The two things that distinguish Eagle for me are both “Scale” and “Culture” compared to the competition Eagle has more instructors, is connected to a far bigger community and can offer the individual a deeper wealth of knowledge and insight due to the extensive experience of its instructors and combined knowledge of its faculty/community. As for Culture its all about safety first and then clear / professional teaching guidelines and rigour to set the new pilot up for success at every stage in their flying career, the Eagle team are a fantastic group of individuals who’s passion for the sport is infections and unparalleled.
A paragliding school is only as good as its instructors. The staff at Eagle Paragliding has the credentials and achievements that would justify them being a bunch of arrogant, boastful and stuck-up pilot rock stars. They hold national XC records, are X-Alps competitors, have been members of the national Paragliding team and been instructing longer than most others. Yet they are the complete opposite. Approachable, nurturing, patient, humble. Living across the country from Santa Barbara, I don’t have the fortune of interacting with them frequently, but every January for 4 years running, I meet up with them in Colombia for the flying highlight of my year. The hours spent in the air is as much fun as the time interacting and debriefing with Eagle after landing.
I joined Eagle upon recommendation of a friend who’d trained with Marty DeVietti, and I count myself fortunate for my friend’s nudge in the right direction, this after a poor experience with a company in Colorado. I came to Eagle knowing virtually nothing of the sport, thinking I was going to get skills-based instruction, but I’ve experienced so much more than that. As a newbie, I didn’t fully appreciate what was before me — the spark that’d made me want to try paragliding was really the start of a personal journey of self-discovery, one which involved trust in others, trust in myself, and a new kind of awareness. I’ve discovered that paragliding is so much more than what I had first imagined it to be. This journey takes time, and I’m so glad I’ve chosen a company that’ll be there with me for the duration. For me, Eagle has become family.
I used a careful process in assessing whether to learn Paragliding, and considering the options of who to study Paragliding with. In selecting Eagle Paragliding I made an outstanding choice, … but not for the initial reasons I initially thought about. Bottom line: the team and community of folks at Eagle Paragliding, as well as the overall paragliding community in Santa Barbara have provided a level of personal support, encouragement and guidance on a day to day basis, continuing long after training. I only became aware of the importance of those elements long after my initial selection. The individual members of the Eagle team have been great during the training process, and continue in their support now. It has been two years since my first flight. I’ve had about 150 flights on the training hill and perhaps 50 in the mountains in Santa Barbara and elsewhere. Paragliding is a life altering experience. The learning is not a frivolous exercise. Focus, Study, Allocate the time needed, be cautious… then enjoy the challenge with, and learn from, the very best family .. Eagle Paragliding.
I have been trained by several instructors in my 12 years of paragliding and I would recommend Eagle Paragliding over all of them. I consider the guys at Eagle Paragliding to be my paragliding family. I’ve trained with them, flown beside them, traveled to foreign countries with them and bought lots of gear from them over the last 8 years. I trust them completely to look after me.Flying tandem under Eagle instruction several times has given me complete trust in their judgment and expertise. You guys are highly skilled with mountain and coastal flying and you are able to communicate the knowledge to the students clearly; one thing I find very important and rare.To be a good teacher it takes patience, passion, focus, intuition and a unique ability to effectively convey information. To be a great teacher it takes all those qualities and love for your students. These guys are great teachers! I have watched your instructors train beginning students. You are all committed to safety and work with each student at their level of skill. I encourage anyone considering training in paragliding to do it with Rob Sporrer and his staff of instructors at Eagle Paragliding. I couldn’t suggest anyone more honest, competent and dedicated.
