The learning of paragliding is accessible to everyone, starting from the age of 14. This learning can be done at a school or preferably at a FFVL-approved club, under the supervision of professional and certified instructors.
It is necessary to become a member of the French Federation of Free Flight (FFVL) and obtain the corresponding insurance. Additionally, a medical certificate indicating no contraindications to paragliding practice will be required, even if the physical requirements are not very demanding.
The practice is typically learned through stages or courses. So, one can begin by enrolling in an Introduction course before progressing to Autonomy and Advanced courses. Here at Lake Annecy, many courses are offered.
The Initiation Phase:
This learning phase lasts approximately 4 to 5 days. Initially, you learn how to inflate your wing while staying on the ground to understand how the sail and other elements work. You gradually learn how to take off and perform what are called "mini-flights."
This learning process is facilitated by practicing on a "training slope" specifically designed for practicing without the risks of a real flight. At the same time, the future paraglider pilot receives theoretical instruction on various topics such as safety, equipment, different techniques, right-of-way rules, aerology, and meteorology, among others. This learning is reinforced through observation and debriefing sessions during practical moments.
Subsequently, practical training takes place through tandem flights, with the student acting as the pilot assisted by the instructor (similar to driving with an instructor at a driving school).
Finally, depending on the progression of skills and learning, as well as the meteorological conditions during the paragliding course, the student may take solo flights with radio assistance.
The Autonomy and Improvement Phase:
After getting initiated into paragliding during the initial stage, and depending on one's individual progress, it's time to move on to the next phase. Now, the focus is on gaining experience and becoming more independent, learning to detach from the instructor and develop one's own flight analysis, and so on. To achieve this, flight locations, flight conditions, and flight equipment are varied to accumulate experience. At the same time, the theoretical learning continues, encompassing new techniques for takeoff, landing, flying, more advanced aerology, and so forth.
There are many specific courses available to enhance skills in specific aspects of paragliding practice.
Learning truly happens through practice and experiencing various conditions. Everyone progresses at their own pace; there is no standard duration to become independent in paragliding.
To take it a step further, it is possible to obtain a pilot's license, an advanced pilot's license, or a tandem qualification.