SAHPA is the national association that represents the interests of recreational pilots that fly Paragliders, Hang gliders, Paramotors and Paratrikes in South Africa.

SAHPA is also a statutory body with an approval from the Civil Aviation Authority to oversee the operations of its members, ensure compliance to the regulations and report non-compliance to the regulator.


This excludes parachuting (jumping out of a plane), parasailing (being towed behind a boat), microlight and ultralights, and kite-boarding (surfing in the waves with a kite). It also excludes oversight of schools and commercial operations.


All South African pilots that partake in these sports must be licensed by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), as required by the Civil Aviation Act.

Part 94 of the Civil Aviation Regulations also requires all pilots (including visiting foreign pilots) to be members of SAHPA. SAHPA also provides 3rd Party Liability Aviation Insurance which is a mandatory requirement as described by Section 8(5) of the Civil Aviation Act. In addition, SAHPA also has land-use agreements with certain land-owners which then bestows permission on SAHPA members.

Currently SAHPA has the following types of membership:

  • Student Membership (6 months)
  • National Pilot Membership (2 years)
  • Foreign Pilot Membership (2 months or 6 months)
  • Temporary Student Membership (1 day) for Introductory Tandem Flight Experience

SAHPA has approximately 700 National Members.

Foreign pilots may fly in South Africa on acceptance of their IPPI cards. SAHPA also provides mandatory temporary membership to visiting foreign pilots.

Introductory Flight Experience

Third Party Liability Aviation Insurance

Landowners need assurance that they will avoid liability for property damage or injuries sustained by visitors to the site, or want to know that if a pilot causes damage or injury to a spectator or to his own property, that he/she will have recourse to compensation for the loss or injury. SAHPA membership includes a mandatory 3rd Party Liability Aviation Insurance. This is required by Section 8(5) of the Civil Aviation Act.

This insurance policy does not provide life cover, medical cover or insurance on the pilot’s equipment.

(Domestic household insurance does not include cover for aviation-related accidents).

International Recognition

SAHPA members are recognised internationally through the Aero Club of South Africa and FAI affiliation. South African competition pilots can fly in competitions locally and overseas due to this affiliation. NPL are recognised overseas through the same affiliation. That eases the way for South African pilots to travel and fly at overseas sites.

Safety Management System

Paragliding and hang-gliding are generally considered high risk sports, however the community of pilots are largely conservative and pay close attention to risks and safety. SAHPA has a comprehensive Safety Management System whereby the volunteer SAHPA National Safety Officer collects, collates and analyses all Accident and Incident data to identify trends, and a detailed Accident Register is maintained. SAHPA also has regular safety reviews where recommendations are proposed and debated. These recommendations may result in changes to SAHPA operating procedures or proposed changes to the Civil Aviation Regulations or Civil Aviation Standards.

Training & Licensing

All prospective paragliding and hang-gliding pilots in South Africa are required to complete a comprehensive training programme with an approved school before obtaining a National Pilot’s Licence (NPL). The NPL is issued by the Civil Aviation Authority, who also provide regulatory oversight of all aviation schools in South Africa.


All aviation schools operate under the provisions of Part 141 of the Civil Aviation Regulations. A school must submit an application and undergo a stringent verification before the CAA issues the school with a DTO approval certificate. This allows the school instructors to conduct training based on an approved training syllabus. Each school will have an Accountable Manager (AM) (typically the owner) and a Chief Flight Instructor (CFI). SAHPA has no jurisdiction over school operations, however all instructors in a school are required to be SAHPA members, and school operations must comply with established site rules. You see a list of all PG & HG schools here.

Every school has their own safety protocols and operating procedures.

Code of Conduct

SAHPA members must abide by the SAHPA Code of Conduct which is incorporated into the SAHPA Manual of Procedures. If a complaint is made against a pilot, the pilot undergoes a disciplinary process and may face corrective and/or punitive action.

If the complaint includes evidence of gross misconduct or commits an offence in terms of the Civil Aviation Act or Civil Aviation Regulations, the matter is immediately handed to the Civil Aviation Authority for further enforcement action. The pilot then faces the potential of a hefty fine, suspension or revocation of licence, and even criminal charges.

Search & Rescue

The SAHPA Emergency Response Plan refers all aviation-related Search And Rescue (SAR) matters to the Aeronautical Rescue Co-ordination Centre (ARCC) which is a division of Air Traffic Navigation Services (ATNS) and funded by the Department of Transport (DOT). The ARCC co-ordinates the appropriate emergency teams for the duration of the SSAR initiative. Post-trauma counselling is provided by volunteers at Mayday-SA.

Accident and Incident Investigation

The Accident, Incident Investigation Division (AIID) which straddles both the CAA and DOT, is mandated to conduct accident investigations. SAHPA has a formal working agreement with the AIID to provide expertise and assist with accident investigations.

Where we fly

SAHPA has approximately 300 launch and landing sites which are registered and published under the AIP ENR 5.5. This is also reflected in the SAHPA Site Register. Guidance for pilots is typically published on the SAHPA Site Guide.

In terms of the Civil Aviation Regulations (Part 94.06.2) it states that “the pilot in-command of a paraglider may use any suitable area to launch the paraglider: Provided permission has been obtained from the owner of the site or the local authority having jurisdiction; and provided further that in the case of flight training or tandem operations, only launch sites approved by the Director or by the organisation designated for the purpose in terms of Part 149, as the case may be, shall be used.