All your questions answered….
Depends upon weather conditions, we aim to fly 20 mins per flight (Planpraz) – sometimes its more – sometimes its less ! I find that this is an ideal duration , particularly for a first flight and most passengers are so bombarded by sensations that time becomes irrelevant !
The overall activity for the Planpraz flight takes around one hour ; from meeting, riding the lift, walking to launch area, briefing, flying, packing up, returning to the bottom of the lift.
I suffer from vertigo, is it for me ?
Surprisingly, even people who feel the need to hold on tightly in the gondola feel comfortable once in the air ! Like looking out if the window of an aeroplane, one feels quite removed from the void below.
Is it scary?
Passengers usually feel quite apprehensive at the launch area and then surprised at just how easy it was to launch once airborne. The launch is a gentle run down a slight slope – not at all a plunge off a cliff !
In flight we really feel supported by the wing and comfortably seated in the harness . We can make the flight smooth and relaxing or liven it up with some aerobatics depending upon the passenger's desires. The pilot and passenger can converse easily during the flight allowing the pilot to reassure and keep informed, nervous passengers.
Age limits ?
No limits! Children as young as four years frequently fly but we will only accept such young children if we can see that they really do want to fly.
Children generally fly in the early morning when the winds are usually light. The current age record for tandem paragliding is held by a spritely 104 year old French lady!
Basically if you can manage a gentle run for around 20 meters then you are well suited to paragliding. For the less agile or heavier passengers we arrange to fly when the wind can help us a little, usually later in the morning.
Weight limits ?
95kg is our limit for males , 80 kg for females.
You must be particularly athletic once above 80 kg (70 kg female), though it also depends a little on age & how the weight is distributed ! We can sometimes make special arrangements for very youthful athletic passengers slightly above our limits. Please consult us.
Like any aircraft we are affected by weight.
The heavier we are, the faster we have to run at take off & landing. As we run down a gentle slope at take off, we need to be able to run in a balanced & effective manner for around 20 metres, consequently we need to be reasonably athletic and even more so if we are heavier.
What to wear (summer) ?
Long trousers & long sleeved top, sunglasses, camera, walking boots or grippy training shoes.
As we need to run across slightly uneven ground it is recommended to wear boots that offer some ankle support.
By prior arrangement we may be able to lend you boots in certain sizes.
What to wear (winter) ?
Basically we fly at the same speed as a good skier so ski gear is perfect and we do not feel the cold any more than the skier!
Feel free to bring a camera – the views are stunning, its best to have a retaining strap for the camera. For selected flights it is possible to launch on skis (see below).
Whilst you may see some passengers launching wearing ski boots we strongly advise against this as it adversely hampers the launch & landing as you cannot flex properly & thus cannot run effectively.
Certain ski rental shops may rent walking boots & with prior arrangement we may be able to lend boots for certain sizes.
Can you supply jackets ?
Yes, but as it there is always a risk of rain or cool weather in the evenings, it is always best to have a jacket when visiting Chamonix, hopefully you will not need it !
Meeting points ?
Generally the meeting point is at the foot of the ski area in front of the ticket desk. We can arrange to meet at the take off if you are skiing or sightseeing & do not wish to come down for the meeting.
For skiers in the winter months, we can recommend a place to leave your ski boots, skis & poles but do not forget to take your walking shoes up the mountain in the morning!
If the weather is adverse ?
We will contact you by text message to tell you if it is not possible to fly because of bad weather. In this event the flight will be postponed or cancelled & you will be refunded immediately if you cannot postpone.
If you do not receive any text message please go to the prearranged meeting point at the planned time – we will be there .
We regret that we cannot refund any lift tickets that may have been used. For Aiguille du Midi flights we sometimes ask you to pay for the guides services if we have gone down the ridge & then back up to the cable car.
Flying at the same time as friends ?
With a little prior notice, we can arrange for numerous instructors so that you may fly at the same time as your friends. It is also usually possible to fly in close formation, allowing for great, close up, in-flight photos.
Conversely, two friends flying separately allows one passenger to film the other take-off and first part of the flight and then for the first passenger to film the second person's flight & landing.
Instructor Qualifications ?
