This is how the eagles must feel – hovering silently from the summit down to the valley, feeling free. You want to experience this feeling too? Paragliding is the sensation of gliding through the wind like a bird, seeing the world from above and experiencing the perfect freedom.
What is paragliding?
Paragliding is perhaps the most honest form of flying, with which you can fly in a simple and uncomplicated way! It is a relatively young sport, evolving from the pioneering spirit of those who wanted to take the simplicity of flying to the next level. It is actually less physical sport and more a mental experience, as it consistently creates happiness and joy. And this is actually achieved only by a paraglider with lines on it and a seat underneath. Basically, you have to be declared crazy to hang your life on a wobbly piece of cloth, and yet paragliding is finding more and more followers and holding thousands of pilots firmly under its spell.
What is a paraglider and how does it work?
Basically this aircraft is a simple pendulum construction. The pilot acts as a mass and hangs vertically under a wing, keeping it in a buoyant angle of attack. The wing itself is made of tear-resistant ripstop nylon with a polyurethane coating to make the material air impermeable. The pilot can intervene and control the aerodynamics of the paraglider via the control lines. The paraglider gets into the air by pulling it up against the wind, filling the chambers with air and giving it its buoyant shape. The actual, achievable airspeed ranges from 35 to 55 kilometers per hour, depending on how powerful the paraglider is. Taking advantage of the air currents and with a little practice you can cover considerable distances or just spend hours in the air. The world record in cross-country flying is over 560 km!
In contrast to skydiving, the idea is not primarily the free fall or speed. If you ask experienced pilots, it is the peace you can enjoy, the fantastic view, the freedom and of course the long flight time. Apart from a valid license (in some countries) and a paragliding gear you only need good weather. This makes the sport flexible and independent of other people.
What equipment do I need for paragliding?
Like in any other sport, also here the matter of choosing the right equipment is very important. A basic professional paragliding gear consists of the following parts:
- Paraglider – the main gadget
- Paragliding harness – the harness is the seat where the pilot is connected to the paraglider
- Reserve parachute – carried as a preventive measure, intended only for rescue
- Headgear – mandatory clothing
- Paragliding Variometer – determines the ascend and descent values as well as the altitude
Of course there are others things that are also very important and will make your experience better and safer:
- Firm, ankle-high footwear
- Thin, sturdy gloves
- GoPro Cam
There is also the matter of license. In some countries you may need to have one in order to paraglide. The best thing to do is always check out if you need one in the place you are going to paraglide.
Where can you learn paragliding and how hard is it?
There are lots of places for paragliding worldwide and it really depends on where you are now or more importantly where you want to go and which location you would like to visit. Some known european locations are:
- Bruchhauser Steine – Sauerland, Germany
- Zoutelande, The Netherlands
- Algodonales, Spain
- Chamonix, France
- Seiser Alm – Dolomiten, Italy
- Andelsbuch, Austria
Other paragliding destinations:
- Bucamaranga, Colombia
- Khamshet, India
- Lima, Peru
- Santa Barbara, United States
- La Cumbre, Argentina
- Iquique, Chile
- The Fraser Valley, Canada
Learning to paraglide is actually surprisingly easy. And there are lots of schools where you can take your training lessons. Already on the second day of training you could try it yourself alone. Of course only on the small practice slope with a flying time of a few seconds. But already on the third day, your training course could complete a flight with a difference in altitude of 300 meters. It should be noted that these are estimates after all and may differ in different places and with different people.
How safe is paragliding?
Paragliding has become very safe lately! It is certified that it is the safest aviation sport. Nevertheless, accidents could occur sometimes given the type of this sport. Together, there are currently about 25,000 to 30,000 active pilots. Good flight training helps reduce the risks. Many of the accidents happen because of human errors or misjudgments. Taking the security measures seriously leads to maximum fun and safety!
Paragliding is rightly one of the most beautiful sports and impresses not only by its simplicity, but also by the intense connection of the pilot to the environment. Simply because all material necessary for flying fits in a backpack that can be easily transported on foot to a mountain. Once at the top, a powerful aircraft can be prepared for take-off in no time and with almost no effort it will rise in the air for an adventure!
In addition, paragliding can be practiced almost everywhere. Be it on a mountain top, in the lowlands on a winch, by the sea at the cliffs or at one of the many elevations of the low mountain range. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to fly fast maneuvers with the wing or go on a hunt every three miles. Even a relaxed slipper in the evening sun after work, if the luxury of an aviation area is available nearby, has its charm. You just grab your backpack and enjoy the peace and freedom of another breathtaking flight.