Becoming a Tandem (Hill) Paraglider Pilot

If you’ve ever wanted to become a tandem pilot and share the magic of flying with your friends, you can, and I’m going to take you through the steps for a British (BHPA) tandem endorsement.

You need to understand that when you fly someone on a tandem you are taking responsibility for their safety and will have a legal responsibility to meet that requirement. You won’t be flying in the same way, you’ll be doing the flight for the enjoyment of your passenger.

So, starting at the beginning, you’ll need to be an outstanding pilot; the minimum requirement is 200 hours but that probably won’t see you through the examination (more on that later). You must be a BHPA annual member with at least Pilot in hill flying, at least 18 years of age, hold a current 1st aid certificate, to have completed an SIV course within the 3 years previous to being examined, you must be current, have done at least 20 launches within the preceding 6 months and be recommended by the chairman of your club or by a CFI. That’s quite a list but if you’re taking responsibility for someone else, it’s appropriate.

In addition to the list above, most tandem gliders at based on B class wings so you should have done (at least) 200 hours on a B class or above.

If you meet all the criteria, you’ll need to be prepared for your examination and this is where a proper course in flying tandem gliders comes in. We run courses and will get to fly different current generation tandems, different tandem pilot and passenger harness combinations, use both hard and soft spreaders as well as gaining experience with the pros and cons of quick-outs.

For the flying part of your examination you’ll have to have done at least 4 flights as passenger and 20 as pilot before being examined but this is just a minimum and to be prepared for the exam realistically you’ll need to have done more than this.

In addition, you’ll need to deliver a flawless risk warning and briefing and the only way that you’ll manage this is through lots of practice.

The examination will be in 3 parts. The flight tests are to convince the examiner that you have the right level of skill and that you’re displaying the correct attitude.

The second part of your examination is an interview session where the examiner will ask you questions or give you scenarios to discuss and again, the only way to prepare is to do lots of practice.

Finally there is a 26 question (multiple choice) written paper and it’ll come as no surprise that that preparation is the key to passing this.

Flight Culture have run paragliding tandem pilot courses for 16 years and have a very high rate of passes but also, you’ll come away with real depth of knowledge and lots of experience. We run our tandem pilot courses at Dune du Pilat and the next is from 8 – 15 June 2024. We only only take a maximum of 4 Pilots on this course and it always fills up early.

If you’re interested and would like to discuss if you’re suitable or what’s involved, please feel free to drop me an email at [email protected] or give me a call on 07833-107902




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