What is pragliding – it is flights with paragliders from the top of magnificent mountains or low hills. Paraglider is a soft wing made of the material which is filled with air flows as you take off and takes Us into the sky. A paraglider flies due to ascending air flows. Experienced pilots can plan the flying route, guide it in the right direction using slings and the laws of aerodynamics. The paraglider is not equipped with engine and therefore it seems unbelievable that it can be lifted to the sky and cover rather long distances. The record altitude to which the paraglider reached is 8157 m and the maximum distance is 564 km.
Paragliding is both sport and extreme activity, and it is the life purpose for someone. The adrenaline at the start quickly becomes the excitement of flying so high like a bird. The heart sinks from the beauty of the surrounding scenery and the light and smooth hovering makes you forget about everything. There is only you, the sky and the paraglider. It is the easiest, cleanest and safest form of flying. You don’t need a long course or graduation from flight school to fly a paraglider for the first time. All you need is to choose a place and find an experienced pilot for tandem paragliding with an instructor.
In the 40s of the last century due to the scientist from USA – Rogallo, the world discovered the possibility of “man soaring through the air” with the help of a soft wing. The wing designed by the scientist looked like a kite. At about the same time in Great Britain, Newmark, created a new modification of the parachute, adding a Rogallo wing to it. And he kept researching in the field of “soaring flight”. One can say that Newmark became the first paraglider. In the early 60s, Nasa engineer David Barish invented a gliding parachute for descent from a spaceship.
First paragliding competitions were held in the United States of America in 1968. The British Association of Paragliding Clubs was registered in 1973. In the early 80s of the last century paragliding became an independent sport. The first informal international paragliding championship was held in Switzerland in 1987, after which the Federation of International Aviation Sports announced the paragliding is an official sport and the first official world championship was held in Australia in 1989.
Nowadays there are various forms of paragliding for people with their own purposes and abilities. If we talk about paragliding championship, they can be divided into three main categories.
Recently tandem paragliding flights with an instructor has become very popular among tourists. The advantage of this flight is that it is available for anyone even for children from 5 years old, it does not require completing a course.
Paragliding is considered to be quite safe, but there are still some risks. After all, a paraglider rises to a fairly high altitude, so special training is required for solo flying. And if you decided to make your first tandem flight it’s important to choose an instructor carefully. It’s good to know about his experience and number of performed flights and whether the pilot is a member of any paragliding federation. It’s important to ask about quality of equipment and read comments of the company that organizes such flights. And although every flight is different and the flying technique depends on the area you are planning to fly in, there are some general rules that help to minimize the risk of accidents. Firstly, favourable weather conditions are required for safe paragliding flights. You should prepare especially carefully for flights where the weather changes frequently. In case of sudden change of wind direction, strong storm, a pilot will have to show his skills in order to successfully complete his flight. That is why even experienced pilots only fly in good weather.
Paragliding is a self-regulating sport and a special license is not required. Not all paragliders comply with a policies and principles of the Paragliding Federation or Association of that country in which flights are performed. The paraglider should have a safety certificate in some countries. Therefore, before flying a paraglider, find out how the sport is regulated in that country and what the requirements are for pilots, equipment and safety.
You can fly a paraglider almost anywhere in the world. You can take off from the coast using the wind or a towboat; a winch will help to start on the plains. However, the most popular places for paragliding are those where there are mountains and sunshine. Paragliding is very popular in France, where competitors gather in Chamonix, Plaine-Joux and Annecy. It is Interlaken in Switzerland. And the most popular places for tandem paragliding are the Austrian Tyrol, Tuscany in Italy, Oludeniz in Turkey, and Gudauri and Kazbegi in Georgia.
Paragliding in Georgia