P1: Beginner Semi-Autonomous Pilot Rating

P1: Beginner Semi-Autonomous Pilot Rating

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P1: Beginner Semi-Autonomous Pilot Rating


So you’ve decided to pursue your dreams of free-flight. Congratulations! You’ll soon have all the skills necessary to soar across vast landscapes, for hours on end, taking in the world from the comfort of your canopy, cruising the skies at cloudbase. 


Our number one objective is to produce new pilots, able to enjoy the spot as safely as possible. Once you’ve completed your training, you’ll have the necessary skills to travel the world and fly the most spectacular landscapes on earth. 


But first, you’ll need to gain a few skills. Our P1 program is custom tailored to your progression. 


What does training look like? How do I get started?


In Canada, our sport is governed by the Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada. In order to maintain the highest standards of safety, all instruction needs to be carried out by certified HPAC instructors. Our certified instructors are there to take you from a total beginner who may never have seen a paraglider to a certified novice, equipped with a vast array of meteorological knowledge, airmanship and piloting skills to fly and make decisions on their own.


Once you are certified, we welcome you to fly as part of our community pilots, at established sites in Ottawa-Gatineau, the rest of Canada and around the world. 


Paragliding is the least-regulated form of aviation in Canada. Despite this, anytime your legs leave the ground, there is very little room left for error. Safety is our number one priority, so our P1 program starts from the ground up. 


During out structured P1 program we will take you through: 

  • Understanding the equipment
  • Principles of flight
  • Basic meteorology
  • Controlling a paraglider while on the ground
  • Training launch and landing techniques on small hills
  • Paraglider simulator practice, including emergency maneuvers and protocols
  • Short winch-towing flights to familiarize yourself with piloting in smooth air
  • 6 high-flights from 250 meters, with radio-guidance by an instructor through all phases of flight
  • Practice in managing yaw, roll and pitch as well as active piloting in-flight
  • Radio-coaching at every step
  • Preparation for and delivery of the P1 HPAC examination


Total estimated hours to achieve P1 = 25-30


What if it takes me longer? 

At Northern Glide, we understand everyone learns at their own pace, in their own way. Our instructors have an array of experience in extreme sports. We were all beginners at one point and we understand that everyone learns differently. Our tailored approach means working within your comfort level, while incorporating new skills. Our P1 classes are capped at 2-3 students per instructor to ensure you have a personalized experience. Trust is key in this sport. Our training program is designed to establish confidence in the individual through trust with the instructor. We also provide one-on-one lessons for students with tight schedules, who would prefer an instructor dedicated to them, operating on their own schedule. These lessons are billed hourly so you only pay for the time you need. Our Northern Glide gear store carries the latest state-of-the art equipment available for rental, so you can keep you initial investment low. 


Am I too old to fly? How physically fit do I have to be? 

Our pilot community spans from teens to seniors. Everyone can fly. Training for your P1 will require a moderate level of fitness. You will be required to run for short spurts while ‘lifting’ your paraglider into the wind. You will also be required to walk up and down a training hill throughout your course. On your high-flight days, expect 1-2 25 minute hikes. Bring lots of water and some snacks!


What happens once I’ve attained my P1 beginner rating? 

Your P1 rating will allow you to fly autonomously while under the mentorship of other pilots. Once you’ve completed your course, we will introduce you to other instructors or experienced members of the community who will act as mentors until you have logged 25 solo flights required for your novice pilot rating (P2). Once you’ve logged those flights, and can demonstrate the required skills, you can challenge the P2 exam and attain your novice rating.


What can I do when I’m a solo pilot? 


After completing the P2 requirements, you will be able to fly most sites in Canada and around the world. You’ll have the skills and knowledge to judge in what conditions a flight is safe. Most sites around the world will have a community of local pilots at launch who will be more than happy to show you the specifics of their terrain, and the magic of their landscapes. 


Soarable hills in our region include Luskville, in the Gatineau Park, Mont Saint Marie North of Ottawa, and Yamaska near Montreal. Northern Glide is also happy to provide winch-towing to get lots of airtime when conditions for mountain launching are not favourable. Using a long rope and a motorized winch, we tow pilots high into the sky where they can release from the cable and hunt for thermal activity to sustain flight. 


The P1 program provides you with your first steps into the air. After that, the sky truly is the limit!