The association will pursue its mission through:
Advocacy. USHPA will interact, proactively when possible and reactively when required, with agencies, organizations and individuals whose interests affect our sport.
Communication. Externally, USHPA will advance the positive awareness of hang gliding and paragliding among the non-flying public. Internally, the organization will cultivate a culture of communication and transparency.
Community. USHPA will promote a sense of community among members both locally and nationally.
Flying sites. USHPA will support the development of new flying sites and the preservation of existing sites.
Learning. USHPA will support learning, in part by providing an organizational framework for instructor and pilot training and certification.
Safety. USHPA will steadily foster a culture of safety.
The great bird will take flight
Hang gliding can be dated back to the days of Leonardo da Vinci, whose sketchings portrayed his desire for human flight. Through fact and fiction, silent aviation has played a major role in man's dream to soar with the birds.
From the time of the ill-fated flight of Icarus to the turn-of-the-century pioneers of the sport, such as Otto Lilienthal, Octave Chanute and John Montgomery, man has attempted free flight in just about every phase of modern history. As the Wright Brothers continued their pursuit of powered flight, they honed their flying skills in "hang gliders". After their famed Kitty Hawk flight, the world became increasing interested in the technological advances of powered flight, leaving hang gliding for another generation.
Hang gliding didn't emerge again until the 1960's, with the development of Francis Rogallo's "Rogallo wing", a NASA project for a possible recovery system for spacecraft. Little did Francis know that his design was going to begin a rebirth of hang gliding in the early 1970's.
The modern day hang glider incorporates modern technology of high tech design and instrumentation. Hang gliders today must pass stringent "load" tests and are certified for their airworthiness. Pilots fly with altimeters, variometers, reserve parachutes and even on-deck flight computers. Flights of 100 to 200 miles are not uncommon, with Manfred Ruhmer of Austria establishing a world distance record of 435 miles from Zapata, Texas, on July 17, 2001.
David Barish - 1965
Paragliding started in the U.S. and in Europe with the idea of launching skydiving parachutes off steep mountains slopes and gliding down to land at the bottom. The first pioneering foot-launched flights on gliding parachutes were made during the mid-1960's by David Barish in the U.S. The sport of recreational paragliding as we know it today was born in Mieussy, France, in 1978 and grew rapidly during the mid-1980's in the French and Swiss Alps as commercial manufacturers improved the glider designs to optimize them for soaring flight. Paragliding reached various areas of the U.S. in the mid-to-late 1980's and most of the growth of paragliding in the US occurred during the 1990's. Brazilian pilots Marcelo Prieto, Frank Brown and Rafael Saladini all hold the paragliding straight distance world record 461.6km, set in Quixada-Duque on November 14, 2007.
The United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association is proud to serve the great sports of hang gliding and paragliding. Through programs like our Instructor Certification and Pilot Proficiency program and our monthly magazine Hang Gliding and Paragliding, the USHPA strives to promote pilot safety, skill, knowledge and above all fun. Now is the time to pursue your desire of flight. We'll see you in the sky.
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The USHPA is private, voluntary membership, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, incorporated as a California corporation but doing business in Colorado.
The USHPA 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), headquarted in southern California. It was incorporated in March of 1974. 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).
The 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 and paragliding are not controlled by the USHPA; anyone that 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, whether it be hang gliders, paragliders, or both, to join the USHPA as members, because together, as an Association, we can ensure 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:
A pilot rating program.
A structured instructor certification program.
A training structure for tandem flight and aero towing.
Local club affiliation for the benefit of negotiated site insurance coverage.
A national magazine for flying, product and safety information.
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.
At the center of its management is the USHPA Board of Directors. There are twenty elected regional directors, five directors-at-large, and one Ex Officio director who convene twice a year and vote on policy decisions. Elected directors, apportioned by the population of the USHPA regions, serve for two-year terms; at-larges, appointed by the elected directors, serve for a single year term.
Each year, in the fall, the USHPA Board elects its officers. They are the president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer and make up the USHPA Executive Committee. Between meetings of the board, the EC is empowered to act on behalf of the board of directors for many decisions that may come up between the semi-annual meetings. This structure permits ongoing decisions to be made in the conduct of the Association's business and provides continuity.
Serving at the pleasure of the Board is the USHPA Committee system, which provide focused work in the different functional areas of the Associations 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 USHPA. 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, 8AM to 5PM Mountain time.
A membership in the Association carries many other benefits. There are over 100 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, Hang Gliding and Paragliding. A full membership includes a subscription to the magazine.
Please read a copy of our most recent Annual Report for more details about our organization.
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