I bought my teenage daughter a one-day lesson for her birthday, and she said it was one of the best experiences of her life! She was by far the youngest and least experienced in the group that got trained on the day we went, but the instructors were great about working with her, making sure she understood everything and felt safe, and being patient when she needed some extra help or time. She actually enjoyed it so much that now she says she wants to go back for the full certificate!
it’s been few months since I have completed my training with Eagle Paragliding, and got my P2 rating. During this time I did some flying on my own at sites other than Santa Barbara. I met other P2 and more advanced pilots, and some instructors. It gradually became apparent to me how lucky I am to have Eagle as my school. I noticed that my ground handling, takeoff, in flight control, and landing abilities are better than those of the other novice pilots. I contribute all of this to your exceptional instruction. During the class I was pleased that our relation felt more like friendship than a business one. Initially you spent enough time on ground handling and kiting, and successfully conveyed to us how important those are, which really helped me later when flying off the mountains. Another thing I learned from you was the important skills of understanding the weather and reading the terrain. Your web site is a very good hub for weather information. I am also very satisfied with the equipment I got from you. It is a perfect fit for my size and abilities. Thank you, thank you, for making my introduction to paragliding such a pleasant and exiting experience. P.S. I am religiously maintaining my flight log book, and looking forward of becoming a P3 pilot when I am ready.
I have been a paraglider pilot since 2003. I live in Phoenix, AZ and fly locally at South Mountain which is in the middle of the city or at the Craters in Flagstaff.My favorite place to fly is Telluride, Colorado for the spectacular scenery. The best place I have flown for consistent thermals and great instruction is Valle De Bravo on a tour with Eagle Paragliding. My training is ongoing, really. The beautiful thing about this sport is the learning never ends. The guys from Eagle take special care to watch their “flock” long after they leave the nest, which sets them apart from other schools. The training hill in Santa Barbara is fantastic for getting your take offs and landings down pat as well as a great place to ground handle your wing. Santa Barbara also has some very accessible mountain sites once you are deemed ready by Rob and his staff. I can recommend Eagle Paragliding to anyone who is serious about flying.
I am a Private pilot with Single Engine, Instrument and Sailplane ratings. I received my P2 Paraglider rating in 2004 after training with Eagle Paragliding School in Santa Barbara, California. Though my initial training was fun, efficient and adequate to get me safely airborne, I have been most impressed with Eagle’s commitment and follow up after I received my rating. Over the years years Eagle instructors have regularly coached and assisted me in becoming a safer and more proficient pilot. I have been transported in the school van to the top of the training hill and more local mountain launches than I can count. Only with this level of support was I able to enjoy many of my more spectacular flights to date. Flight in a paraglider is the most exciting and most natural form flying I have experienced. Paragliding is not a sport for everyone but everyone that that wants to fly a paraglider needs a school like Eagle Paragliding.
Eagle Team, I would like to extend my appreciation to you for the excellent instruction you provided. I have wanted to get my P2 certification for quite some time. I had originally planned on going up to Washington but due to my uncertain schedule I was unable to fix a date well enough in advance to secure a spot. In retrospect, I believe that turned out for my best. Your instruction met and exceeded all my expectations.
There are several things that I will always remember.
1) Your emphasis on patience and safety.
2) Your emphasis on mastering ground handling skills prior to any flights.
3) Your positive and encouraging outlook toward the sport and your students.
4) Your sense of friendship that transcended the training.
From the combined reading material, simulator, and watching you decide when the conditions were right, I gained an example of a patient and meticulous outlook that I hope I will always follow. The three days of ground handling (kiting) left my muscles a bit sore but gave me confidence for what the wing should feel like. I will never lose the sense of importance of good ground handling skills. The final day, when the right conditions for ridge soaring presented itself was, of course, the coup de grace. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to see many other pilots fly and it has only increased my appreciation for the training I received. I wish you the best in the future of your school and look forward to seeing you as the opportunity may present itself.
