Any paragliders here?
- This topic is empty.
Nov 17, 2014 at 5:40 pm #1322825
I've been invited into the sport through an ex-student who been doing it for a few years now. He leaves for a paragliding expedition in Ecuador tomorrow; 11 days of hopping around the country with an ultralight backpacking kit and his glider. Amazing.
So far I've had to shelve the idea of trying it for a few months now; due to a recent surgery, I've been on a blood thinner and have had to take things easy, but I'll be off in a little over two weeks. He wants to take me for my first lesson when he returns, so it's time to decide.
Outside of watching videos and browsing the net, I know very little about the sport outside of what my friend has told me, but from what I see, it blows my mind. I trust his judgement, but I'd love to talk to someone else who does it to see if I get a different perspective on the learning curve, risks, and general info on how you started. As a husband and father, I don't take the idea of strapping on a parachute lightly, but I'm also not risk averse and I'm willing to give it a go from what I've seen and heard so far.
Feel free to shoot me a PM if you don't want to reply here.Nov 17, 2014 at 6:25 pm #2150009
I learned 20 years ago in the UK, an attempt to kill or cure my vertigo. I had a chance to fly in the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, South Downs, French Alps, Eastern Transvaal, Drakensberg, and North Cape in South Africa. It's the most amazing feeling. Take-off and landing are nerve-wracking as you learn, but mostly it's incredibly peaceful, awe-inspiring, liberating. Of course you could choose to take an advanced SIV class where you'll deliberately collapse your canopy (usually over water from a great height) so you can figure out how to recover. That'll test your mettle.
Sadly, two years in I took a new job in Chicago. By the time I moved to the Rockies, other priorities took over. There is a launch site close to my house, and every once in a while I see pilots over my house. I do miss it, but recognize I no longer have the time to devote to it.
What's the best way to try it out? Take a tandem flight.Nov 17, 2014 at 7:52 pm #2150046
Any recollection of how many hours of ground and tandem training you had before your first solo flight?Nov 17, 2014 at 8:12 pm #2150054AnonymousInactive
It's a gateway activity into those flying squirrel suits… I prefer flying via OOBE's, lot less physically dangerous.Nov 17, 2014 at 8:24 pm #2150055
I had 1/2 day of mandatory classroom training on the principles of flight, followed by 1/2 day of ground handling in a field that was riddled with cowpats and badger holes. At the end of the day I was taken on a tandem flight that convinced me that I wanted to do this. Over the next two days we took a number of solo flights, gradually moving further and further up a hill. But my first solo flight took place on day two, before lunchtime.
That three day experience qualified me to be a 'Student Pilot'. It was another five weekends of tuition, plus 20 hours monitored flying time before I gained my 'Club Pilot' certification. (British qualifications; I don't know the US equivalents but I can put you in touch with a friend who trained last year and flies regularly in the US and South America).
At that point I was allowed to fly solo, but certainly not qualified to be a decent pilot. That took another 60+ hours experience over the following several months, a certain amount of lost dignity, and a badly scraped up altimeter from an aborted launch. I was definitely considered the wind dummy in my early flights – others would gauge the conditions by my ability to gain – or sometimes lose – altitude.
Those were fun times.Nov 17, 2014 at 9:14 pm #2150069
Though I don't know his exact hours, what you went through sounds very similar to my friend's training in his early days.
I'm looking at classes but he also wants to spend a good deal of time just one on one doing ground handling drills.
Just feeling this out right now; I'll probably have some questions for you as I get closer.Nov 17, 2014 at 10:02 pm #2150078KatttBPL Member
I am not a paraglider, but I live ten minutes from Waddell Beach, one of the best paragliding spots in the country, so I am told.
I love to watch them!Nov 17, 2014 at 10:33 pm #2150080
Craig – PM me any time. My experiences mightn't be fresh, but the memories certainly are. And I'd be happy to connect you with my CO pilot contact for a reality check. Your friend is absolutely right to counsel you on getting as much ground handling experience as you can. That really is the essential skill – it will make or break take-offs and landings.
Just make sure you get some flight experience in early, with a qualified tandem pilot. The only time I've had anything resembling the sh1t-eating grin on my face during that first flight was when I test-drove a turbocharged sports car on a track. And that was basically two-dimensional. Rollercoasters have nothing on flying. Bungee jumping is all about the fear of the cord breaking. Sky-diving is wondering whether the canopy will open. In all cases the rush is short-lived. Flying is breaking loose from the shackles. Yes, those were good days.Jan 27, 2015 at 5:21 pm #2168771Matthew Alan ThyerBPL Member
@feetforbrainsLocale: Pacific North West
I used to soar, and spent way too much time flying in fact. I gave up my wing in 2010 when my youngest son was born. This sport is about as risky as motor cycle riding and that's my wife's bar for entry. That said it can be very compelling. Vol-bivy even more so. I still hang out with a lot of pilots and have even written about the sport so if there's specific questions you have let me know.Jan 27, 2015 at 6:47 pm #2168806David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
In the USA, paragliders are classified as unpowered, ultralight aircraft and as such, no license is required, as far as the FAA is concerned. You do have to stay out of controlled airspace, away from populated areas, the White House, etc. That said, like SCUBA diving, there are national and international organizations that have instruction standards and certifications. And, if you're renting one, I'm sure they insist you go through a standard curriculum of ground school, possibly some dual flight, then supervised solo flights before you are on your own. Unnervingly, you could, however, buy one, fire it up, and fly away, legally but probably not very safely.
Because take off is usually from a cliff or hillside, it pairs well with hiking and general fitness. Also, in remote areas, there would be some traverses and spectacular hops made doable only with a paraglider. Paragliding equipment is much lighter than rigid hang gliders and therefore viable to pack into remote places. As friend wrote up about the 1988 and 1989 Alaska Wilderness Classic (in which she also raced), "Chuck Comstock competed in the 1988 and 1989 Nabesna to McCarthy Classics with a parapente and X-C racing skis. He hiked and skied up the Nabesna Glacier to 11,000 feet, then paraglided solo off the 6,000 foot tall Stairway Icefall, finishing last but finishing with style. As one long-time racer observer notes: "Nobody remembers who won the race those two years. But everyone remembers what Chuck did."
Fatalities are about 1-2 / 10,000 annually making it a little riskier than dry-air caving, but far safer than cave diving.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Our Community Posts are Moderated
Backpacking Light community posts are moderated and here to foster helpful and positive discussions about lightweight backpacking. Please be mindful of our values and boundaries and review our Community Guidelines prior to posting.