in marginal or rough thermic conditions beyond your experience or on high performance gliders beyond your own perceived ability and you redefine the margin of safe and risk taking.

A good pilot is not just someone who has learnt the basics of flying in a progressive manner but still continues to practice and pursue their flying with a cautious and open mind. Current regular flyers make safe and confident flyers, glider control courses are aimed to build confidence and a certain amount of predictability of the glider’s behaviour. Only fly if you are comfortable to do so, remember paragliding should be a pleasure not a competition with ones nerve or pride. Strive to do the basics well and confidently and you can fly late into life incident free.

A word or two about Safety

Safety is paramount to the sport of paragliding. It is important to understand that paragliding can be a dangerous sport, its about you the pilot making decisions about whether to fly or not, if you are thorough about your approach then you can enjoy years of fabulous free flight. However both Instructors and current paragliding pilots alike already appreciate the importance of sensible and progressive pace setting in tuition, tasks and future improvement. Paragliding can be and generally is as safe as you choose to make it. Like the car driver who takes a corner in wet or icy conditions at high speed, the statistics favour the driver to drives to the conditions of the road.

In paragliding the pilot who flies in an environment that they are comfortable and familiar with will have a long and fulfilled life of flying. Instructors here at Fly Spain do not wish to see any injury or pain to students, so every care is taken that tuition is undertaken in the appropriate weather conditions and tasks are set according to the students current level of proficiency.

Paragliding is a decision making sport, from the moment you are on launch the decision to take-off is ultimately yours. At Fly Spain we endeavor to teach confident and sensible piloting skills with a healthy attitude to the environment they chose to fly in. If at any point prior to launch one is not happy with either the task, personal fitness or confident in the flight plan then it is solely the responsibility of the pilot/student in charge to stand down and rectify this indecision.

Paragliders come in all sizes catering for both light and heavy weights a piece. Thankfully for most of the instructors I know, you don't need to be an athlete. Generally as long as you can put one foot in front of another and break into a gentle jog you can safely learn how to fly. Early in your course you will be expected to walk up a few gentle slopes but for the remainder you will be driven. We aim to teach you at your own pace, but if you have any queries concerning some aspect of your health do speak to us regarding them.

There is a certain amount of theory to achieve during the week plus an easy multiple choice exam for beginners, it's really very easy and we provide lectures during the week. You don’t need to know any rocket science to learn to fly a paraglider but there is a need to know and have a basic comprehension of how gliders fly and the rules of the road. Knowledge of the weather is part and parcel of making good safe flying decisions and getting the best out of your flying. Lectures will be given on all aspects of the exam and more.

Some basic background reading can be very useful, for good and easily comprehensible literature that would ease you into the sport try any of these titles;

BHPA Pilot Handbook by Mark Dale: a superb book, very readable and highly informative.

Touching Cloudbase by Ian Currer: Bit of a paragliding bible, not as gripping to read but guides you from the very basics to novice pilot level in a nice logical order.

Understanding the Sky - Dennis Pagen; Brilliant book on the weather, really easy to absorb and understand, not too fiendishly technical.

All these books are available from us just email us [email protected]


We are primarily a BHPA registered school, on successful completion of the course you will receive a full British Club Pilot Rating. 

If you are a pilot from another country it is possible to convert your qualification to an IPPI Para Pro 3 award (British Club Pilot Equivalent) and a signed British Logbook demonstrating your level of achievement if you wished to be assessed in another country.

We are the most experienced paraglidng school  in Europe offering paragliding lessons and courses abroad all year round. No other school in Spain can offer a BHPA qualification without an extra conversion course.

There is a certain amount of theory to achieve during the week plus an easy multiple choice exam, if we get any bad weather days we’ll use those for that. 
We occasionally take students out and show them a slice of Andalucia, it is a beatuiful place with a rich history in food and architecture.

In the very unlikely event of loosing a whole week’s flying we will give you credit towards another course in the future. We always try and ensure you get the very most from the week and return for more!

All are welcome, we will happily pick them up from the airport when you both arrive, our house is lovely and relaxed with terraces to sit and read and wind down. We can't gurantee a place in the bus to watch you fly, if we can we will of course, but pilots come first.


We have few en-suite rooms so it's first come first served.

There will be an accommodation supplement for partners and children (depending on age). The Non flyer supplement is £300 per week.

Algodonales is a stunningly beautiful area. There are massive amounts to keep everyone busy while you are flying. Stacks of history, horse riding to kitesurfing. Picnics & canoeing on the lake, stunning restaurants, charming bars and beautiful white hillside villages of Andalucia, everything is out there to do and explore. Here are some general links to activities in and around the area. For more ideas have a look at our "what other activities can I do in Spain..."

If you are on a paragliding course with us all our paragliding equipment will be provided from a safety helmet to glider and  harness within the course price. We also use Radios on bigger hill flights for certain tasks like soaring and Big Ears manoeuvres.

The gliders you fly on in the later half of your course and when you leave the school tend to be a little different from the training gliders you first go out on.

Some students prefer to buy their own equipment from the outset & learn to fly using that. Others choose to buy new or used equipment half way through the course so that by the end of the course they are au fait and comfortable with their new kit in the company and familiar surroundings of their instructors.

