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aircraft with no rigid primary structure. The pilot sits in a harness suspended below a hollow fabric wing whose shape is formed by its suspension lines, the pressure of air entering vents in the front of the wing and the aerodynamic forces of the air flowing over the outside. Despite not using an engine, paraglider flights can last many hours and cover many hundreds of kilometres, though flights of 1–2 hours and covering some tens of kilometres are more the norm. By skilful exploitation of sources of lift the pilot may gain height, often climbing to altitudes of a few thousand meters. Paragliders are unique among soaring aircraft in being easily portable. The complete equipment packs into a rucksack and can be carried easily on the pilot's back, in a car, or on public transport. In comparison with other air sports this substantially simplifies travel to a suitable take off spot, the selection of a landing place and return travel. Paragliding is related to the following activities:
Hang gliding is a close cousin, and hang glider and paraglider launches are often found in proximity.  Despite the considerable difference in equipment the two activities offer similar pleasures and some pilots are involved in both sports. Powered paragliding is the flying of paragliders with a small engine attached. Speed riding or speed flying is the separate sport of flying paragliders of reduced size. These wings have increased speed, though they are not normally capable of soaring flight. The sport involves taking off on skis or on foot and swooping rapidly down in close proximity to the slope, even periodically touching it if skis are used. Paragliding can be of local importance as a commercial activity. Paid accompanied tandem flights are available in many mountainous regions, both in the winter and in the summer. In addition there are many schools offering courses, and guides who lead groups of more experienced pilots exploring an area. Finally there are the manufacturers and the associated repair and after sales services. Paraglider-like wings also find other uses, for example in ship propulsion and wind energy exploitation, and are related to some forms ofpower kite. Kite skiing uses equipment similar to paragliging sails.
1 History 2 Equipment
○ ○ ○ •
2.1 Wing 2.2 Harness 2.3 Instruments
3.1 Fast descents
.1 Forward launch 4.1.2 Reverse launch 4. In 1961.5 Cross-country flying 4. had cut-outs at the rear and sides that enabled it to be towed into the air and steered – leading to parasailing/parascending.3 Towed launch ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ 4.1. The ‘PC’...1 Launching 4.• 4 Flying ○ 4. the French engineer Pierre Lemoigne produced improved parachute designs which led to the ParaCommander.6 In-flight Wing Deflation (Collapse) • • • • • • • 5 Sports/competitive flying 6 Safety 7 Learning to fly 8 World records 9 See also 10 References 11 External links History In 1952 Domina Jalbert advanced governable gliding parachutes with multi-cells and controls for lateral glide.3 Slope soaring 4. whether on a rock-climbing holiday in Skye or ski-ing in the Alps”.2 Landing 4. Walter Neumark predicted (in an article in Flight magazine) a time when a glider pilot would be “able to launch himself by running over the edge of a cliff or down a slope .1.4 Thermal flying 4.  In 1954.
 Equipment Wing 3d CAD drawing of a paraglider showing the upper surface in green. After inspiration from an article on ‘slope soaring’ in the Parachute Manual magazine by parachutist & publisher Dan Poynter. New York in September 1965. He filed US Patent 3131894 on January 10.. officially coining the word Paragliding. Only the left half of the suspension cone is shown. Authors Patrick Gilligan (Canada) and Bertrand Dubuis (Switzerland) wrote the first flight manual "The Paragliding Manual" in 1985. a ‘square’ ram-air parachute could be inflated by running down the slope. Bohn followed him and glided down to the football pitch in the valley 1000 metres below.Sometimes credited with the greatest development in parachutes since Leonardo da Vinci[by whom?]. the lower surface in blue and the leading edge openings in pink. André Bohn and Gérard Bosson from Mieussy Haute-Savoie. with France alone currently registering over 25.. From the 1980s equipment has continued to improve and the number of paragliding pilots and established sites has continued to increase. After tests on Hunter Mountain. 1963. Land-based practice: Kiting. NASA originated the term ‘paraglider’ in the early 1960s. inflated by passage through the air – the ram-air design. an open leading edge and a closed trailing edge. Meanwhile. Bétemps launched from Pointe du Pertuiset. Austria in 1989.000 active pilots. he went on to promote ‘slope soaring’ as a summer activity for ski resorts(apparently without great success). the American Domina Jalbert invented the Parafoil which had sectioned cells in an aerofoil shape. Europe has seen the greatest growth in paragliding. David Barish was developing the Sail Wing (single-surface wing) for recovery of NASA space capsules – “slope soaring was a way of testing out . they calculated that on a suitable slope. France. the Sail Wing”. and ‘paragliding’ was first used in the early 1970s to describe foot-launching of gliding parachutes. Transverse cross section showing parts of a paraglider: 1) upper surface 2) lower surface 3) rib . ‘Parapente’ (pente being French for slope) was born. Mieussy. The first Paragliding World Championship was held in Kössen. and flew 100 m. Author Walter Neumark wrote Operating Procedures for Ascending Parachutes. and he and a group of enthusiasts with a passion for tow-launching ‘PCs’ and ram-air parachutes eventually broke away from the British Parachute Association to form the British Association of Parascending Clubs (BAPC) in 1973. These threads were pulled together in June 1978 by three friends Jean-Claude Bétemps.
