New to flying

Flyability is a small charity staffed by volunteers in their spare time. In the first instance the best way to contact us is via an email to contact@flyability.org.uk. If email contact isn’t accessible to you then we can also be contacted by phone or by post.

About free flying – a quick introduction for disabled people

There are some excellent introductions to hang gliding and paragliding elsewhere online, here we give a brief explanation of the positions and mobility usually needed for the different types of flying we support.

Hang gliding

To fly hang gliders you are in a harness (which can be a basic harness or more of a pod that encloses your legs if you don’t have much control of them) which hangs from the frame of the hang glider. To do this you need to be comfortable lying flat on your front and able to hold you head at least partly upwards to face forward in a sort of superman flying pose. When flying you use your hands and body to move the glider – using your hands to swing your body weight forwards/backwards and side to side. You don’t have to hold on tight – in fact most people learning to fly hang gliders have to teach themselves to ease their grip – but you do need to have enough upper body strength and control to move your whole body around with your arms.

Hill launch

It is possible to launch a hang glider from a hill on wheels from the flying position to remove the requirements for running. This does require assistance from someone willing to push the glider downhill until it reaches flying speed. It’s also possible to land a hang glider on its wheels. To foot launch on a hill requires being able to lift the weight of a hang glider on your shoulders and run for a short distance. After a few steps of running the glider will take its own weight, at this point you’d need to keep running faster downhill until the glider has enough speed (and lift) to carry your weight.

Tow launch

Foot tow launch and landing is very similar to hill launches except that you are on a flat field rather than running downhill.

Aerotow

Aerotow launch is ideal for tandem flights, take off and landing is on wheels and an instructor is alongside you to explain how to move and what is happening.

Paragliding

Paragliding can be done either by launching from your legs or with a buggy. The buggy position is sat upright with legs out in front or slightly raised (depending on the buggy). The flying position in a standard harness is similar. You fly in a sitting position but with your legs dangling (like sitting on a high seat). When flying you use your arms and hands to pull a brake handle on each side of your head – therefore to maneuver the glider you need to be able to lift your hands up above your head.

Hill launch

Launching on foot from a hill will generally involve some running OR if launching with a buggy then there is absolutely no running required.

Tow launch

Towed up by winch generally doesn’t need more than a taking a few steps if the weather is ideal. In nil wind conditions then some running could be needed OR if launching with a buggy then there is absolutely no running required. Towing generally takes place in flat fields and so any walking or running is on a more predictable surface than on many hills.

BHPA

The British Hang gliding and Paragliding Association is our governing body. They oversee all UK Schools and training as well as the network of Clubs that enable qualified pilots to fly.

Schools & Clubs

Schools provide training to students seeking to become qualified. The standard ratings available from Schools are Elementary Pilot (EP) and Club Pilot (CP). Once CP rated pilots are free to fly without supervision from an instructor. At this point they start to fly with their local club. Within clubs Coaches are trained coaches who are available to help new pilots find their feet and build their confidence.
A CP rated pilot can work towards Pilot and Advanced Pilot (AP) ratings through working through exercises, exams and improving their flying skills. Once Pilot rated pilots can fly cross country (XC) which involves flying from one area of lift to another to cover considerable distances. Leagues and competitions allow XC pilots to compete and compare their skills and ability.

How Flyability can help

There are three main ways Flyability offers support people entering the sport.

  • Our scholarship scheme offers financial support to help disabled people train up to CP level.
  • We hold specialist equipment which we can lend out to Schools and Clubs for use while you train
  • We have a large amount of experience and contact with disabled pilots and Schools that have trained disabled pilots to offer advice and support to help you get flying.