All our instructors are French Government qualified and most have a minimum of twelve years of flying in the Chamonix valley. They speak English and look forward to sharing a special moment sharing their passion of paragliding with you. All understand your stress of making a first flight and will do their best to put you at ease and to prepare you for an experience that will bring a smile to your face for many days ahead.
Insurance , “my travel insurance excludes paragliding” ?
In accordance with French law all instructors hold full airsports professional liability insurance cover (FFVL instructors: 5 000 000 €, some instructors may have a slightly lower liability cover). All mountain guides are UIAGM guides with appropriate professional liability insurance cover.
Should I take out extra insurance, does my holiday insurance offer cover ?
We cannot comment on your insurance cover, it would be best to ask your insurer. Travel insurance is always worth having for your holiday and many policies cover tandem paragliding but you should check this when subscribing. Please see the previous question relating to our professional cover.
Mountain rescue (i.e. not a rescue effected by the ski patrol) is free of charge in France, unless (very rare) a private helicopter is used due to unavailability of the regular mountain rescue helicopters.
Medical / hospital / ambulance are charged for. Most Europeans may have access to some cover via their home country but will need a EHIC card. Repatriation or compensation cover is not included.
When do I pay ?
For individuals & couples, we do not usually ask for a deposit: You trust us to look after you in the skies, we will trust you to respect your reservation ! You should be ready to pay in cash, or French cheque, immediately after the flight.
As the pilot may have other flights after yours he will not be able to accompany you to an ATM, so please come prepared with adequate funds.
Do not forget to allow for the cost of your lift ticket & video if applicable.
When should I book ?
Please reserve your flight at least one day in advance and avoid leaving the flight to the last day of your holiday as adverse weather would mean that we could not postpone – you are statistically far more likely to hurt yourself skiing or mountain biking than tandem paragliding!
By booking reasonably in advance, we can select the most appropriate flight time for you, and also select the most suitable English-speaking pilots.
What time should I fly?
This depends upon the site and the yourself : we will advise you when you book.
In the summer we usually fly from Planpraz (Brevent) in the mornings.
Children fly early when the winds are light.
Heavier adults or those who have difficulty running at launch usually fly later when the sun has created more wind.
From lunchtime onwards, it is often too windy to fly here & we will move onto west facing flying sites that only start to receive the suns heating in the afternoon.
What if I have to cancel ?
Providing that you forewarn us at least 24 hours in advance you will not need to pay anything. Please understand that we will probably have refused other requests for your flight slot so we do count on your respecting your booking commitments.
If you cancel within 24 hours or less to the flight time then you are liable for 70% of the cost of the flight, unless you can supply an appropriate doctors medical certificate.
Does Fly Chamonix have a shop / office where we can speak to you ?
Happily our office is the sky !
We do have a booking point in town, but any questions asked in the shop will simply be passed on by telephone. If possible, e-mail is the best way to contact us as we are invariably busy flying during the day and we can send clear & detailed information by mail.
We usually answer emails after the days flying (unless the weather is poor), so last minute requests are best by telephone, sorry but we cannot return voice calls to overseas mobile phone numbers.
Can I pay via credit card ?
Yes, but we can only accept card payment via our website.
This must be made at least 24 hours prior to the flight.
Do Fly Chamonix provide in flight video/photos ?
In flight videos / photos using HD cameras on telescopic arms offer a great souvenir of your flight showing both scenery and our passengers. The unedited footage is stored on a 8GB SD memory card that you receive directly after the flight. Cost:30€ /pers.
Can I bring my own camera ?
You are very welcome to use your own GoPro. The best way is with a short telescopic arm. A simple wrist strap made with elastic or string also works well as this allows you to film yourself or the scenery. This is better than the rigid GoPro wrist straps.
Chest mounts are not suitable as they conflict with the harness webbing, helmet mounts can be dangerous with the suspension lines & the pilot who is slightly above & behind so we cannot accept these. Long non telescopic poles are not suitable as they can get in the way at take off & landing.
You can use other cameras but bulky DSLR type cameras are less suitable than more compact models.
We cannot accept responsibility for any damage to your personal camera equipment.
