Suppliers of Paragliding Instruction, Tandem flights and Adventure Tours
P O Box 8587 Edenglen 1613 - Tel & Fax (011) 609-1678 - Cell 082-678-1392
Flying is fun and exhilarating.
That is why we and most people want to fly. It is a thrill to look down on earth, and even occasionally fly with the birds high above ground.
Our chosen method of achieving flight like a bird is with a paraglider. A paraglider is a wing looking a bit like a square parachute, but with far better aerodynamic capabilities. It utilises an aerofoil, air and gravity in order to fly, and can stay aloft for long periods by finding rising air such as thermals and ridge lift. Paraglider pilots have stayed up for many hours and flown record distances of over 400km.
The advantage of a paraglider is that it is relatively quick to learn to fly, small to store and easy to transport, and can be carried in a carrybag on the pilot’s back.
A paraglider is not to be confused with a parasail that is a round unit pulled behind a boat, nor a parachute for jumping out of aeroplanes (skydiving).
Paragliding is an aviation sport. It is important that one realises that all aviation sports have inherent risks (actually, all sports have certain risks). It is important that one learns to fly in a safe environment, with a competent instructor, and uses safe equipment. Fun Ventures provides all of these.
It is not safe to teach oneself. There is more to the sport than just being able to take off and land. One must have knowledge of many other things, such as glider control, weather, and safety procedures. Accidents happen more often to those lacking in these fields, or flying too advanced equipment for their skill levels.
It is a legal requirement to have a licence in order to fly. The South African Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association (SAHPA) is the only organisation allowed to issue a paragliding licence in South Africa, through dispensation from the Civil Aviation Authority.
Licences can only be obtained through SAHPA approved schools with SAHPA rated instructors. Fun Ventures Paragliding School is such an approved school.
Learning to fly is not easy.
Even though paragliding is one of the easiest aviation sports to master, prospective pilots must realise that to succeed takes a lot of very hard work, determination and a real will to fly in order to become a competent and safe pilot. There are often psychological obstacles to overcome, such as family pressure, or work commitments, fear of heights, etc.
Remember, every qualified pilot who makes it look so easy, has been through the same slog. Paragliding is a fantastic sport, and after the hard work is done, it is very rewarding.
Mountain vs Winch training
There are two different training methods used in paragliding:
The traditional mountain training method, and
Winching from flat ground.
Both have been used successfully the world over, as well as here in South Africa.
The instructors in Fun Ventures are fully qualified to use both methods of training. Since 1996 we have used winching to give our students the best advantage of quick learning with the least hassle. All the students are also trained to fly from mountains. Therefore they are getting the best of both worlds.
The reasons we use winching are:
There are a lack of good mountain training sites in the Gauteng, with the result that schools often choose to go to Northwest Province, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal areas for suitable mountains. While that can be fun and great flying, it sometimes happens that the weather does not play along. In that case one can sit on the hill for a whole weekend without flying. This can be a costly exercise with fuel and accommodation expenses, especially if the experience is repeated a number of times. The Dunnottar Winch Park is relatively close to Johannesburg and Pretoria and their outlying suburbs as well as nearby areas of Mpumalanga, making a day trip cost effective. In addition, if the weather promises to be foul, one can easily stay at home to work in the garden or do other chores, or go to the movies!
Should the wind change direction during the day (which it often does), it is very easy to turn the winch in the right direction without upheaval. Mountains are difficult to move in order to face the correct wind direction.
Learning flying skills from the winch is very easy as the area is open and clear of obstacles.
One does not have the delays for retrieve that are renowned at mountains.
About Fun Ventures
Fun Ventures is a SAHPA-approved paragliding School that has been in existence since 1995. The chief instructor and owner is Laura Nelson, who has been instructing paragliding since 1989. The School makes use of trained instructors and assistants as well as tandem pilots, as and when required.
The School prides itself on its quality instruction, and the standard of the pilots that qualify.
Training procedures Our mission is to equip a new pilot with all the skills required to make him or her enjoy the flying and be able to deal safely with the vagaries of the air.
The course starts off with an intro theory lecture, that is later reinforced with more advanced lectures. Knowledge and understanding are very important factors in flying.
