I looked over other statements and said, yeah, all true. I've grown to know most of these folks. Very good people. Can’t really top what has already been said. Rob Black and Joel McMinn of Penguin Paragliding are top-notch instructors that provide the perfect combination of teaching, encouragement, correction (why couldn’t I have had a physics teacher like Rob in high school, college?!? damn) to make learning to paraglide an incredible and enjoyable experience. Joel’s like a sage. Probably no situation that he can’t or won’t give you the needed guidance to do it right. I had problems kiting. Joel said 'Stop looking at the wing. Close your eyes. Feel it.' What? Damn, it worked. And on and on. They don't stop teaching. Their emphasis is always safety. I’m closest to Dave’s age. North of 60, just south of 70. As long as you can hike a hill, you can paraglide. In today’s flight, I had a red-tailed hawk hold position right next to my wing. It hung there, turned with me, for, I don’t know 15, 20 seconds. Catching the same ridge lift. Not bothered by my presence. Talk about serene. Paragliding is truly what it means to fly like a bird.
Fabio Maenchen - P2 Graduate
I grew up watching paragliders and hang-gliders on the hillside, dreaming that one day I too would be able to experience the wonder of flight. Thanks to Robert Black's flexibility to work out a payment plan that fit with my budget, at 33 years of age I was finally able to take a shot at that old dream. > I was impressed at how much support and brotherhood there is between the students and the graduate pilots, we really watch each other's backs out there. You will always have someone around to help you through the process, the instructors are passionate about teaching the sport and most of all devoted to students safety, which was very reassuring with my fear of heights. Only 5 months later, thanks to all the great instructions, I'm very impressed with how much I was able to learn and develop my skills. Being in the sky and flying my wing now feels as natural as riding a bicycle. > Even if you're just curious about the sport I suggest you come down and hangout with us and meet the crew. You can ask questions and learn about and see the sport up close.
Tiffany Pham, Penguin Paragliding P2 Graduate
If you’re thinking about paragliding, Rob Black and Joel Mcinn are the guys to go to! They have the knowledge and experience to not only teach you how to fly, but to fly safely. They really took the time to teach me how to control the wing well, instead of rushing me as quickly as possible to get my 25 flights. Because of that, as a 5’2”, 120 lb. girl, I am routinely launching, flying, and landing without a problem all due to the good habits that they taught me during their USHPA P2 course. Penguin Paragliding is a very unique school for many reasons. There are more than 5 sites within 10 miles that we train at. As a student, this was very valuable. Not only was it fun to fly at new sites, I was able to acquire and practice new skill sets that I would not have gained if only flying at one place. Now, I feel more comfortable flying at new sites for the first time because I have done it before. Although I have completed their P2 course, I still paraglide with Rob and Joel almost every day. They believe in lifelong learning, so they continue to teach me more advanced skills to become a pilot beyond the P2 Novice level. You won’t find this at any other paragliding school. After joining Penguin Paragliding, you can best believe that you will be completely ready to paraglide and have the experience of a lifetime.
Dave Smart-Penguin Paragliding P2 Graduate
I came to paragliding late in life (age 71), and I was fortunate to do so under the guidance of Penguin Paragliding instructors Rob Black and Joel McMinn. Penguin Paragliding’s course of instruction is comprehensive, with an emphasis on safety and the development of a variety of flying and flying-related skills. Safety being Penguin Paragliding’s foremost concern, Rob and Joel emphasize it throughout training. As a Penguin Paragliding student, I had access to eight training sites, seven located in Vallejo and Benicia and the eighth roughly a 40-minute drive. So, Penguin Paragliding’s training exposed me to varying local wind and flying conditions. This allowed me to develop a greater set of skills, e.g. side-hill landings. Also, Rob and Joel tailor their instruction to the individual student’s learning style, ability, motivation, and time. Some earn their P-2 in several weeks;some take a year. Rob and Joel stick with students regardless of how long the journey takes. Whether it lasts 20 minutes or 20 seconds, you will never forget your first flight, during which you will slip “the surly bonds of Earth” and experience a freedom and euphoria unique to paragliding. And . . . you can continue to enjoy this experience again and again for the rest of your life. If you’re considering paragliding, consider Penguin Paragliding. Quite simply, they are the best at what they do.
Justin Cannon-P2 Graduate
I highly recommend learning to paraglide with Rob. I'm extremely satisfied that I went with Rob instead of other schools in the area. Here's why: 1. Rob offers more of a mentorship than a school. Most of my sessions were either one-on-one or with one other student. Rob adjusted his training according to my learning style and progress. Rob is a former calculus and physics teacher, and his gift for teaching is clear in the way he instructs. I ask a lot of questions and probably overthink too often, but Rob was always patient and perfectly accommodated how I like to learn. 2. The program is extremely flexible. There are no set training days or hours - you can arrange sessions around your availability and schedule. Mornings, afternoons, every day, once a week - all possible. 3. The community of other Penguin paragliders is extremely valuable. Those that have already graduated regularly join sessions and mentor newer pilots. The encouragement and tips I received from other more experienced pilots when learning was as helpful as actual instruction. Now that I have my P2, I'm continuing to participate in and really enjoy the Penguin community. Half the fun of flying is doing it with friends. 4. I really think Penguin Paragliding does a dramatically better job preparing students to be safe, skilled pilots than other schools in the area. I'm super thankful for Rob's emphasis on developing ground handling skills - my good kiting skills made me a much better and safer pilot once I began flying. I was also able to train and learn to ridge soar at multiple "real" sites, as opposed to a basic training hill that doesn't really simulate real-world launch sites. Learning to paraglide with Rob was an awesome and extremely rewarding experience. Flying is definitely going to be a life-long hobby, and I look forward to soaring with the penguins for many years to come.
