BHPA Club Pilot: Your Path to Independent Flying

For those who have tasted the skies through the Elementary Pilot (EP) qualification, the BHPA offers the next step on the journey to becoming a fully-fledged pilot: the Club Pilot (CP) qualification. This certification opens up the skies for unsupervised flights, marking a significant milestone in a pilot’s development. Here’s everything you need to know about the CP qualification.


The CP course typically extends over 5-10 days, though this can vary based on weather conditions and the learner’s progression rate.


To enrol in the CP course, candidates must have successfully completed the EP qualification. Additionally, a recommendation from an instructor based on the candidate’s readiness is often required. This ensures that students have a solid foundation in basic flying skills and are prepared for more advanced training.

Detailed Syllabus

The Club Pilot (CP) syllabus from the BHPA is designed to elevate pilots from basic flight proficiency to managing more complex flying conditions and techniques:

  • Advanced Ground Handling: Beyond fundamental control, pilots refine their ability to manage the wing with precision in challenging conditions, preparing for advanced launching and landing techniques.
  • Reverse and Forward Launching: Pilots learn both reverse launching, used in higher wind conditions to give better control of the wing before takeoff, and forward launching, preferred in lighter winds, focusing on technique, timing, and control.
  • Big Ears: This technique, crucial for descent in paragliding, involves pulling down on the outer lines to reduce the wing area and increase descent rate, while maintaining stability. Pilots practice this skill to manage altitude effectively and safely.
  • Soaring Techniques: Training includes using ridge lift and thermals for prolonged flights. Pilots learn to identify lift sources, enter and exit lift zones, and use the air currents to extend flight duration and distance.
  • Flight Planning and Navigation: Pilots are taught to plan flights considering weather conditions, airspace restrictions, and emergency landing areas. Navigation training covers using maps, compasses, and GPS devices to maintain course and position.
  • Meteorology: A deeper dive into weather theory provides pilots with the skills to read and interpret weather forecasts, understand local microclimates, and make informed decisions about when and where to fly. Topics include cloud formation, weather fronts, thermal activity, and how topography affects weather conditions.
  • Airspace and Airmanship: Pilots learn about the different types of airspace, including controlled zones, restricted areas, and how to navigate them using visual references and flight instruments. The course covers the importance of communication with other air users, understanding of collision avoidance rules, and the legal responsibilities of a pilot in the UK airspace.

Popular Locations in the UK

The UK boasts diverse locations suited to CP training, with sites catering to all levels of experience:

  • Lake District: Known for its stunning landscapes and variety of thermal and ridge lift conditions.
  • Wales: Offers a mix of coastal and inland sites ideal for learning soaring techniques.
  • South West England: Popular for its accessible ridge lift sites and favourable weather conditions.
  • The South Downs: Offering gentle slopes and consistent winds suitable for beginners.
  • The Peak District: Known for its stunning landscapes and variety of flying sites.
  • Northern Ireland: Great hills and conditions for beginners
  • Further afield and known for its consistent conditions is Algodonales in Spain where there are some great paragliding schools and where I managed to finish my Club Pilot after doing my EP in the peak district.

Assessment, Criteria, Process

Achieving the CP qualification involves both practical and theoretical assessments:

  • Practical Skills Assessment: Demonstrating advanced control and flight skills, including accurate take-offs, in-flight management, and landings in various conditions.
  • Theoretical Knowledge Assessment: A written test covering advanced meteorology, air law, flight theory, and navigation.
  • Task Completion: Successfully planning and executing a series of flights, demonstrating the ability to apply theoretical knowledge in practical scenarios.

Awarding Body Overview

The BHPA oversees the CP qualification, ensuring high training and safety standards. As the governing body for hang gliding and paragliding in the UK, the BHPA supports clubs and schools across the country.

What the Qualification Enables You to Do

The Club Pilot qualification is a significant achievement, enabling pilots to fly without direct supervision, join BHPA clubs, and participate in club activities. It lays the groundwork for exploring a wider range of flying sites and conditions. It does not mean you are a master pilot and you should continue to training with club coaches in a more informal way, continueing to work towards your Pilot Rating.

In summary, the CP qualification from the BHPA is an essential milestone for hang gliding and paragliding enthusiasts in the UK, offering the freedom to explore the skies with confidence and competence.

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Co-founder and Chief Adventurer

I am Max, the co-founder and CEO of adventuro. We are on a mission to help you get into the sports you have always wanted to try, or develop in the sports you love, exploring new skills and locations. We do this by partnering with the best instructors, guides, and activity centres to get a great spread from beginner all the way to instructor training.

For too long, it has been way to confusing to find your next steps, or even to know where to start when getting into adventure sports. I am an experienced and/or qualified paraglider, skydiver, scuba diver, freediver, power boat driver, snowboarder, kitesurfer, kayaker, mountain biker, surfer, dirt biker, wakeboarder, and sailor.

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