How to Paraglide

How to Paraglide
Paragliding is an extreme sport in which participants use winged aircraft with vents like parachutes to soar in a controlled fashion through the air. Paragliders launch themselves from high points, such as a cliff edge, or are carried aloft by towing from a boat or car with a cable attached to the paraglider. When the desired height is reached, the paraglider pulls a release lever to detach the cable and begins the self-controlled flight. As with all extreme sports, paragliding requires training and safety precautions.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Paraglider and harness Safety helmet and goggles Cushioned boots Storage pack Two-way radio
  • Paraglider and harness
  • Safety helmet and goggles
  • Cushioned boots
  • Storage pack
  • Two-way radio
Step 1
Enroll in a paragliding course certified by the U.S. Hangliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA). Paragliding is not a sport you can learn or master safely on your own.
Step 2
Invest in new equipment. Paragliding gear consists of a paraglider with attached safety harness and a reserve parachute, plus a helmet and safety goggles, and cushioned boots. You can buy used paragliding equipment, but you should consider whether you want to entrust your life with someone else's old gear.
Step 3
Participate in a paragliding group. Small, regional airports are often home to paragliding, skydiving and hang gliding clubs. You will be able to learn from more experienced paragliders, study their safety procedures and learn their techniques for staying aloft.
Step 4
Practice under the supervision of experienced paragliders by learning how to launch your paraglider with a downhill run.
Step 5
Learn how to exploit thermals (pockets of hot air) and other atmospheric conditions to improve your flight time and altitude. Part of a paragliding course should include instruction in using thermals to increase your flight time.
Step 6
Practice using the hand brakes on either side of your safety harness to adjust altitude and direction.
Step 7
Deploy both hand brakes gradually to change the wing formation of the paraglider for your descent. Slow and steady adjustment of both hand brakes will slow your air speed so the glider can be brought down safely.
Step 8
Use your two-way radio to communicate with your ground instructor, who may also join you for a flight. Make sure the radio is working properly with fresh batteries before paragliding.
Step 9
Practice the running landing to ease the shock on your ankles and knees. Run off the velocity as your feet touch the ground, gradually slowing down and pulling the hand brakes to cause the paraglider to collapse on the ground behind you. Running landings should be part of your instructional course in paragliding.

Tips & Warnings

Do not attempt to learn or try paragliding on your own. Enroll in a class with trained, experienced instructors.

Article Written By James Clark

James Clark began his career in 1985. He has written about electronics, appliance repair and outdoor topics for a variety of publications and websites. He has more than four years of experience in appliance and electrical repairs. Clark holds a bachelor's degree in political science.

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