Introduction to Ultralight Airplanes

Paragliding ABC

It is not parachuting, it is not parasailing, it is paragliding!


Photo by Allie_Caulfield at Flickr
Although being one of the most fun experiences that anyone could have, paragliding has many other 'air sports' competitors making it hard to remember which is which sometimes.

Paragliding is considered as some sort of ultralight aviation; a type of aviation that includes all light, simple and relatively slow flying methods. Ultralight crafts include, for example, hang gliders and parachutes. The uniqueness of paragliding lies in the fact that it uses the simplest principle of all times to fly: air currents!

A for air currents...

Ever wondered what keeps a bird in air for so long without a roaring engine? If it did not stick to your brain at science class allow me to simplify:

- Rule number 1: warm air is lighter than cold air (the warm is called a thermal air current).
- Rule number 2: when the sun heats some parts of the earth through daytime, warm air (closer to the earth surface) rises to higher levels of the atmosphere as it became lighter.

Result? A constant force heading towards the sky!
So you actually have to 'climb' on the air currents in order to launch and keep flying. In order to catch one, imagine that you want to catch a train which already took off; what do you do? You run and jump! That is exactly how you launch your flight with your mini-aircraft.

B for but...

But why considering paragliding over other choices ? Here is a couple of reasons:

  • It is more affordable: you do not need a plane or a boat or any sort of engines. You just need what we call a wing (which is like a parachute but triangular in shape) and a harness (which is the chair where you will comfortably be sitting).

  • It lasts longer: as I said before, you depend on climbing air currents which are constantly rising in the air. So basically you can keep flying as long as you want not worrying about running out of gas or something.

C for control...

Once you get the grips of it aided by a professional trainer, paragliding could give you full control over your fun time and your safety. You do not need to learn much, just how to launch, navigate and land with some safety precautions like wearing a helmet and so.

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