We cannot allow "selfie" sticks with mobile phones as the telephone is not really secure and we cannot take the risk of dropping a phone whilst in flight above the town of Chamonix.
Can non flying friends watch the take off & landing ?
This depends upon the site & the weather conditions.
It is often nicest for friends to come up to take off but this does entail purchasing a round trip lift ticket. It is usually just about possible to see take off & landing for Brevent (Planpraz flights) but not for Plan de l'Aiguille , Aiguille du Midi or Grands Montets flights.
A less expensive and more relaxing option is for friends to wait at the landing field. The pilot will advise which landing area will be used & also the colour of the paragliders to look out for.
Should I order my lift ticket in advance, what ticket should I purchase ?
For paragliding you only need a one way ticket.
If you plan to visit other sites (Aiguille du Midi / Montenvers etc. during the day of the flight then it is probably best to purchase a day ticket allowing unlimited lift access. You can purchase this at any of the lifts. There is no need to purchase / order this in advance & buying on the same day allows flexibility in case of adverse weather.
Whilst there can be big queues at Aiguille du Midi, it is rare to have to wait more than ten minutes to purchase tickets at the other sites. During peak periods, it is advisable make a reservation for the Aiguille du Midi cable car: http://www.compagniedumontblanc.co.uk/en/lift-passes/on-line-booking
Why do you not fly from Brevent in the summer afternoons ?
During the winter months, the snow prevents the sun from creating a lot of wind, this is not the case in the Summer as the snow will have melted on the South facing slopes, consequently it usually becomes increasingly windy during the mid afternoon.
Whilst there are occasionally good flying conditions in the late afternoon, it has hard to know in advance, therefore we prefer to not schedule flights for the afternoon. We prefer the mornings when the flying conditions are more reliable.
Why are some flights not available at certain times?
Flights are subject to the cable car (or gondola) openings, during late Spring & late Autumn our main site (Brevent / Planpraz) is closed so we then move over to Plan de l’Aiguille.
Planpraz / Brevent offers the most reliable flying conditions and has two take off directions allowing us maximum flexibility , we therefore always try to fly from Planpraz if we have a choice.
Why is it not possible to fly from Aiguille du Midi or Plan de l’Aiguille in July & August ?
These sites are situated in a restricted zone during July & August.
This zone (encompassing Mt Blanc & the Italian frontier) was created to avoid any conflict between paragliders and the mountain rescue helicopters that are very busy during the summer months around Mt Blanc.
Which hotel should I book so as to be close to the meeting points?
Chamonix town is quite small & it would should not take any more than 15 minutes to walk from the most remote town centre accommodation to our meeting points.
Outlying villages of les Bossons, les Houches, les Praz, Argentiere etc. will require using the fairly frequent bus or train service. Some accommodation providers are less than clear about their location & if the accommodation is more than 10 minutes walk to the Chamonix Tourist Office it might be worth checking on Google maps before booking.
Could I lose my sunglasses during the flight ?
We have never heard of anybody losing them during the flight !
Do you provide helmets ?
Yes , we provide EN966 certified paragliding helmets.
Why do you not fly from les Grands Montets during the winter?
Accessing the top of les Grands Montets is usually problematic with big queues. Once at take off we are usually confronted with deep snow & descending winds making take off difficult / impossible.
Conversely, the Aiguille du Midi usually offers more favourable winds & snow conditions during the winter.
Why do you not recommend the Aiguille du Midi flight for everybody?
The Aiguille du Midi flight is very impressive and whilst we regularly have people fly from here without having paraglided or climbed before, it is a lot more comfortable if you have either already paraglided or have some experience with climbing or using crampons. Due to the demands of high altitude, you must have a reasonable degree of fitness.
Outside of the winter season when the ridge is equipped with fixed ropes & manicured walkways, the access is quite intimidating, as you will be walking down a narrow slope with steep drops on either side, it’s the role of the mountain guide who is roped up with you to keep you safe but it is still a team effort !
It is not very commercial to say so, but for most people, the Planpraz flight is ample for a first flight and most passengers are delighted.
Enquiries and bookings:
Contact us by e.mail (Fly Chamonix e.mail at least the day before.
For same day flights: Telephone or text message: 0033 6 10 28 20 77