Frequently Asked Questions: Instructors

Brief answers to common questions related to instructors/instructing

The following questions and answered are intended as a brief overview. Please contact us if you have further questions that aren’t listed here or if you would like a more in-depth answer. While we make our best effort to be accurate and keep all pages up-to-date, please refer directly to the USHPA SOPs, PASA, and Recreation RRG to verify current policies and requirements. 

How to issue ratings online: 2 minute video

Instructor FAQ (click sections to expand)

Updated 7/10/2023



What do I have to do to become a basic instructor?

Hold an Intermediate rating (H3) or above for hang gliding or an Advanced rating (P4) for paragliding, complete 40 hours of apprenticeship with a USHPA-certified instructor, attend and pass a clinic put on by an instructor administrator, complete the Fundamentals of Instructing (FOI) test, hold a current CPR/First Aid certification, submit a copy of your curriculum/syllabus, and upgrade to the Rogallo membership level.


What do I have to do to become an advanced instructor?

Hold an advanced rating (H4/P4) or above for your wing, hold a Basic Instructor certification for at least 1 year, show a log of at least 6 students taught and rated to the novice (H2/P2) level, and hold a current CPR/First Aid certification.


What do I have to do to become a tandem instructor?

Hold an advanced rating (H4/P4) plus the turbulence (TUR) special skill for your wing, show a log of at least 200 hours of air time or 500 flights, be at least 18 years of age, complete a written test, and attend and pass a clinic put on by a tandem administrator. This will get you to the intermediate step of a Tandem 1 (T1) rating that is necessary to become a tandem instructor. Next, successfully complete a 2-day tandem instructor clinic with a tandem administrator and log at least 25 tandem flights with a tandem instructor either during or after the clinic. Hold a current CPR/First Aid certification, submit a copy of your curriculum/syllabus, and upgrade to the Rogallo membership level if you haven’t already.


Why does my instructor certification expire at a different time than my yearly membership?

Instructor certifications are valid for 3 years from the time they are issued with a year-end expiration, so they are on a separate track from your yearly membership.



What is the difference between the Rogallo membership level and the Pilot membership level?

The Pilot level is intended for the average recreational pilot and includes third-party liability insurance. The Rogallo level is for instructors and includes insurance when the instructor is either a Recreational Instructor (those instructors who NEVER receive any compensation), or a For Hire Instructor (those instructors who receive any amount of compensation) working for PASA-Certified Flight Schools.


How much does it cost to upgrade from Pilot to Rogallo membership?

As of July 2019, a yearly Pilot membership is $150 and a yearly Rogallo membership is $294. The latest information on dues is available on the Membership Levels page of the USHPA website. Upgrading in the middle of your membership cycle is prorated at $12/month for the remaining Pilot membership.



Why do instructors have to pay more for membership than recreational pilots? Don’t we want to support instructors and encourage them to teach?

A portion of the additional cost of insurance for instructors is reflected in the Rogallo membership fee. USHPA supports instructors by subsidizing all membership benefit costs and a portion of the insurance costs, resulting in the fee being $294 per year for instructors.


Do I need to become certified by the Professional Air Sports Association (PASA) to instruct?

Maybe. Only Schools can become PASA-certified. (Note that an individual instructor can be considered a school if they have created the school as a separate business entity.)

You are required to be affiliated with a PASA-certified school if you are a For Hire Instructor (those instructors who receive any amount of compensation for instructional activities) and you are providing instruction (even if that particular lesson is free) at a USHPA-insured site.

You are not required to be affiliated with a PASA-certified school if you are a Recreational Instructor (those instructors who NEVER receive any compensation), even if you provide instruction at a USHPA-insured site.

Please note that while For Hire USHPA instructors are permitted to teach for compensation at non-USHPA-insured sites, none of a For Hire Instructor's activities are covered under USHPA’s Rogallo insurance unless the instructor is affiliated with a PASA Certified School. Please see the chart below for explanations of each case, and the Insurance Glossary for the definition of teaching for compensation. More information on insurance for schools and individual instructors is available on the USHPA website.


Can teach at USHPA-insured sites Can teach at non-USHPA-insured sites Can receive compensation for instructing Is covered by an RRG insurance plan for schools Is covered by Rogallo Membership insurance
Instructor retained by PASA-certified School Yes, if the site is listed in the school’s insurance coverage Yes, if the site is listed in the school’s insurance coverage Yes Yes Yes, added on top of the RRG insurance for individual instructors
Recreational Instructor (an instructor who NEVER receives any compensation) Yes Yes No No Yes
For Hire Instructor (an Instructor who receives any amount of compensation) NOT retained by a PASA-certified School No Yes Yes No No


Why do For Hire Instructors need to work for a PASA-certified school to instruct at a USHPA-insured site?

PASA certification is required at USHPA-insured sites to protect the landowner and the site. If a For Hire Instructor who is not working for a PASA-certified school provides instruction (paid or not) at a USHPA-insured site, that chapter insurance is invalid--the landowner, the chapter and the chapter officials are NOT covered for any claim that might result from the For Hire Instructor's activities. When a For Hire Instructor does this for his own personal gain, he puts the site at risk, not only for the instructor, but also for the chapter who has cultivated the landowner relationship and the entire community of hang glider and paraglider pilots that fly the site.


How did PASA get involved in this process at all?

PASA certification for hang gliding and paragliding flight schools is analogous to ISO Certification in industry. PASA evaluates and holds flight schools accountable to its certification requirements. This helps ensure that instruction at a PASA-certified flight school will be of a high quality. When Recreation RRG was formed, its reinsurer required that any hang gliding or paragliding flight school be certified by PASA in order for the reinsurance to apply. Reinsurance is used by Recreation RRG to spread the risk that it insures and is crucial to keeping our self-insurance program sustainable. Please see here for more information on the RRRG.


