The Team

When John Welch started Flight Culture in 2000 he did it with the experience gained in working for three other paragliding schools. Rather than following the standard school model John wanted to create something quite different; a school that concentrated on teaching, building a real community and (of course) having a lot of fun.

From the start we taught in small groups which meant rapid, safe progress. We always invested in our staff and worked hard at helping them to progress with both their personal flying and their teaching. These things have contributed to where we are today; a modern, progressive school with an outstanding team that is leading the way in training.

John Welch – CFI

John Welch – CFI
I am the chief flying instructor (CFI) registered with the British Hang gliding & Paragliding Association (BHPA) & founder of Flight Culture. I began paragliding in 1987 while living in the French Alps and it was in France that I began instructing. I returned to England in 1994 and went on to gain my UK instructor and tandem rating. I worked for two schools in the south of England before setting up Flight Culture in 2000.

I am an instructor examiner and serve on the BHPA executive committee.

In addition to my paragliding qualifications, I am a PADI diving instructor and a qualified First Aid trainer, hold a yacht master and ticket and like Cuban cigars!

Joe McCarthy

Joe McCarthy
In 1990, a good friend said, “come to Nepal and bring a paraglider with you”. I was lucky and met Adam Hill who helped me on my way. I fell in love with the high mountains, seeing all the great places and meeting its people. I came back to a great summer of paragliding with John and friends. So I have flown from thin air, high mountains to sandy beaches.

I know a lot about everything but not a whole lot about any one thing and need more of every thing. I take photos of BIG luxury boats, outdoor clothing and other lifestyle things for work. I am a friend of Flight Culture a Trainee Instructor and I capture some of our adventures for the magazines.

Tom McMeakin

Tom McMeakin
I have always wanted to fly and after looking at the different ways to get in the air, paragliding seemed the best choice for me. So I went along with my old man for some training with John and Jody and have kept going back for more since then! I’ve now been on a few trips with Flight Culture to the dune and to lanzarote and will keep going back for more.

I’m currently based in Bristol and will try to get in the air here as much as possible, but you can’t beat a trip abroad for the airtime.

I work for Airbus as an engineer so getting airborne is always on my mind.

My plan is to learn to fly tandem as soon as possible so that I can show people how awesome paragliding is!

David May

David May
I took up paragliding in 2009 in what can only be described as a eureka moment – driving back from a Skydiving course in France that was both exhilarating but also hugely disappointing at how quickly we were back on the ground, I saw a number of paragliders soaring a hill and thought “That’s it, they are trying to stay up!!!”. I haven’t looked back since.

I fly anywhere and everywhere I can, as often as I can. I met John two years later in Lanzarote on a trip in November in an attempt to extend the flying season as far into the year as possible and immediately I felt a connection. Since then I have been out with John many times, both as customer and staff.

This year I’ve decided to take things to the next stage: I have taken on the UK Representative position for AirCross Paragliders, just completed my first 100km xc, am studying for the BHPA Advanced Pilot exam and to top it all off, I have joined the Flight Culture team as a Trainee Instructor.This sport just grows and grows on you and I don’t ever want it to stop.

Stuart Somerville

Stuart Somerville
1968 – 2016 RIP my friend

Stu spent several years as an important member of our team. Always cheerful and full of enthusiasm for absolutely everything which made him really popular with everyone. Stu had the ability to put people at ease and make them smile. We were hoping to take groups to his flying hostel in Colombia and all of us looked forward to catching up with Stu.

We will all miss him and never forget him.

Anita Larson

Anita Larson
I love working with people, and I love air sports, put the two together and you have Flight Culture. I have been in various Skydiving teams over the years, teaching a progression system to more advanced students, and training for competitions in the USA, and when the weather permitted in the UK.

Having moved to the Isle of Skye in 2007, the lack of a nearby drop zone made me think about other forms of air sports, that could be easily accessible from my home area, hence Paragliding and Paramotoring.

I also run a natural health centre and have broadcast on various TV and radio programmes over the years.

I look forward to helping out at Flight Culture, broadening my flying skills, and enjoying a beer or two with everyone.