Wheelchair to 500 feet

Wheelchair to 500 feet

by George Ransome now Chairman of Flyability George after his solo I'm sat on a plane from Alicante to Southampton scribbling notes on a sick bag. I want to tell the tale about going solo on a hanglider. But first some history. I have Fredreich's Ataxia (a condition that affects your balan

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First Scholarship flight of 2014

First Scholarship flight of 2014

We're pleased to announce that our first scholarship flight of 2014 has taken place. Chris flew with Andrew Pearse of Flying Frenzy Paragliding in Dorset from the lovely White Horse site near Weymouth. He shared the photos below with us. [caption id="attachment_881" align="alignright" width="400

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Getting around

A number of Flyability's scholarship awards have gone to people who have invested in extra equipment to get around flying sites. Quad bikes Quad bikes can be extremely helpful to get around flying sites. You do need permission from the site owner to use the bike and to have a way of getting the bi

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Hang glider wheeled launch technique

Hang glider wheeled launch technique

Steve Varden's wheeled launch technique My hang gliding wheeled launches (hill) are slightly different from the conventional foot launches. Therefore I decided to put some detail in writing so as to provide better communication between myself and the people who help me launch. As ever I am indebt

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Can't tell left from right

Knowing your left from your right is crucial for a student in training and also for following the rules of the air. One simple low tech solution for telling left from right is to put different coloured tape (gaffa tape, electrical tape or similar) on a students gloves, base bar or something else

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Specialist equipment from around the world

Specialist equipment from around the world

Update on Paragliding buggy from Poland Swiss paragliding wheelchair French paragliding buggy French Fauteuil Cage paraglider with wheelchair Austrailian WASP paragliding wheelchair Canadian paragliding wheelchair Polish paragliding launch buggy Greek wheelchair paragliding USA pa

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Hanggliding in Rio

Hanggliding in Rio

Back in June 2015 we received an email from Mark asking for some advice about fulfilling his ambition to fly a tandem hangglider while he was on his holiday in Rio de Janeiro. We put him in touch with Judy Leden at Airways Airsports to give him some advice and information about what might be require

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Managing energy levels

One of the main problems disabled (and non-disabled) pilots encounter is managing their energy levels. The main solution to this is to be very self aware of your energy levels and know when to stop or to conserve your energy. Staying well fed and hydrated is also key - it is especially importa

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Lakes MS Flyability day

Lakes MS Flyability day

In July 2013 Steve Kitchen arranged a series of tandem paraglider flights for people with MS. They flew with help from Gordie at Air Ventures. The following is from a write up for the South Lakes Branch MS Newsletter. UP, UP and AWAY As a result of the social get-together at Carus Green quite a

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The Joy of (one handed) Paraglider Flying

The Joy of (one handed) Paraglider Flying

I had been flying for about 2 1/2 years, give or take a month or two, when I lost my left arm, so I knew some of what was necessary to get back into the air again. However, my first flight was a total mind blower as to where I was going and where and how I was going to land... scary, but safe!

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Russel's Paragliding and BASE jumping Buggy (USA)

Russel's Paragliding and BASE jumping Buggy (USA)

[caption id="attachment_598" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Russel preparing to launch his buggy[/caption] Hello, I've been to the flyability website many times now and thought I'd share my experience with you. I'm a T3 paraplegic and I too wanted to get into the air paragliding solo. [ca

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Flying Frenzy training Guernsey pilots

Flying Frenzy training Guernsey pilots

In August the Guernsey Paragliding Club travelled to Flying Frenzy in Dorset in order to train two of their members to fly. Flyability has worked with them to loan a Sanderson buggy for training and to help them buy their own buggy for use on Guernsey. We also granted a Flyability scholarship to hel

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Training pilots with disabilities

Training Pilots with Disabilities Steve Varden writes This article is meant to stimulate thought and provoke discussion with regard to the training of pilots who may just happen to be disabled in some way. This time we will look at the training of pilots who may just happen to be disabled in s

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2 comments for “New to flying

  1. Melody Rahimi
    January 31, 2014 at 3:00 am

    Just saw this on FB and am interested. Although my son has cp and is 6 years old. He may be too young now.

    Curious,

    Melody Rahimi

    • admin
      February 2, 2014 at 6:48 pm

      Hi Melody.

      6 is a bit too young really – to learn to fly most schools will ask for pilots to be over 16 (although most will offer tandems and sometimes training to people as young as 14 but it isn’t possible to qualify until 16 so schools try not to frustrate teenagers by teaching them too early!).

      We have had a lot of pilots come through with CP who’ve flown tandem and qualified as pilots.

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