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paragliding in Cape Town and Wilderness

Tandem Paragliding Cape Town

The first step in learning to paraglide is to go on a tandem paragliding flight with a fully qualified pilot. This is the best way to see what it’s all about and it’s a great introduction to the world of paragliding. The Cape is world-renowned for it’s scenic beauty and it will take your photo album to the next level. The tandem glider is specifically designed for two people and requires a different flying skill to solo flying. The passenger or student is strapped into the harness in front of the tandem instructor. All our pilots are SAHPA certified and TFI (Tandem Flight Instructor) licensed.

female pilots
 
PRICE LIST ZAR 350 deposit required
CROSS-COUNTRY TANDEM FLIGHT (2-hour drive, excluding transport) ZAR 2 650
HERMANUS TANDEM FLIGHT (1-hour drive, excluding transport) ZAR 1 550
CAPE TOWN TANDEM FLIGHT ZAR 1 300
IN-FLIGHT PHOTOS AND VIDEO (incl 4GB SD Card) – CAPE TOWN ZAR 300
WILDERNESS, GARDEN ROUTE, TANDEM FLIGHT ZAR850
IN-FLIGHT PHOTOS AND VIDEO (incl 4GB SD Card) – WILDERNESS ZAR250

 

Frequently asked questions

What is paragliding?

Let’s start with what it is not. Paragliding is not hang gliding or parasailing, it’s not base jumping or speed flying and it’s not skydiving. All of these disciplines also have a glider of sorts overhead, but it’s not the same as paragliding. In fact, it’s very different. Paragliders are made to stay in the air and are designed to be steerable. Paragliding entails an aerofoil shaped glider which is attached to a harness with lines which also assists with steering the glider. Note that you don’t jump off a mountain with a paraglider, you fly off the mountain. After taking off you try and stay in the air for as long as possible while having as much fun as you can surfing the wind. Depending on the weather conditions and the flying site, you can try and fly as far as possible. Anything from straight to the landing area or 250km+ further depending on your experience and skill. It is a sport where no flying day is the same and you never stop learning.

Can a paraglider take two people?

Tandem paragliding is different from solo paragliding in that a pilot can take a passenger along with them. You need to progress from a solo pilot license to a tandem pilot license by complying to certain practical requirements and have a certain number of solo flights. The pilot and passenger each have their own harness and both get clipped in into the spreader bars which gets attached to the tandem paraglider. The passenger has no responsibility except to stay on their feet and run/walk forward on take-off.

How safe is paragliding in Cape Town?

Paragliding can be compared to activities like riding a motorbike, mountain biking or driving a car. Safety in paragliding comes down to three things: equipment, weather and pilot aptitude.

Equipment: Paragliders are inherently built according to very high, internationally controlled safety specifications and design certification testing and they are regularly serviced as part of the maintenance requirements stipulated per manufacturer. You get high-performance gliders that exchanges safety for performance but tandem paragliders are not high-performance gliders, they’re equal to EN-B certification which is very safe.

Weather: Weather forecast Apps like Wind Guru and Windfinder helps to assess whether conditions are safe to fly in. Generally, you’re looking at the topography, wind direction, wind gradient and wind strength besides other more technical indicators. There are also site-specific guidelines and we discuss the weather amongst the community to share our knowledge.

Pilot aptitude: The risk of flying in adverse conditions are mitigated by comprehensive pilot testing, licensing and currency requirements, similar to other aviation disciplines. Pilot experience also adds to the safety factor and a general sharing of knowledge and expertise ensures that consistent safety protocols are met.

Is paragliding dangerous?

Just like driving a car, it can either be done safely or dangerously. So too, a paraglider can be flown safely or dangerously. If one sticks to the safety parameters, it’s as simple as crossing the road safely. As with anything in life we reduce the risk by putting certain checks in place, and in paragliding safety revolves around equipment, weather and pilot aptitude. Besides the fact that paragliding equipment is made to stringent, international standards we also service our gear regularly according to manufacturer specifications. We choose what weather conditions we fly in by consulting the weather forecast on Apps like Windfinder and Windguru and we generally look for wind direction, wind strength, wind gradient and topography amongst other things. Pilot testing and licensing are rigorous and their currency requirements are as comprehensive as one would expect from other aviation disciplines.