Our recommendation is to try and hold off buying equipment until you have completed two or three days of the course, by then you will be familiar with what is on the market and what you might like. The choice is huge and depending on what your intentions, not all equipment is suitable. If climbing and paragliding is an ambition then you will want very specialist light weight equipment, like wise, if you commute with your business a lot and you need something more portable. It just allows you a chance to look around and see what gliders and harnesses are available, we have a good selection of demos paraglider wings and harnesses for you to try. Regardless if you are on the inclusive glider-training package and have bought your kit new, there won’t be any pressure on you to select the first thing that’s put in front of you.

Potentially anywhere there is a hill or mountain. Britain is quite exceptional in that it has a very sociable and positive community of flyers, regional clubs and schools. The BHPA (Governing Organisation) will happily give you a list of local clubs in and around Britain. Most local clubs encourage new or visiting pilots to make contact and join as members for a very acceptable amount of cash. In exchange you meet club coaches and receive a site map of the area showing a local contact for the sites, access, and subtleties and sensitivities of each hill or mountain. If you are flying abroad for the first time then the safest way is with a local guide or school who know the area and conditions well. The BHPA may be able to help here but generally look in the Association magazines or on the net and find what you are looking for.

Our Head Quarters is at the 'Eagle's Nest' in the village of Algodonales, southern Spain, meetings normally start around 9am. We use a variety of private and public hills & fields to teach our paragliding and paramotoring courses.

If you're flying with us,layers work well - long sleeved tops, lightweight windproof jacket and jeans will do for training. It can be cooler at the top of a mountain, even when it is very warm in the valley.

Many pilots like to wear boots with ankle support for flying, if you are paramotoring good boots are well advised, if you bring trainers make sure you bring something with good grip on the soles.

We provied towels

The season is super hot from end of April to End of September, it begins cooling down from October to February and begins to warm up from mid Feb to end of April. In warmer months bring a swimming costume, as there is a beautiful freshwater reservoir that you can canoe or swim in at the end of a day’s flying. Sun block is essential even over winter.

Our houses do have washing machines, so if you get too muddy then there is always an option to wash your clothes.



Deposits are required to guarantee a place on either tuition or holiday weeks, this should be paid via our online booking system. 

Your balance must be paid 28 days prior to your arrival, you can pay this online by going to 'Manage My Booking' under the Calendar tab on our website homepage. If you are having a problem paying online, first check with your bank as sometimes they block payment as a security check. If this continues please email us so that we can make other arrangements.

Cancellations: Deposits are strictly non refundable. Cancellations less than a month before the course or failure to attend a course or holiday will mean the full payment of the place to be paid. We try and keep our course and holiday numbers sensible so as to achieve the great results that we do, therefore numbers are strictly limited. Please make sure you buy holiday insurance that will cover you for unforseen cancellations or postponements.


Once qualified, the BHPA send out a list of prospective clubs you can join back in the UK, alternatively you could check out their site. There are some great clubs in and around Wales, here is a list: South West soarers is our local club and you could not want for a friendly group of pilots, Mid Wales Club is a very active club with a growing membership and great website, South East Wales club has been a very popular club with both pilots locally and as far away as London and the South coast, Malverns, Long Myndd Soaring club, Welsh Borders club, although the club is fairly inactive and has no school, it has some fantastic hills to fly. For more information on flying in Wales have a look at the Welsh Free Flight Federation

Yes, we charge £150 person per week but these rooms are limited so it's very much first come, first served. You can select a single room when you complete your Arrivals Form and this will automatically adjust your balance accordingly.


It's not really like going snowboarding for the first time, paragliding experience and hours takes time. So don't rush it or get too ambitious. You need to ask yourself what type of flying you aim to be doing.

What type of flying will you be doing?  what type of paragliding will you be doing?

Ask yourself how much real time can you put aside to fly, do you work flexible hours, only have weekends, have a family life to juggle, possibly just one paragliding holiday a year or are you giving up work and travelling the world. 

If you're giving up work and travelling the world then you might consider a low-end EnB wing, if you do other sports like kite surfing or sailing then you might feel comfortable on a similar wing.

For the most part, if you're only getting occasional weekends out flying and the odd holiday then take your time and get a good En A. Most modern En A' gliders give all the performance you need to fly In thermals and make your first Xcs. Plus they give a better level of security when you go abroad and might find yourself in taking off at the wrong time of day or in fruitier conditions you had bought into! Obviously going with seasoned guides will help with all that.

New gliders have all benefitted from the advances in new technology over the last 3 years, En A gliders are now faster and more agile as a result. 

One thing is true or maybe two...

We've never had either a low B or En A returned to us that's been worn out by a pilot in its first three years. You always get a fair return on your first wing especially if it's a popular brand, the lesser spotted or less familiar brands are always a little harder to resell.

Sizing Taking off with a paraglider

Different wings like to be flown at different places on the weight range but I think as an easy rule just aimed to be at least in the middle or towards the top end of your glider weight wise.

How do I work my weight re glider size?

Add yourself clothed plus wing, harness, reserve, helmet and biscuits. That will give you an all up weight which you can then apply to sizing. Some manufacturers are subtly different with sizing so best check, hence why FlySpain offer a mix of manufacturers to make sure you get well placed for a wing. Remember when you start looking at reversible or airbag harnesses, lightweight reserves then you can find a 75-kilo pilot dropping out of the approximate medium sized paragliders and looking at small or medium-small. Again all brands can vary greatly.

