A brief history of serial vs competition class paragliders

Flying Serial in Valle de Bravo

The ‘serial vs open class’ debate has been raging for well over a decade within the paragliding world. While the full impact of the change may not be discernible for some time yet, it is useful to review the history of the debate.


2013 Plenary: date and venue


The CIVL 2013 Plenary will take part in Lausanne, Switzerland, from February the 14th to 17th, according to this schedule:

  • Thursday morning, Maison du Sport International and FAI office: Bureau meeting with chairs of subcommittees and working groups.
  • Thursday afternoon and Friday, Maison du Sport International and FAI office:subcommittees and working groups meetings.
  • Saturday and Sunday, Mövenpick Hotel: Plenary sessions.

2012 FAI European paragliding accuracy local regulations published


The local regulations for the FAI European paragliding accuracy championship are here. The event informations are here.



Entry registration for the following two FAI Category 1 Championships is now open. Please make sure that your national selectors/teamleaders are aware of the registration procedures, and go to the organiser websites and register their intention to compete in these events. They are:

- 18th FAI European Hang Gliding Class 1 Championship.

The registration website is here.

- 19th FAI World Hang Gliding Class 1 Championship.

The registration website is here.

What’s up? April 2012


As you know, Jiao-Xi February Plenary elected a Bureau with a few newcomers.

Getting organized was our first job, while Louise Joselyn, our former Secretary, was putting a final touch on the Bureau and Plenary Minutes (thanks Louise!).

Getting organized meant spreading responsibilities around, so all matters are covered by at least one Bureau member, from competition to safety, through communication, etc.

It also meant getting used to Basecamp. Basecamp is a software used by FAI, a web-based project management and collaboration tool. We decided that most of the Bureau exchanges and work would be done through it. Besides the functionalities that Basecamp offers, the exchanges and work done can be archived, and therefore used as references for future Bureaux.

This year projects are ambitious and we started working on them.

You know the difficulties the paragliding competition scene went through last year. The Plenary had to deal with a few contradictory proposals and decided to let the Paragliding Subcommittee and specific Competition Structure Working Group deal with them (check former News on this website). Discussions have started. We will let you know later what’s up on these matters. No consensus expected yet: we are just too early in the process.

Other subcommissions have, of course, also started their own work.


We want to update all documents, including our Guidelines For Organisers Handbook and Long Term Plan.

We will create new ones, like a CIVL Handbook, to help anyone find his way in the FAI – CIVL maze of documents, rules, ways of working…, and a Bureau Handbook to structure the way we work.

We will work on how to make more efficient our Plenary and Bureau meetings.

Of course the day to day job of running CIVL and dealing with problems as they come never stops. Local regulations were finalized and published, worries about such or such championship discussed, coming deadlines met…

All that induced in my personal CIVL mailbox some 500+ messages since the Plenary. So, yes, the people you elected are at work. They are all volunteers. They are thinking about getting professional help (communication and secretarial work) but are not quite ready for it yet. This would be the cherry on the cake, but we have to cook the cake first, i.e. have CIVL run smoothly with motivated and hard working people.

Please let us know what you think. I will be your contact and will transmit to the Bureau or whoever.

Stef Malbos, Website Content Coordinator

Rod Fuller passed away


Little known, Rod Fuller was neverheless the first man to succesfully fly the Dickenson Wing, template for all hang gliders to come.


Dickenson nominated for the FAI Gold Air Medal

September 1963 in Australia

CIVL is proud to nominate John Dickenson, father of the modern hang glider, for recipient of the 2012 FAI Gold Air Medal.

The nomination: "Lilienthal and Chanute might be considered as the fathers of hang gliding, but their gliders were fragile and hard to control in turbulent conditions.

The sport of hang gliding really began in Australia in 1963, when John Dickenson invented the modern hang glider.

The glider was robust, able to withstand many crashes and still fly, easy to transport and store.

The design could be comprehended after a moment's viewing and replicated with no special tools, materials or knowledge. The control system was intuitive and efficient. The glider was so easy to fly that one would become a pilot and achieve Icarus’ dream simply by running off a hill and learning on the way down.

The magic of Dickenson’s device is the perfect coincidence of extreme simplicity, user friendliness and copy-ability. No other aircraft in history is as easy to build, fly and duplicate as the Dickenson wing. Almost 50 years after it was created, it is still the template for beginners’ hang gliders.

From 1963 to 1969, the Dickenson wing was boat-towed and released. In 1969, it was foot-launched, ridge-soared and taken around the world. In just six years, the number of Dickenson gliders went from a few dozens to tens of thousands, when hang gliding became part of FAI in the Commission Internationale de Vol Libre (CIVL).

