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Eagle Paragliding - Monday October 23, Elings 9:00am

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Voyager Series Lightweight Harnesses



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Niviuk Concertina Bag

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Dixon White's DVD Training Series


Dixon White's Paragliding DVD Training Series

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Choose a reputable school

If you want to paraglide, and you want the best instruction available, then you want Eagle. There are important factors to consider before committing to a school. Learn to fly with our Award Winning Paragliding Instruction.


Become A Paraglider Pilot

Learn to Paraglide with Eagle Paragliding Most students are Novice rated in 8-10 days. After certification you're an Eagle student for life. Benefits include continuing education, and priority invitations to our world class tours. Find out what it takes to be a Paraglider Pilot.


Fly Solo your first day!


Instructor of the year honor

Eagle Paragliding's chief Instructor Rob Sporrer received USHPA's Instructor of the Year Award in 2002. Every year USHPA issues the award to the person making the biggest contributions to our sport in the United States.


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Go On Tour With Eagle Paragliding!

Eagle Paragliding organizes paragliding tours for all pilots of all skill levels Be sure to check our Paragliding Events Calendar to reserve space on one of our unprecedented tours. We bring pilots of all skill levels to flying destinations which span the globe. Our large staff of the nations top pilots and instructors provide unmatched service. Find out more about our Paragliding Tours


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Design your custom wing and get detailed product information with product reviews at our secure state of the art online Paragliding Store. We import the industries premiere Paragliding Brands from all over the world.


Paragliding DVD's & literature

Eagle programs have become the standard in the paragliding industry and the basis for the leading Paragliding Training Manual "The Art of Paragliding", and the leading Paraglider Training DVD Series in the industry.



Frequently Asked Questions

What is paragliding?
Is paragliding like parasailing, parachuting, BASE jumping?
How is the flying in Santa Barbara?
Why should I choose Eagle Paragliding?
How much do lessons and tandem flights cost?
What does it take to be a pilot?
How long does it take to learn?
Where do I purchase a gift certificate?
How do I get started?
Where is Elings Flight Park?
How is paragliding different from hang gliding?
How much does a paraglider cost and last?
What to know when purchasing your first glider?
Do I need a license to fly?
What can I do with a paraglider?
What are the three types of flights?
Is paragliding scary?
How safe is Paragliding?
What is the history of paragliding?



Q: What is paragliding?

A: Paragliding is the simplest form of human flight, and fastest growing type of foot-launched flying. A paraglider is a non-motorized, foot-launched inflatable wing. It is easy to transport, launch, and land. Paragliders are an advanced evolutionary aircraft that can go places and do things unlike any other vehicle. The wing itself is constructed of rip-stop nylon from which the pilot is suspended by strong Kevlar lines. These high-performance fabrics coupled with a growing comprehension of our micro-meteorology have permitted the development of our incredible sport. The pilot is buckled into a harness and finds the sitting position which provides the most comfort. You actually fly like a bird, soaring upwards on currents of air. Paragliders operate in unprecedented harmony with the natural elements. Our slow flying speeds (about 15 to 25 mph) enable us to climb in small thermals and dual with the Red Tail Hawks. Red Tails are playful and it is common to share the same thermal within a wingspan. We use numerous "top landing" perches within reach of a re-launch and can put down in some pretty tight spots when necessary.

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Q: Is paragliding like parasailing, parachuting, BASE jumping?

