12 lucruri pe care nu le stiai despre zborul cu parapanta

The first thing anyone should know about paragliding, or paragliding, is that it is an incredibly intense experience! Even for those who have problems related to the fear of heights, the feeling that a paragliding flight offers once you have launched yourself from a hill or a mountain or from any kind of terrace and you are in the air, will be life experience!

If you really want to try a paragliding flight, but for various reasons - maybe fear, maybe emotions, maybe prejudices... - you never dare to do it, below are some interesting things about paragliding, which you will definitely want to you know them and which will arouse your curiosity even more to live the experience on your skin.

1. Not to be confused with hang gliding

The main difference between flying with a paraglider and that with a hang glider has to do with the shape of the wing and its design. The hang glider is a solid winged structure that uses an aluminum frame to create a V-shaped wing that resembles a stealth bomber. Paragliders are structures that have the shape of a light wing, without an internal frame and that, once inflated, take on an elliptical shape. Because they have a lower flight speed, they are much more forgiving than the hang glider, the learning curve being, precisely for that reason, less steep in general in the case of paragliding.

Also, the paragliders fold up very easily into small backpacks, so you can take them with you when you go on a hike in the mountains and then go down with the paraglider, especially when you are tired from climbing the mountain or you want to reach faster at lower altitude.

2. Not to be confused with parasailing

The flight devices for parasailing are basically parachutes, which are raised in the air with the help of boats on the sea or on lakes. They never reach a height higher than 100 meters at most. The design of a paraglider's wing is more like that of a 747 than a parachute – it's designed to catch updrafts and rise through the air, not just fall gently to the ground. The experience is thus much more dynamic, which is why paragliders are called pilots, and those who do parasailing do not have any special name.

3. It is not as dangerous as it seems

Before trying to fly with a paraglider, you will definitely think that it is one of those things that are generally done by adrenaline junkies and crazy suicidal people. And you are probably not in any of these categories...
But, to the surprise of many, paragliding is one of the safest sports in the air. First of all, you are connected to the wing with at least 30 strings, each of which is strong enough to support your entire weight. There is a risk that the wing will deform and/or fail during the flight, but this situation is encountered quite rarely and generally occurs as a result of the not wise decision of the pilots to fly when the weather does not allow them.

In addition, if you are at a sufficiently large distance from the ground (over 200 meters altitude), the reserve parachute that most pilots must have with them in their bag will bring you safely back to the ground; the danger is to be too close to the ground when doing some dangerous maneuvers, in which case the parachute will not have time to inflate properly before you stick to the ground.
As such, if the pilot is responsible and makes a correct analysis of the weather and does not take unnecessary risks, it is improbable that an accident will occur during the flight with a paraglider.

4. Received the name from NASA

Perhaps the one who drew the first parachute was Leonardo Da Vinci, but NASA contributed to the design and name of the paraglider. In 1961, a French engineer named Pierre Lemoigne took the first steps, cutting strategically placed ventilation holes in a parachute, which allowed him to go up in the air and be directed, but NASA was the one who developed what was called the "sail wing" - used for the recovery of lunar capsules - so that it became a paraglider.

5. The paraglider is more comfortable than the chair you are sitting on right now

Unlike most of the activities with harnesses, such as abseiling or parachuting, in the case of paragliding the emphasis is not on a whole series of ropes and straps that tighten your legs and mid-body area. Modern paraglider harnesses connect you to something similar to a chaise longue, in which the reserve parachute and other belongings are stored, some of these "chaise lounges" even providing lumbar support. After you make the jump from a point that you will choose yourself, and the paraglider will inflate, you will simply travel with the flying swing wherever the wind takes you.

6. You have brakes and fuel

Or... some kind of brakes and fuel. You certainly don't have a combustion engine on board, but the pilots have real control over the gliders they descend with. The controls that each pilot holds in their hands are connected to the trailing edge of the left and right sides of the wing, and these can be used to steer the paraglider and adjust the speed. The only thing the pilots have direct control over is the climb - this depends on their ability (and, of course, luck) to find rising columns of air, which can lift the paraglider to very high altitudes.

7. You can travel above the country

Of course, only if you are very, very good at this sport. A tandem paraglider flight lasts between 15 and 25 minutes, but when the weather conditions are favorable, the flight can last up to two hours and can cover hundreds of kilometers. Thus, pilots who are extremely skilled at finding and exploiting thermal rising air columns can use them to make their way over long distances, as do the world record holders, Marcelo Prieto, Rafael Saladini and Rafael de Moraes Barros, who on October 10, 2019 set a new world record for open distance paragliding, covering 588.27 km in 11 hours of paragliding, after a towed launch, somewhere near the Brazilian city of Tacima. Their flight had an average speed of 53.5 km/h.
The three thus exceeded by 24 km a record set in 2016 by the team formed by Samuel Nascimento, Rafael Saladini and Donizete Lemos, who had flown 564 km, after a classic launch from Tacima.

8. The paraglider is propelled only by the wind

The only propelling agent of a paraglider is the wind. The paraglider is a form of flying device without an engine, which requires no fuel, no electricity and no battery!

The paraglider consists of a veil made of polyamide or polyester; the suspensions that make the connection between the veil and the equipment system; the carrier-suspension straps that make the connection between the suspension and the equipment system; the equipment system itself which is actually attached to the pilot and which can be of two types - harness (seated) which can also have a protective airbag, or harness (suspended) -; the last part of the paraglider is the transport bag. In addition, you will only need a hill, some wind and an experienced pilot to fly in tandem with and you are ready for a new experience!

9. The paraglider has a weight limit

The tandem paragliding equipment weighs approximately 20 kg, which you can pack in a special bag and carry like a backpack. But the paraglider can actually carry a weight of up to 240 kilograms. Yes, this strip of material can lift an adult sable antelope or an adult white-striped dolphin into the air. Which means that in a tandem flight, the total maximum weight of the pilot and passenger will be approximately 220 kilograms. In this way, the maximum weight of the passenger will not be able to exceed 120 kg.

10. Paragliding is addictive

Despite the fact that it is the simplest and purest form of human flight, paragliding is addictive. It is a mega fun activity, super exciting, thrilling and so comforting that once you learn to fly you will always look for another chance to share the sky with the birds. Most paraglider enthusiasts admit that from the first day they started flying, they think about it non-stop and look for the next opportunity to fly. The need to climb and float easily in the air is always irresistible.

11. The paraglider is also suitable for people in wheelchairs

Although classified as an extreme adventure activity, paragliding (especially the tandem one) is also a suitable activity for people with disabilities, who are immobilized in wheelchairs. In other words, any person with physical disabilities can enjoy a flight with a paraglider, as long as the pilot is experienced.

12. Paragliding has health benefits

And if we're still talking about interesting things related to paragliding, we can't end without mentioning its health benefits. When you think of paragliding, you generally think of adrenaline and extreme sports and less of health benefits.

Most people see paragliding only as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but beyond the fact that it is a thrilling activity that gives you the chance to see the world from a completely different perspective, paragliding also offers you numerous benefits both physically and mentally. We are talking about improving self-confidence, overcoming fears and anxiety, reducing stress and keeping worries at bay, an extra help in focusing on the present moment and improving concentration levels.

On a physical level, paragliding improves stability, balance and posture, strengthens the trunk and reduces the risk of injuries during intense activities. Even if you didn't think about it, paragliding helps you burn calories, thanks to the adrenaline generated during the flight.