ParaOz. Paragliding Australia

ParaOz. Paragliding Australia



Understanding Intermediate syndrome

You might of heard of the "intermediate syndrome" which is a state of over confidence with low air time pilots with the main objective to feed EGO which heightens risk for himself and others all before safety.

Making a pilot aware of his/her syndrome might only cause tensions between fellow pilots or seniors. So you might have it and not even know. 

Are you getting intermediate syndrome?

Here are some signs which may help you regognise that your in the danger zone. Unfortunately all to often only a hard lesson will teach the pilot with intermediate syndrome to have a greater respect for the higher risks he is taking and hopefully wake up those others he's been influencing in his wake.

Intermediate syndrome symptoms


Your reason will be EGO driven before anything else if your new at the sport. You want to give everyone around you the appearance that you're a top pilot with experience. 

You do not put safety as priority. See choosing the right wing.


You never ask advice on weather conditions, even when weather looks unusual or it maybe extreme. When at a new site you happily lob off without letting anyone give you a site briefing.

Concerns to make the best impression upon your piers and the rest of the flying Community are larger than knowledge or safety itself. 

Talking to experienced, long standing pilots SSO, SO's or instructors on the hill who have a bag full of knowledge to share should be considered fascinating. With this knowledge one can make an informed decision. Thinking you know it all just stunts your learning capacity. My advice would be to get interested and keep on growing your knowledge base for as long as you fly or live for that matter. Above all respect all fellow pilots and make it your job to find and talk to the safety officer or at least advanced pilots before you launch when conditions aren't looking favourable. 


Flying in less than ideal conditions, nothing will stop him. It's his EGO at stake. In fact your not making your own decision but letting others influence your decision making. Keeping safe is about making the right decision. If you don't feel the day is right for you, don't fly no matter what other pilots are saying or doing. The intermediate syndromed pilot will always fly if others are. As a new pilot the feedback from others might come across as unfriendly "Its your decision" Yes that's correct it is your decision. My advice, I would find a reliable source from SSO, SO's or advanced pilots who are willing to give sound advice in a friendly manor, which explains certain aspects of the dangers, hear him/her out but also remember what you've learnt in school this is your key to keeping safe. 


On launch with intermediate syndrome you're eager to help new pilots with all site and weather briefing, this is not a bad thing "if there is no senior around" and you know the site really well. Generally I observe new pilots in the male form who give the impression they know it all and grab the newbie only to feed his own self-esteem. Even after 17 years of flying, I am more than willing to take the newbie to a senior and get confirmation of my thoughts on conditions, I'll even discover new observations, there IS always something new to learn.



Your well confident and nothing touches you, you're doing everything right, so you begin to take larger risks. Risk is part of this sport to improve. Most of the time if your able to moderate the risk in a kind of safe manor bit by bit then you've got a better chance of learning from it and becoming a better pilot for it. But beware take too many larger risks early and eventually it will catch up with you. Very often you will get a warning or even two, if you are aware and open to learning or your lucky enough to get a shock - you can utilise this warning before injuring yourself. But if the new pilot is insensitive and continues on the same path taking obvious large risks there can only be one outcome. Injury or worse. 


The tone in which a pilots speaks back to a senior making a comment regarding a flying matter in which the intermediate syndromed pilot will make out he knows better.

This is a total give away the EGO driving the new pilot to thinking he knows more than someone who has flown many hours with years of experience. I have come across this twice unfortunately within a very small amount of time one of those pilots lost his life and the other lost the capacity to fly again.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms please contact your local SSO and have a down to earth talk.