I have nothing but positive things to say about my experience with Eagle Paragliding. I remember my training program quite well, in particular a few things. I was constantly getting quality information, while somehow managing being lectured. I used to teach as well – and I was usually exhausted after 3 hours. My eagle instructors went back to back days without missing a beat. If the students were listening, they were learning something new. The instructors consistently listened to students when they had questions, or simply wanted to discuss the topics at hand. They made it clear they was always interested in hearing his students’ perspectives as well.I saw patience with those students who needed more time than others, while still encouraging them to take the next step when they were ready. Conversely, when students were doing the wrong thing, the instructors were always clear and appropriate. They took the time always to go over the students’ methods and make sure they understood how to do better on their next step. The staff was serious about the sport and its details and its risks, but still always made it clear that the point was to have fun and celebrate the flying. This was an excellent and rarely found combination. I’ve referred to Eagle everyone who has asked me for a recommendation on a paragliding instructor, and will continue to do so.
I wanted to thank you for the superb training and service I received as a student at Eagle Paragliding. I really appreciate the hard work which you put into training students. You consistently placed safety first, illustrated a depth of knowledge, and taught with such enthusiasm that you made learning a very enjoyable experience. I feel fortunate to have attended your school, and to receive recommendations to train with you. In all cases, you took the time to do things right, going as slow as necessary to verify both my own skills and making sure I was properly inspecting any equipment we were using. In many instances I knew you could have taken short cuts or omitted training me on some aspect of paragliding, but you never did, often giving me more than was necessary in order to make me feel comfortable and a better pilot. Compared to the other instructors we encountered and the ones I’ve seen in the past, I felt you set the highest standard for safety. I believe your school, for as long as you continue to train, will produce well-developed, safe, properly trained pilots. In addition to feeling a sense of confidence around you based on your attention to safety, it was also clear that your depth of knowledge was outstanding. Clearly, you knew what you were doing, the terminology involved, and how to explain concepts in several ways such that new students could learn them. I also noticed that you were constantly striving to find new and effective ways to teach; something which marks you as a top-notch instructor. Finally, I was also deeply impressed by your ability to be both encouraging and positive no matter how difficult I or another student was. Your encouragement made a huge different, and set an example I personally will strive to hit in my own work as a trainer. As an instructor, I know how difficult it can be to train people, especially when they have disruptive personalities, attitudes, or are just plain having a hard day. Not once did you say anything negative, down-beat, or negative about anyone or anything they did. Even when we discussed the After Action Reviews following my flights, you always found a way to do so in non-threatening ways. Your devotion to a safe, positive training environment backed by your knowledge and experience combines to make your school one of the best out there.
Living in NJ where there is little opportunity to learn to paraglide, I looked all over the country to find a school that would not only help me earn my Novice P2, but a school that would provide me future opportunities to fly. The commute out to the west coast paid great dividends. In less than a year and a half, I’ve made several trips back to Santa Barbara to fly with the guys from Eagle who always welcome me back with open arms. Just after earning my P2, I traveled with Eagle to Valle De Bravo Mexico and shortly afterwards up to Alaska on their paragliding tours. The opportunity to participate on these trips is the best way for an east coaster like me to stay in the sport. Not only do you get to fly great sites, but you continue to learn from the best pilots in the country. I can’t wait for the next trip next month.
Rob and staff are not just excellent instructors, but they are great friends. They are genuinely caring people! Rob is super positive and a safe pilot/instructor. Eagle Paragliding is usually the first school at the training hill in the morning and the last one to call it a day as the sun is setting. I totally appreciate Rob and his staff for being such great mentors in the paragliding field in SB. They are advocates for our Santa Barbara sites to keep us pilots safe and preserve our local flying sites!
My experience at Eagle Paragliding was unlike any I have experienced in my 20 years as an actions sports participant and professional. Eagle Paragliding and the Santa Barbara flying community brought me into the paragliding world with unprecedented camaraderie and a bottomless wealth of paragliding information.
I traveled from Seattle to Santa Barbara at the end of 2017 to earn my P2 rating with the Eagle team. The training hill at Elings is almost always flyable and has got to be one of the best places to learn in the US if not with world. After getting my P2, I traveled with Rob and his group of elite instructors to Colombia where I had 3 flights of three hours or more and more than 14 hours in one week. I now fly mostly at Tiger Mtn near Seattle and with the thermalling skills learned with Eagle Paragliding, I have had more the 20 flights of 1-3 hours and I am often near the top of the gaggle. Their instruction rates are significantly lower than the cost of learning in the Seattle area. If you are thinking of learning to paraglide, you will not find a better place or team to learn from than Eagle Paragliding.
