From The Madeira Island Web Site

Paragliding: The wild orchid from the air
By Oliver R. Donald Guenay
Jun 5, 2008 - 3:53:57 PM

Madeira has become a destination for paragliding and hanggliding since the beginning of the nineties when a few portuguese pilots started to work out the possibilities.

Lying just at the border of a major trade wind zone, Madeira receives a lot less wind than the Canary Islands and that is good for our sport whose safety also depends on the windlevel.

Despite  its climatic advantages,the dramatic landscape of Madeira nevertheless requires either the skilled pilot, or, a reliable introduction for the guest pilot which is offered by professionals.

Oliver flying over the city of Funchal - in tandem

Unfortuantely, in the beginning there were not easy to find terrains of golf course quality for take offs, such as  the type found in the Alps or in England. But with a little help some places got developed and are well prepared for this type of sport. Now there are about 10 different launch sites all around the island.

The landing zone near "Costa Verde" in the civil parrish of Arco da Calheta where Hartmut runs his paragliding centre

The Madeiran Aeroclub in Funchal provides assistance and information for those who wish to come to fly.

In 1997 the German Hartmut Peters visited the island and fell in love with it.

Ideal climatic conditions and soaring over breathtaking landscape were, in fact, the reasons to escape Central Europe.

In 1998 the first Madeiran Paragliding Rally, a friendship competition, was held, causing a very positive echo among international pilots.

It encouraged paragliding on the island and the local pilots started improving their sports conditions.

Paragliding over the skies of Arco da Calheta - one of the most popular paragliding areas of Madeira

Now Hartmut has organised a boarding house for guest pilots and their families at Arco da Calheta, just a few meters from his own, nicely arranged, take off field 450 Meters over the beach where people can join him there all over the year round, for flying, biking, climbing and many other activities.

Landing at base in Arco da Calheta

I have joined Hartmut and the Aeroclub in the year 2000, following a private engagement on the island, and as an internationally certified and insured pilot with experience over 13 years, on that occasion I offered Tandem Paragliding visitors of the island to discover the very beauty of Madeira from out of the Air by gliding over different places !

Paragliding in excellent weather conditions over Arco da Calheta

The main paragliding reas are now at Arco da Calheta and Prazeres with landing at the beaches of Madalena do Mar and Calheta, and at Pico da Cruz, just above Funchal’s main hotel area with landing on the green meadow at Lido.

Awesome views and conditions for paragliding in Arco da Calheta

Joining us is easy: you may come after 4pm to the “ El Mexicano” Pub at Doca da Cavacas, a few minutes outside Funchal, just beside of the Praia Formosa to meet most probably with one of the local pilots (ask at the bar) or, even watch them flying from our special site – just in front of you – if the wind allows it !

Paragliding over the popular Funchal Praia Formos beach

On very special days we go up higher. That means those days with very little or practically no wind from the north in altitude.

Then we have the alternative choices - amongst three places:

Chão da Lagoa , a field inside of a natural park area, recently improved for take off, is situated about 1400 mts over Funchal, overlooking the coastline and city The pure gliding flight follows sometimes above the cloudline and takes you down to Funchals harbour beach, or, with thermals to any other landing area we have.

Take off area near Chão da Lagoa

The highest take off, called Poço da   Neve, is at 1700 mts. altitude and therefor just a few meters below of the road head at the Pousada Pico do Areeiro. It also gives a spectacular flight, especially frequented during the Rallyes.

On the High Plateau in the western part of the island, called Paul da Serra, around the location of Rabaçal, another few places provide good take offs, such as Pico Gordo, a cupola above the road.

Paragliding in tandem with a guest flier over the Lido area in Funchal

Beware of the north east prevailing winds at this altitude for they can bring you strong gusts and a low cloudlevel !

The romance and charm of paraglising in golden skies

Two other, particularly impressive flights for experienced pilots only (or, as a guest on a Tandem Glider) are Portela above Porto da Cruz on the northern side of Madeira, and the flight along Cabo Girão, the second highest seacliff in the world (take off at Pico da Torre).

And on the neighbouring island, Porto Santo, 75 kms away, there are 2 more locations that can get reached within a days journey (a day trip by ferryboat)!

Tandem paragliding over the harbour of Funchal

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