How safe is

How safe is paragliding?

All adventure sports carry risks. To operate safely in any kind of aviation environment one must strive at all times to minimise those risks. The most important pre-requisites to learning to fly safely are pilot attitude, competent instruction, and safe equipment. The modern paraglider is a sophisticated aircraft that has been computer designed, flight-tested and certified to an international standard. Ongoing research, testing and development ensures that paragliders are sophisticated in design and very safe.

How do they fly and stay up?

The wing maintains its aerodynamic form with internal pressure resulting from forward flight. Paragliders can stay aloft when the rising air currents are greater than the descent rate of the wing and have performance similar to some hang gliders.

Do you jump off a cliff?

To begin with, we don’t jump off anything. Paragliders are usually launched by running off of moderate slopes with the glider inflated until you are lifted off your feet.

What’s the difference between a paraglider and a hang glider?

The Paraglider canopy shape is maintained only by air pressure and the pilot is suspended in a sitting or supine position. A hang glider has a rigid frame maintaining the shape of the wing, with the pilot usually flying in a prone position. Hang gliders fly at much faster speeds than a Paraglider.



Is this a joy ride?

A tandem flight experience is not just a joy ride. Though there is plenty of joy in flight we take the opportunity to explain to you how a paraglider works and the basics of flight. It is a requirement of the Hang Gliding Federation of Australia that we provide a safety and information briefing to every passenger. You will be informed as well as thrilled by your flight.

Are there any age restrictions?

A passenger must be 14 years or older and anyone aged 14 to 17 must have the form signed by a guardian. We have flown passengers from 14 to 80 years of age.

Are there any height or weight restrictions?

We use an adjustable harness and two different sized wings to cater for nearly every shape and size. As a general rule we can easily cope with someone from 40 kg to 120 kg and a height of 120 cm to 200 cm. If you are near to or outside the extremes of these ranges please advise us and we will endeavour to accommodate your size.

What do I wear and bring on the day?

Wearing clothes and shoes suitable for some physical activity is required:

  • Sturdy shoes or trekking sandals that you would go for a brisk walk, jog or play sport in. Preferably with a closed toe to better protect your feet.
  • A warm top. Even if the day is hot it is cooler when flying around in the sea breeze. On a cold day it can be very chilly, so rug up.
  • Mid thigh shorts, long pants or tights are best as you are secured by harness straps that pass between your legs.
  • Glasses or sunglasses are fine. If they are loose you may want to secure them before flight.
  • Sunscreen, hat and water – sometimes we have to patiently wait for the conditions to be just right. As we are close to the beach you may like to have your swimmers and towel handy.

Do I have to be physically fit to have tandem?

Being a passenger is not physically demanding. While flying you sit back and relax. During the launch phase you may be asked to jog a few steps at take-off and and/or landing. Typically if someone can walk up and down a flight of stairs or climb a small ladder they are able to be a tandem passenger. If you have a past or existing injury or weakness that may be aggravated by a sudden change of pace or direction while walking or jogging then paragliding is best avoided. As with most physical activity if you have a joint or muscular problem it may be aggravated by a tandem flight.

What about a person with a disability?

There are many types of physical and mental disabilities and many people challenged with a disability can still enjoy the freedom of a tandem flight experience. It really depends on the nature of the disability. We are keen to share our passion for flight with anyone who feels likewise. Usually the person with the disability and/or their carer will know if a tandem flight is possible and we are happy to chat through the possibilities.

What if I am afraid of heights?

There are many levels of being ‘scared of heights’. There is a big difference between a healthy caution of heights and a true fear of heights. If you exhibit obvious and severe physical symptoms, such as sweating, dizziness, nausea, when close to an edge, in a glass elevator, or even just thinking about being high, then paragliding is not going to be so enjoyable. If you simply feel a bit anxious and/or excited about your tandem flight then you are normal.

Do I have to do tricks or scary stuff?

