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Paratrikes, Paragliding, Parascending, Paramotoring, and Hang Gliding

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In this post we will be comparing the exciting and exhilarating air sports of paratrikes, paragliding, parascending, paramotoring, and hang gliding. The terms are often confused and used interchangeably, and hang gliders in particular are sometimes referred to as microlights, so let’s examine each in turn. 

Paragliding

Paragliding
Image by Barry Jones from Pixabay

Paragliding is a form of recreational aviation in which a pilot flies a small, lightweight, foot-launched glider aircraft.  We say aircraft, but it looks more like a wing-shaped parachute.  The pilot sits in a harness suspended below a fabric wing, which is constructed of ripstop nylon material. The wing is inflated by the wind, and the pilot controls the glider by adjusting the wing’s angle of attack and direction of travel using brake and steering lines.

The pilot usually takes off from a hill, mountain, or they can be launched by winches too. Once in the air, the pilot can soar with the wind, often reaching altitudes of several thousand feet. The pilot can also control the speed and direction of the flight by adjusting the angle of the wing.

The equipment used in paragliding includes:

  • The paraglider wing itself. It is available in different sizes and designs for different skill levels and types of flying.
  • Harness: The harness is worn by the pilot and connects them to the wing. It has a comfortable seat, back protection and a reserve parachute.
  • Reserve Parachute: In case of emergency, the pilot can deploy their reserve parachute to safely descend to the ground.
  • Helmet: A helmet is worn to protect the head in case of an accident.
  • Variometer: A device that tells the pilot their altitude and climb or descent rate.
  • GPS: A GPS device can be used to track the flight and to navigate to a specific location.

Paragliding is a thrilling and exciting sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. With proper training and equipment, it can be a safe and enjoyable activity.

Parascending & Parasailing

Parascending &Amp; Parasailing
Image by LoggaWiggler from Pixabay

Parascending is a form of recreational aviation in which pilots are launched into the air by being towed behind a Land Rover or winch.  Instead of parachuting by jumping out of aircraft they are launched into the air from the ground and then descend as a parachutist would do.   

Parasailing is when the person is launched into the air by being towed behind a boat. This is a form of recreational flying often available at holidays resorts where people with no flying experience can enjoy being lifted aloft to enjoy a few minutes in the air before being winched back down onto the boat.

People who try parasailing while on holiday may be inspired to try parascending or any of the other types of flying mentioned on this page, when they return home.

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Paramotoring

Paramotoring
Image by Janusz Szuba from Pixabay

A paramotor, also known as a powered paraglider, is a type of ultralight aircraft that consists of a small motor attached to a frame, which is worn on the back of the pilot. The pilot also wears a paraglider wing, similar to the wing used in paragliding, which provides lift and allows the pilot to fly. The paramotor’s motor provides thrust, which allows the pilot to take off from the ground and stay in the air for an extended period of time.

The equipment used in paramotoring includes everything that a paraglider has with the addition of the paramotor unit. This consists of the motor, propeller, fuel tank, and control frame. The motor can be either a two-stroke or four-stroke internal combustion engine.

Paramotors are versatile aircraft that offer the freedom and adventure of flying with a relatively low cost and minimal maintenance. They are also relatively easy to learn, and with proper training and equipment, it can be a safe and enjoyable activity.

Hang Gliding

Hang Gliding &Amp; Hang Gliders
Image by sandid from Pixabay

Hang gliding is a form of recreational aviation in which a pilot flies a lightweight, foot-launched glider aircraft. The pilot sits in a harness suspended below a rigid wing, which is constructed of aluminium or composite materials. 

The wing is controlled by the pilot using weight shift, who adjusts the wing’s angle of attack and direction of travel by shifting their body weight.

The pilot takes off from a hill, mountain, or a flat field, using their own muscle power to launch the glider. Once in the air, the pilot can soar with the wind, often reaching altitudes of several thousand feet. The pilot can also control the speed and direction of the flight by adjusting the angle of the wing and by utilising thermals (columns of rising warm air).

