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Paraglider Training in Santa Barbara 

Students work on the art of kiting

Students kiting their paragliders at Elings Park 

Eagle Paragliding in the New York Times
Article written by pilot who trained with Eagle Paragliding Follow along as Award Winning Instructor Rob Sporrer, takes New York Times writer & paragliding newbie Bill Becher to school. >>> Read More

Choose a reputable school

If you want to paraglide, and you want the best instruction available, then you want Eagle. There are important factors to consider before committing to a school. Learn to fly with our Award Winning Paragliding Instruction.

Become A Paraglider Pilot

Learn to Paraglide with Eagle Paragliding Most students are Novice rated in 8-10 days. After certification you're an Eagle student for life. Benefits include continuing education, and priority invitations to our world class tours. Find out what it takes to be a Paraglider Pilot.

Eagle Pilots around the world

Paraglider Training 

Our reputation spans the globe. Watch the Paragliding Videos of Eagle alumni Tom Keefer flying the North Aiguille Du Midi launch in Chamonix France, and some beautiful sites in Italy.

View stories and pictures of Eaglets paragliding around the world.

Instructor of the year honor

Eagle Paragliding's chief Instructor Rob Sporrer received USHPA's Instructor of the Year Award in 2002. Every year USHPA issues the award to the person making the biggest contributions to our sport in the United States.

Santa Barbara Independent

Eagle Paragliding in The Santa Barbara Independent

Into The Open Air - Paragliding, The Best View Of Santa Barbara

By Joshua Brayer for The Santa Barbara Independent

The Blue and Green guide to land sea, and Sky
May 30, 2002

One Sunday afternoon in April I stood in the parking area of the paragliding training hill at Elings Park and gazed at the calm Pacific waters lapping onto the shores of Arroyo Burro Beach. The previous day the wind had been so strong that even experienced glider pilots and instructors couldn't launch, but it had died down considerably since. Sunday's weather was perfect for learning how to paraglide, and Rob Sporrer of Eagle Paragliding was the man to train me.

Paragliders attach a parachute-like wing to an over-the-shoulder harness and propel themselves off of an elevated surface until they are flying. The wing is laid out uphill of the paraglider. Experienced pilots perform "reverse launches” facing uphill with their lines intentionally crossed until a cycle of wind helps the pilot lift the wing off the ground. The lines straighten when the pilot turns to face forward. Novice pilots like me begin facing forward, running toward the down-slope of the hill until the wing inflates and rises. After centering the wing directly overhead, the pilot takes giant moon-steps until he is airborne, then sits back in the harness as if it were a lawn chair and rests his feet on a soft plastic bar.

Pilots attempt to find wind updrafts, or thermals, that allow them to soar, hover, or carve arcing turns. They control the wing by adjusting pressure on two handles. The handles are attached to the lines that lead to the rear edge of the wing; pulling down applies brakes (used most in landing) and easing up allows for gliding. Paragliders rarely achieve airspeeds greater than 25 miles per hour at trim.

Paragliding 101

After being fitted for gear (helmet, wings, and harness), my fellow trainee John McKellar, age 61, and I lugged our equipment to the top of the hill, where Sporrer and Eagle instructor, Pete Gifford, explained safety techniques. Of course, safety is their highest priority, so the Eagle instructors equip their students with walkie-talkies so they can stay in communication while they are flying. Sporrer had told me that he had trained to be an instructor with some of the nation's top pilots including Dixon White, whose Air Play Paragliding schools in Arizona and Washington are world renowned, so I knew I was in good hands. After an hour of safety instruction, we started practicing our forward launches without actually launching called kiting. I pulled up the kite at least a dozen times before Sporrer was convinced I was ready to attempt a launch and fly. Although I was a little nervous, I knew that Rob would not let me fly unless he believed I was ready. I checked to make sure that all my gear was secure and that my walkie-talkie was on. Rob stood near the take-off spot to help guide me to a successful launch. Small flags on the side of the runway indicated that a steady breeze was making its way up the training hill directly into my face; you do not want to take off in a crosswind.

I believe I can fly

Sporrer gave me the go-ahead signal: I leaned forward and ran, then pulled the kite up directly over my head and started taking giant steps toward the instructor. Just as I passed Sporrer, I jumped and tried to sit back in my harness, but I didn't quite have enough ground clearance. I touched down again, kept running, and made another take-off attempt. I felt an updraft and the ground began to disappear beneath my feet. A swarm of butterflies seemed to be dancing frantically in my stomach. I looked down at the ant-sized people below as I soared majestically above the training hill. Rob's voice crackled through my radio: "Lighten up on the controls a little bit, but you're doing fine."

As I approached the ground I pulled down gently on the controls to ease into the landing. I touched down, brought the wing down to the ground, and thrust my fists into the air triumphantly. My first attempt at paragliding was successful. Sporrer drove his Eagle Paragliding van down the hill to pick me up. I want to do that again, I remarked jubilantly.

I was hooked. That afternoon I did seven flights while other instructors were ending their lessons at about 2 p.m., Rob was willing to stay out on the training hill as long as we wanted to keep flying or until the sun went down. Each successful flight boosted my confidence level. The slow speed of the flight made the wing totally manageable. By the end of the day, I was carving broad sweeping turns; I even managed to nail a couple of textbook spot landings.

The sensation of flying is like nothing else I have ever felt; that first day of paragliding was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I can't wait to get back up there and complete the novice training program.

Learn to Fly

Eagle Paragliding, owned and operated by Rob Sporrer, offers several different lesson packages. Those who want the one-time thrill of jumping but are not interested in getting certified can sign up for a one-day or two-day lesson (6-8 hours per day). The one-day lesson costs $200; the two-day lesson is $400. To earn your P2 certification, which allows you to jump without an instructor present, requires between six and eight training days, and costs $1,500. Eagle will apply a 10% discount on the purchase of a brand new equipment package, which is purchased by yoru 3rd day of lessons. (During the training, Eagle provides all the equipment you'll need.) Treat a friend or family member to the thrill of a lifetime with a gift certificate for a paragliding lesson. For further information, contact Rob Sporrer at 805-968-0980; e-mail Eagle Paragliding at; or visit Eagle's Web site at

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PO Box 91259, Santa Barbara, California 93190
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