Frequently Asked Questions
Used with permission from FlyAboveAll.com
Q. What is a paraglider?
A. A paraglider is a foot-launched, ram-air, aerofoil canopy, designed to be flown and landed with no other energy requirements than the relative air movement and gravity.
Q. What are the main component parts of a paraglider?
A. A canopy (the actual "wing"), risers (the cords by which the pilot is suspended below the canopy) and a harness. In addition, the brake cords provide speed and directional control and carabiners are used to connect the risers and the harness together.
Q. Is a paraglider the same thing as a parachute?
A. No. A paraglider is similar to a modern, steerable skydiving canopy, but different in several important ways. The paraglider is a foot-launched device, so there is no "drouge" 'chute or "slider", and the construction is generally much lighter, as it doesn't have to withstand the sudden shock of opening at high velocities. The paraglider usually has more cells and thinner risers than a parachute. I also glides better and has a lower sink rate which gives the ability to climb in rising air and fly farther.
Q. What is the difference between a hang glider and a paraglider?
A. A hang glider has a rigid frame maintaining the shape of the wing, with the pilot usually flying in a prone position. The paraglider canopy shape is maintained by its internal air pressure and the pilot is suspended in a sitting or supine position. Paragliders fly slower and this has some safety advantages compared to hang gliders. It also has some limitations concerning strong winds.
Q. Why would anyone want to fly a paraglider when they could fly a hang glider?
A. A paraglider folds down into a package the size of a large knapsack and can be carried easily.
Conversely, a hang glider needs a vehicle with a roof-rack for transportation to and from the flying site, as well as appreciable time to set-up and strip-down.
It's also somewhat easier to learn to fly, as a paraglider flys at much slower speeds.
Q. How much does a paraglider cost?
A.This varies between makers, models, countries, but a middle of the range canopy and harness will normally cost somewhere in the region of $3000 to $4000.
Q. How long does a paraglider last?
A.General wear and tear (especially the latter) and deterioration from exposure to ultra-violet usually limit the useful lifetime of a canopy to somewhere in the region of 200 to 300 hours of airtime. This obviously depends strongly on use.
Q. How do you tow a paraglider?
A. There are a number of ways, but they include using a payout winch or a stationary winch.
Q. How does a paraglider take off when it's being towed?
A. The pilot walks or runs depending on the wind, pulled by the tow line, and takes off same way as you pull up a kite.
Q. Does it take any training to learn to fly a paraglider under tow?
A. Paragliders are relatively easy to fly under tow. However, learning to fly a paraglider under tow should be done under the supervision of a qualified Paragliding Tow Administrator.
Q. Is towing paragliders more dangerous than foot launch?
A. Probably not, but it's hard to say. As towing is more complicated than foot launch and more equipment intensive, there is more room for error and equipment failure. However in some areas of the US, towing is the primary method of launch and many pilots seldom launch any other way.