The Berkeley Hang Gliding and Paragliding Club is a non-profit group comprised of pilots ranging in experience from true beginners to advanced pilots. Originally formed in the 1970s, this hang gliding club is one of only a select few in the United States that operates as a cooperative, where students are taught by instructors within the club. Upon gaining experience and knowledge about the sport of flying, they will in turn be able to share that knowledge with new students. The ongoing interaction between students and instructors is one of the great pleasures and benefits of the club. And because the instructors are volunteers, learning to hang glide is inexpensive. With more than fifty active pilots, the club plans weekly trips to the mountains during flying season, has weekly meetings, and organizes lessons for new pilots annually.
Once a year each fall (starting in September), the club organizes lesson sets for new pilots. The lessons include both ground school, where the basic concepts of hang gliding are taught while one's feet are still on the ground, and three weekends of actual flight training. Don't worry about equipment: the club owns training gliders, harnesses, and helmets. Contrary to popular belief, one's first flight is not from a cliff. Training begins on level ground and gradually proceeds uphill as one gains necessary skills and experience. The emphasis of early flights is on perfecting launches and landings. Training does not culminate with the end of formal lessons; hang gliding involves continual learning, and instructors are always willing to help. Soon you will be heading to the mountains.
Although some the club members do also fly paragliders, the club does not teach paragliding - only hang gliding.
Pilots in the club enjoy flying at some of the best sites in the world. The Bay Area is conveniently located in California, the Mecca of hang gliding. The Coastal Range, the Cascades, and the Sierra Nevada offer superb flying conditions and extraordinary views. Even closer to the Bay Area, Mt. Tamalpais entices pilots with beautiful vistas of San Francisco and the Pacific. For further excitement, club pilots have recently traveled as far as South Africa and Europe in the search for big air.
The Berkeley Hang Gliding Club (BHGC) is located in Berkeley, CA. You can reach us at info[at]bhgc.org.