Paragliding is a great deal of fun, whether you are able to experience it once, or become a certified pilot and fly every weekend. Many people consider paragliding to be the purest form of human flight. All it takes is a basic paraglider and human ingenuity to get airborne although safety paragliding equipment is strongly advised. However, there are some misconceptions about what paragliding is and what it is not. Whatever the answer, the word that best describes paragliding best is experience.
What Is Paragliding?
Paragliding uses a specific winged apparatus known as a paraglider. Simple enough, right? Paragliding involves using the human body to launch yourself, and potentially a passenger, into the air from a high area. Typically, paragliding occurs in open areas with mountains as launch points. The design of the paraglider is light and a flight may last for several hours and cover hundreds of kilometers, but they are usually much shorter for novices. Paragliding is not exactly a thrill-seeking activity, at least once you become airborne. Most people actually find it very relaxing and enlightening because you have uninterrupted panoramic views of the world around you and the time to enjoy them.
What Is Not Paragliding?
For those new to the sport of paragliding, it may be difficult to define. Paragliding is often confused with some of the following activities, which vary in some way:
- BASE jumping The acronym BASE stands for Building Antenna Span Earth, or basically objects that people jump from before pulling a parachute. Interestingly enough, the first recorded use of a parachute was really a BASE jump it just did not go by that name when it occurred in 1783. The term was first used in a movie in 1978.
- Hang gliding There is a different design to the wing used for flight in hang gliding. Paragliders are made of a softer material, while hang gliders are solid.
- Parachuting Also heaver than paragliders, parachutes are packed tightly into a bag and ejected. Parachutes are used in many of the activities listed here.
- Parasailing A water sport in which a person is attached to a boat with a large parachute. While the floating that parasailers enjoy is similar to paragliding, the experience is much shorter and closer to the earth below.
- Skydiving The origin of BASE jumping, skydiving is very similar. The major difference lies in the origin of the jumper. BASE jumpers use fixed objects as a starting point, while skydivers generally jump out of moving airplanes.
Chronicling the Paragliding Experience
If you type paragliding into Google or YouTube, there will be thousands of results showing both amateurs and experienced fliers paragliding. Some are simply raw video, while others have a more artistic feel. The most important thing to realize, however, is that all of the videos were posted because people wanted to chronicle their experience for themselves and share it with others. For many, it is an opportunity to share one of the most fun things they have ever done: seeing the world with a birds eye view.