A: These other activities are often confused with paragliding. Parasailing is what you do out on the ocean behind a boat. You have no steering control on a parasail, and you are at the mercy of the boat operator. Parachutes are used in skydiving from an airplane and are designed to be deployed during a free-fall from an airplane and to then descend to the ground. Paragliders are not deployed. We inflate our paragliders and fly them upwards like a kite, and ease them overhead. Base jumping is a form of skydiving. Base jumpers leap from Buildings, Antennas, Span, or Earth. Base jumpers experience free fall before deploying their parachutes and descending to the earth. Paragliders are different in many ways from these other activities. A Paraglider is already inflated before it begins to fly. We don't leap off a cliff or mountain hoping the paraglider is open and ready to fly. The wing is inflated while we are on the ground and flies away only after it is inflated. Our gliders don't endure the stress to the lines that parachutes lines do with a shock load opening. We launch from gentle sloping hillsides with our gliders already inflated overhead ready to fly. We can check the glider and abort before we launch if we don't see something we like. Launch is never rushed. We can pull the glider overhead and stay there kiting it until we decide to launch. Paragliders are much lighter and aerodynamic, designed to go up rather than down. We actually gain altitude with our activity catching thermals and rising to altitudes high than the spot we launched. Paragliders can soar for hours and cover great distances. The feeling of flying a paraglider can be very peaceful and serene.

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Q: How is the flying in Santa Barbara?

A: Santa Barbara offers the best year round paragliding in the nation. Our training hill is very consistent which allows you to maximize the time you have dedicated to your training. Our mild climate and south facing mountains provide pilots with unique flying opportunities. The Local mountains produce thermal flying from the fall through the spring. Santa Barbara offers spectacular scenery and the convenience of a paved road to our mountain launches. The coastal ridges provide soaring opportunities year round. Ojai is soarable almost everyday during the dry season, and Pine Mountain behind Ojai has the big air and high altitude for advanced pilots.

Local flights along the coastal range from Santa Barbara to Ojai are common. When conditions are favorable, seasoned pilots are launching from Santa Barbara and extending past Interstate 5. Pilots fly from Ojai to Fillmore and beyond on a typical summer day and from Ojai to Santa Barbara when LA is raked by the Santa Ana Winds. Pine mountain is omni-directional and pilots typical reach altitudes of 9 to 15 thousand feet from the 7,000 foot South Side launch. It's not uncommon to climb above 17 thousand when cloud base is high.

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Q: Why should I choose Eagle Paragliding?

A: Eagle Paragliding has been training new and current paragliding students in Santa Barbara California for over a decade. Eagle was the first sister school chosen by American paragliding icon Dixon White (the first USHPA Instructor of the Year award recipient), and his world renowned Airplay Paragliding School. Dixon began working with Eagle in 1998 and the two schools merged in 2006.
Eagle Paragliding is recognized as the student pilot and advanced pilots best choice for all levels of paragliding training in the United States, and tours all over the world. Eagle owner/instructor Rob Sporrer earned Instructor of the year honors in 2002. Articles about the Eagle and Airplay training program have appeared in the New York Times, Air and Space Magazine, the cover of the Santa Barbara Independent, and many other periodicals and film productions. We have received many testimonials from pilots all over the world. Our ongoing support of our alumni is unparalleled.
Our programs have become the standards in the paragliding industry and the basis for the leading training manual, "The Art of Paragliding" and the paraglider video/DVD training series, "Starting Paragliding", "Weather to Fly", "The Art of Kiting", "Paraglider Towing" and "Lifting Air".

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Q: How much do lessons and tandem flights cost?

A: The One Day Lesson is $200, and the two day lesson is $375. Plan on flying ALL DAY LONG if the conditions are good and you feel up to it. Tandem flights are $200, and take place in our local mountains, the local ridges, and at our world class flight park. We also provide gift certificates if you wish to give the gift of flight. All fees paid for the daily lessons are applied toward the $1500 price of the Novice Training Program. After completing the Novice program you are a certified paraglider pilot able to fly without instructor supervision at most sites.

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Q: What does it take to be a pilot?

A: Pilots need to get control of the wing on the ground in the beginning. After the pilot has some basic kiting skills we talk about a flight plan and begin flying. Paragliding is about finesse and serenity, not strength and adrenaline. We work to build your skills and knowledge, in order to help you exercise good judgment as a pilot. It is important for pilots to spend the first year of flying acquiring knowledge form their experiences, and from other pilots. The wonderful thing about this sport is that the learning never ends. The sport is immensely popular in Europe. Pilots are as young as 10 and as old as 80. Being physically and mentally alert and prepared is more important than physical conditioning. To be a successful paragliding student and pilot, you need to be able to think clearly and listen well.

