Train as a paraglider pilot

Learn to Paraglide, or improve your existing paragliding skills, with our experienced instructors over the beautiful Wiltshire countryside or in sunny Greece, Slovenia, Spain or Colombia

Training Overview

We are a British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (BHPA) registered school and our instructors can teach you to paraglide to Club Pilot standard and beyond.

  • The First Step...The Trial Flight!

    If you have never been flying in anything smaller than a large passenger aircraft you will never forget your first experience of paragliding! It is designed for you to have fun, and to familiarise you with the glider including safety and the flight controls, whilst taking in the scenery. There are a range of air experiences to choose from and in every case you’ll receive a thorough safety briefing before you fly.

    Whichever experience you choose you’ll have loads of fun and learn a lot. Some experiences include more flying than others so check out the options or give us a call to find what’s likely to work best for you.

  • The Next Step...The Training Begins

    Once you’ve been bitten by the bug, you need to book your Elementary Pilot Course. This is the first BHPA level of competence and where you start really learning to fly paragliders. By the end of the EP Course, you will be able to take off and land un-assisted in moderate conditions, turn your wing and pass the EP theory exam. You’re not yet a pilot but you’re well on the way.

    Note: If you have done a Taster Session with us and want to carry on with the EPC we deduct the cost of the Taster Session from your EPC fee.

  • The Final Step

    Now you need to qualify as a pilot by joining us for a Club Pilot (CP) Course. This is the BHPA level of competence required to paraglide without direct instruction, within a club environment. By the end of your course you will be able to handle and fly your paraglider in a full range of flyable conditions and land safely on the hill side or back on top where you started from. You’ll also learn to fly safely with other pilots, learn about active flying, rapid descent techniques and dealing with problems in the air like small tucks. You will have to pass the CP theory exam having learned about Meteorology, Principles of Flight, Air Law and General Airmanship. As part of your training you do at least 30 minutes of soaring flights and will safe and competent to leave the school environment and go on to enjoy paragliding with your local BHPA club (or clubs) and fly on their sites. Now you’re a pilot.

Training Packages

We offer a range of affordable paragliding training packages designed to get you airborne quickly and economically

Our Prices

Our prices include everything you need to learn to fly paragliders including the use of school equipment where appropriate and some of our packages include your own gear.

Remember – no hidden charges!

  • Elementary Pilot Course
    The first stage in your paraglider training
  • Club Pilot Course
    The qualifying stage of your paraglider training
  • Full Package (EPC, CPC and equipment)
    The full package to learn to fly paragliders and provide you with your own equipment
  • Club Pilot Package (CPC and equipment)
    When you already have your EP and want to move on and get your own equipment

Additional Training

  • Day Training
    An extra day of training with your own equipment and an experienced instructor
  • Post Graduate Training
    Join us after you’ve qualified to further develop skills like thermalling and cross country
  • Tow Endorsement
    After you’ve qualified and built some hours join us to get your winch tow endorsement

Paragliders Explained

All paragliders are made up of just two pieces of equipment: the wing and the harness.

The wing or canopy is, in engineering terms, a ram air airfoil. It’s usually made from two layers of fabric connected by internal fabric pieces to form a row of cells. Air flows through the cells to inflate the wing and form a teardrop or aerofoil shape. When the wing is inflated to form this shape it generates lift as the air flows over it in exactly the same way as an aeroplane wing.

The pilot is suspended in a harness underneath the wing by a network of fine lines made from incredibly strong space age materials such as kevlar or dyneema. The number of lines and their thickness vary according to type of wing – typically a high performance cross country glider will have fewer, thinner lines than an lower performing but better behaved beginners wing.

The glider is controlled with a combination of brake handles attached to lines going up to the wing and the movement of the pilot in the harness.

The harness is the seat of your glider. The pilot is loosely buckled into the harness and can comfortably stand to take off. Once airborne they simply sit back into a comfy chair to fly the glider. Most harnesses include some impact protection in case you land on your bottom or fall over at take off. There are a wide range of harnesses available from ultra-light ‘string’ harnesses to all enclosing streamlined ‘pod’ harnesses for the epic cross country trips.

To keep you safe harnesses also include a reserve parachute tucked away so if you’re in trouble you can pull the handle and your reserve will pop open in the blink of an eye and lower you safely to the ground. Lee, our Chief Flying Instructor practises using a reserve parachute regularly but in over 30 years of flying hasn’t had to use one in anger.

