Paragliding

About Paragliding:

Paragliding is an adventure sport which has intrigued the adventure enthusiasts for ages. More often than not, the people who have tried it for once for the sake of an activity have ended up practicing full-time.

Paragliding includes a light-weight, free-flying glider made up of fabric suitable to provide air-lift to the rider as he tries to launch himself from a height. The pilot is suspended by a harness below the fabric-wings having an aerodynamic design and shape. The air pressure entering the wings and the air flowing over the outside offers the necessary lift to maintain the flight and allowing the pilot to travel large distances, WITHOUT ANY ENGINES!!!!!!

The Paragliding  flights can last up to several hours and can cover up to 100’s of kms, depending upon the capabilities of the pilot; for beginners, a flight of up to 1-2 hrs and  covering a range of 10 kms can be a good starter. The entire set-up can be bag-packed and carried to long distances allowing flexibility to choose the heights, difficulty-levels, flight-time etc.

All said and done, once you get the hang of it, there’s no way you can prevent yourself from getting addicted!! Trust me!!

Paragliding Equipment:

1. Wings:-

As the name suggests, the paragliding wings is essentially an inflated canopy with an aerodynamic shape that helps to lock the air while take-off from a cliff or mountain.  It is extremely light weight and can be easily folded to fit into a backpack for storage and travel. Paraglider can attain speeds of upto 25- 90 Kms per hour depending upon the wind drafts and the weather conditions.

Paraglider wings typically have an area of 20–35 square metres (220–380 sq ft) with a span of 8–12 metres (26–39 ft), and weigh 3–7 kilograms (6.6–15.4 lb). Combined weight of wing, harness, reserve, instruments, helmet, etc. is around 12–22 kilograms (26–49 lb).

2. Harness:-

The harness allows the pilot to be suspended below the canopy. Some harnesses also allow the glider to be directed, which keeps the flexibility of flying in the pilots hand.The pilot can be either supported in standing or sitting positions by the harness.
The advent of foam and airbag protectors under the pilot seat has led to offering protection to pilots in cases of failed launch and landing.

3. Instruments:-

  • Variometer:     It is an instrument which allows the pilot to sense the rising and sinking air; which is an essential parameter to keep in flight. The audio alarm indicators help the pilot to continuously float in the rising air zones. The variometer also shows the altitude above take-off or above sea-level.
  •  Radio: Radio communications are used in training, to communicate with other pilots, and to report where and when they intend to land.
  •  GPS: For navigation

All you want to know about Paragliding:-

How does it work?

The pilot after taking a position at an altitude or height adjusts the position of the glider. As the pilot moves forward, the glider ram-wing fills up with the air inflating it and causing the lift. If the lift is not proper, the pilot can choose to abort mid-way. Is paragliding hard to learn? One of the easiest forms of flying practices and not a rocket science to learn the basics. The key is to stay in a high thermal or the rising air zone. The precise meters help you take care of that part, so you can concentrate on directing the canopy correctly.  If you are a quick learner, one week I guess is more than enough. What is the difference between paragliding, paramotoring, parachuting or parasailing?

  • Paragliding: The take off is generally from an elevated ground, a hill or cliff.
  • Paramotoring: All similar to paragliding, only with a motor as an add-on. Can be for the advanced fliers who are looking for more speeds and flexibility of movement.
  •  Parachuting: Is generally carried out from a plane, with starting altitudes of about 20000 feet and above. The paraglider canopies are also used for parachuting. These are generally used by advanced and highly trained professionals including military for HAHO (high altitude high opening) and HALO (high altitude low opening) jumps.
  • Parasailing: Essentially done in water with the harness end tied to a sail boat or motor boat by a long rope. As the boat advances, it gives the essential lift to the canopy and allows the pilot to stay in the air, just like a kite you see…

What is the difference between paragliding and hand gliding?

  • Hang gliders: These gliders have a rigid aluminium frame and the pilot changes the direction by shifting his body weight while flying. Though the take-off method is similar, but the hang-gliders demand more control and the weight is more than the para-gliders.
  • Paragliders: Has a non-rigid structure, where the pilot is suspended in a sitting position.The difference in weight allows paragliders to be carried to places that would be difficult with a hang glider, for instance, up a mountain or even on a plane or bus.

How fast,how far and how high can I go? Paraglider can attain speeds of upto 25- 90 Kms per hour depending upon the wind drafts and the weather conditions.When the conditions allow flights of 1-3 hours are not uncommon, with altitudes up to 15,000’ being gained. The record is over 11 hours in the air with nearly 200 miles being reached.

What happens if the wind drops? Because the paraglider is not dependent on the wind it can be flown in no wind at all. To stay afloat a paraglider maintains the air pressure by adjusting the steering along his shoulders which helps directing the air through the openings at the front of the wing. This ram air pressure maintains the shape of the canopy.

Is there an age limit? If under the age of 18 you need your parents written permission. There is no upper age limit as long as you are relatively fit. Do I need a license to fly a paragliding? It is important that you receive proper training so that you can fly safely and not cause injury to either yourself or others. The best thing to do is look at the relevant regulations and Air Laws of the  particular country where from you intend to seek license. Is it Safe? As long as you are sensible and follow the training you are given and make sure your equipment is safe. Modern paragliders are flight tested and certified to international standards. The average life span of a canopy is about five years. Most pilots carry a reserve parachute for the very rare emergencies.

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