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Q: How long does it take to learn?

A: You will be flying solo your first day of paragliding instruction, which is one of the advantages of the sport. However, in order to acquire the basic skills necessary to fly on you own without instructor supervision, you need to complete the course and get your Novice Rating $1500. Eagle Paragliding spends 8-10 days with you on your Novice training. This takes place at the training hill for an average of five days. We spend at least 5 full days at the training hill, and head to the mountains and ridge for the rest of your training. Whether you complete your training in consecutive days or spread out over several months is up to you, although the more concentrated the training, the better.

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Q: Where do I purchase a gift certificate?

A: A paragliding lesson or tandem flight is a unique and original gift idea. Eagle Paragliding Gift Certificates will be mailed to you or can be picked up at our office.

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Q: How do I get started?

A: One way to start is to schedule a one or two day lesson. You will be flying solo you’re your first day from our small training hill with Eagle Paragliding in most cases. Our training hill is like the bunny hill at the ski slopes for paragliding. We meet you at the hill in the morning and introduce you to the equipment. We work together on getting you control of the wing on the ground. Once we get the hang of kiting the wing on the ground we talk about a flight plan and observe other pilots making flights. When you feel ready we get you your first flight under radio supervision. You glide through the air experiencing the freedom of flight. After you land we pick you up at the bottom for the hill and bring you back to the top for more flying.

Instructional tandem flights are another option. When you ride along for a flight with an experienced pilot you go places and see things that wouldn't be available until you had been in the sport for a while. We can show you the dynamics and the philosophy of making decisions in the air. We also show you how relaxing it can be when you sit back and enjoy the view after climbing out. We encourage you to come and watch us train at Elings Flight Park or fly from the local mountains or ridge to get an idea of how this sport works.

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Q: Where is Elings Flight Park?

A: Elings Flight Park is located just off Cliff Drive East of Las Posits and Arroyo Burrow Beach. Follow our Elings Park Directions to find us, hours of operation, and other information about our world class training facility.

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Q: How is paragliding different from hang gliding?

A: Paragliders fly a ram air wing while hang gliders have an aluminum frame and fiberglass batons. You can’t really say one is safer than the other. It all comes down to pilot judgment. The main difference is the speed we fly. Hang gliders fly faster which is not an advantage when it comes to landing. Paragliders have become popular because of how practical they are for travel, portability, and set up and break down times. The learning curve is quicker with a paraglider as well. You will be flying solo your first day of paragliding instruction, which is one of the advantages of the sport. However, in order to acquire the basic skills necessary to fly on you own without instructor supervision, you need to complete the course and get your Novice Paragliding Rating. Eagle Paragliding graduates most students in 8-10 days of training.

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Q: How much does a paraglider cost and last?

A: This equipment is very inexpensive compared to most forms of aviation, but you should count on an investment of $4,000-$7,500. We will guide you toward the most ideal new and used equipment available. This basic set up should include a wing, harness, reserve parachute, helmet, and a radio. There are plenty of other pieces of equipment you can add to your list, but these items make up the bare minimum. You can get into used gear from $4,000 and up. Some used gear is still great for flying. We encourage you to purchase your gear from the school who is training you. You can never be sure of what you are getting when you buy a paraglider from a stranger. The wing does not have an odometer, and may have been dunked in the ocean. A school has a reputation to uphold, and has every reason to sell you a quality product they can stand behind. The sport is evolving rapidly; newer paragliders can have significantly better performance and behavior than older ones. Read the information on our Suggested Paragliding Equipment page to get more information on what to look for and what avoid. You can also look at various Paragliding Accessories.

The material on a paraglider loses its porosity after prolonged UV exposure. After years of fairly active usage and exposure to UV light from the sun, a paraglider is generally in need of replacement. This of course varies with how you care for your equipment ad the intensity of the UV exposure. It's easy to test your lines and sailcloth for strength and thus determine your need to replace your paraglider long before it becomes unsafe. We recommend doing an annual inspection on your wing. Harness last many years with good care, and reserves should last indefinitely with good care.