Lightweight options

These often shape up into two styles, uber light and semi-lightweight. Your standard wing tends to be around 6 kilos for a medium size. Where's a semi-lightweight will offer 1-2 kilos less. An uber lightweight maybe as less as 2.5 kilos. 

Lightweight paraglider wingsRemember these wings lose weight by a change of line type and thinner materials. The uber light needs some love and respect as they will tear if pulled out of a bush, whereas a full-fat wing won't notice you ragging it around.

Micro lines are great but they do easily snag and are really irritating when you get them caught In thistles or long crops.


Choice of risers lightweight  paraglider riser sets

If you're getting a lightweight wing as a first glider the I'd consider going for slim risers as opposed the ultralight string option as they'll play with your uncertainty when you go flying until you've got used to them. 

Most important - handling

So lightweight paragliders can be great in flight, they can offer nice handling, a light touch but some can be a little more chatty or busy in thermic air as they pitch about a little more.

The most noticeable side of flying a semi-lightweight is that because there is less weight sitting on the ground they are easy to forward launch in nil or light winds but they equally prove to be a tad more billowy and unstable in stronger winds as they seem to lift up a little easier. So if you don't put the ground handling time into it when you buy one they'll be a right chore when you want to go flying in soarable winds

Needless to say with a well-chosen lightweight glider, a lightweight harness and reserve you can round your kit weight down to sub-ten kilos. Sometimes getting a lighter weight harness can be enough to bring your kit weight down to nearer ten kilos without adding the cons mentioned above.

Getting the right Advice

You should, in theory, be able to ask your instructor if they know much about what you want to buy and can they give you some pointers especially when it comes to sizing. I tend to think that it takes a great deal of effort to gain customers to your door so there's never any need to force a sale or sell them a kipper assuming you want to see them again on a future holiday or course...well that's my theory. Equally, if you've trusted your health and safety with your instructors why should it end when buying equipment, we like to see you make the right choice whether it be new or second hand. 

Needless to say, we sell loads of equipment all over Europe and the U.K. every week. We have a rack of instructors at FlySpain, some with interests in speed or mini wing flying that can be more informed than myself for instance - you can, of course, browse our online paragliding shop for new and used paragliding equipment

So if you need any advice then do feel free to drop us a line

So harness choice is huge, in short there are some very established firms with a lot of R&D offering great options and some others making poorer copies.

You need to work out what style of paragliding harness to look at and that can depend on what environment you fly in. Let me explain by breaking it down into the main harness considerations.

All paragliding harness do a similar thing, but it's now possible to buy lots of lateral and back support or go more minimalist and light weight. 

Back protection

You can choose the type of back protection, foam or airbag, sometimes a mix of both.

Foam options Seat and back protection have changed  a lot over the last few years [Cross section of foam harness]

So all harness design is similar as they are webbing based with a seat board or hammock style I.e. without. 

Foam options come with a physical padded insert generally between 16-20 cm thick to protect your lower spine against hard landings. They have been used for used are bulky but not necessarily heavy, they end up making a larger carrying package, some new paragliding pilots flying on big hills like the idea of them as in windy conditions they do offer a more consistent level of protection if being dragged across the ground, where as airbag options once deflated offer little but fabric between you and any rocks

Airbag options

So airbags have gone from being huge baggy ideas with inflation through the seat under your legs, they used to require some time after launch to fill properly. They are well thought off and tested to show the best option for first impact in an accident involving a fall from height as they offer a bubble of air that slowly deflates until near popping. Sound design and even better shaping have made theses types of harness a really useful and practical solution in modern paragliding. Modern Paragliding airbag style

Modern airbags are generally pre-filled by the time you get to take through a stiffening rod or foam plate to give shape and act like bellow. An additional side vent helps with full inflation within seconds after take off, they are sized according to harness design. 

Reserve fitting  [Paragliding harness under seat reserve option]

Everyone flies with one and only a handful ever need using, that's the way you want it but get what you want and get the best.

Most harnesses come with an under seat or lower back option, these are the best of the bunch, no one uses shoulder mounted options anymore. They are convenient space-wise and generally only accessible with your right hand, there are some brands that offer a left and right handed option.

One option and arguably the safest but slightly less convenient is the front mounted reserve which allows both hands to reach it in an emergency. The downside for some pilots is that it adds another level of fuss as they sit more of less on your lap in flight. 


A term described to the behaviour of harnesses in flight, the feedback they give and receive from the gliders pitch, roll and yaw in turbulent and thermic air. There was a period of design back around 2002 where pilots were super keen for as much weight shift and feedback as possible, we've since realised that the downside to this is reduced stability at just about the wrong time that you want it I.e in turbulence. 

Sometimes lighter weight harness or poorly fitted harness can offer too much feedback at a time in your flying when a little less rock and roll would be appreciated!

Chest-strap settings are now recommended by manufacturers for optimum use of their gliders and are given out online or with a manual when you buy them. 

Passive safety characteristics of a wing can be compromised by poor harness strap settings. 

Reversible harnesses  [Reversible harness option]

These are a relatively new idea, well five years old maybe and of course there are pros and cons.

Reversible harness offer smaller packing size as the wings neatly folds into the centre of the harness when reversed out. By doing this they stow away smaller and reduce the need for a traditional outer bag, meaning less weight.

They also come with an option of seat plated or hammock style(i.e. each leg is supported by fabric and webbing and move independently to the style of the seat board.)

