Welcome to the British Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association (BHPA) website.
From its head office in Leicester the BHPA supports a country-wide network of recreational clubs and registered schools, and provides the infrastructure within which hang gliding and paragliding in the United Kingdom (UK) thrive.
The BHPA oversees pilot and instructor training standards, and provides technical support such as airworthiness standards, and coaching courses for qualified hang gliding and paragliding pilots.
Initial hang gliding or paragliding training must be undertaken at a BHPA registered school.
Most schools offer training in a wide range of flying disciplines, so it's important to understand the differences between the disciplines before choosing a school.
The Learn to Fly section of this web site explains the relative merits of each discipline, the types of flying involved, and provides an insight into the training methods used.
As you near the end of your initial training with one of our registered schools, it's important to start looking for suitable recreational club to join. Obtaining your Club Pilot rating marks the end of your formal instruction and qualifies you to leave the school and fly within a BHPA recreational club.
The BHPA supports a network of UK hang gliding and paragliding recreational clubs who are able to offer the supportive flying and social environment vital to the safe development of your flying skills, as you join other recreational flyers on the hill, and continue your progression through the BHPA Pilot Rating Scheme (PRS).
As your accumulated airtime increases and your flying skills improve, you will probably start to think about your long term goals and aspirations, and working towards your Pilot Rating, the next rung on the PRS ladder. Club coaches can offer advice and support with the flying tasks that need to be completed, and the theory exam you will need to sit.
An online BHPA Mock Pilot Rating Exam is also available. This will allow you to test your current knowledge and help you to understand the subject areas you will need to revise before sitting the real exam.
When you first leave your school and join a club, you may choose to spend your first few hours' flying with no specific aim other than to safely accumulate airtime. However, it is well known that pilots make safer more efficient progress when they are given particular tasks to undertake.
With that in mind, a panel of experienced BHPA coaches have devised a new pathway to learning, the BHPA Pilot Development Structure. This offers an alternative to the more formal Pilot Rating System, and for newly qualified pilots aims to:
The BHPA also has a disability initiative called Flyability. This reports directly to the BHPA's Executive Council on disability related matters within the sport.
Flyability doesn't simply take people with disabilities flying, it strives to motivate people with disabilities to become involved in the sport of hang gliding and paragliding and to train as pilots.
Much of Flyability's work in the sport, focuses around changing peoples perception of disability and their attitudes toward people with disabilities. Disability awareness, education and advice play key roles in Flyability's aims and objectives, as does the development of specialist equipment, training and flying techniques.
The BHPA also publishes Skywings, the only magazine dedicated to free flying in the United Kingdom. This glossy full colour magazine is distributed by mail to around 6,500 BHPA members each month as part of their membership package.
Skywings magazine is also read by countless more hang gliding and paragliding pilots and organisations around the world who have purchased an International Skywings magazine subscription from our on-line shop.
BHPA members and Skywings subscribers can also download a password protected electronic version of the magazine on our Skywings page. Issues of Skywings magazine with a cover date more than 6 months old are made freely available, and can therefore be downloaded or viewed on-line without the need to login.
Back issues of Skywings magazine can also be purchased from our on-line shop.
The BHPA provides automatic £5 million 3rd-party insurance for its members. But if you require personal or travel insurance, this should be obtained from an independent insurance broker.
We hope that when you've found a school appropriate to your needs, made contact and begun training, you'll discover for yourself the excitement and challenge that makes free flying such a great pastime.
If you do, you'll also find that the level of support and camaraderie amongst pilots is one of the many great strengths of the sport.
You'll make friends, go places and achieve things that you may have only dreamed about in the past.
It's a fantastic sport, so why don't you join the BHPA, and never look back.
Whilst Skywings magazine frequently includes lively and thought provoking articles and letters about our sport, there are also numerous alternative sources of advice, information and debate on the internet. The following are just a small selection of those available. These are independent forum and facebook pages and are not connected in any way to the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association. The views expressed in them are therefore not necessarily those of the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association.
For information about how and when hang gliding started in the UK, please visit the British Hang Gliding History website.
Originally created by Terry Aspinall, the British Hang Gliding History website provides a fascinating insight into the early days of our sport, and contains an extensive archive of hang gliding articles, photos and videos from the 1970s and 80s.
Enter the first part of your postcode to find your nearest BHPA registered school
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