USHPA Member Handbook

Information for all new and renewing members.

On behalf of the entire USHPA organization and our office staff, thank you for your support of our national organization. USHPA is made up solely of people like yourself who have created this organization, centralizing our efforts to promote the sports of hang gliding and paragliding. All of the programs of USHPA are designed to increase our resource base or to directly help us realize our objectives.

Upon receipt of your approved Membership Application, fully paid annual membership dues and original signed copy of the most recent USHPA Release, Waiver and Assumption of Risk Agreement, your membership with USHPA will begin and your subscription to USHPA Pilot magazine will start with the next issue. All other membership benefits begin at the same time and conclude with the expiration date on your membership card.

Table of Contents

Association History

The United States Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association began as the 3-member Peninsula Hang Glider Club in December of 1971, under the leadership of Dick Eipper. It soon attracted members from neighboring areas and early in 1972 became the Southern California Hang Glider Association. A monthly publication, Ground Skimmer, was started in May of 1972 as a newsletter for its members. It soon grew to be a comprehensive magazine, recording the history of the hang gliding movement as it happened, plus news of man-powered aircraft. By the end of 1973, the organization had become truly national in scope, so the members voted to change the name to the United States Hang Gliding Association. It has since become a California corporation, and in November of 1976, the name of the magazine was changed to Hang Gliding, which is published monthly. In 2002, Hang Gliding and Paragliding magazines were combined and the resulting magazine was named Hang Gliding & Paragliding magazine. The name was later changed to USHPA Pilot.

In 1988, the Association recognized a need to relocate the Association's headquarters office. A nation-wide search for a new home explored 20 cities. The selection was narrowed down to beautiful Colorado Springs, Colorado, where the Headquarters moved to in the spring of 1989. The office has moved three times within Colorado Springs and now occupies a building, owned by the Association, on the west side of the Springs.

In 2006, the issue was raised concerning the incorporation of paragliding as part of the name of the association and, after much thoughtful debate from both pro and ante, the membership voted to change the name again, this time, to the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association and adopting the acronym USHPA as its moniker.


The United States Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association, Inc. (USHPA) is a national organization. The primary purposes of the Association are to engage in the development, study and use of hang gliders & paragliders and the sport of hang gliding & paragliding; to make available and disseminate knowledge about hang gliders & paragliders and hang gliding & paragliding; to promote the organization of meets and competition for the flying of hang gliders & paragliders; to select pilots for national and international competition; to promote the training and rating of students interested in learning the art of hang gliding & paragliding; and to promote safety and safe flying practices. USHPA sanctions, supervises and documents official hang gliding/paragliding competitions and record attempts in the U.S. USHPA is also the sole authority in the U.S. to administer the hang gliding section of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) Sporting Code under the general supervision of the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) and in accordance with the policies of the FAI.

The Association is governed by a board of 10 directors, with eight elected by the membership and two appointed annually by the board. The board meets monthly via conference call and once or twice annually at an in-person meeting to act on items and represent members. USHPA members are welcome to attend board of director meetings. Notice of dates, as well as locations for in-person meetings, are published online and in the Calendar of Events section of USHPA Pilot magazine. Any member wishing to submit ideas, suggestions or criticisms should do so through their a director or the chair of the USHPA committee to which the material relates.

The promotion of safety is a major concern of the United States Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association, Inc. USHPA officials strongly recommend that all persons interested in learning to fly, train with a Certified Instructor. Numerous schools, dealers and clubs offer classes through certified instruction. (USHPA monitors a program for recertifying instructors. The program ensures that instructors keep current with new rules and regulations concerning safety, equipment & flying sites.) There are publications and manuals that will introduce you to the technical aspects of flying that can be obtained through USHPA Headquarters.

The Association offers the Pilot Proficiency Program to help pilots develop flying skills along proven lines of progression, and covers all expected levels of flying. This comprehensive set of ratings will serve to measure qualifications for pilots to fly various sites and enter competitions. 

USHPA offers Safe Pilot Awards as flight achievements.

USHPA sanctions a number of large competitive meets each year, including US National Championship events. Dates and locations are published in the Calendar of Events section of USHPA Pilot magazine.

USHPA Headquarters

USHPA Headquarters are located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Headquarters' office is managed by the Executive Director, and employs a staff of full and contracted personnel. The departments servicing its members are: Membership Services Coordination (includes cards, ratings, chapters, member support, insurance, intern coordination, and other processing of paperwork), Operations Management (includes support of the major program and office components of USHPA: awards, chapters/sites, competition, elections, insurance, policy publication management, board meeting facilitation, bookkeeping, advertising, merchandise), Information Services Management (includes server and phone management, website maintenance and updates, IS development, user experience, and staff & board meeting IT support), and Communications Management (includes social media, multimedia development, website updates, internal and external communications, surveys, magazine support, and outreach).