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Q: What to know when purchasing your first glider?

A: First, you need to know how to fly. No would-be pilot should purchase a wing before learning at least the basics of paragliding from a well respected school. It is the Instructor's job to help you select our first wing. Different paragliders have different characteristics and require different skill levels; we will match the glider to your particular interests, strengths, weaknesses, and skill level. Read the information on our Suggested Paragliding Equipment page to get more information on what to look for and what avoid.

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Q: Do I need a license to fly?

A: Paragliders are regulated under the Federal Regulations Section 103 and therefore a license is not required to paraglide. In essence, paragliding is a self regulated sport under the authority of the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA). To keep it self-regulated, pilots and instructors adhere to the policies and guidelines of the USHPA. Local flying regulations may require the pilot to have certain USHPA certified ratings, such as P3 or P4, in order to fly a particular site.

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Q: What can I do with a paraglider?

A: Paragliders are designed to soar. The flight duration record is over 11 hours, and the distance record is just over 289 miles. In training, your first flights will be off our gentle 240 ft. slope at our training hill. As you progress and become more skilled and confident, we will take you to the mountains and the ridge. This is where the paraglider is used for its designed purpose--SOARING! Average recreational pilots, utilizing thermal and ridge lift, routinely stay aloft three hours or more. Pilots soar to altitudes of 18000 ft. and travel cross country for great distances. Paragliders can be carried and launched off most mountains. Paragliders have been flown of almost every major peak in the United States and Europe. Once you become an advanced pilot, you can pioneer launches that have never been flown.

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Q: What are the three types of flights?

A:

1) Coastal Ridge Lift Flights- take place locally at the Wilcox Property (The Douglas Family Preserve), Bates, and More Mesa. The wind direction decides which of the sites is working. The wind must be coming on-shore for the ridge or cliff to be working. The direction is best when the wind is coming in perpendicular to the ridge. All this wind pushes into the cliff and has no place to go but up. This creates a giant lift band, a cushion of rising air. The wind speed usually needs to be blowing in at a minimum of 10 mph for it to be working. The higher the cliff, the less wind you need.

2) Sled Flights- take place when thermal activity is non-existent or weak. These are the types of flights experienced at the training hill, although the training hill occasionally gets soarable. After you receive a few days at the training hill, we take you to the mountains for your first high flight. This high flight will be a direct shot toward the landing zone. A sled flight is basically a non-thermaling, or non-soarable flight.

3) Soaring or Thermal Flights- are flights when the pilot can gain altitude by navigating the paraglider into rising pockets of air called thermals. This is where the fun really begins! The pilot connects with thermals and climbs thousands of feet at a time. When a pilot reaches higher altitudes the flight plan options increase since there are more locations reachable on glide. The pilot can fly out over town, and land at the beach. Flying over the local mountains for hours on end is another option, or fly down range to Carpenteria, Ojai, or Fillmore. These long distance flights are called cross country flights. Cross Country flying takes place at the advanced level of the sport.

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Q: Is paragliding scary?

A: Paragliding is the simplest and most serene way to fulfill man's oldest dream -- free flight! The pilot jogs down a simple slope and glides away from the mountain. Most people are afraid of heights. Fear is somewhat an apprehension of the unknown. Your fear will fade as your confidence in your ability to operate in a reasonable manner grows. Your instructor will help you identify your capabilities and limitations. You'll learn that altitude is usually your friend. There is no free falling or jumping off cliffs. The launches and landings are slow and gentle. Once in the air, most people are surprised by how quiet and peaceful the experience is. The solo lesson requires more effort (physical and mental) than a tandem flight lesson. The tandem flight lays the basic groundwork necessary to become your own pilot. If the idea of watching the sunset from a comfortable seat in the air, supported by the buoyant evening air, with perhaps an eagle or hawk joining you off your wing tip, appeals to you, then paragliding is for you.

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Q: How safe is paragliding?

