“The sky is not the limit,
It’s the Destination.”
All the adventurists out there must have related to it immediately. However, “Darr sbko lgta hai, Gala sbka sukhta hai”, there is this adrenaline rush that would always stop you from taking the dare. So if that trip to Bir Billing is pending for a long time, here is a list of 10 Facts that you might not know about one such sport, Paragliding.
1. It is not Hang-gliding
The major difference between the two is in the design and wing shape. Hang gliders have solid wing structures to create a V-shaped wing utilizing an aluminum frame. Paragliders have soft wing structures, which once inflated have an elliptical shape. Also, paragliders fold conveniently into a small bag. So you can take them mountain trekking then paraglide down when you’re tired of being on a mountain.
2. It is Definitely not Parasailing
Parasails are nothing but parachutes, and can be used by people being towed by boats at the beach or on lakes. The design of a paraglider wing is more like that of a 747. It’s designed to catch thermal updrafts and rise through the air and not just fall slowly to the ground. It’s a much more dynamic experience.
3. It is not as Dangerous as you Think it is
Many people think that paragliding is one of those things that only suicidal maniacs and adrenaline junkies attempt. In reality, it is one of the safest airborne sports. You would be tied to the wing by at least 30 lines, any one of which is strong enough to support your weight. However, there is a risk of the wing collapsing while in flight, but it could be only due to pilots choosing to fly in bad weather.
4. NASA Named it
You all know that Leonardo Da Vinci designed the first parachute. But you won’t know is that NASA helped design, and name, the paraglider. In 1961, a French engineer named Pierre Lemoigne took the first steps by cutting strategically placed vents in a parachute which allowed it to ascend into the air and be steered. It was NASA who turned a “sail wing,” for use in recovery of lunar capsules, into the paraglider.
5. You will be More Comfortable than you are Right Now
Unlike most harness-based activities, like rappelling and parachuting, there are no painful straps and clips around your legs and midsection. Modern paragliding harnesses tie you to something akin to a lounge chair. After you leap from the precipice of choice and the glider inflates, you simply slide the “chair” under your bum, and ride your flying barcalounger wherever the wind takes you.
6. You have Gas and Brakes
Just to be clear, there is definitely no combustion engine on board, but pilots have a great deal of control over their gliders. These controls connect to the trailing edge of the left and right sides of the wing, and can be used to steer and to adjust speed. The only thing that is under their control is ascent. This solely depends on their skill at finding rising columns of thermal air, which can lift the glider to great distances.
7. It Can Take you to Cross the Whole Country
Will Gadd, the paragliding champ holds the world record for a 263 miles long paragliding flight. Most paraglider flights for less than 30 minutes, depending on weather conditions. But if you have the skill, you can travel long distances exploiting thermal columns of rising air.
8. Pilots are Almost Never Injured Due to Failure in Equipment
Modern Paragliders are uniformly very stable. They are designed to recover quickly in case of collapse. So if you are using new paragliding equipment with double checking it before every flight, you are pretty safe with almost no risk of an accident resulting from equipment failure. Almost all accidents happen because of mistakes made by the pilot, either in their assessment of weather conditions before a flight, or in the air.
9. Speed is not Needed
If you are crazy about speed then Paragliding is not really your type of sport.You should probably take Hang gliding or Speedflying into account. So if you are freaking out because of the speed– don’t worry! Paragliding is infact opposite. So next time you think of doing paragliding, picture yourself gently floating on the breeze like a feather, with fantastic views of the landscape around you.
10. Feeling Vulnerable is not bad
Paragliding in general, is a very safe activity, as long as you are learning from a professional. It is also easy to start with. However, some beginners can slip into an over-confident state that it is a damn easy sport. Instructors usually call this “intermediate syndrome.”
So although, we want you to have a lot of fun up in the air, do not ever let your guard down. As a matter of fact, more than 90% of injuries happen during the first 10 flights. In order to avoid any kind of accident, you need to fully adopt the safety techniques your instructors have taught you.
I hope all those who were in the edge of their decision of doing paragliding are all set to fly high. After all, “The first step to learning how to fly is realising that YOU CAN.”