They prove more comfortable to carry up hills if your local sites need a half hour walk in.

There is a lot of clever stitching that goes into reversible harnesses and often goes hand in hand with cutting down weight. They don't tend to be as hardy as the traditional foam options so you can't chuck them around in quite the same way on the ground or across an airport conveyor belt. 

Remember you can buy airbag harnesses without the reversible option and still get the smaller pack.

A note about materials and second-hand gear

Here's something to consider when buying your kit, buying a lighter weight harness does mean that you sacrifice robustness and the potential damage factor that goes with it. Older style harness were made out of Cordura fabric which you could bounce on the ground countless times before you saw wear and tear. For instance FlySpain has over fifteen training harnesses, all less than 3 years old but all made with Cordura and thick foam airbags, they are guaranteed to open and are scruff proof in a teaching environment. 

The downside of how great Cordura is, means that there are some very doggy old harness on eBay from a time when harness design went through more styling then sensible thought say, they work but you might find they give too much feedback and not enough protection...these harness surface and I guess look the part, so in short if your buying second don't get anything older than six years and you'll not make any obvious blunders.

Harness Sizing 

They mostly come in Small, medium, large and XL. Everyone is a different shape and all harness need a little time to set up to your shape in-flight comfort regardless of how much you spend. 

For instance, if your middling weight but have very long legs then an XL harness might well feel too wide and I truth adding a foot stirrup with a large might be the better option.

Pod harnesses  [Pod harness fro Xc flying]

So I can't really see any reason why a new student might buy one of these harness fresh out of school. I appreciate they look good, but they can add extra faff for launching, it's harder to be nimble on launch and run with something hanging around your feet. They can also be a faff to get into and add an extra dimensions of rock and Pop in rougher turbulent air which again you might prefer to experience later in your flying. The performance gains are in truth mostly wasted when flying En A gliders and on low airtime pilots.

If your upgrading to a higher performing wing, thermally and making your first Xc, then there a great deal of choice in pod harness. Many have again followed the design of big and uber heavy to lighter and lighter, you'll have to ponder the pros and cons obviously and bear in mind that the lighter some of these options are the less you get in back protection.

Paragliding Hike and fly harness Options 

So you can go as skinny as you like, there are options out there that are really minimalist, and they look appealing if packaged up with a lightweight wing about the size of someone's handbag. If you're a new pilot then the downsides are too much feeling and wobble in flight and a scarcity of back protection. So if you want to go hike and fly look at some of the manufacturers who now offer a half way house, say reversible or airbag harness. Once you've spent a couple of years in the sport  consolidating your skills, you'll have a better idea on how to make a more informed choice of harness.

FlySpain have a full-time team instructors who've been flying over twenty years, we appreciate the importance of finding the right equipment to suit your flying and build. Feel free to enquire or ask any of our instructors about what equipment they like or recommend and why.

How to choose a Helmet?Choosing the right paragliding helmet

Well, it’s really all about style and colour surely?! 

All European helmets now come with a safety rating for their activity or range of activity. If you ensure your helmet has that then it is then down to size, fitting and styling.

Fitting: They don't have to be as snug as a motorbike helmet but you don't want them to fall off to slip and obscure your vision.

Paragliding helmets should conform to EN 966 (airports), using a helmet that doesn’t conform like a climbing helmet or cycling helmet might upset any public liability you have with your flying federation.

As for the helmet design then they generally come in two physical styles

Full face: so full protection of head and integrated chin guard. These obviously offer the most protection and tend to be a little warmer than open face helmets, they can restrict the view a little.  full face

Open Face: Offer less protection but better visibility, they are generally lighter and pack smaller in with your gear.

The choice is massive now with some great styling, it's worth checking your ski or snowboarding helmets as some are now rated for free flight activities.

Visors: the airforce look is always great and visors come in clear and tinted, they also keep the wind and the sun off your face on long flights which in turn keeps you fresher and without the classic sunglasses panda eyes. The downside for me is they are tricky to keep scratch free and can lead to extra faff on takeoff and more stuff to drag with you like helmet bags etc.

Paramotor helmets  want a paramotor helmet

Almost always open face but come with visor options and ear defender options. When flying with two-stroke engines you need to either wear earplugs or ear defenders.

Most PPG helmets allow optional ear defender for them to be integrated. If you want to use radios to talk with friends then you’ll want to buy a separate headset with integrated coms. See Microavionics in our shop for an idea

FlySpain has pretty much a demo of every product we sell and distribute in the UK, so whilst you're here you can see and even buy a helmet that suits.

Reserve design has changed over the last ten years, the early idea of keeping it small with a quick opening has been ditched for big and therefore slow descent rate. A big one that fits your all up weight in is ideal.


Round standard Round reserve parachute for paragliding and ppg

Currently the standard benchmark resevre sold out of schools are traditional round versions that in truth haven't changed massivley in 20 years. They are all about descent, no glide or directional control, buy a big one and they do what they say on the packet.

Rogallo  Directional reserve parachute for paragliding

These often favoured by the acro community who throw their reserves more in a month than most would contemplate throwing in a lifetime. They are directional so as well as gathering in your main canopy you have to fly them into wind for landing, the upside is that you can fly them away from power lines and trees.


