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Thinking hypothetically, person A is taking a paragliding course over the course of a year in three stages. The first two are about mastering ground handling, taking off, basic landing, different approaches, and landing near a target. The last stage requires 10 hours of flight in total, staying in the air with wind bouncing up from a cliff, big ears, and top landing.

Person B is an accredited instructor giving classes to person A. Person B proposed that person A acquire material for the third stage. Person B also suggested that it would be harder to teach person A with a glider unknown to person B. Person B suggested one specific glider that he knows very well and considers the best for beginners (Gin Atlas 2).

I see the advantage that person A would both learn the skills and to handle the glider; I see the disadvantage if person A mishandles the material and wrecks a new glider instead of a used one.

What is a good time for person A to acquire material? And what trade-offs should they consider when deciding on which glider to acquire from the many available?

Update

I forgot to mention that the course includes supply of glider and harness (helmet too, but I already bought mine). During the second stage of training, which focused on landing on a predetermined spot, I used an Independence Zippy EN-A glider. Now in the third stage I am using a Skywalk Tequila 2, EN-B low. Both belonged to the school. Yesterday I did two hour-long flights, big ears, top landing, and full accelerator.

Person B said that the difference between the wings he uses for classes (Skywalk) and those he recommends for novice pilots (Gin) is a coincidence: two former students who had bought Skywalk Tequila were moving to more advanced gliders, he knew the students and the gliders well and bought them second-hand for instruction, and no Gin Atlas are now on the second-hand market.

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    IMO (unrelated to gliding) person A should do independent research to determine which paraglider is the most suitable one for a beginner to buy, rather than for the instructor to teach. Then if the instructor isn't up to it, find another instructor to complete the course. But does the course actually include the supply of the student glider? If so - you use theirs. Feb 25, 2020 at 18:05
  • @WeatherVane Yes, the course includes the student glider. I have only a few instructors and clubs in the area I am living. I updated the question with the details of wings too. Feb 28, 2020 at 9:53
  • So is person B (the instructor) saying they are inexperienced with the glider they are being paid to teach? Aside: it was wise to buy your own helmet. Feb 28, 2020 at 9:55
  • @WeatherVane Could you turn your comments into an answer? Feb 29, 2020 at 10:56

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All modern EN-A gliders are quite forgiving and do not behave drastically different. In my opionion your instructor should have no problem teaching you with any of those.

Getting your own equipment as soon as possible makes a lot of sense, but it should be sufficient to get it after you completed your license. Buying used is also very common and since you have to get your gear checked usually every two years totally safe.

Staying with an EN-A for quite some time is very advicable. Many pilots move up to higher classes way to fast, in my opinion at least. I myself bought a used Advance PI2 23 wing. It is very lightweight, very easy to launch and works fine for thermaling.

In your case I recommend looking at used gear not older than 2-4 years. Or any new EN-A glider that feels good to you.

Some EN-A gliders to choose from:

  • Skywalk Mescal 5
  • Airdesign Eazy
  • Advance Alpha 6
  • Phi Symphonia

Take my advice with a grain of salt since I am also quite a novice pilot, but I have learned a lot from very experienced pilots/teachers and I am basically forwarding their opinions to you.

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  • Thanks Philipp. I updated the question with the gliders I have been using. The instructor has already moved me to a B low. Feb 28, 2020 at 9:56
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    No problem! Low B should also be fine, but remember that the EN rating only considers safety and not performance. I would not move up higher until you are really feeling the glider is holding you back. Which takes many many flights.
    – Philipp F.
    Feb 29, 2020 at 7:22
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As a paragliding instructor myself, I would strongly recommend to stay on A glider for at least a year.

Chances are if you fly with a too demanding glider you would at some point make a mistake and stop the activity alltogether.

Nowadays "A" gliders are more performing (and less demanding) than when I started out (20 years ago).

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