The sport of hang gliding has never been honoured by a FAI Gold Air Medal. It makes CIVL all the more proud to nominate John Dickenson, holder of FAI Hang Gliding Diploma in 2006, for the highest FAI award."

FAI Vice Presidents will decide sometime next June if a FAI Gold Air Medal will be given away in 2012, and if so to who it should be.

Read more about John Dickinson and the history of hang gliding here.

2012 Plenary: Safety sum-up


Safety sum-up

The Safety subcommittee met in Taipei last month under the chairmanship of Frenchman Raymond Caux. It was the first meeting of the subcommittee and was attended by 35 persons. The key points…

Structure and activity of the Safety SC

A good competition safety record is critical, not only for saving lives, but for the continuation of our sport: attracting organisers, sponsors, competitors etc.

The SC should contain a mix of people who are prepared to work, representing pilots, manufacturers, organisers and other technical experts, as well as the chairs (or their representatives) of each discipline subcommittee.

The PG Competitions Safety TF activity and report was exemplary, and recommendations should be followed up.

Safety issues need to be actively raised and discussed during the year. SC should be informed/involved on a regular basis.

How to address/communicate safety issues – new media, at competitions, understand psychology and develop Safety Culture.

Actions: Formalise SC members; set agenda of short and long term issues by discipline and/or overall; set timetable and distribute actions. 

Incident reporting

A small group of volunteers was formed to pursue this initiatie and take in recommendations of Task Force.

Actions: Simplify online form for pilots, introduce short form for organisers to complete (linked to processing results for WPRS), consider DHV-like summary of incidents for information and awareness, create a ‘safety index’ (ie incidents/pilots/task) to show evolution of safety record.

Research on equipment

PG Reserves: Interest in initiating some research into reviewing PG reserve parachute deployment systems (ie 2 reserves, 2-sided reserves, automatic deployment systems).

Action: Experts to be consulted and a research programme defined and costed.

Live Tracking

Mixed views on making it compulsory due to cost and reliability issues. No conclusion on whether this is something CIVL should provide. Discussion on current costs (around €3000 or $4000 per event, plus cost of tech support).

Cross communication

FAI has just created a safety experts group, CIVL should be involved. Me should also liaise with organisations like OSTIV, EHPU, PWCA, testing houses, manufacturers.

Action: Pursue and determine best CIVL representative to join group and liaise in each case.

Improving pilot education, awareness, psychology of safety issues.

Some ideas emerged on how to communicate more effectively with pilots about safety and creating a safety culture.

Action: Create a template/agenda for mandatory safety briefings with re-usable ideas (short video clips, top pilot talks, interactive, varied speakers etc). Define key topics and create some informational films (aka HG sprogs) using top pilots, and/or other experts.

Raise skills for pilots in cat. 1 competitions

Task Force and PMA recommending an SIV-style qualification for competition pilots. Strong views in favour. Some concern about cost and availability of courses. PMA experts working on proposed program. CIVL could help by funding trainers to run courses in other geographic areas and train the trainers.

It was agreed it should be a high priority to find ways to increase pilot skills and eduction.

Actions: Liaise with PMA expert group on SIV-style program. Investigate skills available worldwide to deliver such courses. (Delegates can be asked for information, and their inclination to support the initiative). Consider other initiatives, timescales, costs and effectiveness.



2012 Plenary: hang gliding sum-up

Delta in line for take off

The hang gliding subcommittee met in Taipei last month under the chairmanship of Dennis Pagen, the US Delegate. Although the subcommittee was somewhat small, we had enthusiastic participation from the Australia, Dutch, Turkish, French, Danish, German, Austrian and Guatemalan delegates, most of whom are deeply involved in the hang gliding competition scene.


The underlying themes of the meeting revolved around doing everything possible to encourage and attract more competition organizers while continuing to promote safety as a key agenda item. The encouragement and support of organizers, particularly those of Category 1 competitions is a big concern: there are fewer and fewer bids for Cat 1 events and the belief is that this due, in part, to increasing burdens and costs places on organizers. To date, there are no bids for either the next World championship or the next European continental championship and this should be alarming to both the committee and the competition pilot community in general.

With this objective in mind, some important decisions were made, most notably with respect to the upcoming Hang Gliding World Championships in Forbes, Australia. The organizers asked that the usual three-member CIVL jury be modified to allow just the Jury President’s presence at the event with the remaining two jurors working remotely from their respective locations. Because protests are not terribly common, it was decided that this cost savings to the organizer was well worth allowing an exception, particularly since the cost savings would be passed directly, dollar-for-dollar, on to the pilots in the form of reduced entry fees.

