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How do I know what kind of paraglider pilot I am?

1. Soaring beginner.

Beginner pilots will typically fly in very mild weather conditions in the mornings or evenings, avoiding the stronger, more challenging midday thermals.

If this sounds like you, you’re probably a soaring beginner.

As such, investing in some easy-to-use starter gear like a solid A wing is a good choice. The extra passive safety of A wing makes learning to fly easy, and gives you greater peace of mind while soaring through the sky.
However, if you hope to become a more skilled pilot in the near future, then consider opting for gear that’s good for beginners but will also help you to adapt to more Intermediate forms of flying.

2. Weekend warrior.

When you’ve been soaring for a while, you might decide to take things up a notch, and start regularly using your weekends to paraglide and to try out more challenging flights.

Weekend warriors will practice flying in thermals, using them to expand their flying horizons and to accomplish small XC flights.

By gradually improving their paragliding skill, weekend warriors will typically complete cross-country flights of thirty minutes or more comfortably, working up to flights of hours or more.

The intermediate-level pilots will commonly use variometers to optimize their flight.

At this level – depending on how many hours per week they can fit in their schedule – these pilots move to B or B+ Wings.

At this point in a pilot’s paragliding journey, as you begin to experience stronger thermals and turbulence, it’s a good idea to get introduced to a manoeuvre clinic.

3. Cross country enthusiast.

As intermediate weekend paragliding pilots progress, they might decide to boost their skill further by going paragliding multiple times a week, upping their cross-country distance to hours-long flights and braving more challenging flying conditions.

At this level, a pilot might still fly with his B wing or upgrade to B+ or C wing.

Since these wings are not forgiving, they require regular weekly practice and also regular manoeuvre clinics to master recovery from flight incidents.

4. Hike and fly pilot.

Hike and fly pilots combine their passion for both hiking and flying as they hike to the chosen launch sites with their paraglider and soar down through the air to return to the ground.

For this reason, pilots who habitually hike and fly should invest in ultra-light gear to allow them to hike comfortably, without being weighed down by their glider – particularly trail runners, who’ll need an ultralight set to enable them to get up and down as quickly as possible.

4. World traveller

Once you’ve flown countless times from flying sites in your home country, you’ll probably get the itch to take your paragliding adventures abroad to sample some of the most breathtaking paragliding opportunities across the world.

When you choose to travel and fly, you’ll want to choose gear suited to being transported on planes, trains, and buses and be lightweight enough for you to get around comfortably.

6. Competition pilot.

Once you’ve clocked enough hours to become a seasoned pro, you might decide to get competitive, and enter national or even international competitions, travelling the world to follow the competition calendar; this is where you’ll need to invest in some performance wings and the highest quality gear.

Of competition flyers, there are even more subgroups, including cross-country competition flyers – the standard for paragliding competitions – aerobic flyers, who compete based on their ability to perform in-flight manoeuvres, and hike & fly competition flyers, in which part of the competition is to complete a challenging hike to the take-off point.

Competition pilots will need specialist gear unsuitable for beginner or intermediate flyers, but that allows expert flyers to achieve peak performance in competition.

Conclusion.

Once you know what type of paragliding pilot you are, you can decide what gear to invest in and what skills you need to work on in order to become the pilot you want to be in a fun and safe way.

So, if you’re just about soaring right now, with practice and perseverance you can become a seasoned cross-country pilot, and maybe later take on a competition or two – once you’ve mastered the basics of flying and have the right equipment to support you on your journey.

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