Powered hang gliders that have a small motor attached to the rear of the  are also an option once you’ve mastered the skill of hang gliding. 

The equipment used in hang gliding includes:

  • The hang glider, which is the most important piece of equipment. It is available in different sizes and designs for different skill levels and types of flying.
  • Harness: The harness is worn by the pilot and connects them to the glider. It has a comfortable seat, back protection and a reserve parachute.
  • Reserve Parachute: In case of emergency, the pilot can deploy their reserve parachute to safely descend to the ground.
  • Helmet: A helmet is worn to protect the head in case of an accident.
  • Variometer: A device that tells the pilot their altitude and climb or descent rate.
  • GPS: A GPS device can be used to track the flight and to navigate to a specific location.

Hang gliding is a thrilling and exciting sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. With proper training and equipment, it can be a safe and enjoyable activity. It requires a good physical condition and some strength to be able to control the wing during the flight, but it provides an unique sensation of freedom and adventure.

Paratrikes

Paratrikes
Image by Janusz Szuba from Pixabay

A paratrike, also known as a powered paraglider trike, is a type of ultralight aircraft that consists of a small motor attached to a tricycle-like frame with a paraglider wing mounted above it. The pilot sits in a comfortable seat, with their feet resting on the pedals of the tricycle, which are used to steer the paratrike on the ground. The wing provides lift and allows the pilot to fly once the motor is turned on.

The equipment used in paratrikes includes the paratrike unit, which consists of the motor, propeller, fuel tank, tricycle frame and control frame. The motor can be either a two-stroke or four-stroke internal combustion engine, and it typically produces between 25 and 60 horsepower.  In addition to the paratrike unit itself, the equipment consists of everything that a paraglider would use. 

Paratrikes are an excellent choice for pilots who want the stability and comfort of a tricycle while enjoying the freedom and adventure of powered paragliding. They are easy to learn and offer the opportunity to fly safely in a seated position. With proper training and equipment, it can be a safe and enjoyable activity.

How to get started in paratrike flying

Paratrike Flying
Image by Janusz Szuba from Pixabay

Getting involved in paratrike flying is relatively easy and can be done in a few steps:

  1. Research: Start by researching the different types of paratrikes available and the different styles of flying that can be done. Look for local clubs and organisations that specialise in paratrike flying and gather information about the cost of equipment and training.
  2. Training: In order to fly a paratrike safely, proper training is essential. Look for certified instructors or schools that offer training specifically for paratrike flying. They will provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to fly safely and confidently.
  3. Get Equipped: After obtaining the necessary licence, you will need to purchase or rent the necessary equipment, including the paratrike unit, wing, harness, helmet, and safety equipment.
  4. Start flying: Once you have completed your training and have the necessary equipment, you can start flying. It is recommended that you continue to fly with a certified instructor or experienced pilot until you gain more experience and confidence.

To get started in the UK, speak to the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (BHPA). 

What is the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association?

The British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (BHPA) is the national governing body for the sports of hang gliding and paragliding in the United Kingdom. It was established in 1972 and is responsible for the training, certification and safety of pilots, as well as the development and promotion of the sport.

The mission of the BHPA is to promote and develop the sports of hang gliding and paragliding in the UK, in a safe and responsible manner. It aims to achieve this by:

  • Providing training and certification for pilots
  • Setting and enforcing safety standards for the sports
  • Representing the interests of pilots and clubs to government and other organisations
  • Providing information and resources to pilots and clubs to assist them in the safe and responsible practice of the sports
  • Promoting the sports to the general public and encouraging participation
  • Collaborating with other organisations to promote and develop the sports

The BHPA is also responsible for the registration and certification of paragliding and hang gliding schools and instructors in the UK, which ensures that these schools and instructors meet safety standards and provide a high-quality training experience to students.

The BHPA is a membership-based organisation, which is run by a volunteer board of directors and a staff of full-time employees. The members are the pilots, clubs, schools and other organisations involved in the sports of hang gliding and paragliding in the UK. It is also affiliated with the FAI, which is the world governing body for air sports.

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