The USHPA (United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association) has a defined a Pilot Proficiency System for ensuring pilot skills match the requirements to fly a given flying site. Pilots are assigned a pilot rating 1 - 4 (Beginner, Novice, Intermediate and Advanced).
With Mission Soaring Center, your first day of flying is part of the progression of getting tasks signed off by USHPA Certified Instructors and working towards attaining your skill-level ratings.
H1 - Beginner Hang Gliding Pilot: Has the knowledge to set up and pre-flight the glider, as well as the basic skills necessary to have consistent, smooth take-offs and soft landings, fly in a straight line and land where the student and the instructor designate. Also, the student must take a written test to show an understanding of weather conditions and the knowledge necessary for flying at different flying sites. With a H1, the pilot may fly and practice without direct supervision within certain operating limitations.
H2 - Novice Hang Glider Pilot: In addition to H1 skills, has the knowledge and basic skills necessary to make coordinated 90° turns, to circle in thermal conditions to gain altitude, and show accuracy landings by landing within a specified area. The student must take a written test to show knowledge of the effect that wind conditions and environmental factors have on the ability to pilot a hang glider. With a H2, the pilot may fly at a number of hills in the Bay Area and can participate in many of the hang gliding safaris that are offered through Mission Soaring Center.
H3 - Intermediate Hang Glider Pilot: In addition to H1 and H2 skills, has the knowledge and skills necessary to link 180° turns, perform smooth 360° turns in both directions and recover from controlled stall conditions. The written test will include questions that cover many of the FAA rules, the specific impact of radical weather conditions, and questions requiring judgment and experience in varied flying situations. In addition to demonstrating flying skills and taking the written test, the pilot must have logged at least 10 hours of air time in order to qualify for a H3 rating. With a H3, the pilot may fly at most flying sites in the Bay Area and the Sierra Mountains.
H4 – Advanced Hang Glider Pilot: In addition to H1 - H3 skills, has the knowledge and skills necessary to fly at any flying site and show an ability for accuracy landing in a tight, technical landing zone. The written test will include specific questions for skills gained through hours of flying in various challenging conditions and cross-country flights. In addition, the pilot must have logged 75 hours of air time to qualify for a H4 rating. With a H4, the pilot may fly at all USHPA rated flying sites including Mount Diablo, Mission Peak and Yosemite.