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British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association

about flyability



Many people mistakenly assume that flying hang gliders and paragliders is impossible for people with disabilities. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Flyability is the British Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association's disability initiative. At its core is a small group of volunteers who strive to make free flight accessible to anyone who wants to take up the sport. Flyability has the contacts, expertise and enthusiasm to solve any problems that may be presented when training disabled pilots alongside able-bodied ones. Much of Flyabili work is also aimed at trying to change peoples' perception of disability and their attitudes toward disabled people.

Steve Varden, Flyability's original co-ordinator, learned to fly hang gliders despite difficulties caused by his own disability (athetosis cerebral palsy), and within the BHPA there are a number of pilots with more or less severe disabilities. Through their own determination - and the support and enthusiasm of school proprietors, instructors, fellow students and friends - they have addressed their individual, specific problems in adapting to flying and have become respected and valued members of the free flying community.

Thanks to the work of Flyability and its volunteers, there is now far greater awareness of the problems those with disabilities face when participating in flying. Sometimes the problems faced are immense, at other times less so. In each case the difficulties involved in helping people with disabilities to discover the freedom of the air have been overcome - by ingenuity, trial and error, patience and effort.

Determination to succeed, and the goal of sharing the dream of flight, will always win out.


To a BHPA instructor, the best indications of a student's potential as a pilot are motivation, attitude and dedication. They probably won't even mention physical ability or agility at all. The message from the free-flying community to anyone with disabilities is: 'You can fly!'

Flyability promotes and funds tandem flying for disabled people who may be unable to fly alone or who may need to try out different types of flying to find the form most suited to them. Flyability's tandem flight scholarships and solo student pilot scholarships are the main use of its charitable funds.

A good way to find out if the sport is for you is to take a tandem taster flight. Flyabilty tandem flight scholarships can contribute up to £60 (Paragliding) or £100 (Hang Gliding) towards the cost of a tandem flight at a BHPA registered school of your choice

Flyability recognises that people with disabilities often have lower incomes and higher living costs compared to the rest of society. With this in mind, Flyability can contribute up to £375 towards a would-be pilot's ab-initio training costs, and a similar sum towards Club Pilot training. Where possible, a student with disabilities will train at a BHPA registered school alongside able-bodied student pilots.

If you want to apply for a Flyability scholarship or would like further information about how you could benefit from Flyability's work, please visit the Flyability website or email them at contact@Flyability.org.uk.

Impossible is not a word that Flyability folk understand. If you really want to fly… you can!

Last updated: 28 May 2024

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