Prepare to Fly

Paragliding Tips I Wish I'd Learned Sooner


"very, very good indeed and ridiculously cheap"
"Not just recommended... essential!"

Skywings magazine, October 2012.

Skywings Magazine, November 2015, said (of the second edition):

Since we reviewed it three years ago over 600 copies of this book have been sold and it has also been translated into Chinese! Not bad for an idea cooked up after a few conversations down the pub about 'how much stuff we have to find out by trial and error'. Author Simon Blake has now brought out a revised and considerably expanded edition with over 35% more content.

The strength of this book is its no-nonsense approach, and the fact that most of its wisdom and advice has been learnt the hard way. There are a thousand mistakes to be made on the road to attaining paragliding prowess and Simon Blake is quite open about having made many of them. This refreshing honesty adds bite to the various lessons and certainty to his conclusions.

Absolutely stuffed with good ideas and entirely free from being overawed, in particular by contemporary gizmology, reading Prepare to Fly is a bit like planning to go flying with a knowledgeable but non-judgemental friend. When we first reviewed this book we reported, 'It¹s like having a very knowledgeable coach at your elbow who can never be bored with your enquiries or become impatient with your rate of learning. And one of Simon¹s many bits of good advice is to find a coach and become good friends with them.' To succeed at this game every newbie - and improver - needs a good friend, and this book really is exactly that.

Rather than a list of what's included, it's easier to enumerate what isn't: nothing! If a developing pilot needs to embrace it, it's here! Although aimed at new CPs there¹s much that will enlighten more experienced pilots. The new sections cover planning flights with XC Planner and Neil Charles's amazing Flight Browser. There are also details about Kobo flight instruments, phone-app varios and emergency satellite beacons, all technology that has become prominent since the original version was published.

There is, of course, no substitute for good hands-on instruction. But our game has always been bedevilled by the difficulties of making the next steps to improve and aim higher. In outlining how to make best use of the time that you aren¹t flying by planning, preparing and sorting your equipment, this book is the answer. It is the lifeline to reaching undreamed-of horizons beyond the newbie struggle.

Although there's a lot more content, the font size has been reduced to make the book only slightly bigger than the original (now 176 pages), and it retains the same bargain price. I wouldn't leave for the hill without it, and I'd encourage every new pilot ­ and anyone who is struggling to progress ­ to get hold of a copy.

Skywings Magazine, October 2012, said (of the first edition):

According to BHPA member Simon Blake, author of this very useful book, "The idea came to me after re­reading my flying log of my first couple of years’ flights, and a few conversations down the pub about how much stuff we have to find out by trial and error that we wish we'd been told sooner." It's aimed at new CPs, although there's much that will enlighten more experienced pilots. It's a kind of Dummies Guide, except that Dummies Guides are universally crap and unreasonably expensive, and this one is very, very good indeed and ridiculously cheap.

To be clear, the book doesn't tell you to how to fly – it is emphatically no substitute for good hands-on instruction. But, based on Simon's own blunders, mishaps, misunderstandings and undoubted achievements, it advises how best to make use of the time that you aren't flying, in planning, preparation and sorting your equipment. Its stated aim is to smooth the progress of the newly-qualified paraglider novice towards being a confident, organised, and successful pilot. And it's underpinned by solid wisdom: hours aren't everything, it's not wuss to fly a beginner wing, don't cut corners with parachutes, etc, etc.

As well as detailing how to actually go about building the skills an improving pilot needs, the book answers all sorts of peripheral questions that don't occur to you till you're out of school: What's SIV? What's a Cobra launch? What sort of instrument do I need? It's like having a very knowledgeable coach at your elbow who can never be bored with your enquiries, or become impatient with your rate of learning. And one of Simon's many bits of good advice is to find a coach and become good friends with them.

A lot of stuff you will need to know down the road a bit - landing out, using GPS. competitions, etc - is all very clearly explained. There are even some really sound tips on hitch-hiking. All of this is couched in a very readable style, perfectly written and broken down into clearly grouped headings that make it easy to scour for the bit you're after. And it's delivered in the tone of someone who has made all the mistakes, who understands how dispiriting it is to screw up, who can really engage with the newbie mindset... but who also knows there are undreamed-of horizons beyond the struggle. There are many personal examples of how to get things wrong, including a very amusing one where Simon is so busy scrolling through screens on his GPS to relocate his thermal that he fails to notice his buddies get the climb and clear off!

I have tried very hard to find holes in the 140 pages of this book and I can't. There's nothing I would quarrel with regarding the author's advice, and nothing I was searching for and couldn't find. And it's bang up to date about LK8000, XCSoar, etc. if and when the time comes to use such things. If you are aiming for CP, or have not long achieved it, investing a tenner in this book will smooth your path onwards and upwards. If I ran a school I'd give this book to all my paragliding graduates as a leaving present. It really is the dog's parts. Not simply recommended... but essential!

Andy, Amazon Verified Purchaser, said:

This is a comparatively slim volume at around 144 pages, but packed with handy tips on everything from what to do when you are getting dragged to removing insects (and possibly rabbits) from your wing, also covering instruments, launch techniques, XC flying and dozens of other things along the way. There won't be too many surprises for a pilot with a couple of years experience, but still a few hidden gems, and it is so readable that it makes a great refresher. For the newly qualified or aspiring club pilot it will be invaluable. The style is relaxed and often humorous eg. "We all remember the three kinds of altimeter settings from our textbooks, don't we? QFH, QE2 and QPR wasn't it?" The text is interspersed with the authors 'Personal Lessons' and these frank, sometimes self critical observations are particularly helpful - para-chat in book form. Highly recommended.

Andy Ward, Lulu purchaser, said:

Awesome book. This book helped a lot on my journey from freshly qualified Club Pilot with red ribbon and a lot to learn, right through to my first thermalling flights. Packed with great advice that saved me time, stopped me wasting money on kit I didn't need, and really helped me to progress towards a Pilot rating and my first XC.