Can You Paraglide Anywhere? Here’s 4 Things to Look Out For!
Paragliding is one of the most accessible forms of human flight. Paraglider’s are easy to transport, a paragliding wing and harness can pack up into a small bundle which can be carried with ease. Hang Gliders are heavy and take more effort to transport to those remote launch sites. Skydiving requires a plane and launching from extreme heights, so it’s far easier to find somewhere to paraglide than the alternative options.
So can you paraglide anywhere? While paragliding can be done in many accessible locations, you can’t paraglide anywhere. There are some places where you are not permitted to paraglide for your safety, the safety of others or for the privacy of landowners.
Hazards Which You Can’t Paraglide Close To
Paragliding in suburban, built-up areas presents hazards where paragliding must be done from a safe distance. Power lines, roads, tall trees, schools, shopping centres and large car parks must be avoided. Some countries have restrictions in place which don’t allow you to paraglide within a certain distance of these hazards. If your country doesn’t have these restrictions, it’s still worthwhile to be cautious and paraglide from a safe distance.
You Can’t Paraglide Over No Fly Zones
Many areas of government owned land are no fly zones. These include military bases, police land, and the homes of distinguished government representatives. Paragliding over and landing in these areas is not allowed due to privacy reasons, and restrictions on public access.
You also can’t paraglide over or land on designated ‘no fly’ zones. These are usually located close to popular paragliding launch and landing zones. These are usually from home/landowners who seek privacy or have had negative experiences with pilots causing damage to their property. These locations can often be seen on paraglidingmap.com or by talking to a local paragliding club or pilots in the area. Take these into account when planning your flight and look for alternative close-by bombout areas in the event you need to land unexpectedly.
It’s important to take the approach that landowners who haven’t designated their property as a no-fly zone still may not be entirely happy about paragliders flying close over or landing on their property. Don’t fly so close that you compromise their privacy. If you do need to unexpectedly land on private property, quickly pack up your paraglider, ensure you have all your belongings and leave the property at the closest exit.
You Can’t Paraglide in Flight Paths
You can’t paraglide at high altitude in commercial plane flight paths. The reasons for this are fairly self-explanatory – no one wants to collide with a plane! Most paragliding pilots won’t be at risk of flying in these high-up restricted areas, however with excellent thermalling conditions and a bit of bravery, it is possible for an experienced paraglider to reach sufficient heights.
There may be restrictions within a certain radius of airports, as planes will be flying at lower altitude when taking off and landing.
These restrictions differ from country to country, it’s best to consult your local paragliding organisation.
You Can’t Paraglide If You Can’t Launch
Another consideration when choosing where you can paraglide is the opportunities available to obtain lift. Lift is critical for launching and is not able to be achieved anywhere. Lift can be achieved in two ways, the easiest is from wind filling the wing with air. This method enables you to launch a paraglider without running, almost anywhere where wind and a lack of hazardous obstacles are present.
The second place you can obtain lift and paraglide is from a side of a steep hill or cliff. This involves the pilot running up to the ledge and obtaining lift from thermals.
You’ll need wind or thermal activity to launch your paraglider.
Ultimately you can paraglide in many places. It’s a highly accessible form of flight and a fun hobby which can be undertaken in many different places. There’s not too many places where you can’t paraglide, these main areas include flight paths, close proximity to airports, schools, roads, high trees and no-fly zones.
It’s recommended that you check the legalities in your country and the rules and recommendations in your local region, as these can differ greatly. Here are links to some of the national organisations:
- The USHPA in the United States in Australia
- The British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association in the United Kingdom
Also please remember to obey the rules and not paraglide in areas which are off-limits. Not only is yours or someone elses safety at risk, you risk giving paragliders a bad name. Paragliding pilots often depend on the generosity of private land owners who let us launch and land on their property. Let’s be grateful and respectful and not lose these privileges!
How does a paraglider fly?
Paragliding is an activity derived from skydiving to fly without a motorised device or propulsion system. All the paraglider pilot needs is a specific canopy to which are attached lines that hold the harness (the seat on which the pilot sits during the paragliding flight). Paragliding is based on physical and aerodynamic principles of varying complexity. It is important to know these principles in order to improve your paragliding skills and to avoid numerous flying incidents. Adrenaline Paragliding explains how to fly to be safer.
Paragliding take-off: how does it work?
Paragliding is a winged, non-motorised aircraft that looks very similar to a parachute. Unlike a parachute, it is able to take off from the ground thanks to its canopy or wing, like a kite or an aeroplane. For this to happen, certain weather conditions must be met at the take-off point. In order to take off safely, the wing of a paraglider (i.e. the sail) must reach a minimum speed of 25 km/h in the air. Because of the weight of the glider, the pilot or paraglider pilot cannot reach this speed by running on foot. He must therefore position himself in a place that faces the wind, so that the wind speed is added to his running speed for the glider to take off.
For example, to fly a paraglider with a wind speed of 19 km/h, the paraglider pilot must run at a speed of at least 6 km/h in order to raise the wing or glider. Care must be taken, however, as the higher the wind speed, the more risky the take-off. Above a speed of 25-30 km/h, a safe take-off is no longer possible.
As a rule, a paraglider takes off from a slope. The glider is deployed on the ground and the pilot, who has previously taken care to get into the harness, runs down the slope to inflate the wing. He is now in the air and can steer his wing.