My initial experience with Eagle some years ago was excellent. The education was thorough and never boring and the combination of a training hill that (almost) always works, mountain launches for completing the training, and the beautiful surroundings to relax in were/are perfect. Where Eagle really soars (pun intended) however is *after* the initial certification. They actively nurture the incredibly friendly and helpful flying community in Santa Barbara, not just with words, but also by providing useful services like the Eagle van, shuttling anybody who can fit in to the mountain launches for a very modest fee. Even though I live in NJ I’ve been back to SB many times and have *always* felt welcome and *always* had my questions and concerns answered without once feeling like a burden. I’ve also taken one flying trip with Eagle to Columbia and I am planning to take more. The trips aren’t cheap admittedly, but like in Santa Barbara, the education during the trip, the provided services like driving to launch and retrieve vehicles, tirelessly repairing little (or large) mishaps to gliders that can happen during the days, and the sense of community created were outstanding. I especially liked the separation of pilots into groups by their skill level and then having one instructor flying with that group and providing guidance in the air was really helpful and reassuring.
I went on a 2018 Colombia Tour with Eagle. From pick up at the airport to drop off, they were professional and organized.
Ground school each evening was highly relevant, and covered a broad range of important topics. Guiding at launch and while in the air was excellent. Guide to pilot ratio was 4:1 on my tour and worked very well. I had a great trip with Eagle and I’m a better pilot for it.
Michael Jordan basketball, Muhammed Ali boxing, you know who walked on water…… I put Eagle Paragliding all in this same category. The location is off the chain but even more impressive is the instruction. The instructors are world class, incredibly knowledgeable , give great detailed instruction, very patient, would error on the side of safety vs pushing you through the training to get to the next student, very friendly, you leave knowing how to paraglide and a community of new friends. I trust my training and life to Eagle paragliding and my children too who all received their training there. If you want to see some beautiful ocean go to Bora Bora, if you want to learn or improve your paragliding go to Eagle paragliding it’s a sure thing.
Chose Eagle Paragliding because they are a real school with the best instructors. They have the knowledge and experience you want in learning this sport. There are quite a few instructors and a real training program, something you don’t get in many places. No matter who is training that day you know will will get the best there is in the sport.
I trusted Rob and his Eagle Paragliding team with my entire family including my two children. It was the best time my family has ever had together! This is an awesome activity for family bonding or team building. I highly recommend this company. They were professional, and we felt completely safe in their care. The views from the training hill cannot be matched. An epic day indeed!!!
My lessons at Eagle Paragliding were exactly what I was hoping for. I was looking for an instructor that was patient and calming and that is EXACTLY what I found with Mitch Riley at Eagle Paragliding. He was an amazing instructor and really took the time to explain things that made the process understandable. He was calm on the radio and that put my mind at ease and made it easier to focus. I highly recommend Eagle Paragliding. It made my time learning to paraglide, FUN! I am now flying in my home town, thank you!!
The staff at Eagle are experienced, professional, and patient. I was/am a slow learner. Each staff member was patient and used techniques such as, “running backwards,” all day to help me get in the air. I am sure that’s not easy day after day. However, each day I arrived each staff member was enthusiastic and positive. I would highly recommend Eagle to anyone and everyone.
I researched a number of schools for my P2 and initially selected Eagle Paragliding due to the location which offers the most consistent flying days, affording the best learning environment. But I got so much more than I expected out of this school!! I was blown away by the investment of the instructions and the community. You are always meeting the most genuine and friendly people who are willing to offer up advice and tips. The curriculum was thorough and taught in a way that allowed me to go at my own pace and my own comfort level. I loved working with multiple instructors and learning different methods, theories, and applications. I have flown with other pilots that learned from a single instructor and feel that they have been disadvantaged by only learning one perspective. I truly felt like each of the instructors was rooting for me and their support has continued beyond my P2 training. Becoming a member of the Eagle Family is truly the greatest benefit of joining this program. I couldn’t have made a better choice than going through Eagle Paragliding for me free flight wings!