Square reserves are the latest design and possibly the best to date for your jobbing pilot, mor einfo below

Lightweight: The last few years has seen reserves being made out of very lightweight materials, so they’ve dropped from 3 kilos to almost 1 kg, some alpine extreme types can be much less but come with a warning of to be thrown only once. Fine if you never want to try it out, not so good if you are a budding acro pilot. Is it worth investing in a Square reserve?

Latest design: The Square reserve, is a new idea offering the same descent speed as before but more stable or rather less likelihood to pendular swing. It means traditional round canopies tend to roll around a little once opened or if the main canopy is still flapping about they can swing around a little. Square reserves suggest once opened they offer a more stable descent rate with a less pendular wobble. These are fairly new designs and are a little more to buy and in time I’m sure they will be the standard option to have.

Sizing: Make sure that when buying a reserve the weight range covers your all up flying weight. So Add all your equipment plus you on the scales to work that out, it's approximately 15 - 20 kgs plus your naked weight, different manufacturers offer different sizes reserves for different jobs, solo, tandem etc.

Descent rate: Manufacturers will state a descent rate for reserves, do check they state the descent for maximum weight. For example, some offer a descent rate of 6 metres descent per second, Ok if you are light and springy. Personally, I’d go for anything around the 4-5 meters if possible. When thinking of descent rate ponder jumping off a 3-metre high ladder or land rover roof rack, that's approximately 6 meters per second of decent.

Age of reserves: Currently anything over ten years old is likely to be unfashionably small in size and offer very quick descent rates. Only buy second hand if they have been inspected and repacked by a professional. 

The key thing about reserves is to make sure they are repacked at least once a year. They tend to be positioned under the seat so when the equipment is packed away they are compressed by all materials around. Imagine pulling out an old tent that has not seen the light of day, heavily creased.

Get them repacked annually and they will stay fluffy and keen to unfurl in the unlikely event that you’ll use them. There are many schools and agents who offer a reserve repacking service. 

The official recommendation is to replace them every ten years. Whether they have been used or not, although they are a porous fabric you can get line shrinkage and fabric can corrode, the best way to find out is to get a reserve repack and inspection from a professional repack house like The Loft or Aerofix, they'll give you a health report. 

All equipment needs an inspection - Surely?!

In truth, if you have bought your glider and harness form new then I wouldn't expect to get a check on it for maybe  one to two years. You should be doing a series of checks every time you get it out the back and before you pack it away post flight.

Hence why I'd not bother getting my wing inspected for a couple of years, you can in truth see any damage you might have although a good line inspection after 100 hours would be a good idea, especially with more lightweight lines that suffer from potential UV damage. Full inspections make a porosity check on at least  four places on a glider, top leading edge, underneath and wing tips and trailing edge. Plus they break one line to check line strengths.

Reserve parachutes have a life span, esentially ten years but they need repacking every  year or prior to a big flying trip, which ever comes sooner. Get your reserve repacked regularly

We have facilities here at FlySpain to offer both glider inspectons and reserve repacking and glider repairs, you can ls buy a inspectionat the Loft in the uk via our shop




If you know it is what you want to do then crack on, you are not sure then I always believe that once you’ve done your Ep course then that's an ideal time. 

Flying is in truth relatively easy, the common insecurities for new pilots are at take off. The pressure of taking off with or without an instructor in wind especially.

If you are back in Blighty on a club site with an audience of suited and booted flyers on the hill it can feel like public speaking for the first time. As with public speaking know your subject well and there should be no problem.

Its all a head game, the best place to practise Reverse launching or Alpine launches is on the flat or a gentle slope in light winds, once you’ve got that dialled you can experiment with stronger winds. In no time at all, you’ll be back on launch in a delightful soarable breeze confident that you are familiar with launching not just a passenger at the crucial sacrificial alter. We’ve put a quick refresher video on Youtube to help Reverse launch technique. We are constantly adding video tutorials so keep in touch.

The only downside to waiting post Cp qualification is that you might well have to wait four weeks or more for manufacturers to deliver. The bonus of buying whilst training is that your instructors, who you've trained with and trusted can offer sensible advice and show you how to connect and adjust speed bars, foot straps and reserves. Plus as you’ve already invested in our training FlySpain will be best poised to offer you the best discounts and to encourage you to come back for more flying with our great team.

FlySpain offer demo equipment of everything they sell and deliver around the UK, so be it helmet, harness or glider, you can try, fly and size perfectly your equipment. Just ask an instructor

This is aimed at new pilots, by the time you are feeling more seasoned the pros and cons of lightweight gear will be more apparent. 

You can essentially buy any paragliding gear from wafer thin to full fat. The concept of taking purely hand luggage onto a Ryanair flight is easily achievable.

The main pro is the size…its just so James Bond and minimalist by comparison to other toys

The downsides are less obvious, lightweight means often less robust, slightly less performance and less harness protection and less practical in some ways. 

New pilots, I find want easy to recognise risers and lines, simple harness configurations and generally some back protection.

So the choices go from pure lightweight wings where the riser distinction from lines to risers is very subtle to full-fat wide risers all colour coded etc.

There are teasingly some halfway houses, some manufacturers offer a range of lightweight wings, some mostly for a simple top to bottom flight, others with a performance that would allow you to thermal up and go Xc with your friends.

Riser options  paraglider Riser choice

Many of these same manufacturers offer a riser option, they add little in truth to the all up weight but add more concern on take off if you are worried about twisted looking risers etc.

