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Experiencing Free Flight safely requires training from a qualified instructor. Look for an instructor who is certified by the United States Hang Gliding Paragliding Association.

For individuals that are trying to figure out how to start one of the best approaches is going to a school which will not only provide instruction but the equipment and setting to build a good, safe foundation of skills for your flying career.

There are five different ratings of proficiency for Freeflight:

  • Beginner (HG-1, PG-1)
  • Novice (HG-2, PG-2)
  • Intermediate (HG-3, PG-3)
  • Advanced (HG-4, PG-4)
  • Master (HG-5, PG-5)

Training with a hang glider and getting a rating of 'Beginner' does not mean however that you are a Beginner rated paraglider pilot. Hang gliding and Paragliding are two seperate deciplines and as such have different designations. Hang 1(HG-1) equates to having a Beginner rating in Hang Gliding, Becoming a Beginner paraglider pilot (PG-1) requires that you go through a different training program. Often sites require differnt level of proficiency to fly them. Ratings requirements often differ for paragliders and hang glider pilots. For example a HG 1 rating does not mean you can fly a PG 1 minimum rated site.

Beginner and Novice ratings may be issued by the USHPA upon recommendation of USHPA Basic or Advanced Instructors. The Instructor shall provide the applicant with a rating application, a standard USHPA rating application waiver, and a 30 day temporary rating from the application. The applicant shall send the signed application, the required application fee, and the completed waiver to USHPA headquarters.Provided that all the requirements are met, the USHPA shall issue a permanent rating.

Intermediate and Advanced may be issued by the USHPA upon recommendation of USHPA Observers and Advanced Instructors. The Observer or Instructor shall provide the applicant with a rating application, a standard USHPA rating application waiver, and a 30 day temporary rating from the application. The applicant shall send the signed application, the required application fee, and the completed waiver to USHPA Headquarters and provided that all the requirements are met, the USHPA shall issue a permanent rating.

Master ratings may be issued by the USHPA upon recommendation of USHPA Regional Directors. The applicant shall send the signed application form, the required application fee, and the completed waiver to USHPA Headquarters and provided that all the requirements are met, the USHPA shall issue a permanent rating.

How to get your sign-offs
First, there are 3 categories of folks with the capability to sign you off for certain skills:

1) Observers, 2) Basic Instructors and 3) Advanced Instructors.

Observers are intermediate rated or above pilots. They can sign off any and all skills they currently posess themselves. (For example, an intermediate Observer can not administer the advanced written test, but they can administer the intermediate test.)

Basic Instructors can only sign off spot landings, unless they are also an appointed Observer.

Advanced Instructors have all the same sign-off authority as an appointed Observer.

The only exception to the rules above is that anybody with sign-off authority (Observer, Basic Instructor, or Advanced Instructor) can sign off Intermediate or Advanced spots regardless of their own rating. Yup, you read that right. That means an intermediate Observer or Basic Instructor can sign off on advanced spots.


 
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