Max Paragliding In Spain

From Freefalls to Thermals: How Skydiving Brought Me to Paragliding

My paragliding joureny began in a place most wouldn’t expect: skydiving. As an 18-year-old looking for a thrill, I naturally gravitated towards a sport that promised adrenaline in abundance. I was young and on a budget, so I opted for the most cost-effective option available – Spain. Little did I know, my skydiving certification would soon transition into a love for a sport that embraces tranquility over adrenaline – paragliding.

Max Skydiving in Spain

I realised that it wasn’t the sensation of freefall that captivated me but rather it was the serene glide under the canopy. So I came to the logical conclusion that the sport of paragliding seemed like the perfect next adventure.

I had my first encounter with paragliding during a trip to Peru. The tandem flight above the cliffs in downtown Lima was epic. When I returned to the UK, I was determined to learn the sport myself, so I began the challenging task of finding a paragliding instructor.

Securing an instructor wasn’t as straightforward as I had hoped. UK weather conditions are notoriously unpredictable, which can make scheduling lessons frustrating. Despite the challenges, I eventually found Paul from Peak Parapente, located in the Peak District. My initial experiences with skydiving undoubtedly helped me to adapt quickly to the equipment, and by the end of my first day, I had mastered some basic skills like forward launch, directional control and safe landing.

The progression from small hops of about 5-10 meters off the ground to learning turns and planning landing patterns was swift but staggered due to the constraints of the UK weather. Nevertheless, by the end of my third day, I was keen to move on to higher flights and more challenging manoeuvres. I had now earned my Elementary Pilot certificate so was free to move elsewhere for the next step, the Club Pilot.

To circumvent the less-than-ideal weather in the UK, I decided to return to Spain. This time, my destination was Algodonales, known as ‘Algo’ among paragliding enthusiasts. Algo boasts some of Europe’s most reliable paragliding conditions, which, paired with the breathtaking scenery and rich culture, made it an obvious choice for continuing my journey.

Once in Algo, I signed up with Zero Gravity to complete my Club Pilot course over six days. We are proud to call them one of our partners centres, and you can book their courses directly through Adventuro. Why not check out their EP & CP Combined Course (which I did!) or if you have experience, check out their XC Camp in Algo.

The launch sites in Algo dwarfed those of the UK, introducing me to the exhilarating world of high-altitude flights. My initial flights were straightforward – soaring away from the mountain, circling the landing area and gracefully descending back to earth. As I became more comfortable, I stayed aloft for longer by seeking out thermals to extend my flights.

By the end of the week, I had successfully completed my Club Pilot certification and couldn’t wait to explore the skies further. A little frustratingly, once the stabilisers come off in paragliding, so does the access to equipment. Most pilots have their own equipment, unlike other sports such as skydiving or scuba diving where rental is still common. I ordered a low B-class wing and a lightweight harness from the supportive team at Zero Gravity, eager to take my new skills and equipment for a spin in the sky. The thrill of freefall was now a distant memory, replaced by the serene bliss of soaring with the wind.

I got back to the UK and started flying with the Dover and Folkstone club at their flying sites around Kent. It is a great community of likeminded folks who are happy to help out less experienced pilots. My confidence is still wobbly at times and I think I may book on to a guided coaching trip to get some more hours under my belt.

From skydiving to paragliding, my journey has been a blend of challenges, thrills, and frustrations. It’s safe to say that my adventure is far from over. I look forward to exploring new horizons and soaring higher as my paragliding journey continues.

Check out my head to head comparison between skydiving and paragliding here.

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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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