The first thing you need to know is, it’s awesome. If you’re someone who’s got issues with heights, I can assure you that once you’ve hurled yourself off the cliff/mountain/ledge and are airborne, it’s just about the most fun you’re likely to have.
Paragliding is truly a fun, exciting and relatively easy way to experience flight in its simplest and purest form. Being one of the safer and more inexpensive ways to learn to fly, all a person needs is an inflatable wing, a harness, and a good attitude before taking to the sky.
A paraglider is a motorless, inflatable wing, fixed with Kevlar lines that secure a pilot’s harness. The pilot sits in the harness and launches the vehicle by foot or by way of a towing winch. He or she steers the wing by weight shift and application of brakes that changes the shape of the rear edge of the wing.
Before I tried it, I thought paragliding was one of those things that only suicidal maniacs and adrenaline junkies attempted. I am neither. It’s actually one of the safest airborne sports. Firstly, you’re connected to the wing by at least 30 lines, any one of which is strong enough to support your weight. There is a risk of the wing deforming and/or collapsing while in flight, but this is rare and usually due to pilots unwisely deciding to fly in bad weather. If you’re at a sufficient altitude more than 700 feet or so, the reserve parachute most glider pilots wear will guide them safely to the ground. The danger is to be too close to the ground when performing some dangerous manoeuvre, in which case your parachute won’t have time to inflate properly before you splat back to earth.
It’s more comfy than the chair you’re sitting in right now. Well, probably. Unlike most harness-based activities, like rappelling and parachuting, the focus isn’t on a series of pinchy straps and clips around your legs and midsection. Modern paragliding harnesses connect you to something akin to a lounge chair, in which your reserve parachute and other goodies are stored, and some of them even feature lumbar support. After you leap from the precipice of choice and the glider inflates, you simply slide the “chair” under your bum, and ride your flying barcalounger wherever the wind takes you.
If you’re really, really good, that is. Most paraglider flights last between 15-25 minutes, depending on weather conditions. But pilots who are especially skilled at finding and exploiting thermal columns of rising air can use them to hop and skip their way across long distances, like paragliding champ Will Gadd, who holds the world record for longest paraglider flight, at 263 miles.
Oh, and by the way, Leonardo Da Vinci may have designed the first parachute, but NASA helped design, and name, the paraglider. In 1961, a French engineer named Pierre Lemoigne took the first steps by cutting strategically placed vents in a parachute which allowed it to ascend into the air and be steered, but it was NASA who developed what was known as a “sail wing,” for use in recovery of lunar capsules, into the paraglider.
Well, that is all guys. I hope with this, I was able to share with you my feelings of fun and excitement as well as some information’s about paragliding.