Frequently Asked Questions

What is paragliding?

Paragliding is the simplest and most serene way of fulfilling your dream of free flight. A paraglider is an inflatable fabric wing. It is easy to transport, easy to launch, and easy to land. The pilot sits in a comfortable harness suspended by Kevlar lines from the canopy and steers the glider with two controls. With a paraglider, you can fly like a bird, soaring upwards on currents of air. Paragliders often stay aloft for hours, climb to cloud base, and may go cross-country.
By contrast, parasailing is done in a modified parachute tied to a boat. You get dragged around and do not "pilot" a parasail. Parachutes on the other hand are designed to be deployed during free-fall from an airplane and to then descend to the ground while a paraglider is designed to be launched with the canopy already opened for flight and to stay aloft for an extended time.

What is the difference between paragliding and hang gliding?

The paraglider canopy shape is maintained only by air pressure and the pilot is suspended in a sitting position. A hang glider has a rigid frame maintaining the V-shape of the wing, with the pilot usually flying in a prone position. A hang glider has a 'cleaner' aerodynamic profile and flies at higher speeds than a paraglider and therefore needs also more space to land. The paraglider gear folds up into a 15 Kg (30 lbs) backpack in about five minutes and can be easily transported. The hang glider, due to its weight and rigid frame, needs to be transported on a vehicle.

Is paragliding safe?

You can make paragliding, like most adventure sports, as safe or as dangerous as you want. Ways you can make it safe are to receive instruction from a certified professional and use appropriate equipment. You must be willing to learn gradually, use good judgement and have a mature attitude. If you don’t, then you can get injured or killed; if you do, then you can paraglide until you’re 90 years old.
In paragliding we do not free-fall or jump off of a cliff. Your launches and landings are slow and gentle and, once in the air, you will probably be surprised by how quiet and peaceful the experience is. Even if you have a fear of heights, it will rarely be a factor, since there is no sensation of falling.

Who can do paragliding?
Paragliding is about finesse and serenity, not strength and adrenaline. Women often do better than men because they don’t try to muscle the paraglider around. However, you want to be in good physical condition as the learning process especially in a tropical climate requires quite a bit of stamina due to heat and dehydration. Besides good physical condition, being mentally alert is important. To be a successful paragliding student and pilot, you need to be able to think clearly and to listen well.
How long does it take to learn to paraglide?
From your first steps of 'groundhandling' to altitude flights from the Malvern site it will take approx. 10 lessons. Whether you complete your training in consecutive days or weekends or spread it out over half a year is up to you, although the more concentrated your training, the better. If you have the means to learn abroad it will most likely take less time, but cost you much more.

How much does the paragliding gear cost?
A new paragliding set (incl. wing, harness, helmet and reserve parachute) is available from US$3,500. I give my local students substantial discounts on equipment! After 300+ hours of exposure to sunlight, a wing may need to be replaced. Of course this varies with how you take care of your wing. Harnesses should last for decades with good care. Good second-hand equipment may be available for less, though it will have a shorter life-span.
How to get started?

It's best to make an appointment with Jurgs, the instructor (cell 366.5265), to schedule a first introductory session. This will give you a better feel for the mechanics and dynamics of the sport. You are also most welcome to watch us flying on weekends from one of our launch sites on Skyline Drive (above UTECH) or in Malvern, St.Elizabeth..
To start the training course we need you to fill in an application form and to sign a liability waiver.
The first step is groundhandling with a wing on the lawn. You will learn to control and to later launch the glider from a mountain site. The next step is short flights from a training hill near Ocho Rios to practice launch and landing sequence. Once you show good control and are able to steer the glider safely to landing, its time to do your first radio-controlled flight from the big hill in Malvern (St. Elizabeth). The last stage of training are certain simple air maneuvres to show that a student is able to control the glider properly.
At the end of the course, and upon passing a written multiple choice exam, a paragliding pilot's license will be granted. Course fees (including use of training wing and harness) are at the equivalent of US$629 (check for details on application form).