My name is Jonathan Chuter and I LOVE to fly. I’ve been flying for about two yeas now, on and off. I live in London, England. I’ve wanted to fly something (although I was never sure what, or how, quite) since I was about 10, and my interest was kindled properly when I was given a glider lesson for my 18th birthday. Since I had way too much testosterone and adrenaline and no money at that age. I settled for skiing and biking. I had a certain repeating dream while sleeping about once a month where everything became really light and floaty, and I found myself launch up into the air and flying around…

Visiting Santa Barbara regularly in the last few years to see a certain local lady I became transfixed by the paragliders I saw intermittently in the clear beautiful skies above the town. I signed up for a discover paragliding lesson with some reservations. You see, although I felt my hormones had settled to an acceptable level, and although I could just about afford it, I work as a school teacher in London, and while I value good teaching, I can’t abide mediocre educators and I certainly wasn’t about to pay a bunch of self centered jocks to put my life at risk while they wished they were elsewhere, flying high.

My experience of learning to fly with Eagle Paragliding was very special. Without going in to too much detail about educational theory, different people learn in different ways, and people bring baggage (fear of failure, or of looking stupid!) to the learning environment which usually hampers their progress, their ability to trust the teacher, and their enjoyment of the experience. At Eagle, I learned so much and in such an enjoyable way because my instructors were not only clearly technical experts, but were also able to communicate the right amount of information in the right way, and deliver it at the right pace for me. In addition, they (consciously or subconsciously) were aware, very quickly of what kind of a learner and a personality I was and adapted their teaching accordingly.

What the hell am I talking about? Well basically, I am a serious person who learns very quickly, wants to do well, is very self critical and wants to get the absolute maximum from every experience I have. In response to this, Rob fed me a lot of technical information, but disguised much of it in catchy sayings (A’s away, rears near; cross em n boss em; move to the low side). This meant that my head was not full up with technical stuff (so that I had enough brain free to be aware of and sensitive to my glider and its behavior). When I set up these days I can hear Rob’s measured voice in my head, “yeah, Jonny Pops!” Rob allowed my to push myself on the first couple of days, allowed me to kite even when the wind was pretty strong and I was clearly struggling. He laughed a lot when I fell over, while encouraging me at the same time, to combat my seriousness, and to loosen me up (which I needed to in order to feel the glider). I’m not sure whether his humor, and his insistence on calling me ‘Jonny Pops’ was partly him having a laugh, but it defused my overly serious attitude, and allowed me to laugh at myself which for a slightly uptight brit ; ) was great for my vacation vibe but also helped me fly better.

I remember Marty asking me gently to stop when the wind became too strong for my kiting ability in the middle of the day, and rather than flying with the experts (as an instructor was doing from another company) while the wind was strong (which would have got right up my nose) he sat for maybe three hours and talked about flying and commented on what was going on with the wind and peoples’ gliders and talked about teaching theory and his negative experiences when he learned to fly planes and what an inspiration that was to him to teach really well. Marty stayed till about 7 that day and I got 5 flights that evening as the wind died – just him and me. Every time I took off, he calmed me down, set me a task, and every time I landed, he began by complimenting me on what I had got right, joining me in my excitement and joy, and then analyzed the flight with me, examining it for things to improve.

At all times, I felt safety was paramount and risk assessment a serious undertaking. The emphasis was always on me being responsible for my own flying, not relying on them, making good decisions, etc.

Many lessons culminated in a trip last Easter when I got to stay with Rob in his RV, and was assigned Kev as my personal minder, instructor, and drinking buddy. While I had to wait a few days for good winds, Kev and I had a blast, and when the wind finally got right, he got me my first high mountain flight and my first ridge soaring experience (both on the same day!). The following day I had what can only be described as a religious experience soaring about the Santa Barbara cliffs for over an hour in bright sunshine, butter smooth winds and a solid, stable glider which I was persuaded to purchase ahead of a rather spicy alternative that I had my eye on (thanks Rob!). Kev was an excellent instructor and facilitated my transition from student to pilot. His easy manner, many flying stories, childishness when it didn’t matter, and moments of utter, grownup seriousness when it did, earned my respect and confidence, things I do not offer easily.

As someone who respects excellent teaching and knows it when he sees it, I can honestly say that Eagle Paragliding lead in their field of education. And as someone who values his own life EXTREMELY highly, I am pleased to report that these guys can really be trusted.

