Lanarkshire and Lothian Soaring Club

Paraglider over Tinto South

This page is for people interested in learning to fly a hang glider or paraglider.

Try It

It's great that you want to learn. Many people have a tandem flight (as a passenger) to see if (and which) sport is right for them. Tandem hang glider flights are normally where the passenger is side-by-side with the pilot and so the experience is an excellent guide to what it would be like to be the pilot. Tandem paraglider flights are where the passenger is in their own harness immediately in front of the pilot. This, too, gives the passenger an excellent experience of PG flying. Most flying schools are able to provide tandem flights.


If you've decided you want to learn, then you contact a convenient BHPA licensed flying school and arrange a course of lessons with them - clubs do not provide training. Some schools also offer "taster days" which allow you to try a very "low level" flight yourself - by "low level", we're talking a "few feet" as your safety is paramount to the school and to you. Taster days are not a short cut to learning, just a good way to experience if "being the pilot" is actually what you want.

Learning can take 10 to 20 days. However, because we are weather dependent it make take a lot longer than that, especially if you can only learn at weekends. One route some pilots take is to learn with a UK school that runs "holiday" courses abroad in locations where the weather is more predictable. This is a great way to learn but can be exhausting when learning to fly for 10 or more days consecutively. The BHPA course syllabus will require you to take a written exam at the end in order to gain your basic flying qualification - the Club Pilot (known as a CP).

For more details of preparing to learn, see this BHPA page .

You've Qualified - Now What?

Having gained your CP - well done -  your journey as a pilot is just beginning. New CP pilots are very strongly advised to join their local club, make contact with existing pilots and club coaches, and build up airtime and experience in the club environment. If you develop a hankering to go cross country (know as XC), then you'll need to sit the BHPA Pilot written exam - it does also involve being capable of flying certain tasks. This is quite a lot harder than the Club Pilot exam and consequently most clubs (including us) run coaching evenings to help with preparation for the exam. Even if you don't want to go XC, you should strive to gain your Pilot qualification. 

After Pilot, there is also Advanced Pilot - this involves another written exam and additional flying capabilities. With both Pilot and Advanced Pilot you will need to meet some time and experience criteria so it's not just a matter of cramming and passing exams. Remember, these qualifications are about recognising your piloting skills and to do that you must actually do some flying!


Pilots fly for a wide variety of reasons: the "freedom", the challenge, the experience and so on. You should make up your own mind about why you want to fly and what kind of flying you're interested in based on your knowledge of yourself and your own situation. Listening to other pilots' views and experiences is always helpful - remember they were once in your position of being a novice.

Some pilots fly occasional weekends, some are able to fly during the week and many take flying holidays abroad where the weather conditions may be more predictable but the flying perhaps more challenging. As you gain experience you'll find what suits you best. When you're more experienced, consider becoming a club coach yourself and / or getting involved in running the club.

Jocky Sanderson, a very well known figure in the flying world, is often quoted as saying "the best pilot is the one having the most fun" - that seems like a good maxim to follow.