Students are first taught the ground handling of the paraglider. This on average takes about 5 - 10 hours (one to two days), although some people may take longer to fully learn the controls. Once the technique has been mastered, the student is introduced to the flying. The first flights are done on the winch with a low tension and are very controlled. The student is instructed on the radio continuously and lifted to a low height, from where he flies down to an easy landing, still under radio instruction.
It is a very comfortable way to learn to fly in this manner. There are no rocks or obstacles to impede the progress of the student, although winching has its own problems, and there are other difficulties the student may encounter. The instructors follow strict safety procedures at all times to ensure an enjoyable and safe experience for the beginner.
Students are taught on a very personal basis, although they may start in a group. That means that every student gets a lot of direct attention. For the ground handling, we also offer late afternoon classes on a sports field, when possible, in order to accelerate the learning curve.
Details of the Intro Training Course
Introduction to the paraglider: name of parts; materials; Aerodynamic qualities; pre-flight checks.
Basic principles of flight: how an aerofoil creates lift; application to a paraglider; angle of attack and stall; the importance of airspeed; stability.
Turbulence and rotors; turns near the ground; assessment of weather conditions; thunderstorms.
Basic take off and landing techniques.
Licence requirements and general rules: practical and theoretical tests; helmets, site regulations; logbooks; drinking.
Site and weather assessments.
Introduction and layout of equipment.
Take-off procedures and checks.
Ground handling and control of the paraglider (forward and reverse pull-ups), including collapse and abort techniques.
Folding, packing and carrying techniques.
Introduction of winching equipment: winch, towline, guillotine, winch release, radios.
Low flights or hops (one or two flights usually) with or without releasing from the towline: take-off, control, steering, landing, emergency procedures, parachute landing rolls.
High flights with release: steering, turns, flight planning, spot landing, thermalling, etc.
Debriefing and general discussion after each flight and session.
Training Courses offered
Course 1: Intro Course
For the pilot who is unsure whether paragliding is what he/she really wants to do.
The course includes:
- SAHPA temporary membership, valid for 6 months
- Training manuals
- Theory class
- Ground handling
- The use of the equipment, including radios (vario when possible)
- Ten flights (mostly on the winch, but some may be from a mountain)
Course 2: Completion of Basic licence
For the pilot who has completed the Intro Course and would like to get his licence.
The course includes:
- Minimum of 25 flights extra (to make a total of 35 flights minimum, max 40 flights)
- The use of the equipment, including radios (vario when possible)
- Theory lectures covering micrometeorology, aerodynamics, flight planning, and air law.
- All the practical requirements
- Winch flying training
- Mountain flying training
- Winch release
- Marked theory test
At least one weekend will be spent at a mountain site to familiarise the student with the take off techniques used on mountains, ridge soaring, and the rules for flying with other pilots on the ridge, as well as understanding mountain weather. There is a fly-away daily fee that the student has to pay. The costs for transport, accommodation and meals will be for the student (see Terms and Conditions).
When the student has reached the total of 40 flights, but has not yet completed all the requirements for the Basic licence or reached the desired standard of proficiency, he has to pay an additional per flight until such time as he receives his licence.
Course 3: Winch conversion course
This course is for the pilot who learnt to fly on mountains, but would like to become familiar with winching in a safe and controlled manner.
The pilot must have a current Basic Licence, or permission from his instructor, and must have his own equipment. (Those without own equipment will be charged an additional fee for the use of the school’s equipment.)
The course includes:
- Conversion theory
- Winch release
- 5 flights from the winch
- Use of radio (if pilot does not have one)
The course is available for licensed pilots, and for students from other schools. (SAHPA memberships or temporary memberships must be in place.)
Course 4: Tandem flight
Experience flight! Have a tandem flight with an experienced tandem rated pilot. Get the feeling with at least 15 minutes of airtime without any hard work!
Course 5: Paragliding taster
Want to do a bit more than just a tandem flight but not ready or do not have the time for a full course? Here is a fun way - use a day getting to know a paraglider, how to control it, how it works. Float through the sky with an experienced instructor to show you more. Includes basic theory and learning groundhandling and controls with the school equipment.