How does the paraglider keep itself in the sky?
Since the paraglider uses the wind to inflate itself and has no propulsion system, it can only fly in moving air. Its horizontal movement and control in flight is made possible by two aerodynamic phenomena: lift and drag.
One of the main reasons why a paraglider flies and can be steered by the pilot is the lift that is created when the wind blows into the glider. This aerodynamic phenomenon (lift) is the resultant of pressure forces acting on the paraglider wing perpendicular to the wind direction. It is the opposite of gravity, which pulls the glider down and makes it glide. In simple terms, the air flowing over the paraglider’s wing when it is in motion is accelerated because of its curved profile (the bulging shape of the wing at the sides). This creates a vacuum and sucks the glider into flight. It is this pressure difference that allows the glider to fly and slow down its fall.
The pilot can use the two handles to change the direction of the glider in flight by adjusting the lift. The paraglider pilot can also control the speed and altitude of the glider in flight using the wing’s lines. As a reminder, the lines of a paraglider are constructed with an x-pattern so that they resist bending when pressure is applied to them. They are often reinforced with Dyneema, Spectra or Kevlar for extra strength and safety. The paraglider’s fabric is usually made of nylon, as is the fabric of a parachute.
It is not only lift that is created when a paraglider’s canopy is inflated and gliding through the air. There is also a force induced by the air flowing over the canopy that resists the lift. It is this force, called drag, that slows the glider down in flight.
For a paraglider to be flown optimally, it must have a wing with good lift and low drag in flight. This allows the device to go further. This ratio between the lift of a paraglider and its drag is called glide ratio. It is a very important criterion for the choice of a paraglider, and its wing in particular.
Thermal and dynamic lift: essential for gaining altitude
In order for a paraglider to gain altitude and stay airborne as long as possible, it exploits two types of updrafts: thermal and dynamic updrafts.
These are warm air currents that are created by the sun’s radiation in specific areas. As the air rises, it pulls the glider upwards and makes it gain altitude in flight. The reason for this is that warm air currents are lighter than cold air currents. The pilot must therefore locate thermal updrafts as he glides through the air in order to slip into them to gain altitude. This can be done by guesswork or by observing the movement of raptors in the sky.
In nature, thermal updrafts are usually found over wheat fields that are surrounded by greenery. These reflect more radiation than the surrounding greenery, and create a warm air current corresponding to a thermal.
Dynamic updrafts are created when the moving air encounters an obstacle such as a mountain and has to go around it (the best known example is the Pila Dune). The air is then deflected upwards, creating an updraft into which the paraglider pilot can slip. However, one has to be careful with the turbulence (air vortices) that can form where an updraft meets a stable air mass. They can also be found behind obstacles.
How do I get started with paragliding?
Paragliding is a relatively simple sport that anyone in good physical condition can do. To discover the joys of paragliding, it is possible to opt for an initiation or a baptism. The initiation consists of a few days in a paragliding school under the guidance of an experienced instructor. The aim of the instructor is to help the beginner master the material and the piloting of the wing during a paragliding flight. Once the beginner has a good theoretical grounding, he or she can take off on their own under the supervision of the instructor and learn how to handle the wing in practice. A radio link is used to receive instructions during the flight.
The first flight is a two-seater paragliding flight with a professional pilot who introduces those who wish to discover the discipline in complete safety. This is what Adrenaline Parapente offers in Annecy. Whatever the level of the participant, our experienced instructors will give novices a unique and unforgettable experience above Lake Annecy. Our paragliding packages are available for all ages and tastes. Each paragliding flight lasts between 10 and 30 minutes depending on the option chosen, or even an hour for the more daring!
How high can you fly a paraglider ?
All pilots have asked themselves this question.
Perhaps you already know the answer?
There are different ways to answer it. The first is given by the aviation regulations and the second by the resistance of our body.
Indeed, all flying machines are subject to airspace regulations.
The first rule to know is that we are flying under VFR (Visual Flight Rules) and that we must see and be seen! This prohibits us from flying at night or in the clouds. ☁
When driving, roads are dedicated to cars and bicycles have cycle lanes, yet it is possible to share certain lanes. But a bike will never be allowed on a motorway lane just as a car will not be allowed on narrow cycle paths.
For airspaces, the logic is the same.
Some areas, especially those near airports and airfields, are strictly forbidden to paragliders.
Here, the CTR (Control Traffic Region) and the TMA (Terminal Manoeuvring Area) define a 3-dimensional space around the runways that is inaccessible to us. If the height of the TMA ends at 2800m, for example, paragliders are allowed to pass over it with the certainty of being able to reach the other side of the area with room to spare. On the other hand, for a TMA that starts at 2500m, the pilot will be free to fly at the altitude he wishes below this limit.
Fortunately in France, some areas are far from these restriction zones and pilots are free to fly at the altitude they want. Yes, but with certain conditions.
As you can see on this picture, the limit suggested in France is 3450 m. This limit was established to prevent the risk of hypoxia (oxygen concentration decreasing with altitude) which occurs above 3750 m.
This limit given by our body imposes to the expirienced pilots to fly with oxygen beyond 4000 m. Once equipped, the records are impressive!
It is currently Antoine Girard who holds the world record at 8407 m altitude! This flight was carried out in Pakistan (over the summit of Broad Peak) on 18 July 2021.
Have fun asking the altitude reached during your first flight!
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