Pushing the limits of human experience is an important part of what paraglidings all about. But theres always those of us who want to push things well, perhaps a little too far. Even the most sane, level-headed person can transform into a thrill-seeking daredevil once their feet leave the ground. On that note, heres a few of our favorite stunts we recommend leaving to the pros unless taught under expert paragliding instruction in a safe environment:
1. The Deep Spiral
When Big Ears just isnt enough, the Deep Spiral can offer a terrifyingly fast, effective way to drop altitude assuming you dont mind a little motion sickness. By shifting weight to one side and pulling the break, pilots reach drop sink rates in the neighborhood of 10-18 m/s with rotation speeds of 125 km/h and up. Its sort of like a carousel in the air, except that youre plummeting to the ground with a gravitational force up to four times stronger than what youre used to.
2. Obstacle Flying
Some nutcases pilots have perfected the art of paragliding uncomfortably close to structure and other dangerous obstacles: charting courses next to radio towers, along cliff edges, or for the particularly suicidal between and from buildings. Needless to say, this type of stunt is extremely dangerous, with a room for error so small it can be expressed in microscopic terms. While such stunts may make for entertaining viewing on YouTube, pulling them off in real time requires a lot of expert skill. Remember: crash landing on someones balcony is not only bad for your health it can lead to some pretty awkward lawsuits.
3. Infinity Tumbling
If there was ever a stunt to end all paragliding stunts, this is it. The Infinity Tumble is one of the most punishing inventions of the paragliding world pitting pilots and their equipment to gravitational forces surpassing 6G (remember that temporary vision loss, or seeing grey, is possible any point past 4.1G). Basically, the Infinity Tumble is a series of consecutive summersaults that sends the pilot over the wing in a perfect vertical line. Side effects may include dizziness, vertigo, and a lifelong fear of tumbling.
4. The Helicopter
This deceptively simple paragliding stunt is also one of the trickiest maneuvers to pull off. By keeping the glider totally open, the pilot is able to rotate the wing in a slow, controlled spin like a helicopter propeller hence the name. Unlike the Deep Spiral, the Helicopter feeds a fairly low sink rate around 2 to 3 m/s and forces the pilot to stay directly under the wing. Perhaps the hardest part of the trick is preventing the riser from getting twisted during rotation, making it crucial for pilots to fly seated with a mostly open chest strap.
5. Synchronized Pitch Pendulums (Molineti)
Sometimes the daredevil gene comes in pairs. Case in point: the Rodriguez brothers Félix and Raul, who in 2001 devised this particularly wild two-man synchronized stunt. For this trick, two pilots fly alongside each other and perform alternating pitches or dolphines. The result is something of a spectacle while one pilot follows the upswing, the other swoops below, forming a perfectly timed double pendulum. Of course, even the slightest miscalculation of timing can send the pilots crashing into each other which seems like a good opportunity to remind everyone NOT to try any of these at home.