Air sports
What is it?     What you need     Getting started     Find out more


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What is it?

  • As well as flying in different types of powered aircraft, air sports include ballooning, gliding, hang gliding, parachuting and paragliding.  

  • More details on each of these activities can be obtained from the specialist organisations listed below.  

  • Some air sports like gliding and hang gliding involve unpowered flight.  Parachuting and paragliding involve descending through the air.  

  • Air sports are often done for just pleasure, but there is also a competitive element in many of the activities.

Find out more


Aviation Aspirations
British Microlight Aircraft Association

British Association of Balloon Operators
British Balloon & Airship Club

Popular Flying Association 
Royal Aero Club of the UK  0116 253 1051

British Gliding Association

British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association
Hang Gliding and Paragliding National Sites Guide 
Hover Club of Great Britain
British Parachute Association
Gary Jacksons Paragliding Homepage


Microlight Flying 

Getting started

  • Find a local air sports group or club (see organisations above).

  • See if there are introductory sessions at your local club or aerodrome.

  • Consult books or magazines on different types of air sports.

  • Check in your local library/paper for more information.

What you need

Skills and people
  • Some air sports involve more physical effort than others;  hang gliding is particularly demanding.  But generally these activities, notably flying, ballooning and gliding, can be done by people of most ages and both sexes. 

  • Most air based activities can be done on your own, but for parachuting, gliding and paragliding someone is needed to organise the lifting of person or plane off the ground.  Many people belong to groups or clubs for these activities. 

  • Except in competitive activities, there is no need for the people taking part with you to be of the same standard, age or sex as yourself.  

  • Anyone doing these activities must have the basic skills and knowledge of the air needed for the activity in question, and varying degrees of physical fitness are needed.  Formal licences are needed to take responsibility for aircraft, balloons and gliders.

Equipment or clothing
  • A plane or other equipment to get off the ground is essential.  Each specific activity has its own particular requirements, both in terms of the nature of the craft and the special clothing and other gear needed.  

  • At least some of this, particularly planes and other larger items, may be available for hire from clubs and groups.

A place or facilities
  • A land area from which the plane or other equipment can start is essential.  

  • Free air space is obviously also necessary, and there are strict rules governing the access of different airborne craft to the air.  

  • Clubs may have their own aerodromes, as well as planes and other equipment.

Have a go - get started now


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