Mission and History

USHPA's mission is to ensure the future of free flight.

USHPA will pursue its mission through its Core Values:



USHPA is a private, voluntary membership, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, incorporated as a California corporation but doing business in Colorado. For membership and pilot numbers, please see the organization statistics page.


The Early Days
The United States Hang Gliding Association began as the Southern California Hang Gliding Association in 1971 and shortly afterwards, on December 18, 1973, became the United States Hang Gliding Association (USHGA), headquartered in Southern California. It was incorporated in March of 1974.

USHPA Old Logo

In Transition
In 1989, the association was moved from Southern California to its present home in Colorado Springs, CO and in 2006, became the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA). Shortly after the name was adapted to explicitly include paragliding, the logo was also revisited to better reflect the contemporary organization. In 2022, USHPA expanded to include the newest type of free flight, speedflying. 


USHPA, as a private membership organization, has no governmental authority, does not own any flying sites, does not negotiate nor enter into any permits for flying sites, does not control any flying sites or the flying that takes place at them. The sports of hang gliding, paragliding, and speedflying are not controlled by the USHPA; anyone who wishes can fly. (The only regulatory authority for flight in the United States is the Federal Aviation Administration.) However, we encourage all those who wish to fly, to join the USHPA as members. Together, as an association, we can ensure that the flying we enjoy today will be around tomorrow.

USHPA's purpose is to provide benefits to its membership, which include but are not limited to:

  1. A pilot rating program.
  2. A structured instructor certification program.
  3. A training structure for tandem flight and aero towing.
  4. Local club affiliation for the benefit of negotiated site insurance coverage.
  5. A national magazine for flying, product and safety information.
  6. Third-party and participant liability insurance coverage for members.

These are the obvious benefits; there are many more not-so-obvious benefits such as considerable behind-the-scenes support in site negotiations for acquisition and preservation of flying sites, both on private land, as well as working with the FAA and the Bureau of Land Management to expand our opportunities for flight.

At the grassroots, USHPA members join together to form USHPA chapters. These flying clubs represent local groups of pilots and enthusiasts that work to create and manage sites, as well as fly together in the same community spirit from which the sports have evolved. These clubs are independent, autonomous, self-governing organizations, which elect to affiliate with USHPA and obtain club benefits, such as site insurance coverage.

At the national level, the USHPA is a non-profit business, designed to service its membership and forward the core purposes of USHPA. In 1996, our audited financials show that USHPA exceeded one million dollars in revenue. The policies of the Association are governed by its bylaws and SOP's (standard operating procedures).

USHPA is one of only two self-regulated air sports in the United States. This means that the association has developed a complete pilot rating system, the USHPA Pilot Proficiency Program, which is available for our Pilot and Rogallo members. Additionally, the USHPA maintains a complete instructor certification program to assist those interested in becoming teachers of the air sports associations.

The USHPA Organization

At the center of its management is the USHPA board of directors. There are eight elected directors and two designated directors, each serving a two-year term, who convene monthly to vote on policy decisions. Each year, in the fall, the USHPA Board elects its officers: the president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer.

Serving at the pleasure of the board is the USHPA committee system, which provide focused work in the different functional areas of the association's mandate. Each committee chair is appointed by the USHPA president and leads each committee.

The headquarters of the USHPA is based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where the USHPA staff manages the day-to-day activities of the association. Headed by the executive director, the staff keeps tabs on membership processing, merchandise and financial operations, technology, and other administrative functions. Headquarters is open Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm Mountain time.

A membership in the association carries many other benefits. There are over 80 local chapters and clubs, chartered by the USHPA, which can provide an invaluable learning experience and camaraderie for those interested in or actively involved in the sports. All full members are covered under the USHPA Participant and Third Party Liability Insurance policy, which provides insurance coverage to members while participating in their air sports. The Association publishes a monthly magazine, USHPA Pilot. A full membership includes a subscription to the magazine.

Member may a copy of our most recent Annual Report for more details about our organization.

If there is anything the USHPA can do for you, don't hesitate to contact us.