When you spend as much time in the sport of paragliding as we do, you hear a lot of nonsense. Today, we at Cloud 9 were inspired to set a few things straight.
1. Paragliding does not occur behind a boat in Jamaica.
That’s parasailing (and you would not believe how often we have to explain that).
2. You need wind to fly a paraglider — lots and lots of wind.
Strictly speaking, you don’t need wind to fly a paraglider. Sure, we utilize wind to stay aloft longer than the short “sled runs” we take from the top to the bottom of the hill in no-wind conditions.
Though non-pilots often assume that gliders need loads of wind to inflate and fly, the truth is rather opposite: too much wind can complicate (or eliminate the possibility of) launching. It can also push unwary gliders into a danger zone on the wrong side of the hill/mountain/ridge. For these reasons, savvy pilots launch their paragliders in a conservative range of conditions — often, winds that feel surprisingly calm to non-pilots.
3. Paragliding is really dangerous.
Danger? Pah. We blend danger into our morning smoothies. Danger, schmanger.
Actually, the sport of paragliding is as dangerous as you want to make it. Lots of pilots we know have been flying for a quarter of a century and have never had more than a twisted ankle. We know other pilots who bought their equipment on Ebay and immediately attempted to fly off a mountaintop into a thunderstorm (or tie themselves to a pickup truck and have a friend mash the gas pedal).
Like many, many other sports, the golden rules of paragliding are to get quality paragliding instruction from someone who knows what they’re doing (like, y’know, us) and to always fly within your limits. If both boxes are checked, the likelihood of a paragliding-related injury is much reduced.
This isn’t paragliding, either. (It’s awesome, though, and you should try it.)
4. Paragliders last forever.
A paraglider isn’t a big aluminum airplane that you can polish up and send out, year after year after year. It’s made of nylon (which, by the way, makes it oh-so-much-easier to hike with than a Cessna), and it’s going to come to the end of its flyable-glider life at some point.
Paragliders will last anywhere from 3-6 flying seasons, depending on how often you fly. After that, old paragliders become difficult to launch, less responsive and more liable to sink out. (All this is entirely aside from the annoyance and expense of patch-jobs and relining.) We know that there are some old-school specimens floating around the internet (and, in some cases, boating geriatrically around the sky). But seriously — do you want to fly, or fight your equipment for every foot of lift?
Yep. Thought so.
5. Paragliding is prohibitively expensive.
A paraglider is the cheapest, simplest aircraft in the world. Prices for a complete set of gear range from $3,000-$6,000, and training for a basic license (USHPA’s P2, which qualifies a student to fly on their own, without a tandem pilot) costs around $1,000.
Once you’ve got the gear and the training, paragliding is essentially free. There are no required additional costs to continue in the sport: no flights to skydiving altitude, no fuel, no storage costs for the equipment (as it fits in a closet). While you may find yourself traveling to explore lots of far-flung sites, paragliding is one of the most cost-effective sports on the planet — far more so than its awesomeness would suggest. Which brings us to…
6. Paragliding will get you laid.
Actually, that one’s kinda true.
If you hear this balderdash perpetuated as much as we do, take matters into your own hands and share this post!