4 Facts You Probably Don’t Know About Paragliding Safety
People often ask, “How safe is paragliding?” The best answer is: as safe as you make it. Any experienced pilot will tell you that the most important safety factor in paragliding is not wind, air pressure, or visibility. In fact, it’s not any external factor. The most important factor is the paraglider‘s own attitude and preparedness.
A student with the right attitude will do far better in the long run than someone who happens to pick up the sport easily at the outset. Plus, remember that if you are a beginner learning to paraglide, you will have the choice to start out flying tandem with an experienced paragliding instructor who knows how to paraglide.
So here are 4 facts about paragliding safety you may not know. Hopefully, they will put in the right mindset for a safe and fun adventure!
1. Statistically, paragliding is as safe as driving
Each year, about 1 out of every 10,000 Americans is killed in a car accident – there were about 32,000 deaths in 2011, for example. In Germany, where paragliding is much more popular than in the States, about 3 people are killed per year, out of 33,000 pilots. That comes out to 1 out of 11,000 pilots, slightly lower than the driving fatality rate. The driving fatality rate would actually be much higher if you counted only the people who drive, instead of the entire population. On the other hand, statistics tend to show that paragliding is much safer on average than activities like motorcycling or even horseback riding.
2. Pilots are almost never injured because of equipment failure
Paragliders built today are uniformly very stable. They are designed to recover quickly in the event of a glider collapse. So as long as you are using new paragliding equipment which you check before every flight, there is little risk of an accident resulting from equipment malfunctions. Almost all accidents happen because of mistakes made by the pilot, either in the air, or in their assessment of weather conditions before a flight.
3. No need for speed
Paragliding is not really a sport for speed demons. (Hang gliding or Speedflying is probably better for those folks.) So if you’re getting freaked out because you picture yourself hurtling off a cliff like Wile E. Coyote – don’t worry! That’s not what paragliding is about. Instead, picture yourself gracefully floating on the breeze, with fantastic views of the landscape around you, a bit more like a butterfly.
If, on the other hand, you do want an adrenaline rush, paragliding can definitely deliver as there is nothing more exhilarating than doing paragliding aerobatics through the air and seeing the landscape beneath you in a completely new way.
4. Feeling vulnerable is good!
In general, we think paragliding is a very safe activity, as long as you are learning with a good instructor. It’s also relatively easy to get started. However, some beginners are lulled into a false sense of security because of how easy it can be. Instructors like to call this “intermediate syndrome.” So while we want you to have fun up in the air, don’t let your guard down just because things are going smoothly. Remember, more than 90% of injuries happen during the first ten flights a pilot makes. If you adopt the safety techniques your instructor teaches you during this critical period, you will greatly reduce the risk of accidents both in the short and long term.