Questions and answers
Is this meant for you?
Anyone will be able to answer the question whether it is worth starting to fly a paraglider, whether it is the right hobby for you, after a tandem flight with an instructor at the Aerodrome of Rumbula. This is a simple soaring flight. Pilots and passengers are pulled up into the air by means of a special winch at the altitude of 450 meters. The instructor will unhitch pareaglider from the cable and you will start gliding down slowly. Once up in the air, you will be able to see the entire Riga, the surroundings nearest to you, and the sea. If you are looking for some thrill, the pilot may do a few acrobatic feats – a rush of adrenaline to the blood is guaranteed! If one flight is not enough, you are welcome to fly for the second and the third time. And if you realise during this that you want to learn to fly on your own, you may sign up for the School courses right there and then.
When does the training take place?
The training takes place from early April till late September at the Aerodrome of Rumbula, normally from 5:00 p.m. till it gets dark, weather permitting. From October till late March the training takes place only on week-ends or during the day in case of an individual approach (as an exception if the student is only able to train during weekdays).
Where does the training (theory and practice) take place?
Practical training takes place on weekdays, weather permitting (there is no rain and the wind speed is less than 5 m/s), at one of the ends of the Aerodrome of Rumbula, depending on the direction of the wind.
Theory lessons take place on the second floor of a building situated at 191a Maskava Street on those weekdays when flights are not possible (when it is raining and/or the wind speed is over 5 m/s).
How is the training done?
The training is split into two courses. Practical training only takes place in the presence of an instructor at the Airport of Rumbula.
Course 1: theory lessons + practical field training (working with the wing) + a tandem flight with the instructor + 12 solo flights. The purpose of Course 1 is to learn elementary skills: launching correctly, descending, steering the paraglider without the steering toggles (brakes), mid-air turns, and simulation of reserve parachute deployment.
Upon completion of Course 1 a student will have already formed his opinion about this type of sport and will have to decide whether or not to continue the training. If the answer is ‘Yes, I like it’, the student will start Course 2. The student must also bear in mind that he or she will have to purchase equipment of his own to fly upon completion of the training.
Course 2: theory (meteorology, aerodynamics, Latvian airspace usage procedures) + 20 solo flights. Exercises: take-off and wing braking (pecking), spiral, wingovers, precision landing, ‘big ears’, landing with ears, use of the accelerator.
School equipment is used during all practical training, and there are NO additional costs to pay. A student is entitled to a training discount in case he has equipment of his own.
During the solo flights, a student does not just learn to fly but also performs and masters different manoeuvring techniques which will enable him or her to fly safely in the future. Radio communication is provided during the flights (the instructor guides the student by means of a walkie-talkie). Upon completion of the training a student takes an examination given by a representative of the Latvian Paragliding Federation (the LPF) and gets an international pilot proficiency information (IPPI) card.
How do I know if there are any training lessons today?
In order to be able to inform its students about training lessons, the School uses a special short messaging system (SMS). Students are sent an SMS about the place and time of training in the morning of the school day, or a day before. Please use the SMS system menu at the top of the page to register in the SMS system.
How long will the training take?
The training process usually takes 1 to 2 months, provided that the student attends the training lessons regularly. If the student attends the training lessons rarely, the efficiency will be low and the student will train for 3 months. In the winter lessons take place rarely therefore the duration of the training during winter will increase up to 6 months. Current training records among our students: from 2 weeks to an endless period of training - the person trained on the ground, did the groundhandling drills but never flew solo.
What altitude does the winch take to? What is the duration of a flight?
At the Aerodrome of Rumbula the flying altitude reaches 300 to 400 metres, sometimes 450 metres (to do the spiral). Flying at higher altitudes is not allowed because of the Latvian airspace usage regulations. The duration of a training flight is 4 to 8 minutes. One may fly higher in other locations in Latvia (the maximum allowed altitude is 3000 m) where members of the club fly on weekends, and given the right conditions, a pilot may spend several hours in the air. Current Latvian record is 6 hours 50 minutes, distance flown 251 km.
Does one hit the ground hard on landing?
If you brake the wing correctly before the landing it is similar to stepping on the floor when getting out of the bed. But this is an ideal situation; most often the sensation is similar to jumping off a stool.
Is a pilot equipped with a reserve parachute during the flight?
Always! Taking off by a winch without a reserve parachute is FORBIDDEN!