What to bring along to training
A good pair of running shoes or boots, preferably with ankle support
Long trousers or jeans while training, as it is possible to have a tumble
Protection against the sun, i.e. hat and suntan lotion (even in winter)
Camping chairs and umbrella
Food and drink (water and cold drinks) for during the day. Especially in summer LOTS of fluid is essential as one can easily get dehydrated. Alcohol is only allowed after training has finished for the day (bring your own).
Warmer clothes for the cool times of the day or during winter
The school offers a SMS service to inform all students and interested pilots of the predicted weather at Dunnottar or other sites the school may be visiting. It will give the weather predicted for the day and the time the instructors will be at the venue or meeting place. If the weather is bad, that will be stated. SMSs are sent out on a daily basis over weekends and arranged weekday training, usually around 6h30-7h00 am.
Notification by e-mail
More news and notification of events are sent out on e-mail. The school has a mailing list to which all students, prospective students and qualified pilots who would like to remain in contact with the school, can subscribe. Send a blank e-mail by clicking here Funventuresfirstname.lastname@example.org and send. You will receive a request to confirm that you are who you are by just clicking on “Reply” and sending. (The emailed notice is posted by snailmail to those without e-mail.)
Getting your own equipment
It is not advisable to buy equipment until one is sure that one would like to continue with the exciting sport of paragliding. Wait until you have completed the Intro Course, as at that point you will have more information about what gliders are suitable. Never buy anything without consulting your instructor. Be wary of adverts in Junk Mail and other newspapers (although it is possible to get real bargains, you may also lose money unnecessarily by buying unsuitable gear).
When you have decided that you enjoy this sport, the School will assist you in getting the right equipment, suitable for your weight and size, and purse, through its associated business Funwings CC. Funwings has a wide range of new gliders it offers, as well as good second-hand gear and accessories.
Flying with the School after qualifying
When a pilot has achieved his Basic Licence, the School will help with honing his skills at no extra charge. He is welcome to keep flying with the School and go on fly-aways with it. We will assist him with meeting with other pilots to fly at alternative sites. We will introduce him to different clubs where he can join to make contact with more pilots, and grow in his flying career.
Current Basic Licence requirements
Minimum of 35 flights of at least 60 second duration each, of which at least 20 flights must be of higher than 100m height difference. Winch trained pilots must have done at least 5 flights at a mountain site over not less than 2 flying days.
Must have at least one flight of more than 20 minutes duration
Must have at least two flights of at least 10 minutes each in thermic conditions (consecutive 360s in rising air)
Must have flown in ridge lift sharing the ridge with several pilots (ridge soaring)
Must be able to demonstrate good unassisted forward take-offs in wind strengths of 0-10 kph.
Good reverse pull-up and take off technique with cross brake method (at least 3 flights)
Straight line flights demonstrating good flying technique
A flight demonstrating S turns or figure 8s
180 degree turns, left and right (separate flights permitted)
360 degree turns, left and right (separate flights permitted)
Demonstration of flight and landing with back risers
Demonstration of flight with Big Ears
Demonstration of landing accuracy 3 out of 3 attempts in 50m diameter circle
Demonstrate good layout, daily inspection and pre-flight checks (5 point check)
Demonstrate good unassisted pull-ups/inflations and ground control
Hold canopy inflated directly overhead in sufficient wind
Total of at least 4 hours air time
Have flown at least 2 different sites (1 x winch site, 1 x mountain site for winch trained pilots)
Be familiar with and able to demonstrate the parachute landing roll technique
Have done the course over not less than 7 days continuous training, or 9 days intermittent training
Pass the Basic Licence written test
Fun Ventures Paragliding School requires the following additional items to be completed:
Attendance of theory lectures
Asymmetric wing tip tucks
Landing with Big Ears
Abort techniques and drag procedures
If you would like to have more information on the paragliding training, or require the costs for the courses, or the "Terms and Conditions for Training", or directions to the site, please send an email for Additional info or call (011) 609-1678 or 082-678-1392.
To book a tandem flight or a training course, please go to the Booking Form.