Returning to Europe, I bided my time until summer, drove my ‘petit camping car’ (that’s French for small RV, apparently) to France and spent 9 days van camping on the summit of the Puy de Dome, an extinct volcano in the Auvergne region of France on which sits the ruins of a pre-Christian temple dedicated to the god Mercury (him of the winged shoes – they didn’t have paragliders in those days!). After waiting for 48 hours for the fog to clear, I spent 5 days flying in all kinds of conditions, learning many new things, gaining experience, having fun and staying safe. It’s not somewhere many Yanks will have flown, and I can’t recommend it because I haven’t flown enough places to compare, but for me it was like going to the moon and coming back safely. That safe, stable glider and all my instruction allowed me to live my dream – thanks Eagle.

Blue skies,

Jonathan Chuter – Jonny Pops : )

Jonathan Chuter & Jonny Pops

Dear Eagle Paragliding Team,

I am writing to you on behalf of myself and the rest of my group that came to you for a paragliding course in January. As you were aware this was an adventurous training expedition organized by myself on behalf of the Royal Air Force stationed at Goose Bay.

This was organized under our services requirements to provide activities that are testing and challenging to individuals and to also encourage personal and team development. Having had some limited experience paragliding, qualifying P2 just over 18 months ago, the task of project officer was given to me.

On my first contact with you by e-mail and by viewing your high quality web-site, it was apparent that I was dealing with a well-organized and well-managed school. This continued to the case during the coming months as we exchanged various information and requests for training requirements, all of which you were happy to accommodate.

The help you gave with finding accommodation to our requirements, was also much appreciated as this meant that I did not have to try searching for them from Canada. The accommodation was excellent and we were also pleasantly surprised with the very good rate that you had negotiated for us.

From day one of the training it was obvious that you were a very competent and knowledgeable instructor and just as important you were very easy to get on with. Being British and being in the military, we tend to have a very unique outlook on life, and this influences the way we interact with people. Everyone in my party found that you adapted and embraced this unique style so well that very quickly you even started to understand our sense of humor.

The training was always very clear, concise and put over in an informed, authoritative but friendly manner. It was clearly divided into a series of logical progressive steps that enabled all students to safely increase their knowledge and abilities with the wing, with allowances being made for individual abilities.

This was nice to see as being a qualified A1 instructor with the RAF, you are in the habit of taking apart peoples instruction methods but this was not the case, because of your high standard.

The proof of the quality of training could soon be seen in the progression of the students and they were soon producing clean launches and landings with good awareness of landing approach and set up.

I was also impressed by the depth and quality of the ground school training, which has certainly given all of us a much better appreciation of the weather and the factors affecting thermal production.

The flights in the mountains will certainly stay with all of us as the high point of the course. The careful steady approach to teaching with safety as the first consideration pays off when in 9 days you can train 6 students (even allowing for several days of bad weather) and then safely launch and recover them from their first big flight. Even when preparing for these first flights the attention to detail is noticeable, everyone is briefed on all available landing zones, the best route to the main LZ, where thermals might be found etc, all very reassuring for those making their first big flight.

On a personal note I would have no hesitation in recommending you to anyone, I have seen your training and I have seen your training area, if only all schools were as good. Having had three training courses now 2 in the US and 1 in the UK, I can say that Eagle Paragliding and Rob Sporrer are the best I have been to. My own flying improved in leaps and bounds during my time training with you and if the opportunity arises that I can train with you again, then I will be there. I know when I say thank you for all of your help, advice and patience; I am saying it for my entire group.

Many Thanks,

Sgt Richard Tustain – Project Officer – Royal Air Force

ERS RAF(U) Goose Bay
PO Box 907 Station A
Goose Bay Labrador Canada A0P 1S0

Sgt Richard Tustain

The instructors are able to efficiently coach you into becoming a paragliding pilot because they are able tell you what mistake you’re about to make before you make it, allowing successful habits to be ingrained into you. They care that you learn the correct way and won’t let you off until you’re demonstrating competent technique. They’re a great group of instructors.

Owen Alfonso – Anchorage, AK

I had a blast at Eagle Paragliding! Nothing is like flying Santa Barbara. The mix of instruction style ensures that there is an instructor you will click with the entire Eagle team. Thank you all for helping me fly.