The top of each line is attached to small fabric loops sewn in to the structure of the wing. reserve. helmet. to reduce drag. Beginner wings will be in the lower part of this range. For pilots who may not want the added weight or fuss of a backpack.[note 1] In some modern paragliders (from the 1990s onwards).4) diagonal rib 5) upper line cascade 6) middle line cascade 7) lower line cascade 8) risers The paraglider wing or canopy is usually what is known in aeronautical engineering as a "ram-air airfoil". By leaving most of the cells open only at the leading edge. which can then be stowed in a large backpack along with the harness. harness. thus maintaining its shape.66mm diameter line (about the thinnest used) can have a breaking strength of 56 kg. some modern harnesses include the ability to turn the harness inside out such that it becomes a backpack. [note 2] For storage and carrying. Holes in the internal ribs allow a free flow of air from the open cells to these closed cells to inflate them. For comparison. these materials are immensely strong. the wing is usually folded into a stuffsack (bag).6–15 lb). to about 10:1 for modern competition models. a typical skydiving parachute will achieve about 3:1 glide. These are typically 4–5 meters long. but recently there is a tendency to reduce the rows of lines to three. one each side of the pilot. high-performance wings in the upper part of the range. the next row back the B lines and so on. Such wings comprise two layers of fabric which are connected to internal supporting material in such a way as to form a row of cells. In some cases this is repeated for a fourth cascade. A hang glider will achieve about 15:1 glide. C and D lines.e. For example. B. A typical wing will have A. . which are generally arranged in rows running span-wise (i. is around 12–22 kilograms (26–49 lb). which are again joined to a group of smaller. from stall speed to maximum speed. An idling (gliding) Cessna 152 light aircraft will achieve 9:1. and weigh 3–7 kilograms (6. especially higher performance wings. and each riser of a set is generally attached to lines from only one row of its side of wing. a single 0. Paraglider lines are usually made from Dyneema/Spectra or Kevlar/Aramid. The row of lines nearest the front are known as the A lines. At the end of each riser of the set there is a small delta maillon with a number (2-5) of lines attached forming a fan. Each set is attached to the harness by a carabiner. Combined weight of wing. Paraglider wings typically have an area of 20–35 square metres (220–380 sq ft) with a span of 8–12 metres (26–39 ft). These start with two sets of risersmade of short (40 cm) lengths of strong webbing. The pilot is supported underneath the wing by a network of suspension lines. When inflated. Some sailplanescan achieve a glide ratio of up to 72:1. the wing's cross-section has the typical teardrop aerofoil shape. with the end attached to 2-4 further lines of around 2m. etc. The speed range of paragliders is typically 20–75 kilometres per hour (12–47 mph). Although they look rather slender. some of the cells of the leading edge are closed to form a cleaner aerodynamic profile. incoming air keeps the wing inflated. thinner lines. side to side). or even two (and experimentally to one). Modern paraglider wings are made of high-performance non-porous materials such as ripstop polyester or nylon fabric. and also to the wingtips which are also closed. The glide ratio of paragliders ranges from 6:1 for recreational wings. instruments.