USHPA Pilot magazine is published bi-monthly. The Colorado Springs office and the editor are jointly responsible for advertising content, material publication and magazine content accuracy.

Membership Types and Benefits

As a Full or Family Member of USHPA, you have benefit privileges as described in the Association's bylaws and summarized in Membership levels and benefits. Some of those privileges are a subscription to USHPA Pilot magazine, voting in annual board of director elections and referenda Association votes, access to insurance programs such as third-party pilot liability and property damage insurance coverage (insurance does not cover foreign members if residing outside the U.S.A. and Canada, or when flying in Mexico), ratings, awards, national and world hang gliding/paragliding record claims. Additionally, you have access to special partner program benefits and membership in the NAA.

As a magazine subscriber, your benefit privileges are a subscription to USHPA Pilot magazine and participation in the special partner program benefits that USHPA offers, and NAA membership. Upon applying for a new or renewed subscription, your service will start with the next current issue unless otherwise requested. Subscribers to the magazine do not qualify for third-party liability insurance benefits.

The Safe Pilot Awards are awarded to recognize hang gliding and paragliding achievements. There are four levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Diamond.

As a member, you have the privilege of achieving and claiming national and world records. The categories and required procedures are listed in the FAI Sporting Code which can be obtained from the NAA Headquarters.

Change of Address/Personal Information

All USHPA members and Subscribers are encouraged to notify USHPA as soon as possible of any change of address or errors in their present address. There are three ways you may accomplish this:

  1. Log into the website by going to the Members Only area of the USHPA website and using your emaill address and password to login. Once you have logged in, please select the "Update Your Info" link and you will be able to submit any changes to your record on this webpage.
  2. Submit an email to the USHPA office with your correct address at [email protected].
  3. Contact the office directly by calling (800) 616-6888 and leave a message for the office staff or fax us your correct address to: (719) 632-6417. Please remember to include your USHPA member number in any faxes, emails, or messages to speed up processing your request.

If none of these options work for you please call our office at (800) 616-6888 for further assistance.

Magazine Mailing

USHPA Pilot magazine is mailed to Full members and Subscribers via second class publication permit throughout the U.S. and via surface mail to foreign countries. It is mailed in the last week of the month prior to the cover date. Allowing for "time in the mail," you should be receiving your monthly issue by approximately the 5th of the month of the cover date. If your issue of USHPA Pilot does not reach you within a reasonable time, first check with your local post office and then with USHPA. There is normally a likely reason for non-receipt, such as: non-renewal, non-notification of change of address, moved and left no forwarding address or failure to guarantee forwarding postage at the local post office.

USHPA offers alternatives to the above mailing procedure. You can pay a postage surcharge if you want your USHPA Pilot issues mailed in by a quicker fashion.

Note: Magazines mailed to foreign countries can take up to three months for delivery, if mailed surface rate.

Voluntary Contributions

USHPA has a General Fund that is available to those wishing to contribute monetarily to the Association. Contributions to this fund are tax-deductible, go to the general administration of the Association, and are always thankfully welcome.

The Foundation for Free Flight, a separate legal entity, was formed 1987 and reorganized in 2000 with an expanded mission: to preserve and enrich hang gliding and paragliding through site preservation, safety & education, and competition. The Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charity and receives its funding from contributions and grants. USHPA supports the mission of the foundation and will match contributions to the Foundation up to $500 when you join or renew your membership. To insure tax deductibility of your contributions, your check should be made payable to the Foundation for Free Flight. Tax deductible donations to the Foundation are welcome, and allocated for funds as described on Charitable giving.

USHPA Chapters

The USHPA Board of Directors has made provisions for affiliation as Chapters. The objective is to encourage a close relationship between the national organization and the various hang gliding clubs and regional organizations in order to maximize the distribution of safety information and news in the hang gliding community. Chapters for both Hang Gliding and Paragliding are member-controlled organizations, approved by USHPA, which maintain 70% of their membership as Full USHPA Members. Chapters remain autonomous organizations, financially independent of USHPA and self-governing. There is a one-time $25.00 registration fee. Benefits to USHPA Chapters are: a subscription copy of USHPA Pilot magazine for its library, preferential news coverage in USHPA Pilot magazine, merchandise for resale at discount prices and Landowners Liability and Property Damage Insurance coverage available for sites (at an extra cost).