I have known the folks at Eagle since I flew out to Santa Barbara from Boston to put my P2 on a faster track. That was eleven years ago. Recently, Ive traveled twice to Colombia with Rob, Marite and their flock of incredible instructors. Eagle Paragliding has always been welcoming. They love paragliding and that comes through in every way. The winter trips to Colombia were so well planned. Everything was taken care. The quality of the instructors was top notch. Plus, they are all just seriously great guys. I consider Eagle where I started an incredible flying journey.
Eagle Paragliding is a great school and I had a great experience learning there! By the end of the P2 course I felt confident in my skills and also knew my limit. Throughout the course all the instructors were supportive and ready to help whenever I needed them, but also, let me work out skills on my own. Another great benefit from Eagle Paragliding is that I’m a student for life! Even though I finished the course I can still go back and freshen up on skills.
Searching for paragliding instruction, i came across Eagle’s website and decided to check them out. Rob Sporer set me up with lodging near the training site. Everyone at Eagle was professional, encouraging, and patient in dealing with me. Great instructors, every last one. They had me flying from the training hill on day one, took me to Big Sur for my first mountain flight. They supplied me with all the equipment for safe flight, and assisted me with the purchase of my own gear.All the instructors at Eagle have my respect and gratitude for making flight a reality in my life.
My friends and I had an absolute blast flying in beautiful Santa Barbara this Sunday! All of the instructors were patient, very encouraging and clear in instruction. I loved how hands-on the lesson was and how quickly we were able to dive into getting a taste of air in Elings Park once we went over proper gear setup and maneuvers. Though the winds picked up in the afternoon, we were able to get in a solid ~2.5 hours of flight training in the morning. I didn’t get to meet him in person this time, but Rob Sporrer was very responsive, personable and an absolute champ in getting my group booked and ready leading up to flying day. I felt very safe throughout the entire experience and had a ton of fun. Looking forward to coming back real soon to fly with Eagle Paragliding again 🙂
Again, thanks for everything! Eagle paragliding provided me with an outstanding foundation from which to build off of as I continue my journey into flight this year. Having worked as a wildland firefighter and now as an ICU nurse, communication and instruction have always been paramount in my careers. I was super impressed by the communication skills and professionalism of all the instructors at eagle paragliding and how they were always adding in skills and things to think about at the perfect moment as we progressed. Super stoked to have been an eagle student and I’ll look forward to flying in SB and hopefully Columbia during the next year. Very happy I found you guys and couldn’t have gotten better weather for learning in along with the three days of good mountain flying conditions for my skill level.
The Mesa flights today were awesome! I have said almost every day this week that the other school has been up there that I am so profoundly grateful that Bella that did the research and found eagle paragliding. Every single one of your instructors are awesome, and today we had Kevin, Drew and Galen out there on the bluff with Bella and Dave. It was simply amazing. Please know that Paul and Bella and I are extremely interested in going to Colombia winter tours. Thank you for this awesome experience.
If you want to get into paragliding call Rob. I repeat: if you want to get into paragliding, call Eagle Paragliding. When I decided I wanted to try out free flight, I had no idea it would be so much fun and addicting. Eagle is in my mind the best school on earth to learn the sport. The instructors (ALL OF THEM) are truly some of the best teachers I have ever interacted with. The training hill at Elings Park is renowned nationwide for its predictable safe learning environment. And the multi student environment allows you to fraternize with pilots both above and below your current skill level. This is super helpful! I have made life long friends at the training hill. Eagle also makes a point that once you become a student, you are a student for life. So anytime you need to brush up or test your new gear I know someone always has my back. If you want the best ever by far, go Eagle.
