It is a recreational and adventure sport of daring individuals. A paraglider is the parachute, a wing actually, using which the pilots glide through the air smoothly. The direction of glide can be controlled and usually experienced pilots make that last several hours long. ‘Flying’ through the air gives you a sense of freedom and delicacy. It clears your thoughts when you experience the beautiful sceneries all around.
Paragliding has evolved to become much more of a sport rather than just a hobby. Experienced pilots from around the world strive to perfect their flights by flying cross-country. It is not all descent but uplift when the winds are clouds are right, the pilots literally drift from cloud to cloud and cover large distances over land. The record for the largest distance covered in a straight flight is 311 miles (502.9 km) by South Africa’s Nevil Hulett.
The parachute is usually called a wing which is made from several pieces of fabric woven in a specific pattern. During flight, all physics is at work which was once described by the Wright Brothers. The wind pushes the wing upward and forward and it is the air pressure that is keeping the shape of the wing intact, making it aerodynamic. The size may vary depending upon the requirements and the number of pilots. Tandem paragliding is the one in which another individual may fly for teaching purposes or combined flight.
As a Competitive Sport
As mentioned earlier, cross-country flying is a common form of paragliding competition with great interest in regional as well as international level. The Paragliding World Cup is held each year. The objective of the game is to fly through a predetermined course.
Several other aerobatic competitions are held which are relatively dangerous. These competitions require the pilots to perform certain maneuvers either individually or as teams. This form is the most breathtaking to watch from down under.
Not all flights are at high altitudes but low lying flights are common too. Usually for beginners, they provide training for basics such as gliding and gaining height.
Great precautions are taken by experienced and trained pilots because it is the wind that makes the wing to fly. Strong air currents may hurl the pilot into dangerous situations or may damage the wing. Accidents may happen due to poor pilot training or the poor weather conditions. The risk of fatal injuries may be reduced by proper training and the use of suitable equipment for the pilot.
Written by: Arsal Rana