What’s Paragliding?

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Paragliding is a motorless flight sport using an inflatable wing made of rip-stop nylon and Kevlar® lines. Pilots launch on foot and steer by shifting weight and applying brakes. The wing and harness pack into a 30 lb backpack and flights can last up to 11 hours. Paragliding courses are essential, and certification is recommended for advanced training. Hang gliding is similar but heavier and flown in a prone position. Paragliding and skydiving are different.

Paragliding is a human assisted flight sport. A paraglider is a motorless inflatable wing made of rip-stop nylon and attached with Kevlar® lines that secure to a pilot’s harness. The pilot sits in the harness and launches the vehicle on foot, running down slopes, hills or mountains. He or she steers the wing by shifting weight and applying brakes that change the shape of the trailing edge of the wing.

This flying device is made to hover on wind currents. The record for staying airborne is over 11 hours and the distance record is 186 miles (300 km). The average flight for the everyday enthusiast is about 3 hours, with altitudes reaching 15,000 feet (4,500 meters).

One of the advantages of paragliding is that the entire wing and harness pack up into a 30 lb (13.6 kg) backpack. This makes it easy for a pilot to hitchhike back from a flight or carry his wing by checking it as luggage on a bus or even an airline.

People interested in buying a delta should make sure it carries quality certifications, which the dealer should explain. The recommended additional equipment consists of a variometer or altimeter, which tells the pilot how fast it climbs or descends, and a two-way radio. For those who enjoy the stillness of a bird soaring through the inviting sky, the investment is well worth the money.

Paragliding courses are essential for those approaching this sport. Basic techniques and a solo flight are achieved in a two day introductory course. Later, if a person wants to continue with the sport, it is recommended that they become certified through more advanced training. When selecting a school for instruction in the United States, individuals should look for instructors certified by the United States Hang Gliding Association. The association can provide more information on reputable schools.

This sport is similar to hang gliding, but there are some key differences between the two. A hang glider is heavier and must be carried on a roof rack. It also suspends the pilot in a prone, rather than seated, position, and hang gliders fly slightly faster and can fly higher, up to 17,500 feet (5,334 m).
Paragliding and skydiving are very different from paragliding or hang gliding. A parasail does not hover freely in the wind, but is pulled behind a motorized boat, while a parachutist jumps from an airplane to drop to the ground, as are parachutists who jump from stationary objects such as bridges, mountains or buildings.

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