No the intention is not to ‘scare your pants off’. We will not perform any acrobatics or high risk manoeuvres during a tandem flight experience. We are very responsive to how you feel in the air – after all it is your flight – so we listen to you during the flight and tailor the experience to suit you. Some people want to gently cruise around and admire the scenery; others are thirsty for knowledge and want to know all the detail about equipment, wind, etc; others are adventurous and want to be thrilled in the air by turns and dives. Of course if at any stage you are feeling uncomfortable we will take you straight to landing. Safety is our first priority.

What if I feel sick during the flight?

It is not common but it is possible that you may feel nauseas. About one in every fifty people feel a little bit sick when flying but usually only if we do fast turns. We minimise the possibility of you feeling sick by checking how you are feeling during a flight and before we do any fast turns. If you are not feeling well we slow things down and just cruise around to allow you to recover and enjoy. We estimate only one person in every thousand are actually sick while in the air. Of course we land as quickly and gently as possible when someone is truly feeling sick.

How many people can a tandem take?

Like the name implies a tandem paraglider can only take two people, one is a qualified pilot from Sydney Paragliding and the other you, the passenger. The pilot will be in control the entire flight however if the conditions are suitable and the passenger is willing they will be given the opportunity to co-pilot the paraglider when soaring.

What about small groups, do we fly together?

For small groups of two or more passengers each will be flown in a separate tandem either simultaneously or consecutively. Sydney Paragliding has several qualified pilots and on some days we may have as many as four pilots available, on others days only one or two. Depending on pilot availability you can choose to either fly simultaneously (the same time) or consecutively (one after the other). Some passengers want to fly in the air at the same time, e.g. to wave at each other and/or take video/photography in the air, others prefer to fly consecutively, e.g. to take video/photography from the ground, look after children/pets, etc. Whenever possible we let you make the choice.

What if the weather is not good on the booking day?

Paragliding requires a certain strength and direction of wind to enjoy a safe flight. Of course we must fly during daylight and we cannot fly in the rain. We make every effort to forecast weather in advance so that you and your pilot only travel to launch if there is a good chance of flying. However, the weather is unpredictable and full of surprises. If the booked time is not suitable for flying we simply make arrangements for another day that does suit. Many people are lucky and their preferred day is rewarded with a great flight. Others may require two or three different booking times to finally get airborne. We will communicate with each other the day before and/or the morning of the flight to confirm the weather and the likelihood of flying.

Which is the best location to fly?

We only fly at locations that provide an excellent flight experience. Both Stanwell Tops to the south, or Sydney’s northern beaches (Mona Vale, Warriewood & Long Reef) have excellent scenery. Stanwell takes a south through south-east to easterly wind and Mona Vale/Warriewood a north through north-east to east-south-east wind. Therefore if you can fly at either location it makes it easier to choose a suitable day and time. However, you can select just one location if you prefer. Please advise us of this at the time of booking.

What about photography or video?

You are welcome to bring a camera, phone or GoPro with you on the flight to record pictures and/or video. We recommend you have a strap around your neck or wrist to secure the camera and any loss or damage to the device is your responsibility. If a friend or family member is available they can take some photos/video of your launch and landing. Some of our pilots will have a GoPro available on the day and for an extra fee can arrange for some video or photos while in the air. The current rate for producing a short video with a couple of photos for you is $60 though this can vary between pilots and the time of the year.

Is there any insurance coverage?

Paragliding like any other action or adventure sport has obvious risks. You will be asked to read, complete and sign a form provided by our federation – the Hang Gliding Federation of Australia – that outlines the obvious risks of paragliding, informs you of the potential for accident or injury and requiring you to assume the risks involved. The only insurance coverage is third party insurance covering other people and property, not the tandem pilot or the passenger. All personal insurance such as medical, income protection, disability and life insurance are the sole responsibility of the individual. We need to make it clear that whilst we will minimise risks and take reasonable care of you in flight you must assume the whole risk of injury, damage or loss and will not hold Sydney Paragliding, its directors, employees, contractors or volunteers, including but not limited to Greg Hurst or Roger Stanford in any way liable for whatever might happen before, during or after the tandem flight experience, or for any injury, loss or damage of any kind. You further acknowledge that Sydney Paragliding is only prepared to have you participate in the tandem flight experience on the strict understanding of your sole assumption of the risk of paragliding.

