What is a Paraglider

A paraglider is an eliptical airfoil which uses leading edge ram air pressure to maintain its shape. What the??  Paragliders are typically constructed of nylon or related materials. The nylon is specially coated to reduce porosity(to stop air going through the material).

 paraglider-how it works

 Here is a great image from the website: how stuff works. showing the parts of a paraglider.

The risers(strings) are all critical in length to hold the wing in its required shape. Early gliders were squarer in shape and only had A ans B lines.

 

The airfoil designs of a paraglider are many and varied. One generalisation that can be made however, is that low performance paragliders have a relatively low aspect ratio (they are shorter in span and wider through the chord), while higher performance wings are higher aspect ratio (longer in span, while shorter through the chord. some look more like a skinny banana than a wing!)

Here are some pics of flyers often described as paragliders(and what they actually are).

 hang glider not paraglider

 Hang Gliding.

While similar in function, hang gliders are not as portable as paragliders, they take considerable time to set-up and dismantle. But they have an edge in speed and glide ratio as they are more efficient. They can operate in a wider range of conditions. (stronger

 parachuting not paragliding

 Parachuting

Though Paragliding owes its origins to this sport, paragliding has evolved away from the parachute. Parachutists rely on another aircraft to carry them aloft, then leaping into freefall before deploying the chute to arest the fall and control the descent.

 

 parasailing not paragliding

 Parasailing

This sport also owes its history to parachutes, but relies on a tow vehicle, (boat or car) to remain aloft. The pilot has very little control of the aircraft.

 paraplane not paraglider

 Paraplane or powered parachute.

This is actually closer to paragliding than the others, as the aircraft depends on the airfoil of the wing to stay aloft. Naturally the engine works hard as drag is relatively high. Easily transported powered aircraft.

 real paragliding

  And finally the real thing!

A pair of paragliders enjoying the updraught caused when a sea breaze hits a coastal hill. Paragliders can stay aloft here for as long as the wind keeps blowing(and doesnt get too strong)

The information in this guide is of a general nature only. Paragliding is a potentially dangerous sport. Get professionally qualified instruction before buying any gear and flying. Your professional advice superceeds anything on this site.