Home (contents) Miscellaneous Paragliding


Art based on a photo by Kozeny of Robbie Whittall and John Pendry at King Ludwig's Castle, Neuschwanstein, in 1990
Art based on a photo by Kozeny of Robbie Whittall and John Pendry thermaling close to King Ludwig’s Castle, Neuschwanstein, in 1990

In the late 1980s paragliding started to become popular in Europe and Britain, its pilots soon outnumbering those who fly hang gliders. The preceding image is based on a photo taken during the filming of Thermik by Henry Hauck.

Photo of a paraglider about to launch
Looking up

In this photo by Justin Parsons, I am visually checking the wing before commencing launch at Monk’s Down in about 2001. The red streamer on the harness indicates that I had fewer than ten hours paragliding experience after I qualified in 2000.

Photo of a paraglider in flight
Paraglider at Bell Hill near Blandford, Dorset, in about 2001 (no larger image available)

As world record breaking hang glider pilot Larry Tudor stated, the paraglider is in many ways what the hang glider tried to be, but did quite make it: A minimal cost, portable and lightweight, quick rigging, safe and easy to fly glider.


Barton-on-Sea, which to the east becomes Milford-on-Sea, is a popular cliff site. It is for experts only.

Aerial photo of the green at Barton-on-Sea
Balled up paragliders and their pilots cast evening shadows on the cliff top at Barton-on-Sea in Dorset, England. Photo by Steve Auld.

The glider fits in a big rucksack. To get ready to fly, you carry it up a hill facing the wind (in a car—no need for roof bars and other supports, on a bike, or even on horseback—it has been done) spread it out, strap in, and launch. OK, you carry out some preliminary safety checks along the way—and ground handling the things is a bit of an art—but that is about how simple it is.

Paragliders at Barton-on-Sea in about 2000
Over the cliff
Paragliders at Barton-on-Sea in about 2000
Paragliders at Barton-on-Sea in about 2000

Barton-on-Sea (Milford-on-Sea) is a public area.

Cafe at Barton-on-Sea in about 2000
After the day’s flying, pilots gather at the cafe


Bournemouth even more than Barton is a cliff site for experts only.

Aerial photo of paragliders flying the Bournemouth cliffs
Luigi and Adrian coastal soaring. Photo by Steve Auld.
Paraglider soon after launching at Bournemouth in June 1997
After launching at Bournemouth in June 1997

That’s the Isle of Wight on the horizon with its rocks and lighthouse called the Needles.

Lone paraglider crossing the Bournemouth gap in 1997
Lone paraglider crossing the Bournemouth gap in 1997
Richard Westgate at Bournemouth in June 1997
Richard Westgate flying the Bournemouth cliffs in June 1997
Paraglider landing on Bournemouth beach in June 1997
Landing on the beach
Luigi carries his paraglider and gear back at Bournemouth beach
Luigi carries his wing and gear back to the top

And I am in the bag flight

The following paragliding incident report was written in German and translated by a computer program at about the turn of the century…

Last weekend in Bassano, flies the Response of noble rehearses. Start, flies, agility, stability, sinking and Performance genuinely convincing, is with weak Vehaeltnissen soon at all by-risen, because itself the thing so beautifully to crank and one leaves contrary to my genesis in the group inside to through-crank can.

Slide to the antenna super, there in something bockigreen conditions no Zellchen emptied (mine Truck wackelt here continuously with the ears, makes however only nervously, otherwise all the same.)

Thus everything madly, or Then in when gliding direction landing strip a sow-stupid error meinerseits: Wanted to look times, like the braking force rise downward. But applied here: To hard comes softly, the ways are nevertheless somewhat shorter, and I am in the bag flight.

Which the wing made then with me, was not very merry: Special flight, negative, extremely far lateral Vorschiessen, scarcely at the sail, trailers by-fall. Before the rescue throwing I try still another Full stall, and see, the screen fly again, as if nothing would have occurred.

My warscheinlicher principal defect: after the bag flight I probably loosened the brakes not immediately completely, an error, from which I state that also different already made him. (see comment in the last DHV von Stefan Bochs believes I)


1. One more dynamically 2(-3) remains in the extreme flight such, even if he feels compared with a wackligen old Hochleister like a Intermediate.

2. Have other similar experiences with the bag flight made?

3. Gehoert, if those is the case, the behavior in the bag flight into the quality seal check?

4. Full stall seems to help as ultima ratio, a safe Behavior with full stall is thus quite relevant.

All property and no unpleasant surprises

more harmlessly

Other sites

Photo of a two-place paraglider flying above a hillside
Gary P flies with a passenger or second pilot at Bell Hill in north Dorset, England, in August 2009

You can try paragliding by going up with a suitably qualified pilot in a dual rated wing with a dual harness.

Photo of paragliders flying above snowscape
Martin Heywood and Nicole B at Monk's Down

In the mid 1970s (the early days of hang gliding) we used to fly standard Rogallos when the hill was covered in snow like this. (I even flew when it snowed; the low sun lighting the flakes coming at me was a memorable experience.)

Photo of two paragliders preparing to launch from snowy ground
Martin Heywood and Nicole B prepare to launch at Monk's Down

However, the paraglider is much quicker to get ready for flight than even the simple early hang gliders, so preparation is less of a trial in cold weather. Having said that, the seated flying position exposes the pilot to the cold more than does the prone position of the hang glider pilot in his enclosed harness, so you get colder flying a paraglider than a hang glider, despite the lower airspeed of the paraglider.

Photo of a paraglider flying near a large house atop a coastal cliff
Martin Heywood above the cliffs at Ringstead in Dorset, England

If I was this low in a hang glider I would be considering heading for the emergency landing field. However, the slow-flying paraglider has many more safe landing options including the beach.

Photo of a paraglider in flight over rugged terrain
Martin Heywood again

Because paragliders fly and land much more slowly than hang gliders—and, unlike hang gliders, they remain eminently steerable at low airspeeds—you can fly them into places that would be dangerous for a hang glider to fly.

Photo of the X-38 touching down
The X-38 just before touchdown on a lakebed near the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards California, at the end of a March 2000 test flight. Photo by Tom Tschida.

The X-38 was built to help develop technology for an emergency crew return vehicle from the international space station. The X-38 is manufactured by Scaled Composites, Inc., Mojave, California.

Photo of a paraglider pilot preparing to launch
Paraglider pilot readying to launch at Bell Hill in August 2007

While paragliding equipment is very different from that of hang gliding, the basic flying skills the pilot develops are the same.

Combe Gibbet, Berkshire, England, in June 2004 taken with a hand-held compact 35mm film camera aboard a paraglider
Combe Gibbet LZ in June 2004 taken with a hand-held compact 35mm film camera
Paragliders and a balloon at Combe Gibbet, Berkshire, England, in May or June, 2004
Paragliders and a balloon at Combe Gibbet in May or June, 2004
Hang gliding and paragliding at Kimmeridge in 2001 or 2002
View of the flying from my paraglider in 2001 or 2002 (digitized slide)

This topic continues in Paragliding continued.

External link

YouTube video by Jeremy Calderwood of paragliding and hang gliding at Barton-on-Sea in June 2010

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