GPS units when flying. and have a slightly higher sink rate compared to solo paragliders. are more resistant to collapse. Modern harnesses are designed to be as comfortable as a lounge chair in the sitting position. radios. Harness Pilot with harness (light blue) performing a reverse launch The pilot is loosely and comfortably buckled into a harness which offers support in both the standing and sitting positions. designed to carry the pilot and one passenger. They usually fly faster with higher trim speeds. are larger but otherwise similar. and. Variometer . Many harnesses even have an adjustable 'lumbar support'. A reserve parachute is also typically connected to a paragliding harness.Tandem paragliders. increasingly. Instruments Most pilots use variometers.
but cannot detect the difference between constant rising air and constant sinking air. some illegal but tolerated locally. Radio Radio communications are used in training. Humans can sense the acceleration when they first hit a thermal. to indicate when a pilot is in sinking air and needs to find rising air. GPS is also used to determine drift due to the prevailing wind when flying at altitude. and identifying one’s location for retrieval teams after landing-out in unfamiliar territory. Many pilots carry a cell phone so they can call for pickup should they land away from their point of destination. to communicate with other pilots. These radios normally operate on a range of frequencies in different countries—some authorised. GPS is integrated with some . above sea level. A variometer indicates climb-rate (or sink-rate) with short audio signals (beeps. GPS GPS (global positioning system) is a necessary accessory when flying competitions. and to report where and when they intend to land. conversely. or (at higher altitudes) "flight level". Modern variometers are capable of detecting rates of climb or sink of 1 cm per second. where it has to be demonstrated that way-points have been correctly passed. which increase in pitch and tempo during ascent. It also shows altitude: either above takeoff. pilots use radios to talk to airport control towers or air traffic controllers. providing position information to allow restricted airspace to be avoided. The recorded GPS track of a flight can be used to analyze flying technique or shared with other pilots. and a droning sound. In rare cases.Vario-altimeter Main article: Variometer The main purpose of a variometer is in helping a pilot find and stay in the "core" of a thermal to maximise height gain and. which gets deeper as the rate of descent increases) and/or a visual display.
replacing the 'old' method of photo documentation. This control is necessary because the brakes can only slow the wing from what is called 'trim speed' (no brakes applied). and flare (during landing). Speed Bar: A kind of foot control called the 'speed bar' (also 'accelerator') attaches to the paragliding harness and connects to the leading edge of the paraglider wing. The flight track can be used as proof for record claims. Control Speedbar mechanism. Such 'weight-shifting' can also be used for more limited steering when brake use is unavailable. This is not only more convenient. These controls are called 'brakes' and provide the primary and most general means of control in a paraglider.models of variometer. This control is used to increase speed. Weight Shift: In addition to manipulating the brakes. a paraglider pilot must also lean in order to steer properly. the lines connecting to the outermost points of the wing's leading edge can be used to induce the wingtips to fold under. is used to increase rate of descent (see picture and therefore description below). The risers connecting to the rear of the wing can also be manipulated for steering if the brakes have been severed or are otherwise unavailable. The technique. usually through a system of at least two pulleys (see animation in margin). The accelerator is needed to go faster than this. to steer (in addition to weight-shift). In a 'B-line stall' (see below for therefore description) . The brakes are used to adjust speed. and does so by decreasing the wing's angle of attack. More advanced means of control can be obtained by manipulating the paraglider's risers or lines directly: Most commonly. but also allows for a three dimensional record of the flight. Brakes: Controls held in each of the pilot’s hands connect to the trailing edge of the left and right sides of the wing. More advanced control techniques may also involve weight-shifting. such as when under 'big ears' (see below). known as 'big ears'.
