Tips to prepare for training

"Teachers can open the door, but you must enter it yourself" - Chinese Proverb

Finding the right school

There are a lot of good schools and instructors out there. Here are some tips to help you in the search for a school/instructor.

  • Ask for a syllabus. USPPA certified schools/instructors use a thorough syllabus to ensure you learn everything you need to learn. There's more to this sport than just knowing how to fly. Some of the topics you'll want to learn: basic weather/meteorology, forecasting, airspace, FAA rules and regulations (FAR 103), basic aerodynamics and wind, ground handling (kiting), basic motor maintenance, and more.
  • Ask about gear. A good instructor/school will be able to explain the pros/cons of the gear they suggest. Be cautious of anyone who says there is only one brand or option for gear. There are a lot of good choices and they all have pros and cons. When it comes to wings, some are suitable for beginners and some are not. Be sure to learn on wing that's rated for beginners and also be sure that you are within the weight range that the manufacturer recommends.
  • Talk to former students. Ask around and see what former students have to say about a particular school or instructor. If you don't like what you hear, keep searching.
  • Ask about a simulator, tandem flights, or towing. Established schools will use one or more of these useful tools to teach you some essentials before you attempt your first solo flight. A simulator allows you to practice getting into and out of your harness as well as practicing all the basic in-flight maneuvers before you're in the air on your own. A tandem flight and/or towing will allow you to practice critical skills like how to handle oscillations and the timing for your flare.

Top 10 Tips

regarding safety

1. Get good, thorough, training from a USPPA certified instructor/school that uses best practices for training.

2. Respect the prop. When starting, assume the motor will go to full power and brace accordingly. Have someone help start whenever possible. Never reach back towards the prop while in flight. Seek out equipment whose cage is sufficient to protect against prop strikes. Over half of all serious accidents in our sport revolve around this issue and it’s easily one of the most preventable.

3. Avoid steep maneuvering, especially close to the ground.

4. Avoid low flying (below 200′) especially downwind. Stay well above wires, which can be fatal, and keep enough room to land into the wind if the motor quits.

5. Avoid tight or obstructed launch sites. A safe power-out option must always be maintained.

6. Fly in good weather. Avoid mid-day, strong winds, thunderstorms (even if they LOOK far away), frontal conditions, and anything that feels weird. Don’t fly in the wind shadow of obstructions. Call 1-800-WX-BRIEF before launching.

7. Stay legal. Know where not to go: airspace, congested areas, TFR’s (temporary flight restrictions), and others. If you don’t know the area, check with a local airport to ask.

8. Always have a safe landing option. Especially avoid flying over water beyond gliding distance to shore unless adequate flotation is carried. Note that even with flotation you may be suspended in a position where you cannot breathe and also may become tangled in the lines in the water.

9. Avoid in-flight distractions (taking photos, competitions, or during ground activity) as much as possible. If engaging in one, check the flight path often. These times have proven very risky. Get above obstacles before beginning the distracting activity.

10. Limit formation flying and only fly in loose V-formations where the preceding pilot is continuously in your field of view. Clear all turns by looking, starting a shallow turn, looking harder (up and down, too) then banking. Don’t “surprise” another pilot and never touch wings with either your wing or a part of your body. Be mindful of other pilots’ wakes and stay well clear of wakes from heavier craft such as powered parachutes.

Are you ready to get started?

Find a school today.