Harness options

Come in both full fat with back protection and seat boards as the norm to worthy airbag alternatives and reversible harnesses for smaller packs to skimpy harness options which suggest they could be better used for a child's swing.  Uber lightweight harness fro speed and fly

The lightweight options

They generally offer no or limited back protection. That is all good if you are aware of the implications re back protection and safety. Some lightweight gear means they can offer either too much feedback or not enough. Everyone is different and we all have different needs.

If you just want a lighter pack to carry up hills then a reversible harness and lightweight reserve will mean your pack weight drops from 15 kg to nearer 12. Change a full-fat wing like an Ozone Buzz to a Geo 5 

Reserve parachutes 

Most Paraglider manufacturers now offer an exclusively light weight option as well as their entry level reserve.

Lightweight wing choice

Many manufacturers are catching on with lightweight versions of your favourite wings, they also offer a super lightweight option. These haven't always been the best for making cross county flights but I'm told that is changeing. remember getting anything made in lighter cloth will mean a compromise in the way you look after it or treat it and what you can do with it. You can't practise deflations on the super uber thin wings like the Pi 2 or the ultralight from ozone, you can do all that and more with an Iota or Geo. You need to look at what you want to do with the wing.i.e purely hike and fly, a little bit of thermalling or a wing for all conditions but you carry and extra kilo on the walk up etc. If in doubt ask and get some advice


Do I need an instrument to start…? Full Colour mapping gps and vario

The main function of a variometer - that measure the change in air pressure to tell you when you are going up. On a soarable ridge that is more obvious than you might think, thermalling, on the other hand is a little harder and without any inherent spider sense requires as much help as you can get. Audible varios are a real useful tool.

Varios offer audio only so an up and down noise, very small and relatively cheap. Audio only varies - which?

They can also offer a visual display with memory that records your altitude and measures the length of your flight. useful for keeping a log of your hours, and especially if you fly during thermic periods near congested or prohibitive airspace areas. 

For instance, If you have a ceiling of a 2,000ft above your local site, flying without would be deemed reckless and potential airspace infringements are damaging to the sport, irresponsible and come with CAA fines and potential prosecution or flying over the back of the hill and landing in a no-flying zone.

Vario Gps: Integrated units are now the norm, so if you're planning to get stuck into thermal flying and Xc then best skip the visual vario and go for the full functionality, you’ll learn more about the instrument as and when you need it. Many instruments come future proofed for free software upgrades.

Basic Gps units offer ground speed which is essential for Xc pilots working out wind strength and direction. Many units now offer a last thermal function, so they track the last piece of lift you entered and fell out off and show you a mate where it is in relation to yourself. The more high-end units offer preloaded airspace maps, warnings, and now live tracking which is both useful fro safety and retracing your best days on google maps when the weather is lousy! Top end Gps are competition rated and allow the loading of predefines tasks route optimisation etc…Combined Gp and vario with tracking

So Do you need one…If it’s not a budget decision then go for the integrated Gps, if you are off to the mountains, get some form of live track facility. If you only ever fly at coastal sites I wouldn’t bother and enjoy the peace and quiet. if you are on a budget then start with an Audible only device.

Paragliding Ep beginners courses make for a great family activity holiday. You can now qualify at age 14  but you can learn to fly earlier with an adult present depending on your weight and fitness. We’d only encourage children to do what they felt they were happy to do so if they felt too nervous with high altitude then they could stop there. There are issues with weight, so in truth any student pilot under 40 kilos would probably struggle.  Drop us a line if you are unsure

The dates shown on our course calendar are your arrival and departure dates, the course starts the following morning. We generally meet at 9am the following morning but we put the times on the boards in the paragliding accommodation you are staying at.

Not sure, we regularly train pilots in their 50’s to late 60’s, I believe our oldest student pilot qualified at 78, typically we take more time to learn as we get older, so if you're content to take your time and pace yourself then the world is your oyster! It's down to personal fitness, if it's paramotoring then it's often more an issue of initially carrying the additional weight of the engine, if your knees are tricky you might want to consider trike flying. We don't teach to a set time frame, we aim to achieve at the pace that works for the student so it takes as long as it takes.

On the paragliding hill courses, you do need to walk up and down a 200 feet or 80 metre slope over the course of 2-3 days. There's no rush so as long as you get back to the top of the hill then it’s all good. Once you're happy at flying at those heights then we drive you up bigger hills to fly. If you're unsure, or have  previous medical conditions, then maybe best ask your doctor before booking or contact us direct for advice

We do offer some bespoke courses that use a winch for towing up for initial flights, it can be a constructive way of learning without having to walk up hills

We have a variety of houses available to us including HQ at the 'Eagle's Nest', accommodation is based on two sharing, although you can book a single person supplement to get a room to yourself for a little extra. Filling in your Arrival Form promptly will assist us greatly. We currently don’t have many ensuite rooms so they are on a first come first served basis. This can be arranged on booking through the website. We also accept non-flying partners to stay, again there is a nominal charge for that too.

No, you can book a single person supplement with an additional charge to get a room to yourself, select this option on your online 'Arrival Form' at the time of booking. We currently don’t have many ensuite rooms so they are on a first come first served basis, filling in your online Arrival Form promptly will assist us greatly.