thereby separating the airflow from the upper surface of the wing. at 10-15m/sec. spiral dives put strong G-forces on the wing and glider and must be done carefully and skilfully. There are three possibilities of rapidly reducing altitude in such situations. However. It is the most controllable of the techniques. with the specific lines used to initiate the condition being responsible for its name. It places greater loads on the wing than other techniques do. and the rotation can produce disorientation. There is not a risk of the pilot becoming disoriented as a result of using this technique. Flying . Big Ears paraglider in "Big Ears" maneouvre Pulling on the outer A-lines folds the wing tips in drastically deteriorating the glide angle with only a small decrease in forward speed. the second set of risers from the leading-edge/front (the B-lines) are pulled down independently of the other risers.Fast descents Problems with “getting down” can occur when the lift situation is very good or when the weather changes unexpectedly. and the easiest for beginners to learn. a sink rate of 15 m/s can be achieved. each of which has benefits and issues to be aware of: "Big ears" induces descent rates of 2 m/s or so. As the effective wing area is reduced. When the lines are released the wing reinflates. It increases loading on parts of the wing (the pilot's weight is mostly on the B-lines. Spiral Dive The spiral dive is the most rapid form of controlled fast descent. the wing loading is increased and it becomes more stable. This dramatically reduces the lift produced by the canopy and thus induces a higher rate of descent. The G-forces involved can induce blackouts. A spiral dive offers the fastest rate of descent. instead of spread across all the lines). A B-line stall induces descent rates of 5 m/s or so. However the angle of attack is increased and the craft is closer to stall speed B-Line stall In a 'B-line stall'. and requires the highest level of skill from the pilot to execute safely. This puts a spanwise crease in the wing.
. Biscay.Poland.Launching Paraglider reverse launch demonstration video Paraglider towed launch. Paraglider in Sopelana. Mirosławice. As with all aircraft. launching and landing are done into wind. Basque Country.
In flatter countryside pilots can also be launched with a tow. There are two major ways to tow: Pay-in and pay-out towing. attached to a paraglider or hanglider with a fixed length line. Reverse launches have a number of advantages over a forward launch. Once at full height. and safer in case the pilot slips (as opposed to being dragged backwards).Forward launch In low winds. like a car or a boat. which is almost impossible to do. The distance between winch and pilot at the start is around 500 meters or more. In both cases it is very important to have a gauge indicating line tension to avoid pulling the pilot out of the air. ‘static’ towing. the wing is inflated with a ‘forward launch’. as flying on a winch has quite different characteristics from free flying. There is one other form of towing. that pays out line slower than the speed of the object thereby pulling the pilot up in the air. Towed launch Paraglider launching in Araxá. It is more straight forward to inspect the wing and check the lines are free as it leaves the ground. then turning under the wing to complete the launch. This involves a moving object. This is very dangerous because now the forces on the line have to be controlled by the moving object itself. Brazil. These launches are normally attempted with a reasonable wind speed making the ground speed required to pressurise the wing much lower – the pilot is initially launching while walking forwards as opposed to running backward. With static line towing a lockout is very likely. like a car or a boat. Reverse launch In higher winds a ‘reverse launch’ is used. Landing . Static line towing is forbidden in most countries and if not. the pilot can be tugged toward the wing and facing the wing makes it easier to resist this force. Pay-in towing involves a stationary winch that winds in the towline and thereby pulls the pilot in the air. with the pilot facing the wing to bring it up into a flying position. the pilot pulls a release cord and the towline falls away. where the pilot runs forward so that the air pressure generated by the forward movement inflates the wing. This requires separate training. should be avoided at all cost. Pay-out towing involves a moving object. In the presence of wind.
and there is a risk of being ‘blown back’ over the slope. Thermal flying . In light winds. This consist of gently going from 0% brake at around 2 meters to 100% brake when touching down on the ground. but too much wind. some minor running is common. ‘flaring’ the wing to minimise vertical and/or horizontal speed. Slope soaring is highly dependent on a steady wind within a defined range (the suitable range depends on the performance of the wing and the skill of the pilot). and insufficient lift is available to stay airborne (pilots end up ‘scratching’ along the slope). relying on the lift provided by the air which is forced up as it passes over the slope. the landings can be without forward speed. In moderate to medium headwinds. With more wind. For strong winds during landing two techniques are common: 'flapping' the wing to make it lose performance and thus descend faster by alternatively braking and releasing (around once per second). at around 4 meters before touching ground.Landing involves lining up for an approach into wind. Slope soaring Paraglider along the beach The slope can be a Dune or Ridge. Collapsing it immediately after touchdown to avoid being dragged by braking at maximum. pilots fly along the length of a slope feature in the landscape. Too little wind. and just before touching down. then released thus using forward pendular momentum to gain speed for flaring more effectively and approach the ground with minimal vertical speed. With strong winds even going backwards with respect to the ground. In slope soaring. Additionally. gliders can fly well above and forward of the slope. some momentary braking (50% for around 2s) can be applied. but this would usually mean that the conditions got too strong for that glider.
