What is paragliding and the frequently asked questions.
Last update : October 12, 2021
If you are an independent paragliding pilot, possesses your own equipment/gears then there are no operating costs other than the transport to the launch area (and of course for your own meals). Basically, that translates to almost zero operating costs. Some paragliding sites are managed by local flying club and there may be site fees to be paid but they are often very minimal, such as RM10 per-day.
In order to fly independently, you need to attend and complete the basic training course.
Paragliding falls under the international FAR 103 regulation (Flight Aviation Rule Part 103), which means that there is no requirement for licensing or any other certification for you to fly independently at your own will.
However, this sport is inherently dangerous and to prevent any uneventful accidents to you and especially to others, you are required to at least attend a proper training before trying to fly independently – that is just common sense.
So it is not uncommon that whenever you visit a flying site, the site operator or other pilots there would ask for your proficiency ratings identification before allowing you to fly together with them.
Upon completion of the training courses, you will often be certified with a rating based on your skill level. These proficiency rating certifications are often called “license”, although officially or legally the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) does not endorse nor issue any licenses for paragliding sport.
Not all instructors in Malaysia are registered with the associations but they are equally experienced and good.
PGMY has a group of instructors that are registered with the national association with years of experience in teaching and for a directory of the instructors, please check our instructors directory at https://www.paragliders.my/instructors
For a list of instructors that registers themselves at MSAF (the national association of paragliding pilots), you can find an updated list at their website https://paragliding.msaf.org.my/
It is always best to carry your proof of training so the people around you at flying sites will be more comfortable to fly together, and the paragliding community is populated with friendly pilots so if you are new to this sport, it helps to learn and everyone will be more than willing to share their piece of advice and experience for newcomers.
Apart from local association such as MSAF (Malaysia Sports Aviation Federation), there are internationally recognised agencies or associations that also issuing certifications or ratings for paragliding pilots, for example the APPI (Association of Paragliding Pilots and Instructors) that is based in Switzerland.
As long as the license or proficiency ratings card is from among the list of agencies that are recognised internationally, then you do not require further additional license to fly in Malaysia.
Your activities will be limited only for recreational activities. Commercial tandem flights or teaching new students are not allowed before obtaining proper working permits from the government authorities.
Technically, if the condition of wind and geographical terrain is helping you to stay airborne then yes, you can fly from just about anywhere. There are locations that has been identified, tested and developed to operate as designated paragliding sites and there are some others that are suitable but was not developed due to its distance from the city, etcetera.
(Photo courtesy of HowStuffWorks)
However, the permission to use the airspace is required and this is done through NOTAMs (Notice To Air Men) submitted to the nearest Air Traffic Controller (ATC) that are located at airports. NOTAM is crucial in ensuring that all pilots that are using the airspace aware of each other’s activity and this helps to prevent incidents such as air collisions.
Paragliding’s law of thermodynamics to stay airborne is by circumnavigating the rising hot air (called thermal columns) or flying in the area where wind direction creates an updraft when it hits a sloping ridge, for that matter it is possible to fly a great distance when the pilot’s navigation of the glider meets all of the required conditions.
This is called Cross Country (XC) flights and in some countries where the geographical terrain is conducive for such purposes, it is not uncommon for pilots to fly more than 100km in distance.
Careful planning and permission of airspace usage is required before attempting to fly long distance, and of course acquiring the right training and skills too.
Below is an illustration of how paragliding thermodynamics work in order for pilots to stay airborne.
Of course it is possible, in fact this method is the most popular form of engaging the public to paragliding. You don’t need to know how to fly to be the passenger, just listen carefully to the pre-flight briefing and as long as you are properly attired then being the passenger should be a breeze.
This is called Tandem Flights and every weekend we will fly passengers at nearby locations or the location of your choice (weather permitting). To arrange for tandem flights, please fill-in the Tandem Booking form at this website and we will get back to you with the confirmation slots.
Paragliding is relatively safe sport when participants are adhering to the safety regulations, ensuring that all equipments are well kept and maintained and instructors are following the standard operating procedures.
As of date, there are several insurance plans from local insurance companies that covers paragliding because this sport is starting to be considered as recreational sport.
Although the tandem pilot may have his/her insurance coverage, it may not cover their passengers. Therefore it is imperative that the passenger subscribes to an insurance plan that specifically covers the paragliding activity. At the moment, the only insurance company in Malaysia that specifically covers Tandem Paragliding activities is Pacific & Orient Insurance Co. Berhad, and all tandem paragliding pilots are required to have insurance for their passengers.
Paragliding is a sport that is inherently dangerous and it is imperative that the pilot is able to make judgements while flying and conducting weather assessments during launching or landing. He/she must also be generally in good health condition.
For the exact reasons mentioned above, there is no exact age limit to learn paragliding because age does not measure the pilot’s physiological fitness, his/her maturity or their ability to make sound technical judgments.
If you are learning to fly or just completed your training, the best person to consult on getting your first equipment would be your instructor. Your instructor would know the most suitable setup based on your training.
Ideally and legally, the best choice would be helmets that has an EN-966 certification because the agency responsible in producing the certifications executed simulated impacts on the helmets that are usually resulted from paragliding activities. Helmet designs that passed the tests will be accorded the EN-966 certifications.
Please avoid using bicycle helmets! skateboarding helmet is still acceptable to a certain degree but best practice would be proper paragliding helmets from manufacturers such as Ozone, SupAir, Charly, PlusMax, Icaro et cetera.
The fact that you are asking this question, means that you are new to the sport and thus the answer would be more straightforward to “Any gliders with the ratings of EN-A, that is manufactured less than 3 years from the date of your question”.