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Hi Frank, Just wanted to say thanks a million we had a lovely time - the apartments were so central, great nightlife & restaurants & our lack of spanish coming along!!! haha. Tks again,

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Flying High!

It was Leonardo de Vinci who first made a successful flight – all be it a few feet off the ground and a few feet in length and today we have progressed to the point where we take flying for granted with jets zipping across our skies, ever faster and ever bigger. Getting back to basics, feeling the wind ruffle your hair and seeing the ground far below you whilst gliding alongside the birds of prey is too tempting, not to mention exhilarating so thankfully we have paragliding.

Paragliding is a relatively new sport having begun when a group of parachutists in the early ‘80’s decided to jump off a mountain with their ‘chutes rather than out of a plane. The sport has come on leaps and bounds since then and today paragliding’s high flyers can stay up in the air for hours covering long distances and reaching great heights.

Gliders are made from ultra-light synthetic material and their pilots sit comfortably in a seat suspended from the canopy.

Is it safe?

Like any mountain sport there is a certain element of risk involved in paragliding. However, most accidents occur when people take to the air with inadequate training or equipment. For most, happy to just glide sedately, catching the thermals and float high above the mountains, the sport is as safe as climbing them.

Can anyone do it?

In theory, yes. You don’t have to be a super-sporty person although a certain level of fitness is required, neither do you have to be a headstrong extremist! Men and women fly, although the sport it is still a predominantly male domain and health pre-requisites are no more than say, learning to drive a vehicle.

Can I try it first?

If you want to see whether or not paragliding is for you, you can take a “tandem” flight. A fully qualified instructor will take you flying with you sat just in front of him. He will handle all the complicated stuff while you are free to simply experience the sensation of flying and enjoy the ride.

How do I learn?

If you fancy becoming a fully-fledged pilot, then you have to take a course and exam. Here in Andalucía you will be required to join the Federación Andaluza de Deportes Aéreos who’s insurance will cover you. The courses begin with theory classes to learn about the equipment, judging conditions and the piloting of a glider. Next you will learn how to inflate the canopy on flat ground before gingerly taking to the air for short flights a few metres above the ground. When your instructor is confident that you have mastered the necessary skills, you move to the next level and begin to fly higher and farther– at this point, two instructors are on hand, one at the take off point and one at the landing point and both in constant contact with you by radio.

Courses are also available to progress further and to learn to fly with a motor attached.

I can fly! Where can I go?

Montellano

This is an ideal spot for newly qualified pilots. At a height of 100m there is a hill with only a slight incline perfect for those first solo flights. The hillside faces a north-easterly wind and it’s easy to also land at the spacious take-off zone. Due to the superb conditions here, flights reaching the beaches of the Costa de la Luz are possible.

Vejer de la Frontera

One of the prettiest villages on the Costa de la Luz, Vejer offers some excellent flying. The hillside faces and easterly and the take-off point, at 120m, is on the Soldados road leaving the village, next to Bar Poniente. The bar has plenty of sunny terrace space to enjoy a cold one once you’ve enjoyed your flight. There is ample area to land, although it is not permitted everywhere and it’s a 5-minute trip back up to the jump point. Thermal flying is possible here and flights have been made over the Sierras of Grazalema and Alcornocales and even as far as Málaga.

El Bosque

One of the prettiest areas for flying in the area, El Bosque is located at the foothills of the Sierra de Grazalema and the scenery is stunning. There are two take-off points, one frequented by hang-gliders and the other, a short distance above the first, more popular with paragliders. Distance flyers normally fly over the Sierra Margarita to the north and then take a level cruise to the Sierra de Lijar and Algodonales and join other routes there. Prepare to share air-space with a variety of eagles and vultures!

Algodonales

Situated in the heart of the Sierra de Lijar, Algodonales is one of Europe’s premier flying locations and home to the Lijar Sur flying club. Flying is possible at any time of year with almost any conditions. Four take off points, at heights of 450m – 550m, allow for flying into northerly, easterly, southerly and westerly winds (NE & NW are also possible). Landing isn’t a problem with local landowners well used to paragliders, competitions are held regularly and Cross-Country flying is possible with flights as far as Granada recorded!

Ronda la Vieja

For a truly historical flight you can’t beat this location, as you will be soaring above ancient Roman ruins. The hillside faces a NNW wind which is ideal for beginners to practise thermal and duration flying. Take off and landing is easy with maximum height of 400m. Many pilots opt for flying from Algodonales to this site in Ronda la Vieja.

Happy Flying!