Is paragliding scary?

Because we’re pretty much earth-bound beings there’s always the fear of the unknown. Not knowing what to expect can make paragliding seem scary but it’s actually a very peaceful experience. When I went on my first flight I was struck by how quiet and peaceful everything became once we lifted off the ground. It’s not an adrenaline-filled, speed chasing sport. When going for an instructional tandem flight you can trust our pilots as you would trust the pilot of a 747 Boeing. Their qualification, weather knowledge and experience should put your mind at ease.

Is paragliding in Cape Town fun?

Paragliding in Cape Town, South Africa is incredible. Cape Town is one of the most beautiful places in the world and to be able to paraglide here and have a bird’s eye view is an amazing experience. It also takes your photo album to the next level. Come and try a tandem paragliding flight with one of our qualified and highly experienced instructor pilots and see for yourself.

Where can I paraglide?

Depending on the weather, the most popular tandem paragliding (pilot and passenger) sites in Cape Town are Signal Hill (landing in front of the Winchester Mansions Hotel on the Sea Point Promenade) and Lions Head (landing at The Glen Club, Clifton).

Tandem paragliding in Wilderness, Garden Route area usually takes place from three different sites and whether you land at the top or the bottom of the take-off site depends on the weather conditions: Map of Africa (bottom landing Lientjiesklip Beach), Kleinkrantz (bottom landing on the beach) or Sedgeview (bottom landing opposite the Engen garage).

Once you understand weather forecasts and micrometeorology you can take off with a solo paragliding wing (pilot only) from any spot that doesn’t infringe on private property, SAN Parks regulations or constitutes an unnecessary risk. However, there are many official paragliding sites across South Africa. You’ll generally get in touch with a local paragliding club in the area that you would like to fly in, either in person or online. They will give you a list of all the possible flying sites in their area along with a site briefing and the preferred weather conditions for that site. You can also purchase a South African Site Guide by Greg Hamerton available at the Wallend-Air shop.

Where can you paraglide in Cape Town?

The most popular tandem paragliding (pilot and passenger) sites in Cape Town, South Africa are Signal Hill (landing in front of the Winchester Mansions Hotel on the Sea Point Promenade) and Lions Head (landing at The Glen Club, Clifton). It depends on the weather which one you can fly from.

Table Mountain is a National Park and we’re not allowed to fly any tandems from Table Mountain take off-site because it’s a cliff launch. Solo gliders with advanced/sports licenses can take off from Table Mountain’s designated sites and site rules have to be adhered to. The landing site is at The Glen Club, Clifton if you take off from the North face. Camps Bay beach is also a landing option but due to the high traffic nature of the area, we recommend The Glen Club landing field.

There are over 7 popular flying sites in and around Cape Town. The site you choose to fly at will depend on the day’s weather forecast. They are Signal Hill (sports), Lion’s Head (basic), Table Mountain (sports), Sir Lowry’s Pass (basic), Porterville (basic) check weather with a local guide, Langebaan (basic), Kommetjie (basic) etc. For an extensive list of take-off sites in the Western Cape and the site-specific site rules, you can get in touch with the local flying club which is The Glen Club in Cape Town or you can get it from the SAHPA website.

Can you fly a paraglider over a city (in South Africa or any other city)?

With sufficient planning and height, flying over a city is no different from flying over flat ground. It’s perfectly safe to fly in the clean air above buildings, however, like with every flight, once you’ve taken off you must know that you can reach your landing area. You’ll probably find that there are limited landing options in a city and you have to plan your flight path accordingly. For example, if you fly from Signal Hill in Cape Town the take-off site is high enough that you can safely glide over Sea Point suburb to get to the Promenade.

How do I start paragliding flight training?