Kevin Haston – Tucson, AZ

Fortunately for me I had friends who highly recommended flying with you, specifically Matthias Jaffe. My Colombia experience this year was my first time to meet your crew, and I was completely impressed with every aspect of the trip and all of the people involved. I can’t imagine a more accomplished group of pilots who also all share such a positive approach to flying and supporting pilots who are WAY below their skill levels but never made to feel that way! I’ve hoped for a chance to make it to Santa Barbara to join in some more fun with you there, but life has been in the way – but I’ll definitely make it up some day.

James Hall – Azusa, CA

I trained with Eagle in February of 2018 and had a very rewarding experience. Eagle’s instructors are dedicated professionals who are passionate about the sport. The training site is uniquely situated on the Pacific shore with consistent, predictable winds that create conditions perfect for training, enabling multiple launches and landings in a single day. Because of these extraordinary conditions, I was able to rapidly progress through the P2 training curriculum. After I finished my training, I traveled to La Union, Colombia, and felt perfectly prepared to fly from the 5,545′ launch site in the Andes mountains. What a HOOT!

Louis W. Guske, Jr. – CT

Truly a great bunch of guys, very knowledgeable and safe. They were patient with the learning process and the on radio commands.
The winds were not favorable on my first day so they set me up to come back for a makeup half day at not charge, I was able to get 5 flights in that morning. I would definitely recommend this company for anyone wanting to take flight in this manner.

John Metzger – Fresno, CA

My experience with Eagle Paragliding has been tremendous. Not only are the instructors extremely knowledgable they are excellent teachers providing constant help and encouragement. And the teaching/mentoring continues long after the course is complete. The Eagle team has always been open and ready to answer questions and help me move into better skills. I am deeply grateful for Eagle and for their instructors who introduced me into the world of free flight.

I originally went with them because the price was great (Canada is substantially more) and later found out they were the number one school in the USA. After starting my classes I soon realized what a phenomenally good choice I had made. Not only was the instruction/instructors great but the staff made me feel very welcome. They are like a family. The staff treated me like I had known them forever and went out of their way to make me feel welcome. One instructor even went out of her way to pick me up on days I couldn’t get a ride to the training hill. I can honestly say that choosing eagle paragliding was the best decision I could’ve made. I came down from Banff, Alberta, Canada to take a course and learn another skill like any other adrenaline sport but ended up leaving with a lot more than I expected including a new set of friends that are professional and genuinely looking out for your well-being. I would highly recommend learning with eagle paragliding. They love their sports and are eager to share their passion with you and make you feel as comfortable as you possibly can.

Dorian Sawka – Banff, Alberta, Canada

I chose Eagle Paragliding after searching for the best environment and service available for learning to paraglide. After completing their initial program, I believed that I had made the right choice. Now, many years later, I feel the same. Eagle has, in my opinion, consistently maintained standards of excellence for training new pilots, from ground school through certification. Their staff is well trained and tuned to the needs of each student. They are supportive, and maintain a high level of communication throughout the learning process. Their training hill is well situated with consistent conditions to train throughout the year as is the Santa Barbara area also a place where one can fly year round. Eagle offers tours for paragliding including Colombia S.A. where I have participated. I can imagine no better tour as Eagle employs some of the most accomplished paragliders in the U.S. to mentor each individual as well as orchestrate a complete experience in a beautiful environment. Rob Sporrer is the owner and person responsible for the success of Eagle. He has clearly dedicated himself to maintaining the high level of quality that Eagle Paragliding has become known for.

Bob Beighley – Boulder, CO

If you want to get into paragliding call Rob. I repeat: if you want to get into paragliding, call Eagle Paragliding. When I decided I wanted to try out free flight, I had no idea it would be so much fun and addicting. Eagle is in my mind the best school on earth to learn the sport. The instructors (ALL OF THEM) are truly some of the best teachers I have ever interacted with. The training hill at Elings Park is renowned nationwide for its predictable safe learning environment. And the multi student environment allows you to fraternize with pilots both above and below your current skill level. This is super helpful! I have made life long friends at the training hill. Eagle also makes a point that once you become a student, you are a student for life. So anytime you need to brush up or test your new gear I know someone always has my back. If you want the best ever by far, go Eagle.

Pete Canaan – Tehachapi, CA