I chose Eagle Paragliding after searching for the best environment and service available for learning to paraglide. After completing their initial program, I believed that I had made the right choice. Now, many years later, I feel the same. Eagle has, in my opinion, consistently maintained standards of excellence for training new pilots, from ground school through certification. Their staff is well trained and tuned to the needs of each student. They are supportive, and maintain a high level of communication throughout the learning process. Their training hill is well situated with consistent conditions to train throughout the year as is the Santa Barbara area also a place where one can fly year round. Eagle offers tours for paragliding including Colombia S.A. where I have participated. I can imagine no better tour as Eagle employs some of the most accomplished paragliders in the U.S. to mentor each individual as well as orchestrate a complete experience in a beautiful environment. Rob Sporrer is the owner and person responsible for the success of Eagle. He has clearly dedicated himself to maintaining the high level of quality that Eagle Paragliding has become known for.
My experience with Eagle Paragliding has been tremendous. Not only are the instructors extremely knowledgable they are excellent teachers providing constant help and encouragement. And the teaching/mentoring continues long after the course is complete. The Eagle team has always been open and ready to answer questions and help me move into better skills. I am deeply grateful for Eagle and for their instructors who introduced me into the world of free flight.
I originally went with them because the price was great (Canada is substantially more) and later found out they were the number one school in the USA. After starting my classes I soon realized what a phenomenally good choice I had made. Not only was the instruction/instructors great but the staff made me feel very welcome. They are like a family. The staff treated me like I had known them forever and went out of their way to make me feel welcome. One instructor even went out of her way to pick me up on days I couldn’t get a ride to the training hill. I can honestly say that choosing eagle paragliding was the best decision I could’ve made. I came down from Banff, Alberta, Canada to take a course and learn another skill like any other adrenaline sport but ended up leaving with a lot more than I expected including a new set of friends that are professional and genuinely looking out for your well-being. I would highly recommend learning with eagle paragliding. They love their sports and are eager to share their passion with you and make you feel as comfortable as you possibly can.
Truly a great bunch of guys, very knowledgeable and safe. They were patient with the learning process and the on radio commands.
The winds were not favorable on my first day so they set me up to come back for a makeup half day at not charge, I was able to get 5 flights in that morning. I would definitely recommend this company for anyone wanting to take flight in this manner.
I trained with Eagle in February of 2018 and had a very rewarding experience. Eagle’s instructors are dedicated professionals who are passionate about the sport. The training site is uniquely situated on the Pacific shore with consistent, predictable winds that create conditions perfect for training, enabling multiple launches and landings in a single day. Because of these extraordinary conditions, I was able to rapidly progress through the P2 training curriculum. After I finished my training, I traveled to La Union, Colombia, and felt perfectly prepared to fly from the 5,545′ launch site in the Andes mountains. What a HOOT!
Fortunately for me I had friends who highly recommended flying with you, specifically Matthias Jaffe. My Colombia experience this year was my first time to meet your crew, and I was completely impressed with every aspect of the trip and all of the people involved. I can’t imagine a more accomplished group of pilots who also all share such a positive approach to flying and supporting pilots who are WAY below their skill levels but never made to feel that way! I’ve hoped for a chance to make it to Santa Barbara to join in some more fun with you there, but life has been in the way – but I’ll definitely make it up some day.
I had a blast at Eagle Paragliding! Nothing is like flying Santa Barbara. The mix of instruction style ensures that there is an instructor you will click with the entire Eagle team. Thank you all for helping me fly.
The instructors are able to efficiently coach you into becoming a paragliding pilot because they are able tell you what mistake you’re about to make before you make it, allowing successful habits to be ingrained into you. They care that you learn the correct way and won’t let you off until you’re demonstrating competent technique. They’re a great group of instructors.
Dear Eagle Paragliding Team,
I am writing to you on behalf of myself and the rest of my group that came to you for a paragliding course in January. As you were aware this was an adventurous training expedition organized by myself on behalf of the Royal Air Force stationed at Goose Bay.