In South Africa, you have to have a paragliding license to fly legally. To get a license you have to do a SAHPA (South African Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association) affiliated basic license paragliding course. A course is made up of practical and theoretical requirements. During our 9-day course, you will be guided through these requirements. On the days that it is not flyable you’ll work on the theory with your instructor and complete a basic license test. You’ll also train on our exclusive pull-up training wings when it’s not flyable which gives you the best value for money. Our 9-day course takes place in Wilderness where you can safely progress from ground handling on the magnificent beach, to ground skimming flights off the dunes and then to higher take-off sites like Kleinkrantz, Map of Africa or Sedgeview. We don’t just throw you off the mountain, we teach you to fly. Come and fly with us!

How do you fly a paraglider?

The paraglider is designed in an aerofoil shape which is attached to lines and in turn, is attached to the pilot’s harness. The pilot clips into the harness and inflates the paraglider as it is pulled up into wind until it is overhead. While moving into the wind the air flows over and under the aerofoil shape of the paraglider and the following four forces enables the glider to fly: lift, drag, thrust and gravity. Once your take-off is complete you sit back into your harness and steer the glider with the brake handles (one in each hand) which is attached to the brake lines, attached to the rear of the glider. After take-off, the objective is to try and stay in the air by surfing the wind. Ridge lift and thermals provide upward moving air. If there is no upward moving air then you’ll proceed in the direction of the landing area. When you’re approaching the landing area you turn into the wind and pull the brakes fully to collapse the glider at one meter off the ground.

How do you kite a paraglider?

You kite a paraglider by using the brake lines which are attached to brake handles for easy grip. As you get more proficient there are many other ways to handle a paraglider. You can also use your body weight or rear risers. Another method is to hold the A-lines in one hand and the rear risers in your other hand. This technique is popular in strong wind conditions. Because you’re attached to the wing via the line attachment to the harness, the pilot’s position in relation to the wing is also a way of directing the glider. There’s only one way of getting this right and that is practice, practice, practice.

Learning to kite a paraglider or becoming proficient at the ground handling a paraglider is a crucial step in becoming a competent pilot. Your safety is directly related to your ability to ground handle the wing in most weather conditions. During our 9-day course, it is important to us that our student pilots are proficient at handling their wings. To this effect, we’ve developed our own smaller Wallend-Air pull-up Play wings which allow us to train ground handling even when the weather conditions are not flyable. This gives us an edge over other schools who will be grounded during these weather conditions. 

What weather conditions do you need to paraglide in Cape Town?

To paraglide from any take-off site, you need a range of area-specific weather conditions to safely paraglide from that site. You also need to consider the micro-meteorology that is caused by mountainous regions as the wind wraps around obstacles to create different conditions to the prevailing weather forecast. In it’s very simplest form you need the wind direction to be perpendicular to the direction that the take-off site is facing as you need to take off into the wind and the wind strength can be anything from 0 – 25km/h depending on the pilot’s skill or the site guidelines. Also, be aware of how the conditions will be changing during the day and how you need to adapt your flying accordingly.

A starting point would be to look at the weather forecast around the site that you want to fly from. Windfinder and Wind Guru are two popular Apps that provide all the necessary information to determine wind direction and strength. From here you can determine which time slot will be best but you only ever really know if it’s flyable once you’re standing on the take-off site.

The amount of lift for the day is determined by the strength of the prevailing wind which creates ridge lift or thermals which are columns of upward-moving air that get triggered from certain points (temperature differences or topography).

Are there any women paragliding pilots in Cape Town?

There are many women paragliders but they are still under-represented. It’s always encouraged and on many of our courses, there is at least one female student paraglider. We aim to raise awareness of women in the sport to encourage others to follow. We welcome female pilots with open arms. Wallend-Air also has very experienced female tandem pilots if you want to go for a tandem flight with them.

What is the difference between hang gliding and paragliding?

A paraglider is a non-motorised wing and is made of soft material that is sewed into an aerofoil design that gets inflated by the wind into an oval shape. The paraglider is attached to a seated harness from which you steer it. It can be bunched into a quick pack carry bag and fits into the boot of your car. 

