Icarus' Children: The Art of Paragliding in Scotland

In Scotland paragliding is a thriving sport, and the countrywide network of SHPF clubs offers hundreds of flying sites and a supportive environment for both flying and socialialising

Feature by Sam Eccles | 14 Aug 2006

With the promise of being one of the most breathtaking experiences available, paragliding is the simplest form of human flight, and one of the most accessible forms of airborne activity in Scotland.

Allowing its pilot to fly like a bird, a paraglider soars upwards on currents of air, giving elevations of up to 15,000 feet and flights over vast distances for 3 hours or more. Looking rather like a huge stunt-kite, a paraglider is a non-motorized, foot-launched inflatable wing. Consisting of a canopy (the actual "wing") constructed of rip-stop nylon, the pilot is suspended by sturdy Kevlar lines called risers, and a harness, in which the pilot comfortably sits. Brake cords provide speed and directional control and carabineers are used to connect the risers and the harness together.
In Scotland paragliding is a thriving sport and the countrywide network of SHPF clubs offers hundreds of flying sites and a supportive environment for both flying and socialising.

Our experience of paragliding took us to the beautiful Island of Arran for a visit to the Flying Fever Paragliding School. The enthusiasm of the trainers and their pupils was infectious. It was mesmerising to watch the advanced pupils practicing their training hops, sending their canopies high up into the sky, adjusting the angle of their giant canvases to control the airspeed and make gentle turns, as if they were conducting a gentle and controlled dance, their wings engaged in Thai Chi-like movements. Whilst looking effortless, the new recruits showed us just how complicated the initial process was: running across a field, the newly initiated grimaced as they attempted to remember which cord to pull and when, when to run, when to stand still and absorb the wonder of their airborne canopy, and how to recover when it slowly sauntered back down to earth.

Unfortunately, the fantastic weather conditions meant that wind speed was low and southerly, making it too difficult to absorb everything there is to know about paragliding in one lesson. Paragliding is indeed easy to learn but it takes time to master, and whilst not managing to get airborne, now we are one lesson closer to becoming an elementary pilot (a full course takes 4-5 days).

If you want to engage in this wonderful activity, so full of finesse and serenity, go to Arran and discover it all at the Flying Fever Paragliding School.

Learn to fly with Flying Fever on the Isle of Arran. There's a two for one offer for all readers if they book before the end of August.

+44 (0) 1770303899 / +44 (0) 7717712727
May - September - Open 7 days a week.