Most pilots use a varioaltimeter ("vario"). such deflations will normally recover without pilot intervention. Sometimes these may be a simple rising column of air.. Cross-country flying Once the skills of using thermals to gain altitude have been mastered. Having gained altitude in a thermal. Most pilots never have cause to ‘throw’ their reserve. Good thermal flying is a skill which takes time to learn.Paragliders in the air at Torrey Pines Gliderport When the sun warms the ground. emergency) parachute. they are blown sideways in the wind. In the event of a severe deflation. and these set off thermals which rise through the air. and there is often also strong turbulence resulting in wing collapses as a pilot tries to enter a strong thermal. shortly after takeoff or just before landing. to help ‘core-in’ on a thermal. the wing (paraglider) may not recover its correct structure rapidly enough to prevent an accident. i. humid air as it reaches the dew point and condenses to form a cloud. In-flight Wing Deflation (Collapse) Since the shape of the wing (airfoil) is formed by the moving air entering and inflating the wing. with the pilot often not having enough altitude . more often. most pilots carry a reserve (rescue. etc. Should a wing deflation occur at low altitude. so pilot training and practice in correct response to deflations is necessary. and will break off from the source. or by cumulus clouds which mark the top of a rising column of warm. Potential thermals can be identified by land features which typically generate thermals. with a new thermal forming later.e. On modern recreational wings. it will warm some features more than others (such as rockfaces or large buildings). flying regulations. which indicates climb rate with beeps and/or a visual display. For the rare occasions when it is not possible to recover from a deflation (or from other threatening situations such as a spin). aviation maps indicating restricted airspace. In many flying areas. where the air is rising the fastest. in turbulent air. Piloting techniques referred to as "active flying" will greatly reduce the frequency and severity of deflations or collapses. but a good pilot can often "core" a thermal all the way to cloud base. part or all of the wing (airfoil) can deflate (collapse). cross-country pilots also need an intimate familiarity with air law. trying to center the circle on the strongest part of the thermal (the "core"). correct pilot input will speed recovery from a deflation. Once a pilot finds a thermal. pilots can glide from one thermal to the next to go 'cross-country' (‘XC’). but incorrect pilot input may slow the return of the glider to normal flight. he or she begins to fly in a circle. a pilot glides down to the next available thermal. Often there is strong sink surrounding thermals.
and before him Bruce Goldsmith. examples include distance to declared goal. Mexico.. infinity tumbles. but typical deployment to stabilization periods using up 120–180 m (400 – 600 ft) of altitude). For such pilots.  Safety This section needs additional citations for verification. should they have spare altitude to use on this process. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. this 'bad air' can cause the reserve parachute to take significantly longer to inflate and stabilize. national and worldwide leagues scored based on accumulated best distance flights Accuracy – spot landing competitions where pilots land on targets with a 3 cm centre spot out to a full 10 meter circle. there are multiple disciplines available: Cross Country Competitions – races around waypoints with typical distances of 50 to 150 kilometers National/international records – despite continually improving gliders. and so on. critically. distance over triangular course. Sports/competitive flying Some pilots like to stretch themselves beyond recreational flying. In this example. aside from longest distance and highest altitude. deploy the reserve if needed. Low altitude wing failure can result in serious injury or death due to the subsequent velocity of a ground impact where. etc.remaining to successfully deploy a reserve parachute (with the minimum altitude for this being approximately 60 m (200 ft). His predecessor was Andy Aebi of Switzerland. but which are far more responsive and offer greater feedback to the pilot. a higher altitude failure may allow more time to regain some degree of control in the descent rate and. ironically. Spain. (August 2009) . Cross-country leagues – annual regional. "Acro" – aero-acrobatic manoeuvres and stunt flying. The current Paragliding World Cup (PWC) Champion is Peter Neuenshwander. as well as flying faster with better glide ratios. See also: World Air Games The current FAI world champion is Charles Cazaux of France. wingovers. In-flight wing deflation and other hazards are minimized by flying a suitable glider and choosing appropriate weather conditions and locations for the pilot's skill and experience level. Different packing methods of the reserve parachute affect its deploying time. tricks such as "helicopters". synchro spirals. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. these become ever more difficult to achieve. it may be of greater benefit to the paraglider to purposefully lose altitude to 'clear' this turbulent air before deploying their reserve. he won the title in February 2012 in Valle de Bravo. should the wing collapse have been due to turbulence. speed over 100 km triangular course. Competitive flying is done on high performance wings which demand far more skill to fly than their recreational counterparts. It is also important to note that. he won the title in July 2011 in Piedrahita.
