What’s Paragliding?

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Paragliding involves a parachute and a boat or land vehicle. It is a relatively new sport and considered a hobby by some. It can be practiced by anyone and is popular in tourist destinations. The sport is safe and allows for group flights.

Paragliding is a sport involving a parachute and a boat. A person is attached to a parachute and then strapped into a speedboat, which floats away, lifting and holding the person off the ground. It is considered by many to be a hob rather than a sport, as the person on the parachute has no control over movement and speed and thus simply becomes a passenger. Some countries paraglide without a boat, hooking the person to a land vehicle. This is, however, considered more dangerous and only recommended for those with some experience beforehand.

Created in the 1970s, paragliding is a relatively new sport. It was started by a father who wanted to try something new as family entertainment. Brian Gaskin eventually designed his own parachute, the “Waterbird”, and financed the first paragliding company. “Waterbird Parakites” is today the world’s number one manufacturer of equipment for this sport.

Paragliding can be practiced by anyone, as it does not require any specific skill other than the ability to swim. When the flight stops, the person attached to the parachute ends up in the water, which is considered the safest way to stop a ride. Even people with a fear of heights should be careful, as some flights are made up to 2,000 feet (610m) off the ground. As the person is attached to the parachute with a harness, the risk of injury is minimal, allowing both children and the elderly to enjoy the sport. The youngest person registered to go paragliding was 9 years old; the oldest, 87.

The sport is popular in the Caribbean and in tourist destinations with an emphasis on aquatic recreation. Florida has a number of paragliding operations, as do most Central American countries. Originally, flights were for one person only, but more and more companies are offering group flights through specially designated parachutes. The maximum number of people on a group flight is three, enough for a small family to enjoy the experience together.

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