This was organized under our services requirements to provide activities that are testing and challenging to individuals and to also encourage personal and team development. Having had some limited experience paragliding, qualifying P2 just over 18 months ago, the task of project officer was given to me.
On my first contact with you by e-mail and by viewing your high quality web-site, it was apparent that I was dealing with a well-organized and well-managed school. This continued to the case during the coming months as we exchanged various information and requests for training requirements, all of which you were happy to accommodate.
The help you gave with finding accommodation to our requirements, was also much appreciated as this meant that I did not have to try searching for them from Canada. The accommodation was excellent and we were also pleasantly surprised with the very good rate that you had negotiated for us.
From day one of the training it was obvious that you were a very competent and knowledgeable instructor and just as important you were very easy to get on with. Being British and being in the military, we tend to have a very unique outlook on life, and this influences the way we interact with people. Everyone in my party found that you adapted and embraced this unique style so well that very quickly you even started to understand our sense of humor.
The training was always very clear, concise and put over in an informed, authoritative but friendly manner. It was clearly divided into a series of logical progressive steps that enabled all students to safely increase their knowledge and abilities with the wing, with allowances being made for individual abilities.
This was nice to see as being a qualified A1 instructor with the RAF, you are in the habit of taking apart peoples instruction methods but this was not the case, because of your high standard.
The proof of the quality of training could soon be seen in the progression of the students and they were soon producing clean launches and landings with good awareness of landing approach and set up.
I was also impressed by the depth and quality of the ground school training, which has certainly given all of us a much better appreciation of the weather and the factors affecting thermal production.
The flights in the mountains will certainly stay with all of us as the high point of the course. The careful steady approach to teaching with safety as the first consideration pays off when in 9 days you can train 6 students (even allowing for several days of bad weather) and then safely launch and recover them from their first big flight. Even when preparing for these first flights the attention to detail is noticeable, everyone is briefed on all available landing zones, the best route to the main LZ, where thermals might be found etc, all very reassuring for those making their first big flight.
On a personal note I would have no hesitation in recommending you to anyone, I have seen your training and I have seen your training area, if only all schools were as good. Having had three training courses now 2 in the US and 1 in the UK, I can say that Eagle Paragliding and Rob Sporrer are the best I have been to. My own flying improved in leaps and bounds during my time training with you and if the opportunity arises that I can train with you again, then I will be there. I know when I say thank you for all of your help, advice and patience; I am saying it for my entire group.
Sgt Richard Tustain – Project Officer – Royal Air Force
ERS RAF(U) Goose Bay
PO Box 907 Station A
Goose Bay Labrador Canada A0P 1S0
My name is Jonathan Chuter and I LOVE to fly. I’ve been flying for about two yeas now, on and off. I live in London, England. I’ve wanted to fly something (although I was never sure what, or how, quite) since I was about 10, and my interest was kindled properly when I was given a glider lesson for my 18th birthday. Since I had way too much testosterone and adrenaline and no money at that age. I settled for skiing and biking. I had a certain repeating dream while sleeping about once a month where everything became really light and floaty, and I found myself launch up into the air and flying around…
Visiting Santa Barbara regularly in the last few years to see a certain local lady I became transfixed by the paragliders I saw intermittently in the clear beautiful skies above the town. I signed up for a discover paragliding lesson with some reservations. You see, although I felt my hormones had settled to an acceptable level, and although I could just about afford it, I work as a school teacher in London, and while I value good teaching, I can’t abide mediocre educators and I certainly wasn’t about to pay a bunch of self centered jocks to put my life at risk while they wished they were elsewhere, flying high.
