Paragliding has become very popular in recent years. It is gaining in popularity because it is safe, easy to learn, fast and cheap. Paragliding is also called ballooning, flying, wingsuit flying or gliding. Paragliding has been around for over forty years, first developed by Bill Wright back in 1969. Many paragliding clubs exist in various countries.
Paragliding was first designed with a tandem wing system, so that when the two paraglider flyers were spinning together they would move at the same pace as the wind (the speed of air flowing past the wings). Nowadays, most pilots prefer a paragliding set up where they are sitting in a fixed position rather than being in tandem. However, there are some advanced pilots who still use the tandem wing system to improve their overall maneuverability. It is also now possible to use a paragliding system where the two pilots are sitting side by side and there is a small gap between the two wings; this is called a landing gear chock.
In paragliding, the pilot and his parachute are launched from just above the ground
The parachute is deployed through the chute and then released by the launch engine. The parachute slows down as it slows through the atmosphere. The slower the parachute slows the speed of air passing over the wings of the glider and it becomes easier to control the craft while in flight. When the craft has flown several minutes in the air, a landing is achieved and the landing gear is deployed on the glider.
To complete a successful landing, it is important that the paraglider is not dragged down or thrown out of the sky by its parachute. A harness is used to hold the paraglider to the aircraft; the harness does not affect the strength of the paraglider as much as the landing gear does. Paragliding safety is ensured if the parachute does not drag the aircraft down and if the parachute does not separate from the aircraft.
There are now two common types of paragliding. The first type is single-stage and the other is multi-stage. Single-stage paragliding requires only that the pilot and his parachute are released at the same time. This type of paragliding avoids slow speeds and allows greater manoeuvrability. However, it has less power than multi-stage parachutes and cannot lift as high into the air.
The second type of paragliding, multi-stage, involves the use of a longer and heavier parachute that provides greater stability. This allows for a slower speed and more manoeuvrability. As well, this type of paragliding offers the pilot a better view of his surroundings and can land in easier places. It has become the world’s record holder for several records, including the longest parachute jump and the highest powered parachute flight.
Landing a Paraglider is different to flying in that the rules and regulations for landing differ. A landing with a paraglider is done after the pilot has released the parachute and gently touches the ground. The landing gear will then lock into place around the body of the jumper. If there is to be a slow-fall procedure, it will follow the same guidelines as for a landing on an airplane.
Paragliding is very safe and easy to learn to do, and is especially popular with young people who love the outdoors. Paragliding pilots have at least one crash-free flight before they are allowed to leave a small club of pilots and enthusiasts called the Society of Paragliding Instructors (SPI). While many of these pilots may choose to continue in their training and join the army, others choose to become professional skydiving instructors or fly planes for fun and become enthusiasts. Some Paragliding schools offer basic flight instruction, but many teach the sport in a more formal atmosphere. Either way, it has become a great sport and hobby for many.
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