Coronavirus and Free Flight: Updates

Current information on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on U.S. hang gliding and paragliding.

We will update this page as new information becomes available. If you have any questions, please contact us.

USHPA's Stance on Hang Gliding/Paragliding During the Pandemic

UPDATE: May 19, 2020

As more states move toward reopening, we're sharing some updated guidelines and recommendations for flying and instruction.

The situation with the pandemic is different across the country, and is continuing to evolve. In an effort to accommodate varying circumstances, USHPA has been presenting points and guidelines for pilots and instructors to consider without introducing specific restrictions.

We ask that pilots please read and carefully consider the following:

  • Pilots should continue adhering to all federal/state/local/landowner and CDC guidelines and restrictions.
  • Even if restrictions are being lifted in your community, remember that hospitals in some areas may still be dealing with COVID-19 cases and limiting elective surgeries/procedures. Check on the status of healthcare access and emergency response near you (including Level 1 trauma centers), and consider adjusting your risk tolerance accordingly.
  • Please be particularly respectful of neighbors around your flying site/LZ. USHPA has received several complaints about pilots flying in areas under shelter-in-place orders. While flying may not be expressly prohibited, please do your best to maintain friendly relations. These interactions and others' perceptions of our activities could impact our access to sites/LZs and the overall future of our sports.
  • If you're planning to begin flying again after an extended time away, keep in mind the spring/early summer conditions and your current skill level. Take the time to safely work back up to challenging conditions and ambitious flights.
  • For instructors/schools: If you are in an area where businesses are reopening, consider restarting instruction with precautions: face masks, gloves, and eye protection for both instructors and students, frequently cleaning/disinfecting equipment, and practicing social distancing. For example, consider asking students to limit the number of people who accompany them to the flight park, or reduce the number of people who share a school vehicle at any one time.
  • For solo pilots: We recommend that you continue practicing social distancing if you choose to fly. Avoid sharing rides to launch, confirm one dedicated driver if you choose to fly XC, and don't congregate or spend extra time on launch or in the LZ. If you are around other pilots, consider wearing a mask, particularly since COVID-19 can be spread by people who are asymptomatic and may not realize they have the disease. Continue frequent hand washing and avoid leaving home if you feel sick.

Note that some insurance coverages have changed that may affect your flying. Please see here for more details.

We recognize that this has been a difficult period for pilots, and particularly for instructors and schools. USHPA has been working to relieve instructors' recertification requirements while supporting our members in new ways during this time.

See our list of quarantine free flight resources and consider attending an upcoming webinar as part of our USHPA lecture series. And if you have a story to tell, either about a past flight or how you've been preparing for future flying while at home, submit it to USHPA Pilot magazine! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out anytime or consider attending an upcoming remote board meeting.


April 1, 2020

For most of us, the flying season is just starting and the last thing we want to do is stay inside. Unfortunately, with the current coronavirus pandemic, many state and local governments have issued shelter-in-place orders or similar recommendations across the country. As the pandemic continues to progress, these are likely to become more prevalent.

USHPA strongly encourages compliance with all CDC, federal, state, local, and landowner restrictions. With that in mind, we strongly discourage solo and tandem instruction at this time in order to to protect everyone involved from the spread of COVID-19.

While solo hang gliding and paragliding may be the ultimate in social distancing, they can still have wide-reaching consequences. Please carefully consider the following when evaluating your decision to suspend flying:

  • In areas with active shelter-in-place orders, flying may be viewed negatively by the community, particularly if it results in an accident. Please use your best judgement as this could affect our sports in the future.
  • Shared car rides to launch or for emergency situations do not maintain CDC guidelines for social distancing.
  • Flying (especially aerobatics and XC) can have a high level of risk and likelihood of requiring emergency care if an accident occurs. Pilots should consider their risk threshold and if it is appropriate under the current circumstances.
  • An accident would further burden already overextended health and emergency services. This may not only affect your care but reduce the resources being used to fight COVID-19, putting others at risk. First responders may also be less available due to these circumstances.
  • Should you need to go to the hospital, you put yourself at a higher risk of being exposed to—and spreading—COVID-19. Furthermore, surgeries or other procedures may be delayed. Elective surgeries (including a broken collarbone) have been postponed in many states.

First responders and the medical community have always been there for us; now is the time for us to support them in return. Nationally, we see notifications of free flight accidents and incidents occurring weekly. With hospitals projected to soon be overwhelmed, each of us avoiding flying for the time being can make a difference and help save lives. Prominent pilots around the world, such as Chrigel Maurer, are pledging not to fly in light of recent circumstances. Cloudbase Mayhem also has a recent podcast worth hearing on this topic.

We deeply regret the cancellation or postponement of events and competitions on organizers and pilots, and aim to make rescheduling as seamless as possible. USHPA has also been working hard on new ways to support our members and the free flight community during this time. We're pleased to release the 2015 and 2018 USHPA film festivals for you to watch from home, and will be maintaining a page listing free flight resources.

Canceled and Postponed Competitions/Events

U.S.

  • April 19-May 1, 2020 FAI World Hang Gliding Championships (Florida) - postponed to 2021
  • June 13-20, 2020 Applegate Open (Oregon) - canceled
  • July 12-17, 2020 Ozone Chelan Open (Washington) - canceled
  • July 19-25, 2020 U.S. Open of Paragliding 2020 (Washington) - canceled
  • August 2-14, 2020 Pan-American Hang Gliding Class 1 (Texas) - postponed to 2022

International

  • March 24-April 4, 2020 - Paragliding World Cup Super Final (Brazil) - canceled
  • May 30-June 7, 2020 - FAI Asian Paragliding Accuracy Championships (Kazakhstan) - suspended
  • July 5-18, 2020 - 21st FAI European Hang Gliding Championship (Italy) - postponed to 2022
  • August 5-14, 2020 - 3rd FAI World Paragliding Aerobatic Championship (Italy) - postponed to 2021
  • December 5-19, 2020 - Asian-Oceanic Paragliding XC (Australia) - canceled

Click here for a list of all canceled CIVL events.

Resources

Comprehensive list of free flight-related resources offering entertainment, education, and inspiration.

Other Updates/Announcements

5/7/2020 - FAI: FAI, CIVL, COVID-19 and CAT 1 Events

3/27/2020 - New USHPA free flight resources page

3/15/2020 - FAI: CIVL and the Coronavirus

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