What is the RRRG?

RRRG (or Recreation Risk Retention Group) was created through donations and investment from hang glider and paraglider pilots, schools, the Foundation for Free Flight, and PASA, in a massive fundraising campaign after traditional, for-profit insurance companies decided they would no longer cover free flight activities. It is a self-insurance entity created to serve the needs of the hang gliding and paragliding sport to have, and to maintain insurance that allows hang gliding and paragliding to continue. The RRRG is owned by its policy holders: USHPA, the Foundation for Free Flight, PASA, and flight schools.


If we own RRRG, then why are our insurance rates higher than they used to be?

Even though USHPA is the largest owner of RRRG, USHPA does not get to choose the rates that are set. RRRG is licensed as a risk retention group, a special type of insurance company, by the State of Vermont. RRRG is regulated and must follow the rules and regulations of Vermont that govern insurance companies. That is a good thing; Vermont wants to make sure that our insurance company stays in business, and therefore requires that the company set rates based upon historical claims (those same claims that caused the commercial carriers to abandon the sport) as modeled by actuaries and other insurance company laws and regulations. Arguably, in the years before the insurance changeover, dues were far too low and risks were far too high (an unintentionally good deal), which ultimately led to the conventional for-profit insurers declining to continue covering free flight. In time, RRRG hopes to lower its rates. The ability to do so rests with our membership managing risk when they fly.


So why have our own insurance company at all?

Once the sport lost coverage from conventional for-profit insurance companies, we would not have had any insurance available for landowners across the country who require coverage for us to access their sites for flying. Without the insurance provided by RRRG, the majority of those sites would have been shut down. Furthermore, once RRRG (hopefully) becomes profitable, money earned on insurance will stay within the free flight community rather than going to an insurance giant’s shareholders.


Is there any help I can get to apply for PASA certification for my school?

The Foundation for Free Flight offers a $500 grant for first-time PASA applicants to offset the initial application costs.



Can I instruct for compensation without working for a PASA-certified school?

Yes, but only at non-USHPA-insured sites. If you are a For Hire Instructor--an instructor who receives ANY compensation from teaching--you can instruct (whether for a fee or for free) anywhere that you have permission other than USHPA-insured sites. Please keep in mind that as a For Hire Instructor, your Rogallo insurance only provides cover to you while you are working for a PASA-certified school. Please see the chart in the “Insurance, Costs and PASA Certification” section above for more details, and the Insurance Glossary for the definition of teaching for compensation.


If I instruct for compensation in June at a non-USHPA-insured site, and then instruct for free in July at a USHPA-insured site, is that okay?

No. Unfortunately, once you have accepted compensation you are a For Hire Instructor, and there is no coverage for the landowner, chapter or chapter officials at the USHPA insured site should you or one of your students have an accident at the site. Instruction by a For Hire Instructor at a USHPA-insured site puts the entire site at risk for all of the hang glider and paraglider pilots that fly there.

If you do not take compensation of any kind for your instructional activities for 12 months, you can re-join the ranks of Recreational Instructors and once again be able to instruct (without compensation) at USHPA-insured sites.


What if I instruct for free, but a student buys gear from me afterwards?

Then you are a For Hire Instructor.


What if I instruct for free, but a student buys a $2,000 lollipop/book/etc. from me afterwards?

Then you are a For Hire Instructor.



What does becoming a USHPA tandem instructor do for me?

Tandem instructors gain access to USHPA’s exemption for tandem flight from the FAA. Under FAR part 103, ultralight operations are only allowed for a single occupant. To fly hang gliders or paragliders tandem, you must have an exemption from the FAA. USHPA holds an exemption for its tandem instructors.


Do I really need to issue a 10-day temporary membership form for each tandem flight I do?

Yes. The FAA tandem exemption requires that both the pilot and the passenger be current members of USHPA.


Can instructional tandems take place on non-USHPA-insured sites?

Yes. Site insurance is not required for tandem flights, but the site must have the following: a suitable LZ, with ample wind indicators, within a safe glide margin from the take-off area, that also affords ample clearance from hazards along the way including within the LZ itself. Per USHPA’s FAA tandem exemption, both occupants of the flight must also be current USHPA members (either full members or 30-day temporary members). When flying at uninsured sites, please keep in mind that there is no insurance support available for landowners in the event of an accident. Recreational Instructors (per the definition above) have professional liability coverage at all sites. For Hire Instructors do not have coverage unless they work for a PASA-certified school or have purchased insurance separately.



Does everyone have to fill out a 10-day form for each flight, even friends and family?

Yes, unless they’ve signed a 10-day form within the previous 10 days. Per USHPA’s FAA Tandem Exemption, both occupants of a tandem flight must be current USHPA members. Flying with waivered members is also a condition of the RRRG insurance policy. NOTE: USHPA's FAA Tandem Exemption does NOT provide an exemption for recreational flights with friends and family. It provides an exemption ONLY for instructional flights.


Do 10-day forms have to be used by USHPA instructors teaching outside of the U.S.?



Can 10-day forms be submitted to the USHPA office via scan/email?

No. You must mail in the original form within 30 days of it being filled out.


Could we switch to electronic 10-day forms?

Yes--we’re working on this!



Can I be a USHPA instructor and live and teach outside of the U.S.?

At the moment, USHPA is unable to administer any programs internationally. USHPA instructors must either live in the U.S. or be foreign pilots who only intend to use the certification to teach in the U.S. Instructors can conduct clinics or tours abroad, but must verify compliance with local regulations. Please see here for more information.