So firstly lets get things straight….

Paragliding is not the same thing as Skydiving, we do not jump, ever! Although the perception is that we “jump” from mountains we like to think that we fly.


Well in fact that is indeed what we do, we do fly!


Paragliders are designed to fly, we call them Wings.

A wing has the ability to create a force perpendicular to the flow of air over it and against the force of drag, this aerodynamic is called lift.

An average paraglider gets a lift to drag ratio of about 8:1 with the high performance wings around 12:1

When we take off from the mountain the glide ratio enables us to glide around and look for more lift.

There are four types of lift :

1) Ridge lift / Dynamic lift

2) Thermic lift

3) Wave lift

4) Convergance


In this article we will discuss Ridge lift / Dynamic lift


Ridge lift on Signal Hill

Firstly for Ridge lift to form we need wind from a specific direction, a certain speed (between 15-25km/h and not more than 45′ side onto the ridge.

The image above displays the areas of lift, as you can  see lift is only formed in certain areas of the mountain / slope as well. The more straight onto the ridge (90 degrees) the wind the better the lift.

The purple lines show the airflow, the air clearly gets forced upwards by the slope and this is where we find the best lift.

We try to maximise our time spent in these areas of lift thus also maximising our time aloft.

The only thing that keeps us aloft without finding lift is our glide angle, which means we are actually constantly going down.

That is why we are always looking for lift.  We do also use fancy  in flight equipment to help us stay in the lift which we will discuss in the upcoming articles.

In our next article we will discuss Thermic lift.




Stephan Kruger

Stephan Kruger

Owner & Founder of Fly Cape Town Paragliding at Fly Cape Town Paragliding
Stephan is the owner of Fly Cape Town Paragliding. He is an avid tandem, competition and aerobatics paragliding pilot He loves to share the joy of paragliding flight with anyone who is keen...He is also a qualified paragliding instructor and a paragliding endurance athlete.
Stephan Kruger