Tyler Wescott, Penguin Paragliding P2 Graduate
The greatest of surprises occurred to me within the first few weeks of my flying experience. This sport is so much more accessible than what I had previously imagined! I owe this experience entirely to Rob Black and Joel McMinn. Their emphasis on practice, skill, and safety cultivates a comfortable learning environment. They are constantly present and available for questions or advice. You will learn quickly, and responsibly. Rob also allowed us to pay in installments for the course which was absolutely the only reason I was able to pursue the dream in the first place. He and Joel assisted and advised me through the entire process of buying gear. Come learn one of the best activities a human being can do with two of the best instructors around!
Travis Bethmann-Penguin Paragliding P2 Graduate
There is nothing else like it in this world --- the first time you bring that wing over your head, turn to the wind and drift on up, your feet no longer bound to the earth, and your mind no longer bound to anything but the sky. To quote Leonardo da Vinci, "Once you have flown you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you long to return." Rob Black and Joel McMinn have made that lifelong dream of flight come true for me and 4 friends of mine and I am forever grateful. Paragliding has been a big dream of ours for years and since moving to Sacramento, CA we finally saw a chance to get started, and it would not have been possible without the way Rob and Joel handle their business. First of all, since the school is based out of Vallejo, CA it makes traveling much easier for anyone coming from East of the bay area and it has allowed at least 6 of us Valley folk to earn our wings comfortably without having to dive deep into the Bay Area congestion. Second, what made this whole thing actually possible was that Penguin Paragliding accepted a payment plan from us. There's no getting around it, this sport is expensive, and having to save for all the upfront costs would have made the venture take longer and been more damaging to our wallets. Because of the payment plan, our group of friends was able to learn and fly together which allowed us all to become better pilots and made it much more fun. What I find most respectable about the way Rob and Joel teach is their focus on safety and how thorough they want you to be with your training. They want you to become the best pilot you can, and are not in this for the business. Rob and Joel spent a lot of time with us focusing on ground handling skills (kiting) before we ever took to the sky. Flying is easy --- ground handling skills, taking off and landing, is what separates the well trained pilots from the others, because ultimately you have to deal with the ground twice for every one flight. Rob and Joel are here to create confident and skilled pilots, which to me made the experience way more comforting. The choice to fly with Penguin Paragliding is also a warm welcoming into the paragliding community they have built there in Vallejo. That is something that I think puts this school above the others; the community. When you fly with the penguins, you aren't just given the P2 stamp and thrown to the wind to figure it out after graduation. The choice in these guys is a life long learning experience which allows for continual acquiring of skills and growth in a safe environment. Rob and Joel are still a huge part of my paragliding experience and lifestyle and I am beyond thankful for it. When my friends and I are sitting around lamenting on a recent glorious flight or can't stop talking about paragliding (which will most likely happen to you dear reader), the conversation often falls back to how lucky we are to have found Rob and Joel and to be part of the wonderful penguin paragliding community.
Caleb Bourg- Penguin Paragliding P2 Graduate Do you remember learning how to crawl or walk? I wouldn't think so, but I guarantee you won't soon forget your first paraglider flight. It's that kind of milestone in ones life that can literally change it. After experiencing a tandem, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to become a pilot, and what better place than Penguin Paragliding to discover how to soar like a hawk. The instructors Rob Black and Joel McMinn are highly qualified, and make all aspects of flying a fun experience. Besides, they're the only local school that provides year round flying, so look no further than Penguin Paragliding.
Oreste Fausto- Penguin Paragliding P2 Graduate Do you remember learning how to crawl or walk? I wouldn't think so, but I guarantee you won't soon forget your first paraglider flight. It's that kind of milestone in ones life that can literally change it. After experiencing a tandem, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to become a pilot, and what better place than Penguin Paragliding to discover how to soar like a hawk. The instructors Rob Black and Joel McMinn are highly qualified, and make all aspects of flying a fun experience. Besides, they're the only local school that provides year round flying, so look no further than Penguin Paragliding.
Thomas Purcell – Penguin Paragliding P2 Graduate
My experience with Penguin Paragliding was absolutely exceptional. I started as a complete beginner. Learning came quick and easy with the instructors help. Within the first few weeks I was soaring the blue skies. Furthermore, Rob and Joel built the skills necessary for me to become a safe and competent paragliding pilot. Finally, passing the exam and completing my flights allowed me to become a certified P-2 rated pilot.
Post P-2 I still regularly attend Penguin Paragliding class sessions. This allows me to greater enhance my piloting abilities. Penguin Paragliding is a school superior to many through what they offer: a great group of people, amazing flying sites, experienced instructors, and opportunities to fly outside of the country. Simple contracted payment, no “by the hour.” They have generous options for payment plans, advanced training beyond certification with no extra charge, high quality learning equipment, and assistance finding personal gear for you. Every step of the way you will be well aken care of. I am forever thankful to Penguin Paragliding and for all they stand for.Type your paragraph here.