We have a variety of houses available to us including HQ at the 'Eagle's Nest'. Your accommodation will be in the village of Algodonales, meetings and theory sessions begin at HQ

You'll only need a car if you are staying over two weeks and want to explore or head to the lake for a swim in the hot season.


If you are a beginner learning to paraglide or paramotor, YES you need to be a member of the BHPA to join our tuition classes. 

(For qualified pilots on our guided weeks & holidays we highly recommend that you are a member of the Paragliding Association for your country)

BHPA members automatically receive 3rd-party insurance cover and a copy of the Skywings magazine each month as part of their membership package. 

A 3 months trial membership is only suitable for our Beginners Elementary class and costs £53
Annual BHPA flying membership costs £99 and is suitable for Beginners Elementary + Club Pilot + Club Pilot Power students

BHPA membership form

Download form147.21 kB - pdf

Please complete the application form and post directly to the BHPA head office along with your payment prior to arriving for your course with FlySpain. 
You will be given a membership number which you will need to bring with you.

Please complete the application form and post directly to the BHPA head office along with your payment prior to arriving for your course with FlySpain. 
You will be given a membership number which you will need to bring with you. 

BHPA membership form

Download form147.21 kB - pdf
You can visit their website if you'd like further information:
If you have enquiries for the BHPA you can contact them directly:
Telephone: 0116 289 4316
Fax: 0116 289 8741
Email:[email protected]
The British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association Ltd 
8 Merus Court, Meridian Business Park, Leicester, LE19 1RJ, United Kingdom

Quick starting guide to choosing the right machine

EP. Beginners Paragliding courses can have from 4-9 on a group, you'll normally get 2-3 instructors helping you thoughout the week

The Beginners Ep paragliding course is always a fun mix of individuals, occasionally small groups of friends come to learn together but the norm is that it is a bunch of solo would be pilots, so all in at the deep end together on day one. (For bespoke one-to-one training, contact us for price and availability)

As an established BHPA school, you can either come back and finish your course with us again or get a copy of your flight logbook sent on to another school when you need it.

We’ve never cancelled a beginners or Cp course in paragliding or paramotoring, we have a full-time staff here super keen to go out and work and get you flying.

Our courses are regularly fully booked. Our CP paragliding and paramotoring courses are limited to small numbers of pilots and two instructors hence no refunds. We encourage you to take out holiday insurance from the get go, if you have to move your booking and we get Four Weeks notice then no problem, we’ll refund you 90% of your booking. If we get less notice, then we’ll try and sell your place and provide you with a receipt for your holiday to give to your insurer.

We are a BHPA rated and supported school, so are our instructors, if you’d like to get our high standard of instruction I’m afraid you will have to join the BHPA, you can get an IPPI qualification which allows you to get an internationally recognised certificate to fly, but please check if your own country does recognise them, most of Europe certainly does and we can help and advise with that.

Not really, it has more to do with maybe how much heat you like or don’t. It's cooler from Jan through to late April and from late October to mid December. 
The longer days of Summer and Autumn often mean we take a break or siesta to avoid the thermic part and hottest part of the day, going back out until late.

A recently qualified EP student. Ep Student refers to a British pilot but any student paraglider pilot with 3-4 days flying under their belt, so a pilot with a minimum of three UK days flying achieved in the last 12- 18ths.

Low airtime pilots from 0 - 30 hrs.


Not sure, we regularly train pilots in their 50’s to late 60’s, I believe our oldest student pilot qualified at 78, typically we take more time to learn as we get older, so if you're content to take your time and pace yourself, then the world is your oyster!


Complete beginners looking to qualify. 


Any pilot who's already achieved a paragliding hill or tow rating.



5/6 pilots to 2 instructors … we have plenty of machines.

Paraglider pilots from beginner to experienced, the best courses cater to the individual.


20hrs plus or a current pilot who has made at least one thermic course abroad with sound take off skills.


We meet and head to a hotel at the base of Piedechince, a fine area to get some flying in, great take off, easy landings, superb thermalling and some great XC flying is to be had. Brilliant for a refresher few days


20hrs plus or a current pilot whose made at least one thermic course abroad with sound take off skills

You can qualify at age 14 now but you can learn to fly earlier with an adult present depending on your weight and fitness. We’d only encourage children to do what they felt they were happy to do so if they felt too nervous with high altitude then they could stop there. Drop us a line if you are unsure

The dates shown on the calendar are arrival and departure dates, the course starts the following morning. i.e. our calendar EP course dates 4-10 march. Arrive with us on Sunday 4th to settle in, course starts early on Monday. The course finishes on Friday evening, your departure travel day being Saturday 10th. Courses vary , syuch as the Zero to Hero ppg course, Please check dates carefully. 

Periera is favourite or Bogota or Cali


Piedechince is the perfect place to get into the swing of thermalling, a great area to refresh your skills with great take off sites, easy landings, superb thermalling and some great XC opportunities


Thankfully it is now history, we fly with professional guides, well versed in where to fly, we fly in the the popular areas of the Cacao valley, we use local sims to keep in touch plus our Famous FlyMaster live trackers to keep a watchful eye. We have never had an incident that has made us worry about Colombia in six years, tourism is on the rise, the locals are some of the friendliest folk you’ll ever meet.


2 meter


Only really if you plan to go wild camping afterwards


Yes sure, there is a pool at every place we stay, but a couple of places are a little out of town so they could be home alone during part of the trip.

