Pilot moving to Boulder from Ireland - a few questions

Hi All,

I am currently in the process of planning a move to Boulder from Ireland, likely to arrive in early Sept and trying to figure out how to get flying in US.

Im a paragliding pilot with about 170 hours experience and a Para Pro 3 FAI rating (met the criteria for Para Pro 4 many years ago but have no local schools to do rating with). Most of my flying has been done in thermic/mountain style XC flying as I usually travel to fly (since Ireland is often either wet, windy or both). Personal best is 62km triangle last year in Sopot, Bulgaria (kind of my home site as its where i learned). I fly a Triple Seven Knight glider (En-B).

JOINING: I really appreciate the level of detail on RMHPA website and also appreciate the buddy system set up for Lookout (really excited to fly there and wonderland in Boulder too). My question is upon arrival do I just join RMHPA (which also includes USHPA?) or do you first have to join USHPA and then the local club too? Its much less structured in Ireland as its a smaller community.

LICENCE: For USHPA licence, does anyone know will I just join as a P3 converting from FAI Para Pro 3 (once I show my card) or is there some sort of process I will have to do to convert?

INSURANCE: Also in Europe I fly with both personal accident insurance and 3rd party liability, which are separate but both provided by a paragliding specific insurance provider which has good coverage for things like emergency medicine, search and rescue and repatriation (if abroad). What is the insurance setup in US, what do people normally fly with and what is mandated? Are there any clear winners that everyone uses or is it a wide array of providers?

Im confident to be able to arrive and fly the Denver area landscape as its terrain style I am familiar with (flats meets foothills of large range), so I wanted to figure out instead the paperwork side of things to get started and try to grab the end of the season.

Any help much appreciated,
Stephen Long
Dublin, Ireland

Hi Stephen,

September is a great time to show up - usually easy , consistent flying. A beautiful time to hit the bigger mountain sites.

Joining: To fly the local, club-insured sites (includes Boulder and Lookout) you need to join USHPA first, then RMHPA. There are a lot of launches out there that are unregulated and do not require a license or insurance, but none close to Denver/Boulder.

License: Sorry, can’t help you here, but someone with specific knowledge of the conversion process will be along soon.

Insurance: 3rd party liability is provided by USHPA via the local club, but only at insured sites. I think there are 9 of these in Colorado, At uninsured/unregulated sites you are on your own. I have liability coverage through my homeowners insurance.

For healthcare and search and rescue you are on your own again to get coverage. Make sure your health plan does not exclude aviation or extreme sports or get a supplemental plan. Get a COSAR card, which is not insurance but reimburses local search and rescue groups for their expenses when they help you out. It is cheap.

There are a couple of threads here about rescue and repatriation insurance - there are a lot of options.

In my opinion, the challenges here mostly stem from being on the lee side of the Rocky Mountains. Not likely to cause problems in September, but the spring is tricky.

You will notice there is not a lot of traffic on this forum. Most of the day-to-day chatter happens on WhatsApp. The general RMHPA chat is here:

You can find the links to local sites on the info page of that chat.


Hi Stephen,
Make sure to get your IPPI card before you come over. This will translate to an USHPA rating. I went through this process when I moved from Australia.

I can give you a rating or one of the local instructors after that, once you arrived.

On the insurance front, we have discounted high risk search and rescue and medical transport through GEOS offered via the Garmin inReach.

A lot of this medical stuff is not covered like it is in Europe and other places outside the US.

(You can find my contact details on the website)

Thanks for the info Jeff and Will, some good food for thought on the insurance side of things, it always seems to be a somewhat messy landscape.

I have an IPPI card for Para Pro3 and will try to get my rating for 4 or 5 when I am next with my instructor, hopefully will make the mapping easier to get started in US.

I have reached out to USHPA and will join once I get the move under way. Already joined to WhatsApp groups to see the local chatter and get a sense of the activity.

Look forward to joining the local community and getting to explore those vistas from above.