A hang glider is also a non-motorised, but a semi-flexible triangle-shaped structure that you assemble and disassemble as you need it which can take about 15-30minutes. The pilot harness requires a laying position while you steer it with a bar. Hang gliders are usually flown in stronger wind conditions. In its packed-up state, it requires roughly 3-4 meters of space and has to be secured to the roof rack of your car. 

Can a paraglider wing be used powered?

Motorised (PPG or Powered Paragliding) and non-motorised paragliding (PG or Paragliding) are two very different disciplines. A wing has to be designed and certified to be convertible from being a non-motorised wing to being a motorised wing. You will not be able to convert just any glider or wing to be used for PPG (powered paragliding).

Where are paragliders made?

Paragliders are made at paragliding factories. Some brands have their own manufacturing factory while others get their gliders made at different factories, in different countries like Brazil, China, Vietnam, the Czech Republic etc. Wallend-Air also manufactures wings but to get the wings certified is very costly therefore we’re focusing on producing high-quality accessories and our signature pull-up wings. Pete Wallenda has a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience and all the products that we produce are of significantly high quality.

upcoming events

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what people say

The training you receive in Wilderness is just outstanding the scenery mixed with great flying conditions makes this place just perfect. I could not think of a better place and school to do my course. Before my first flight I was extremely nervous, but Pete and his crew managed to make me feel totally comfortable. Just a great trip with so many great people.

Gregor Kury, Basic License Course 2018

A great experienced pilot whit a passion for flying and to teach you all his skills. He is more worried to get you perfectly flying than to make money. Hard to find these days!! Highly recommend this school for learning and for future flying fun!!

Alex B, Basic License Course 2018

INCREDIBLE flying experience! The flight exceeded all our expectations. The pilots were professional and created an amazing experience for us! Pete was unbelievable as a pilot and I personally thoroughly enjoyed flying with him… there is no better way to take in the Cape Town sights! Must do when you are in town.

Erika & Markus L, Tandem Flight 2018

An absolutely fantastic tour. Peters knowledge and his calm demeanor in assisting and coaching the pilots on the tour. I would recommend Wallend Air to both students and qualified pilots.

Robin H, European “Gypsy” Tour 2017 

I didn’t just gain the ability and knowledge to be able to prance off mountains, I also gained a family. Pete is the best instructor in the world. He invests all his time into his students for the entire course – nothing is more important.

Hannah C, Basic License Course 2018

cape town paragliding

ABOUT US

WALLEND-AIR

Wallend-Air Paragliding School was established in 1987 by Pete Wallenda (SAHPA A-rated Tandem Flight Instructor), originally from Germany, and he’s been promoting the sport in South Africa ever since. We train with certified equipment and our school is registered with SAHPA (South African Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association). We offer introduction tandem flights, paragliding courses and events in Cape Town area and the coastal village, Wilderness along the Garden Route.

The company has evolved into developing and manufacturing our own popular pull-up training glider, carry clinches and harness. This allows for ground handling training, even when the weather is no ideal for flying, and gives us the edge over other schools. We emphasise ground handling training as it’s essential to be in control of your glider during take-off and landing.

Besides making our own equipment we are agents for various quality international brands and we’re the official agent for Swing, Pro Design and PHI in South Africa. As an approved glider service centre in Africa we strive to provide quality service, impressive turnaround time and excellent after-sales care.  We love what we do and we would love to share it with you. 

Meet the team

PETE WALLENDA

SAHPA licence #: PG1009
Instructor Grade A and
TFI Tandem Instructor

STEVEN MICHAEL BURD

SAHPA licence #: PG13187
Instructor Grade B and
TFI Tandem Instructor

DUTTON DAMES

SAHPA licence #: PG3420
Instructor Grade B and
TFI Tandem Instructor

SUE DAY

SAHPA licence #: PG41873
Instructor Grade B and
TFI Tandem Instructor

CAROLINA BURD-ROCCHINOTTI

SAHPA licence #: PG1007
Instructor Grade A and
TFI Tandem Instructor

CLAYTON VERMEULEN

SAHPA licence #: PG304063
Instructor Grade B
and Tandem Pilot

In the media