The United States is divided up into regions for the purpose of electing the board of directors. These regions are delineated so as to give consideration to membership population density and hang gliding & paragliding patterns. The region numbers and states are:

Region States
1 Washington, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota
2 Northern California*, Utah, Nevada
3 Southern California*, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico
4 Florida, North Carolina, Washington DC, Virginia, West Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Kansas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Military - AE, AP, MP
5 Ohio, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, International (outside U.S.)

*Northern California: zip codes 93400-93499; 93600-96162; Southern California: zip codes 90001-93399; 93514-93599


The following awards are available to both hang gliding and paragliding pilots. Use the Safe Pilot Award form to apply.

USHPA Safe Pilot Award Program

The USHPA Safe Pilot Award Program is designed to recognize, promote, and reward safe flying. The levels of the USHPA Safe Pilot Award are as follows:

Bronze Award: 100 consecutive safe flights Silver Award: 300 consecutive safe flights
Gold Award: 500 consecutive safe flights 1st Diamond: 1,000 consecutive safe flights
2nd Diamond: 2,000 consecutive safe flights 3rd Diamond: 3,000 consecutive safe flights
4th Diamond: 4,000 consecutive safe flights 5th Diamond: 5,000 consecutive safe flights

A safe flight is a flight which includes a launch (beginning from a full stop) and a landing (ending in a complete arrest of forward motion) which does not result in any injury to the pilot which requires (or would normally require or would clearly indicate the need for) treatment by a licensed medical professional. Only logged flights occurring on or after August 1, 1988, where the log entry contains the date, location, and duration of the flight, may be counted towards the award. Any flight involving injury as described above, whether or not it is logged, terminates a string of consecutive safe flights, and re-starts the count of consecutive safe flights at zero. Apply using the Safe Pilot Award form.

National and World Records

USHPA is a fully autonomous division of the NAA, which is comprised of various divisions, like USHPA, each of which has been given authority to administer the part of the FAI Sporting Code pertaining to its specialty interest. The NAA is the U.S. representative of the FAI, and as such, is responsible for certifying all national and world aircraft records claimed in the U.S.

The FAI is the international organization recognized as being in charge of aviation records, sporting aviation championships and achievement awards. Its membership consists of national aero clubs such as the NAA. A number of medals and diplomas are periodically awarded by the FAI to encourage aeronautical progress. See the FAI's website for current world records.

CIVL (Commission Internationale de Vol Libre), the international hang gliding committee, has established records and qualifications which are published and available to all USHPA members. There are 32 possible records, the basic records being: distance, goal, out and return, and gain of height. Within these four basic record classifications are separate categories for two-person, feminine, flex wing and fixed wing record events. If you are going to make a national or world claim, documentation is as important as the flight. It is the description of your effort by which the NAA and FAI will determine eligibility for declaration. You must provide barograph tracings for all claimed flights, uncut film of the flights, and comply with the Observer and certification requirements necessary for records. The Record Attempt Kit and Hang Gliding Section 7 of the FAI Sporting Code spell these out.

The FAI Sporting License and NAA membership are available through the National Aeronautic Association - visit

US National Teams

The FAI World Championships for Paragliding, Hang Gliding and Women's Hang Gliding are scheduled every two years. Entry of the US National Teams, selected by the National Team Selection System, is coordinated through the NAA and the aero club hosting the World Championships. The US National Teams' participation is not financed by membership dues, but through donations to the Foundation earmarked for the teams. Considerable personal expense is required on the part of Team members - we ask that you please consider supporting them.

Pilot Proficiency Program

USHPA is an organization providing administrative supervision, support and guidance to foot-launched and foot-launchable, unpowered aircraft through the Pilot Proficiency Program. Pilot self-regulation started early in the sport, but became finalized with the introduction of the former Hang Rating System, whose name was later changed to better reflect the professional attitude of hang gliding & paragliding pilots. The program is built on the volunteer assistance of those wishing to maintain self-regulation. By completing a variety of requirements, pilots may be rated for their level of flying skill as well as for special skills.

FAA Exemption #4721

Tandem flight operations are covered by Exemption #4721 from the FAA.

FAA Exemption #4144

Aerotow operations are covered by Exemption #4144 from the FAA.

Portable and Vehicular Radio Authorizations

Pilot and Rogallo Members of USHPA may be authorized to use or designate use of type accepted radio equipment on the frequencies of 151.625 MHz, 151.955 MHz, 151.505 MHz, 158.4 MHz or 151.925 MHz, (or call WPRY420) for the purpose of conducting USHPA business, cross-country meets, events and retrievals.

Authorization will be granted by an official USHPA Observer or Instructor after demonstration of adequate knowledge of the rules under which the license was granted and one-time payment of a $15.00 registration fee for a portable authorization (PA) and/or a $15.00 registration fee for a vehicular authorization (VA).

Kitty Hawk Kites
Eagle Paragliding