Airways Airsports is based at Darley Moor Airfield, Derbyshire, is the only airpark in the United Kingdom offering hang gliding, paragliding, paramotoring and microlight training and flying. It is a British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association and British Microlight Aircraft Association (BMAA) recognised school. Instructors include a three-times world champion, world record holders, British cross country champion, British distance record holder, Royal Aeroclub gold medal winner and members of the British hang gliding and paragliding team.
Hang gliding teaching is primarily through tandem aerotow flights with take off and landing both on wheels. The student and instructor clip into a tandem glider side by side and attach themselves and the glider to a tow line pulled by a high powered 'tug' microlight. The tandem hang glider is then towed to around 3000' with the instructor and student keeping in line behind the microlight. At the top of the tow the line is released and the student is taken through a number of exercises before landing the glider under instruction. Once the student has completed a number of exercises and demonstrated an ability to keep the glider in line behind the microlight on tow, and land safely, then the student progresses on to a solo, wheeled hang glider. Once a student has completed a number of solo flights and demonstrated safe tows and landings solo then they are awarded their Club Pilot Certificate (aerotow) and can progress to flying in a club rather than a school environment. Airways have developed a wheeled solo glider for the initial solo flights.
Airways train pilots using a static winch for paragliding training. Compared to training on the hill this is a faster and less physically demanding way to try out paragliding as Darley Moor airfield is big enough for the winch to be moved around if the wind changes.
The course or taster starts with a full demonstration/walkthrough of the equipment, the winch commands/release etc. and how to use the radio. Students are then trained to ground-handle the wing, then the flying starts with some short low level flights before progressing to basic manoeuvres and on to high flying circuits.
By using a combination of aerotow and winch for training, pilots gain the skills necessary for flying in a club environment with winch or aerotow launching. With a hill conversion course pilots can be trained to fly from hills. Airways primarily use the Derbyshire Soaring Club sites. There are hills to suit all wind directions for both hang gliding and paragliding.
Paramotoring and powered hang gliding
Paramotoring training starts with standard paragliding training on the winch before the introduction of the engine and training with power. Similarly training for powered hang gliding involves learning to fly a hang glider first before conversion to power.
Single seat microlight flying
Either flying with a paragliding wing in a wheeled, powered buggy or in a single seat wheeled powered hang glider.
The school aircraft available for training are as follows;
Darley Moor Airfield facilities
The airfield has ample parking with full wheelchair and vehicle access. In the clubhouse there are male, female and disabled, showers, light refreshments, a shop and in 2011 a brand new hangar has been built.
The school offers the widest range of disabled free flight facilities of any school in the UK, using specially modified equipment to fly hang gliders, paragliders and microlight aircraft. The school has close links with the Aerobility (formerly the British Disabled Flying Association) and Flyability – charities offering support, advice and scholarships to disabled people wishing to experience or learn to fly.
Airways Airsports has been chosen by the press to fly or teach presenters and journalists
(2006) An extract from BBC's Great British Summer. Airways instructor Judy Leden flying Tandem with Cloud Appreciation Society founder Gavin Pretor-Pinney, showing him what its like to fly through the clouds on a hang glider.
(2010) BBC Breakfast sports presenter Mike Bushell and BBC Disability Sport reporter Tony Garrett flew tandem with Airways instructor Judy Leden to experience hang gliding and to demonstrate the benefits of aerotowing for disabled students.
(2011) Gethin Jones gets taken up flying in a microlight by Airways CFI Chris Dawes in a microlight for ITV's "The Adventurer's Guide to Britain", to get a unique birds eye view of the Peak District.
- "Instructor information". Airways Airsports. 2010-03-26. Retrieved 2011-04-17.
- "Airways Airsports France". Airways Airsports. 2010-03-26. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
- "Hang gliding training". Airways Airsports. 2010-03-26. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
- "Paragliding". BHPA. 2010-03-26. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
- "Learn Paragliding". Airways Airsports. 2010-03-26. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
- "Paragliding Conversions". Airways Airsports. 2010-03-26. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
- "Learn to fly a Paramotor". Airways Airsports. 2010-03-26. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
- "Powered Hang Gliding". Airways Airsports. 2010-03-26. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
- "Disabled Microlight Aviation". Airways Airsports. 2010-03-26. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
- "Paragliding Conversions". Airways Airsports. 2011-01-20. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
- "Hang-gliders break world record". BBC. 2002-10-15. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
- "Great British Summer". BBC. 2006-11-05. Retrieved 2011-05-17.
- "Icelandic Paragliding: Behind the scenes". BBC. 2010-01-19. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
- "Chris Dawes". IMDB. 2010-01-19. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
- "Country Tracks". BBC. 2010-09-02. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
- "Blue Peter". BBC. 2010-10-04. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
- "Mike Bushell flies high with aerotow hang-gliding". BBC. 2010-10-08. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
- "Episode 11 (Man Vs Beast Challenge)". Gadget Show. 2011-04-25. Retrieved 2011-04-26.
- "A clip from episode 2 'Carol Kirkwood flies through clouds'". BBC. 2011-06-20. Retrieved 2011-09-08.
- "Episode 1 'The Adventurer's Guide to Britain'". ITV. 2011-11-22. Archived from the original on 24 November 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-08.