Updated: Aug 10
This blog is mainly for paragliding pilots who are thinking of leaving their schools and becoming independent solo pilots. The blog writer has limited paragliding experience/knowledge, but some in empirically articulating the fears of paragliding pilots.
All pilots are nervous with increased heartbeats, irrespective of experience at take-off, and happy at landings.
A pilot's flight version will mostly be happy moments, how they controlled the glider, collapses, and survived with 100+ km XC. One hardly finds a paragliding pilot, recounting shitting in their harness when it was turbulent
In any adventure sport, fear is what keeps us safe. But, it can also become a hindrance to progression. In paragliding, a pilot has to conquer many personal daemons and fears. During P1 and P2 paragliding courses, novice pilots feel safe with instructors on the radio and underestimate the dangers.
Many dangers of weather, wind, turbulence, and collapses are mitigated with ENA-safe gliders and instructors. Thus, many personal fears don’t surface and there is a novelty to enjoy in the safety of groups.
Here is my personal experience of fighting paragliding fear
"How I fight my fear of Paragliding after my paragliding accident back in 2021." Although I've only been flying for about 3 years, I still remember my first accident. I remember where I was on 05-02-2021 because I keep it as a reminder it was the time when I almost lost my life. It was 1:40 p.m. and I was flying at Maldevta (Dehradun) at a height of around 1500 meters above sea level. The weather was cloudy and the wind speed was quite high, but I thought I will go from top to bottom ( which hardly takes 8 min of flying time) and decided to take off. However, just after 5 min of flight, the weather started getting worse and strong gusts hit me hard and my glider starts reacting crazily. At that moment, I couldn't understand what was happening to me and everything went black for almost a minute. When I regained my senses, I realized that I had crashed into the tree while landing and was hanging only one meter above the ground! Luckily, I was safe but the experience was really scary, my entire body started shivering badly for 15 minutes; however, after that time passed, I decided to unlock my harness locks and came down to the ground. As soon as I reached down, I sat down there and asked myself why did this happen to me? Why did my glider react so crazily when everyone said that ENA gliders are very stable? After the experience, I realized that it was all my fault because I should have taken better care of myself before taking such a risk. It scared me to death and made me question whether or not to continue paragliding altogether. But after continuously practicing without taking unnecessary risks, I fought against my fear and learned how to deal with it. I know that you might be scared and confused after reading about my experience. I want to tell you that it's perfectly normal. I was scared, too. But I recovered from my accident, and so will you. Paragliding is a great form of recreation, one that I would recommend to any responsible adult who asks (and even some who don't). And if you have what it takes to be a decent paraglider, then you're probably the kind of person who will take the time to learn, understand and respect what it takes to do this safely. For me, the best way to fight fear has been through education and practice—the more information you have about the sport, and the more time you spend in the air under good conditions, the more comfortable you'll feel with flying and with yourself while flying
This was based on my personal experience of paragliding so far now let us get back to the main part of this blog.
When? When are you ready to leave your paragliding school? This is a very common question and it's also one of the hardest ones to answer...with just one simple word. Unfortunately, there's no definitive answer to it because the answer depends on many factors:
When and Why to leave your paragliding schools? Following considerations for answering the 'When' part:
Level ground handling confidence
Wing control confidence
Wind understanding (wind measurement, direction)
When and where to launch/take off from
Having done a few take-offs from different paragliding sites (under supervision)
Completed P3 paragliding and thermalling course
Completed 50 hours of flying
Completed a paragliding SIV course
Completed independent 10-15 top to bottoms (without radio/supervision) and many more...
As an intermediate club pilot, you will need to tick off the above points to start your solo paragliding journey.
Ask yourself these questions:
Can I ground handle paragliding during most windy parts of the day?
Can I ground handle, without any help and feel confident under the wing?
Can I take my paragliding kit to take off, all alone, and take off without anyone watching/assisting?
Can I do a top to bottom without my radio/instructors watching?
Do I feel safe because of my paragliding groups/school or otherwise?
What’s the worst that can happen and your responsibilities and plan Bs?
Are you aware that every pilot is at a different level and experience and takes years?
Are you taking shorts to keep up with peer pressure?
Note: Your paragliding instructor is the best judge in deciding if you can embark solo journey or things to improve upon. Listen to paragliding school and not anything personal. They all wish for your safety as the most important. The idea is to build a strong foundation and enjoy paragliding till way 80 years of age. There are no good pilots but only old pilots. This simply means paragliding safety is the most important concept in this sport and each pilot decides, for himself, the risks they will take.