. In the United States for example. not to train. gusty wind. and a cushioned harness also minimize risk. while only 2 of every 10. and ground obstacles such as power lines. Please help improve this article either by rewriting the how-to content or by moving it to Wikiversity or Wikibooks. strong thermals. Learning to fly This section does not cite any references or sources.000 pilots were seriously injured. or how-to content. Brazil. (October 2009) Paraglider launch video in Araxá. and poor flying conditions. Paragliding is a potentially dangerous recreational activity. around 6 of every 1. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. as well as a helmet. generally registered with and/or organized by national associations. The pilot's safety is influenced by their understanding of the site conditions such as air turbulence (rotors).000 active paraglider pilots has been fatally injured every year since 1994. advice. The use of proper equipment such as a wing designed for the pilot's size and skill level. Certification systems vary widely between countries. an average of slightly less than 1 in every 1.000 pilots were fatally injured in 2011. The purpose of Wikipedia is to present facts. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Many paragliding accidents are the result of a combination of pilot error. The potential for injury can be significantly reduced by training and risk management. (January 2012) Most popular paragliding regions have a number of schools. Sufficient pilot training in wing control and emergency maneuvers from competent instructors can minimize accidents. though around 10 days instruction to basic certification is standard.This section contains instructions. In France (with over 25.000 registered fliers). reserve parachute.
and general flight area etiquette. The IPPI specifies five stages of paragliding proficiency. . Training instructions are often provided to the student via radio. Special winches can be used to tow the glider to low altitude in areas that have no hills readily available. and sometimes sell tandem pleasure flights at holiday resorts. particularly during the first flights. in which an experienced instructor pilots the paraglider with the prospective pilot as a passenger. practicing take-offs and controlling the wing 'overhead'. Initial training for beginning pilots usually begins with some amount of ground school to discuss the basics. Low. control the glider's speed. aviation law. A third key component to a complete paragliding instructional program provides substantial background in the key areas of meteorology. As their skills progress. and learning to turn the glider. Students then learn how to control the glider on the ground. spot landings. gentle hills are next where students get their first short flights. most schools offer tandem flights. Tandem paraglider launch To give prospective pilots a chance to determine if they would like to proceed with a full pilot training program. flying at very low altitudes. including elementary theories of flight as well as basic structure and operation of the paraglider. students move on to steeper/higher hills (or higher winch tows). ‘big ears’ (used to increase the rate of descent for the paraglider). from the entry level ParaPro 1 to the most advance stage 5. and other more advanced techniques. Austria There are several key components to a paragliding pilot certification instruction program. making longer flights. Most recognised courses lead to a national licence and an internationally recognised International Pilot Proficiency Information/Identification card. Schools often offer pilot's families and friends the opportunity to fly tandem. to get used to the handling of the wing over varied terrain. then moving on to 360° turns.Flying above Stubaital.
Quixadá – Duque. South Africa – Lesotho. Brandvlei (South Africa). 6 January 1993 Other records (distance/speed for out-and-return and triangular course) can be seen on the FAI records site See also .3 km: Nevil Hulett (South Africa). 7 December 2006 Gain of height – 4526 m: Robbie Whittall (UK).9 km: Nevil Hulett (South Africa).9 km: Aljaž Valič. Straight distance to declared goal – 411. Previous Straight distance to declared goal – 368. Marcelo Prieto. Vosburg – Jamestown (South Africa). Flight record Previous Straight distance – 461. 14 December 2008. Rafael Monteiro Saladini (Brazil). Urban Valič (Slovenia). Copperton. Copperton. 14 November 2007. Brazil.6 km: Frank Brown. South Africa – Lesotho.World records FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) world records: Straight distance – 502. 14 December 2008.
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