Paragliding – a basic guide on how to get going

We wrote the other day about paragliding and the great experience it is to soar like an eagle – the feeling of freedom that it gives you, the rush of the air and the wonderful vista that is spread out before you.

Some people do not consider paragliding an extreme sport because, as they say, it is so easy to learn how to do it. In our mind that is great to know but it doesn’t take away the extreme element of the sport. Lets face it – homo sapiens was not meant to fly under his or her own steam. Artificial assistance is a must. Thin air is not our natural environment and consequently if there is an accident you could be in serious trouble.

What is a must if you want to learn how to paraglide is that you take proper qualified instruction using tested and guaranteed equipment.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Join a paragliding club that has been well established and is close to your home.
  • You must then take lessons from a fully qualified instructor, registered with the likes of the USHGA.
  • Equipment – always a tricky one – to start with you probably will not need to purchase too much – you may be able to hire kit from your club and you will anyway be going in tandem with an instructor and therefore using his equipment. But if the bug bites you will want to buy your own kit. By that time you will understand the jargon, what is required and how much you will need to spend. Our only advice, particularly if you are thinking of buying second hand kit, is that you talk with your mentor and make sure that he or she checks it over and gives you the green light.
  • When and if you have bought some equipment it must be well maintained – as we have already mentioned thin air is not man’s natural environment. Necessary equipment includes a canopy, harness, boots, helmet and flight suit.
  • Finally do not rush your training – although it is easy to learn you must respect your environment. One mistake can be fatal which is why this is an extreme sport and generally we find that if you take your time the right procedures are followed and there are therefore no mistakes.

This excellent video from expertvillage shows what happens in the launch sequence. How you should set up with reverse inflation and then let go of your risers with a little tension on your brake. Then turn and move into the wind assuming the torpedo launch position. And then how you should run head well forward until you are lifted off the ground by the wing.

It is not as difficult as it sounds – give it a go and enjoy that weightless sensation. Of course the other matter to pay attention to is the weather – strong winds are a no no – you will be pleased to hear this is a fair weather sport – its really a matter of common sense – but as we all love to talk about the weather there will be no shortage of advice to be found at your local club.


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