Has the reserve parachute been ever deployed?
Yes, the reserve parachute has been deployed twice in Latvia during the last 10 years, and only because of failed acrobatic manouvers. The reserve parachute has NEVER been deployed during regular flights. The reserve parachute has been deployed twice while flying in mountainous regions outside Latvia. The reasons: an incorrect assessment of the weather conditions and a failed acrobatic manouver. Deployment of a reserve parachute for training purposes is one of the exercises in the SIV Course performed over the water basin of the Riga Hydro Power Station.
How do we take to the air?
Since there are no mountains in Latvia one can take to the air by means of a special winch (passive or active). The passive winch operates as follows: a winch with a 1000 m cable and an adjustable braking system has been installed on the roof of a car, and the paraglider is towed up upwind like a kite. When the altitude is sufficient the pilot unhooks himself and starts a free flight. A small parachute is attached to the end of the cable to prevent it from falling down too quickly; the parachute slows down its fall and the winch operator pulls the cable in before it falls down on the ground. In the case of the active winch, the cable has been unrolled from the start and lies on the ground. The winch is stationary and tows the pilot. The unhooking and the cable winding is the same as for a passive winch.
Where can one fly in Latvia without a winch?
In Latvia one can fly without a winch at the locations of dynamic wind compression (in dynamic air flows): on a hill slope, from a hill or bluff. There are three great places in Latvia for different wind directions: Jurkalne, Saulkrasti and Skriveri. The flight altitude is not grate (no more than 30 m) but one can fly for a very long time. If the wind speed and direction is right one can fly all day long. Jurkalne is an ideal place. The location in Skriveri is rather narrow and is more suitable for pilots with some experience. Saulkrasti Baltā kāpa White ciff is more sutable for very experienced pilots with excelent ground handling skills for there is narro lounching space with some obsticles.
Flying from a hill is possible at Pedvale and in some other locations in Latvia but this is boring and unproductive.
For how long can one fly without the engine running?
In thermal weather conditions all depends on the pilot’s mastery. The duration of a flight may be starting from 10 minutes to as long as 5 to 6 hours. One can also fly in dynamic air flows (e.g. at Jurkalne) for hours on end.
For how long can one fly with the engine running?
Using an engine one can fly 2 to 4 hours. It depends on the capacity of the fuel tank and the wind. If you are flying windward and bending the throttle intermittently the fuel will end within a few hours.
Are there any age limits?
Any person, from 16 to 50, may take the course regardless of the sex. We have even had students aged 65 but this is rather an exception. If the student is below 18, a written permission by his or her parents and a statement by the family doctor is required as proof that the person is allowed to go paragliding.
Can I buy second-hand paragliding equipment?
Yes, you can, provided you know for how long and how it has been used by its previous owner. You should consult an instructor in any case, however.
What happens upon completion of the training?
Once you have completed the training course you may take a theory examination (50 questions) and a practical examination given by a representative of the Latvian Paragliding Federation (LPF) and obtain an IPPI card. Then you have to choose one of the following options:
(a) Join any club and fly using club winch;
(b) Buy an paramotor and learn to fly with it so as to be independent from the clubs;
(c) Become an independent pilot (an eagle) and fly either at Jurkalne or Skriveri, or using a club winch, paying for each tow.
How does the powered paragliding training take place?
In order to start flying a powered paraglider (a paraglider equipped with an engine) you must buy an engine of your own. The instructor will provide you with the required theoretical knowledge and once you have mastered the equipment on the ground you will start flying and performing exercises in the air assisted by the instructor.
Do young women learn to fly too?
What clothing should I choose for practical training?
You should wear sports footwear (with hard soles, preferably) and a jacket or shirt with long sleeves.
Are there any additional courses?
A training course for thermal flight routes is organised as trips to mountains. The training course includes lectures and practical flight exercises. For example, during the traditional trip to Bassano.
Advanced training courses SIV are organised in the summer annually (in late June – early July) over the water basin of the Riga Hydro Power Station. Pilots imitate and prevent various dangerous flight modes and wing collapses, deploy the parachute and learn some acrobatic feats.
What is the club?
The club is a company where all pilots enjoy equal rights. Club pilots decide themselves when the club will fly and where to, including the destination and duration of the trips to mountains. The club has traditions of their own, a few rules and an annual membership fee. The annual membership fee is 70 € or 300 €, click here for more detail.