My experience of learning to fly with Eagle Paragliding was very special. Without going in to too much detail about educational theory, different people learn in different ways, and people bring baggage (fear of failure, or of looking stupid!) to the learning environment which usually hampers their progress, their ability to trust the teacher, and their enjoyment of the experience. At Eagle, I learned so much and in such an enjoyable way because my instructors were not only clearly technical experts, but were also able to communicate the right amount of information in the right way, and deliver it at the right pace for me. In addition, they (consciously or subconsciously) were aware, very quickly of what kind of a learner and a personality I was and adapted their teaching accordingly.
What the hell am I talking about? Well basically, I am a serious person who learns very quickly, wants to do well, is very self critical and wants to get the absolute maximum from every experience I have. In response to this, Rob fed me a lot of technical information, but disguised much of it in catchy sayings (A’s away, rears near; cross em n boss em; move to the low side). This meant that my head was not full up with technical stuff (so that I had enough brain free to be aware of and sensitive to my glider and its behavior). When I set up these days I can hear Rob’s measured voice in my head, “yeah, Jonny Pops!” Rob allowed my to push myself on the first couple of days, allowed me to kite even when the wind was pretty strong and I was clearly struggling. He laughed a lot when I fell over, while encouraging me at the same time, to combat my seriousness, and to loosen me up (which I needed to in order to feel the glider). I’m not sure whether his humor, and his insistence on calling me ‘Jonny Pops’ was partly him having a laugh, but it defused my overly serious attitude, and allowed me to laugh at myself which for a slightly uptight brit ; ) was great for my vacation vibe but also helped me fly better.
I remember Marty asking me gently to stop when the wind became too strong for my kiting ability in the middle of the day, and rather than flying with the experts (as an instructor was doing from another company) while the wind was strong (which would have got right up my nose) he sat for maybe three hours and talked about flying and commented on what was going on with the wind and peoples’ gliders and talked about teaching theory and his negative experiences when he learned to fly planes and what an inspiration that was to him to teach really well. Marty stayed till about 7 that day and I got 5 flights that evening as the wind died – just him and me. Every time I took off, he calmed me down, set me a task, and every time I landed, he began by complimenting me on what I had got right, joining me in my excitement and joy, and then analyzed the flight with me, examining it for things to improve.
At all times, I felt safety was paramount and risk assessment a serious undertaking. The emphasis was always on me being responsible for my own flying, not relying on them, making good decisions, etc.
Many lessons culminated in a trip last Easter when I got to stay with Rob in his RV, and was assigned Kev as my personal minder, instructor, and drinking buddy. While I had to wait a few days for good winds, Kev and I had a blast, and when the wind finally got right, he got me my first high mountain flight and my first ridge soaring experience (both on the same day!). The following day I had what can only be described as a religious experience soaring about the Santa Barbara cliffs for over an hour in bright sunshine, butter smooth winds and a solid, stable glider which I was persuaded to purchase ahead of a rather spicy alternative that I had my eye on (thanks Rob!). Kev was an excellent instructor and facilitated my transition from student to pilot. His easy manner, many flying stories, childishness when it didn’t matter, and moments of utter, grownup seriousness when it did, earned my respect and confidence, things I do not offer easily.
As someone who respects excellent teaching and knows it when he sees it, I can honestly say that Eagle Paragliding lead in their field of education. And as someone who values his own life EXTREMELY highly, I am pleased to report that these guys can really be trusted.
Returning to Europe, I bided my time until summer, drove my ‘petit camping car’ (that’s French for small RV, apparently) to France and spent 9 days van camping on the summit of the Puy de Dome, an extinct volcano in the Auvergne region of France on which sits the ruins of a pre-Christian temple dedicated to the god Mercury (him of the winged shoes – they didn’t have paragliders in those days!). After waiting for 48 hours for the fog to clear, I spent 5 days flying in all kinds of conditions, learning many new things, gaining experience, having fun and staying safe. It’s not somewhere many Yanks will have flown, and I can’t recommend it because I haven’t flown enough places to compare, but for me it was like going to the moon and coming back safely. That safe, stable glider and all my instruction allowed me to live my dream – thanks Eagle.
Jonathan Chuter – Jonny Pops : )