The committee, as a whole, is hopeful that we can continue this trend of reducing burdens on organizers with the aim of encouraging more events.

On the subject of safety, equipment standards were high on the list as well as pilot education. Although most of the committee members weren’t overly satisfied with the EN966 helmet certification standard, it was decided that at this point, there wasn’t a better standard available, so there was little choice other than to stick with the current standard for the time being.

With respect to wire size, the committee intends to contact the testing bodies to get feedback as to whether additional testing or requirements for sidewires should be considered.

On the issue of sprog testing at Category 1 events, the focus is shifting from mandatory testing of all gliders to a more education-oriented approach. For upcoming Category 1 events, the rules will require that team leaders from each participating nation measure the sprog settings of their pilots and provide that information to the organizers. In addition, the CIVL will then conduct random sprog testing of a small number of gliders at goal and other locations to be sure gliders are within manufacturer specifications. The original idea behind sprog testing was to educate pilots on safe settings. The committee feels that we have come quite far in helping provide pilots with this very important safety information and we now hope that we can continue that trend, but on a less sweeping scale in terms of the time burden on both the organizers and the CIVL.

Finally, the committee believes that more can be done in terms of pilot safety education by creating a series of short films, featuring respected pilots, with brief information on safety related issues such as sprog settings, safest use of VG during flight, general pilot health issues related to preparations for flying (hydration, adequate sleep, etc.) and knowing when it is time to stay on the ground, in terms of after an accident, concussion type injury, etc. These short films can be used by organizers and shown at mandatory safety briefings at the start of a competition. If done properly, the thought is that competitors will tend to pay more attention and take to heart the advice of a top pilot in this sort of short film.

With the goals of increased pilot safety and continued work toward encouraging more Category 1 organizers, the committee hopes to have a productive year. 

FAI 2012 European Paragliding Local Regulation Published

Local regulations 2012 FAI PG Euro

The local regulations for the 12th FAI European Paragliding Championship in Saint-André-les-Alpes (France) have been published at 



What will tomorrow’s CIVL competition scene look like?

Valle de Bravo, Mexico

In the wake of Piedrahita, the Task Force report and a general concern for competition safety, several proposals regarding competition formats and structures were presented to the 2012 Jiao-Xi Plenary. The Paragliding Competition Subcommittee underlined the complexity of the topic. The PG Subcommittee recommended setting up a Competition Structure Working Group (CSWG) in order to analyse the pros and cons of the various proposals that were on the Plenary agenda, and to define a longer term strategy. The aim is to make recommendations for proposals to the 2013 Plenary.


Having in mind that a Category 1 championship must be a “safe, fair and satisfying contest”, the CSWG will explore the following avenues:

  • To split Individual and Nation World paragliding championships with both safety and fairness issues in mind.
  • To establish separate championships for different classes of paragliders (for example, one championship for Serial and one for Competition). Options include events with multiple classes of glider in the same championship, or separate events, both with multiple titles (for example, Serial and Competition), or to keep championships open to any class of glider and award only one title.
  • To establish a separate new World championship (and ranking system) for PG XC Open Distance.
  • To work with PWCA to improve the organization of Category 1 championships.
  • To analyse the impact of the new Cat 1 hang gliding "Sport" class championship initiated by the Plenary as part of hang gliding’s existing multiclass events.
  • To consider the opportunities for CIVL regarding FAI’s emerging Sports Strategy on competition structures.


The CSWG will take into account:

  • The value of a World championship title (symbolic and financial).
  • The benefits and concerns for different parties (FAI, NACs, pilots, organisers, sponsors…).
  • The financial consequences for these parties.
  • The need to find additional competent organisers.
  • How Continental and World championships alternate.
  • How it fits in FAI General Section rules and emerging Sports Strategy.
  • For each of the viable options, the group will define realistic basic rules, cycles and deadlines.
  • In other words, the CSWG has the exciting task to define what will be tomorrow competition philosophy, no less.


The CSWG includes:

  • Stephane Malbos (FRA), Chairman.
  • Thomas Brandlehner, high level competition pilot.
  • Calvo Burns (GBR), championship organiser.
  • Goran Dimiskovski (MKD), PWCA representative.
  • Brian Harris (GBR), CIVL Competition Coordinator.
  • Andy Jaxa-Rozen (POL), XC-Open supporter.
  • Eduardo Sanchez Granel (ARG), “small team” NAC representative.
  • Martin Scheel (SWI), “big team” NAC representative.
  • Jamie Shelden (USA), Hang Gliding Sport Class supporter.