Can I get public transport to the flying site?

It is definitely easier to travel to flying sites by car. If you need to use public transport the following will guide you:

For Stanwell Tops you can:

  • Get a train from the CBD to Helensburgh station (about every hour from Central Station) and catch a taxi to Bald Hill at Stanwell Tops which is about a ten minute ride, or
  • Get a train to Stanwell Park station (about every two hours from Central Station) and walk down the hill to Stanwell Park and we can probably pick you up from the park which is the landing zone; or
  • Depending on the day and availability we may be able to pick you up from Stanwell Park station.

For the Sydney’s northern beaches you can:

  • Catch a bus from the CBD to Mona Vale, or
  • Catch a ferry across Sydney Harbour to Manly which is a great tourist outing and either a taxi ride (about 25 minutes) or a bus to Mona Vale; or
  • Depending on the day and availability we can pick up from Manly Wharf.

A tandem flight is an unforgettable experience. We look forward to sharing our passion for flying with you.



Where did they come from?

Paragliders originated in Europe and were originally developed from ram air parachutes, but over the years have evolved into high performance flying wings. The modern paraglider is an elliptically shaped wing made of special non-porous material.

How do they fly and stay up?

The wing maintains its aerodynamic form with internal pressure resulting from forward flight. Paragliders can stay aloft when the rising air currents are greater than the descent rate of the wing and have performance similar to some hang gliders.

Can paragliders go places?

Yes! You can soar up and down the ridge for miles after taking off from a coastal flying site. You can also go cross-country after launching from an inland mountain site or after being towed up. The longest distance flown in Australia is 335 kms. There are many paragliding competitions for experienced pilots throughout Australia and overseas.


Can anyone learn?

Can anyone learn?

You need to be 16 to hold a certificate. As paragliding is relatively easy to learn, some of our students have been over 60.

Do I need a license to fly?

Paragliding is regulated by the CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) under CAO 95.8 and is classified as hang gliding. All paragliding pilots and instructors are members of the HGFA (Hang Gliding Federation of Australia). HGFA membership provides pilot certificates, a national magazine, and a public liability insurance policy for its members as well as regulating the flying sites through a comprehensive club structure.

Where do I learn?

Most of the flying instruction is carried out on the coast in the Stanwell area. We also take groups of students inland to Tumut or Manilla for weekends. This gives you extra flying time and valuable inland experience as part of your course.

What happens after I get my Restricted Certificate?

After being rated you can join a flying club, meet and fly with other pilots and also enjoy weekends away learning new skills and work your way through Intermediate and on to Advanced Level. All levels include a practical skill test and a theory exam.

Where can I fly?

There are many great-established sites in Australia, both coastal and inland. Sites are rated according to pilot ability, and Restricted Licence pilots must always fly where there is a Safety Officer. No one should ever fly alone.


What’s the cost?

How much does it cost to buy a Paraglider?

This varies between makes, models and exchange rates, but a middle of the range canopy and harness will normally cost somewhere in the region of $4000.00 to $6000.00. Good second hand gliders are available from around $2000.00.

Equipment and Discounts

When you learn to fly with us, we offer generous discounts on new equipment bought through the school. We sell a range of new and used paragliders and accessories and can help you choose the right equipment. All paragliders are test flown and checked and any follow up advice or help with new equipment is all part of the service.

How long do they last?

General wear and tear (especially the latter) and deterioration from exposure to ultra-violet usually limit the useful lifetime of a canopy to somewhere in the region of four years. This obviously depends strongly on use and the exposure to UV.

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