Dreaming of free flight
Since the dawn of history, man could not fail to have been impressed by the mysterious phenomenon of flight. As birds and insects were constantly around for him to observe and admire, he must have longed for wings of his own so that he, too, might take off and experience the rush of cool air as he swooped and turned in the skies. Unobstructed and free, he would escape the constraints of his earthbound existence. The notion of flight would have seemed even more of a miracle then than it still appears today, so it is no wonder that wings, with their power, mobility and speed, symbolized the unearthly, the superhuman and the divine.
For man, the mastery of flight probably represents his supreme technical achievement, which, in less than a century, has enormously extended his domination of the planet.
Only in the past hundred years or so have we begun to understand the physical laws that govern flight, yet we are still moved or sometimes puzzled at the sight of a swooping peregrine, a dragonfly chasing a gnat, the humble housefly deftly outmanoeuvring the descending swat or 400 tons of jumbo jet ponderously rising into the air to weave its way freely through ‘space’, apparently defying the laws of nature.
To fly on the winds has been one of man’s most coveted ambitions throughout history. The 20th Century has, to a large extent, realised that ambition. However, the simplicity of flight has always eluded man… that is, until now. Like no other aviation sport, paragliding easily combines the excitement of flight with simple and cost-free preparation. To fly a paraglider is a thrill beyond belief and will give you many hours of enjoyment beyond your wildest imagination. Finally, a fun adventure sport has arrived that does not require the participant to be Superman.
Paragliding is a fun, affordable, convenient, sociable, competitive and safe form of free flying.
A paraglider is a flexible, inflatable, ultra-light gliding wing, not a parachute, but a genuine aircraft wing in every sense of the word. It can be foot launched, winched launched, or be flown with a strap-on motor making the sport of paragliding very versatile.
The pilot inflates the glider, raises it above his head and ensures that it is fully open before taking off from any suitable slope. We do not “jump” off mountains but rather run down a slope in order to get airborne, using the slope exactly like a regular aircraft uses a runway. The pilot then uses a combination of ridge lift and thermic lift to stay aloft and can choose to land at the bottom of the very same hill or mountain, or sometimes cover vast distances.
Paragliding pilots who have taken off from a simple hilltop or a mountain have been able to achieve remarkable flights, causing shock waves to ripple through the rest of the sport aviation community. The world distance record now stands at an incredible 583 km, and the endurance record at over 13 hours.