Yes, 2 mtr radios are essential for coaching and retrieve.


There's time enough to get up to speed


10-12 pilots plus two/three guides

Not a problem, but if you’ve not done any thermalling before then you’ll not get as much out of the holiday


We land in Kathmandu, then go to Pokhara.

Spend a day in kathmandu, head to Pokhara either via a flying site or direct, organize paperwork and permissions, fly locally for three days before exploring some other sites.

Officially yes, in truth only if you plan to go wild camping afterwards

Yes of course.

Possibly but depends on numbers and there is unlikely to be any space in the van to go up the hill


10-12 pilots plus two guides.



8 pilots


Learn about pitch , roll, deflations, roll control and much more.



Accommodation, airport transfer, boat tow fees, coaching etc, equipment to allow you to do that.



Yes a two meter radio.



Yes probably, as you might get a chance to go flying in the local mountains around the course.



Yes we have a shop with a mix of instruments.



Yes of course, that's part of the attraction of our base here is that you have the Andalucian range to play in after the course is finished

A UK conversion takes 2/3 days, we allow 5/6 to give you more practice at taking off and landing plus a bucket load more airtime means a better pilot in the long run.

Yes, we will need your BHPA number two weeks before arrival so we can order it. 

On the paragliding hill courses you do need to walk up and down a 200 feet or 80 metre slope over the course of 2-3 days. There's no rush so long as you get back to the top of the hill then it’s all good. Once you're happy at flying at those heights then we drive you up bigger hills to fly. If you're unsure about previous medical conditions then maybe best ask your doctor before booking.


We have a variety of houses available to us including HQ, the 'Eagle's Nest'. Accommodation is based on two sharing, although you can book a single person supplement to get a room to yourself. We currently don’t have many ensuite rooms so they are on a first come first served basis.

No, you can book a single person supplement to get a room to yourself, please select this on your Arrival form at the time of booking. We currently don’t have many ensuite rooms so they are on a first come first served basis.

We have a variety of houses available to us including HQ at the 'Eagle's Nest', your accommodation will be in the village of Algodonales, meeting and theory sessions are at HQ.

We use a variety of private and public hills and fields to teach paragliding and paramotoring courses around Algodonales and further afield. Meetings normally start at 9 am at HQ the 'Eagle's Nest'.

Beginners paragliding courses can have from 4 - 9 on a group, you’ll normally get a 2-3 instructors helping you throughout the week.

There is a certain amount of theory to achieve during the week plus an easy multiple choice exam, if we get any bad weather days we’ll use those for that. We occasionally take students out and show them a slice of Andalucia, it's a beautiful place with a rich history in food and architecture.

As an established BHPA school, you can either come back and finish your course with us again or get a copy of your flight logbook sent on to another school when you need it.

There is a certain amount of theory to achieve during the week plus an easy multiple choice exam for beginners, it's really very easy and we provide lectures during the week to help. You can buy a book before you come either from us or the BHPA.

To ensure that everyone achieves everything they want from their course with us numbers are limited. Which means our courses are almost always fully booked and the cost last minute cancellations needs to be covered by Travel Insurance and not by Flyspain. Deposits are non-refundable though we will happily move your deposit to another date if it is 28 days prior to your course commencement. Cancellations made 28 days prior to arrival are liable for payment in full. If we are able to re-fill your place, and we do often have people on our reserve list, then we are happy to move your booking to another date. 


We are a BHPA rated and supported school, so are our instructors, if you’d like to get our high standard of instruction I’m afraid you will have to join the BHPA, you can get a IPPI qualification which allows you to get an internationally recognised certificate to fly but please check if your own country does recognise them, most of Europe certainly does and we can help and advise with that.

Not really, it has more to do with maybe how much heat you like or don’t. It's cooler from Feb through to late April and from late October to mid December. The longer days of summer and Autumn often mean we take a break or siesta to avoid the thermic part and hottest part of the day, and go out again until late.


We are a BHPA rated and supported school, so are our instructors, if you’d like to get our high standard of instruction I’m afraid you will have to join the BHPA, you can get a IPPI qualification which allows you to get an internationally recognised certificate to fly but please check if your own country does recognise them, most of Europe certainly does and we can help and advise with that.

If you're flying with us, long sleeved tops, lightweight windproof jacket and jeans will do for training, layers of clothing are very useful. Many pilots like to wear boots with ankle support for flying, if you're paramotoring good boots are well advised , if you bring trainers make sure you bring something with good grip on the soles.

The shuttle is at the airport at 1pm on your day of arrival. Please aim to land by 12:30 to be clear of the airport building by 1pm (Spanish time). On departure day (Saturday) it leaves the village at 11am and drops off at the airport for 1p.m. Flights leaving after 15:00 give plenty of time to check-in. If you can't coordinate your flights within these times, alternatively grab a taxi or hire car.


Many do, hire cars can be really cheap and plentiful from Malaga, or we can organise a taxi or point you to a bus where possible.


Of course you can, we’re happy to help organise alternative accommodation for the week for you but unless they have a seperate car they won’t be able to come out and see you fly.

Yes we do, the house is well equipped, the rooms are very comfortable.

The houses are self catering but in truth most go down to the square for some of the best and cheapest coffee and breakfast options found anywhere in Europe. 10 euros will get you dinner and drinks, Spain is famous for tapas, food and drink is incredibly good and really inexpensive.

Yes there is.