How do you steer?
Steering a paraglider is like steering a horse. You can tell it
which direction you want to go but you're never really sure you're
going to go that way until you actually do. This is true for the
beginner who doesn't know quite how to persuade their glider to turn,
all the way to the highly experienced pilot getting whaled on by the
How high/far can a paraglider go?
In the back of your car a paraglider can go vast
distances, and frequently does. Most people fly around in circles and
land near where they launched. Other people fly tens, sometimes
hundreds of miles and land at a place they would otherwise have zero
interest in visiting. 18,000 feet is the highest we can legally fly.
It can be easily argued that anyone who flies higher than they're
willing to fall is not operating with a full deck.
How long do flights last?
As a beginner you can time your flights with a stopwatch. After
you've ruined a couple pair of jeans you can launch from higher places with somewhat longer
flights. Eventually you will find yourself so indoctrinated into our
little cult of death that you'll be willing to throw yourself off of
windy cliffs where your flights can last anywhere from a few seconds
(bad) to many hours (good).
Where can gliders launch and land?
You can launch from any elevated slope where you won't hit a tree,
get shot by a landowner or arrested. Just make sure it, and you, are
adequately insured by USHGA. Some people get towed by boats or
a long rope with a motorcycle motor and a drum. You're first impression is
correct, those people are loco.
How safe are paragliders?
Come on, do you really have to ask that question? They're not. You're
talking about dangling yourself from a bunch of tiny strings, thousands
of feet in the air hanging from a square of synthetic fabric, for crying out loud. We're all nuts.
Is lots of wind necessary to launch/fly/land?
No. But if there is wind, it helps if it is blowing in the right
How do gliders gain altitude?
That's a secret. Cough up a few grand, sell your house, buy all the
latest and greatest equipment, alienate your wife and all your non-paragliding friends and family, don't forget that real nice SUV
(you'll be living in it), and maybe we'll tell you.
What sort of temperatures are encountered in flight?
In the USA the temperatures are usually Fahrenheit. In Europe they
are Celsius. If you're a brainiac they may even be Kelvin or Rankin.
Is paragliding physically demanding?
Hell yeah. Try hauling a 40lb backpack up a training hill all day in
the middle of the summer, or struggling with your glider on a windy
launch, or hiking back to your car at the top of the mountain after
neglecting to make retrieval plans. If you're a 40/50ish, overweight
couch potato, suffering from a severe case of mid-life crisis, good
Do pilots need to be of a certain age, gender, weight or size
If you have to ask your parents permission, you're too young. If you
can't handle the physical exertion, you're too old. If you're a
chick, by all means, step right up! Mars needs women. Paragliding
needs `em too. Sumo-wrestler or NBA player? Consider something else.
Do pilots need to be licensed to fly paragliders?
No, although USHGA (U.S. Hang Gliding Association) might want you to
believe otherwise. Any dumb-ass can strap themself to a glider they
purchased off eBay (real cheap!) and try and kill themselves. It's a
How does a student go about learning to fly?
How do you learn anything? Go to school! In this case
paragliding school. You can try to teach yourself, but paragliding is
not conducive to mistakes.
How much does all this cost?
That all depends on whether you get sucked into our cult of self-
inflicted pain and torment, or not. If you come to your senses during
your training hill period, you may find yourself out only a few
hundred dollars. If not, kiss your bank account good-bye. This stupid
sport is more addictive than crack.
Based on the Hang Gliding FAQ by Rodger Furey