A: Paragliding is as safe as you make it. Modern paragliding wings are very stable. Pilots are very rarely injured due to equipment failure. Paragliding accidents are likely due to a lack of judgment on the pilot's part instead of equipment failure. We can minimize our risk by becoming educated and making conservative decisions about when and where fly. Each person needs to evaluate the risk and reward of their decisions. We can make very conservative choices as a pilot and still get an amazing amount of flying and fun out of the sport. We don’t need to make risky choices about when and where we fly our wings. We can operate conservatively in a manageable weather conditions and enjoy the sport well into our golden years.

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Q: What is the history of paragliding?

A: 1986-87 Paragliding arrives in the US. The gliders were squares with 8 or 9 large cells, glide ratios of 3:1, and a sink rate of 3 meters per second. Harnesses consisted of leg loops and a chest strap, with loops near the shoulders to hook in carabineers. The average flight was less than a two minute sled ride. There were 150 paraglider pilots in the US at the end of 1987.

1988 The design of the paragliders had evolved into the current elliptical design by 1988. Glide ratios were 4.5:1, soaring was becoming possible in ideal (strong windy) conditions. The American Paragliding Association was accepted, as the US governing body of the sport in September 1988. The development of detailed training programs was becoming standard practice. The first US training program was held in Bishop, CA and all ten US instructors attended. The US had approximately 300 pilots.

1989-90 As the sport continued to develop, paraglider design features and capabilities surpassed most of the current pilot's skill levels. Accidents were in the forefront as pilots pushed the limits. Gliders were achieving 4-5 hour flights, glide ratios were 6:1, and sink rate was 1.3 meters per second. Harnesses now had seats and some had speed seats. Many pilots began to wear reserve parachutes, and gaining altitude above launch became more common place. Paragliding the Magazine was started in June of 1990. The longest recorded flight in the US in 1990 was 24 miles; pilot Mark Shipman, site; Chelan Butte, Washington. There were 24 US instructors at the end of 1990 and approximately 600 pilots. The US saw the first powered paragliders, made by Adventure, in France.

1991 The APA grew to 785 members, with 73 certified instructors. Part of this large increase was due to a seminar that introduced 50 current hang gliding instructors. Back protection for crashes was being developed. The longest US foot launched flight recorded, was 63 miles, pilot; Bob England, site; Horseshoe Meadows to Bishop, CA. Longest US flight off tow was 81.8 miles, pilot; Robert Schwaiger (Austria), launch site; Hobbs, New Mexico. ACPULS developed the 12 test rating for certifying paragliders, (gliders were rated with 12 A's or 9 A's and 3 B's etc...)

1992-93 gliders reach 7.7:1 glide ratios, during a contest in New Hampshire. Two pilots set records in the Owens Valley, CA; Kari Castle set the Women's World Distance for paragliding with a flight of 60 miles. Both flights began at Horseshoe Meadows, near Bishop, CA. Tandem paragliding is accepted by the FAA, under the USHPA tandem waiver. The APA joins the USHPA in December 1992 with 1800 members.

1994-96 Paraglider development has leveled out in terms of new innovations, more emphasis is now going into producing safe, stable gliders with a good speed range and user friendly handling characteristics. ANFOR rating changed to Standard, Performance, and Competition, rather than the A's and B's system. A typical paraglider has 7:1 glide ratio, 1.1 meter per second sink rate, and a top speed of 28 mph on average. The USHPA reported 2,692 members in December. The USHPA buys Paragliding the Magazine.

1997-2006 Paragliding has really started taking off the past decade. The designs of canopies have increased performance while maintaining stability. As more and more people find out about the sport, the pilot population continues to grow. Records are being broken all the time for distance and duration. The future is bright, and things will only get better.

2006-2008 The technology seems to continue to improve. The New DHV 1 wings perform as well as some of the intermediate advanced wings from the early 90's. Pilots are able to fly wings that perform very well with all the security of a DHV 1 wing. A few pilots from Brazil break the world paragliding distance record by flying a distance of 461.8 Kilometers(almost 289 Miles).

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PO Box 91259, Santa Barbara, California 93190
Phone 805-968-0980 Contact Us