What is it like to paraglide, what is a paraglider?
A. Paragliding is the simplest form of human flight. A paraglider is a non-motorized, foot-launched inflatable wing. It is easy to transport, easy to launch, and easy to land. The paraglider itself is constructed of rip-stop nylon from which the pilot is suspended by sturdy kevlar lines. The pilot is clipped into a harness and oriented in a sitting position for maximum comfort. With a paraglider, you actually fly like a bird, soaring upwards on currents of air. Paraglider pilots routinely stay aloft for 3 hours or more, climb to elevations of 15,000 feet, and go cross-country for vast distances.
Is paragliding the same as parasailing or parachuting?
A. "No", "No", and "No". Parasailing is what you do at a beach, in a modified parachute tied to a boat, often in Mexico after you've had one too many cocktails. You get dragged around the harbor like a sack of potatoes, not like a pilot. (If you want to offend a paragliding pilot, refer to their sport as "parasailing".) Parachutes are designed to be deployed during free-fall from an airplane and to then descend to the ground. By contrast, paraglider pilots launch from gentle hillsides with their gliders already opened for flight; if the glider isn't flying properly, the launch can be aborted before leaving the ground. Since paragliders do not have to withstand the stresses of free-fall deployment, they are much lighter and aerodynamic and are designed to go up rather than down.
What can I do with a paraglider?
A. Paragliders are designed to soar. The duration record is over 11 hours and the distance record is 300 kilometers. In training you will start out just skimming the ground. As you progress and become more skilled and confident you will probably want to go higher and use the wing for its designed purpose -- soaring! Average recreational pilots, utilizing thermal and ridge lift, routinely stay aloft for 3 hours or more, soar to altitudes of 15,000' and travel cross-country for great distances. In addition, paragliders can be easily carried and launched off of most mountains. Paragliders have been flown off of almost every major peak in the United States and Europe as well as off of Mt. Everest.
Is it safe to paraglide?
A. You can make paragliding, like most adventure sports, as safe or dangerous as you want. It is of course crucial that you receive instruction from a certified professional and use safe equipment -- professional schools will create as controlled a learning environment as possible. But paragliding is still an outdoor sport and Mother Nature is unpredictable -- the primary safety factors are personal judgment and attitude. You must be willing to learn gradually and to think with your head not with your ego. If you don't, then you can get injured or killed; if you do, then you can paraglide until you're 90.
Who can do paragliding?
A. Paragliding is about finesse and serenity, not strength and adrenaline. As in rock climbing, women often do much better than men because they don't try to muscle the paraglider around. In Europe, where the sport is immensely popular, you will see pilots as young as 10 and as old as 80. If you choose to hike to launch then you'll want to be in good physical condition, but you can also drive to most popular flying sites. More important than physical conditioning, is being physically and mentally alert and prepared. To be a successful paragliding student and pilot, you need to be able to think clearly and to listen well
How much does a paraglider cost? How long does a paraglider last?
A. A new paraglider, harness and reserve will cost somewhere between $3,600 and $5,000. After four years of fairly active usage and exposure to UV light from the sun, a paraglider is generally in need of replacement. This of course varies with how you care for your wing. It's easy to test your lines and sailcloth for strength and thus determine your need to replace your paraglider long before it becomes unsafe. Harnesses and reserves should last indefinitely with good care. Most pilots who get into the sport also purchase a two-way radio and a variometer (which tells you whether and how fast you are going up or down) for an additional $500 altogether. Good used equipment is often available for half as much though it will have a shorter life-span. In addition, because the sport is evolving rapidly, newer paragliders can have significantly better performance and behavior than older ones.
I jumped off Babadag 3-4years ago 6,500ft!! fantastic, however, Gordon has barred me from doing this again, says this is the time he went grey waiting for me to land!! :lol:
My landing was not the most elegant of landings though, I hit one tree and came crunching through the next., unfortuanatley they caught this on video!! and the pilots have now refused to ever take me again due to the take off also!! :lol:
Anna, I was fine, luckily I can laugh at myself (well everyone else does) and it was just a bruised ego, I would do it again but Gordon has said a definite NO!! plus the fact that no pilot will take me again..:lol:
When i eventually get the video on to CD with take the snapshot of me and the trees:lol: I am not ashamed, I can still hold my head high and say ''I did it''
I also jumped off babadag 4 years ago. It was the most fun you could have. I spent 10 days trying to decide whether to do it and it was fantastic. So much so that i went back and did it again the next day. My husband and kids did it aswell.I managed to land on my feet both times. They made me stand on the scales first though (groan).
Please dont take this wrong as any scare tactics however, tonight on Turkish Television (Show TV) there was video footage of an accomplished solo Turk pilot who crashed into the sea after a mix mash of winds caught his parachute and sent him into a uncontrollable spin.
He survived but its obviously something you must make sure you are covered by insurance. Extreme sports are generally not covered by basic holiday insurance.