History of Paragliding

The history of paragliding goes way back to the early 1960s but things have certainly changed since those early days!

The history of paragliding goes way back to the early 1960s with steerable parachutes that could be towed into the air and then the familiar, rectangular ‘ram air’ parachutes.

By the mid ’60s a man called David Barish was developing a wing to recover NASA space capsules and he tested it by slope soaring. The penny dropped and he started promoting slope soaring as a summer activity for ski resorts.

In Britain in the early ’70s a group split from the British Parachute Association to form the British Association of Parascending Clubs which would later become the BHPA. The first flight manual was written by Canadian and Swiss pilots in 1985 and with this the term paragliding was coined.

Throughout the ’80s and ’90s equipment and techniques developed allowing pilots to soar, thermal and fly cross country. They could even fly aerobatics.

Today paragliding is a hugely popular sport with a range of disciplines. Here at Cloudbase we love a bit of cross country and glider design and technology has evolved massively over recent years. The current world record is for a flight of more than 560km.

Even with the fickle British weather the UK cross country record was broken in 2017 with a flight from one of our local hills in Wiltshire to the north coast of Norfolk; a flight of 281km. Next stop Norway!

Training – Frequently Asked Questions

Is there an age limit?

There is no upper age limit although a reasonable degree of fitness and agility is useful. If you don’t know whether paragliding is for you book a taster day and find out for sure. The lower limit for training is 14 but you can’t qualify until you’re 16. We can take passengers as young as 10 on our tandem rig. If you have any ongoing medical conditions please seek the advice of your doctor before arranging any training.

Do I need to be very fit?

Not really. A reasonable degree of fitness and agility is useful but you’ll find that you’ll get fitter with all the hills you have to climb in your early training. If you land away from your take of point you might find yourself walking with a heavy pack on your back so it’s worth bearing this in mind.

Am I too heavy?

Probably not. Paragliding is unique in that the aircraft come in different sizes to fit the pilots. That said there is an upper limit of 115kg (18st), fully clothed with boots.

Is paragliding safe?

Yes it is but paragliding is an adventure sport and as such comes with risks in the same way that riding a motorbike, rock climbing and scuba diving can all be risky. The most effective way to reduce any risk is to undergo the correct training from a top quality BHPA (British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association), registered school such as Cloudbase. The most common injury in paragliding is a twisting an ankle in a rabbit hole as you land.

Do I need a licence?

Legally you don’t. Paragliding is a self regulating type of aviation ultimately governed by the Civil Avaition Authority under the direction of the BHPA. Your safety is ultimately in your hands as a pilot and learning the correct techniques and attitudes will help keep you and others safe. Being a properly certified to BHPA Club Pilot level will give you access to thousands of fantastic flying sites run by paragliding clubs around the UK and let you develop your skills through a network of club coaches. Ultimately though proper training is about keeping you alive.

Do I need my own equipment?

Ultimately you will need your own gear. While you’re training we can lend you a wing, harness, helmet and radio. If you buy one of our all inclusive training packages we’ll supply you with a top quality wing, harness and helmet to see you through the Club Pilot part of your training and some years into your post qualification paragliding career.

Are paragliders expensive to buy?

Although paragliding is probably the cheapest way to get airborne. A good wing for a newly qualified pilot will cost approximately £2,000 to £2,500 although second hand wings can be had for less. We sell a wide range gliders and equipment and can often help you with second hand gear.

Isn’t it boring jumping off a hill and walking back up all the time?

Oh please.. much like interest rates, paragliders can go up as well as down. During the early stages of training there is quite a lot of gliding down the hill and walking back up as you learn the basics of handling your glider in the air. However in the same way that you sometimes see buzzards soaring back and forth along hills or spiralling upwards in rising thermals; paraglider pilots do the same. We can climb up to the base of the clouds (cloudbase), under our paraglider wings and, if we choose to, land at the top of the same hill we launched from when we’re ready to come down. One of the things that floats our boat is cross country flying where you climb in a thermal and then glide to the next thermal when you climb again and so on. The current UK record which started at one of our local hills is 281km. Not bad for an unpowered aeroplane that packs into a rucksack.

What happens after training?

After training you’ll want to join a local club and use their hills and make the most of the club coaching system to hone your skills. You can learn to fly from a winch (no hills), or do a cross country course. You can even come on holiday with us to Greece or Slovenia or Colombia and learn to fly over long distances in the mountains.


If you have a question or query regarding learning to paraglide, please drop us a line or give us a call on 01793 790183.

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