Types of Paragliders

Not all paragliders are the same! There are many types of paragliders, with the main points of difference being the wing, closely followed by the lines and harness. Different paraglider configurations can affect speed, handling, stability, gliding ability, comfort and ability to regain control.

Types of Paraglider Wings – What is an EN Rating?

The various types of paraglider wings can be distinguished by the EN Paraglider Certification (EN is short for European Norm). This system was developed by a group of paragliding experts from several European countries, with the aim of developing a clear system to help the consumers, retailers and manufacturers. The creation of a four-level wing certification system (EN Rating A, EN Rating B, EN Rating C and EN Rating D) which helps consumers to pick the right wing for their needs and skill level, and helps retailers and manufacturers to sell the right product to the right person.

The introduction of the EN Paraglider Certification has also led to improvements in wing safety and flight characteristics (the likelihood of losing control and ease of which control can be recovered).

To quickly determine which type of paraglider wing is best for you, consider the following points:

  • You’re a beginner – EN Rating A
  • You’re an occasional flyer – EN Rating A
  • You’re looking for your first upgrade – EN Rating B
  • You’re looking for greater control and manoeuvrability over various conditions – XC Wing (EN Rating B or C)
  • You mostly fly in thermic conditions – Sports (En-Rating C)
  • Your an intermediate pilot looking for you’re first speed wing – Performance (EN-Rating C)
  • Your a highly experienced pilot who flies regularly and enters competitions – Competition (EN-Rating D)

Below we discuss key attributes of each wing and why they are suitable for certain types of pilots.

EN-A Certified Paragliders

EN-A certified paragliders are designed for all pilots, and are the safest and most recommended choice for beginners or occasional pilots. They have the highest level of passive safety and are the most forgiving to minor pilot errors or sudden changes in thermal conditions or weather.

While these are designed to be beginner friendly, there’s absolutely no shame in flying one of these long term. If you only paraglide a handful of times per year, an EN-A wing will make you feel safer and provide the best value. You’ll still reach decent speeds and can enjoy a great paragliding experience.

EN-B Certified Paragliders

EN-B certified paragliders are in many cases, a beginner pilot’s first upgrade. These allow a pilot to reach slightly higher speeds, while still being an easier wing to maintain stability and control. Some of these wings include XC wings which enable sharper turning, and a small number of sports wings which allow greater manoeuvrability when thermalling.

Some beginner pilots are tempted to splurge and purchase an EN-B wing to avoid having to upgrade in the future, but for most people it’s recommended to start on the En-A and wait until you’re ready. A good benchmark to wait for is 30 hours of flight time in various conditions with at least 10 hours in thermic conditions. Flying regularly is important to maintain and develop your flying skills, so if you fly less than 50 hours per year you might feel safer with an EN-A paraglider.

EN-C Certified Paragliders

En-C certified paragliders are a step up from the En-B’s and are intended to offer intermediate level pilots the ability to perform sharper turns or glide at higher speeds across various conditions.

To fly an En-C paraglider, it’s important for pilots to have excellent recovery skills, as the dynamic abilities of these wings are less forgiving for inexperienced pilots. Pilots should also fly at least 10 hours per week to maintain and develop their paragliding abilities.

Types of En-C paragliders include sports paragliders and XC wings with excellent manoeuvrability and control, and some performance paragliders which are designed for long glides over long distances at high speeds.

EN-D Certified Paragliders

E-D Paragliders are for the absolute most advanced pilots with years of experience and are mostly used in competition. These paragliders are very fast and can perform long, smooth glides, however they’re also very unforgiving to pilot error or turbulence and require precise handling and active flying abilities.

Pilots wishing to progress to an EN-D paraglider should fly at least 200 hours per year; regularly in strong, challenging conditions.

Other Key Differences in Paraglider Types

Aspect ratio

Aspect ratio refers to the wing span squared divided by the wing area. The higher the aspect ratio the higher the speed, however this also results in less manoeuvrability. Most advanced pilots will be comfortable controlling a fast paraglider with a high aspect ratio of 6 to over 7, however beginner pilots will find this to be difficult to control and will be more comfortable with an aspect ratio of less than 6.

Projected span

When shopping for a paraglider wing, it’s important to know that the projected wingspan will be different than the actual wingspan. The projected wingspan refers to the distance between the lowest and furthest point of the paraglider wing while it is fully inflated and in an arc curve. This will give you an idea of it’s manoeuvrability and gliding ability.

The actual wingspan refers to the wingspan while the wing is lying flat on the ground. This doesn’t always indicate the wingspan and wing curve or aspect ratio and makes it harder to determine what to expect when flying this wing.

Wing Cells

Typically, wings with more cells have better stability and overall performance. It costs more to produce a wing with more cells, so you’ll generally pay more for a wing with a greater cell count.

Some top-end wings have the addition of cloth diagonal cells in addition to their regular cells. Diagonals further improve the performance and stability of a paraglider, however the extra weight can slow-down reinflation times after a collapse, making it not ideal for beginners.

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Paraglider Line Length

Line length has a significant impact as it creates distance between you and the wing. It also can affect the level of wing curvature. The longer the length between pilot and wing, the more evenly the load is spread of the wing. This means that longer lines offer greater comfort and stability but shorter lines allow for quicker reactions and greater energy retention.

Types of Paraglider Harnesses

Common types of paragliding harnesses include:

Sky Harness

These are lightweight and easy to fold up and store, which is especially useful when travelling or if you have to hike to the launch site. These are more of a hammock style and don’t have a solid back or sides. By carefully positioning yourself in the harness, your weight will be distributed correctly and you’ll feel safe and comfortable. A reserve parachute can be fitted to the bottom of the harness. A Sky Harness is suitable for pilots of all abilities.

Pod Harness

A pod harness is like an aerodynamic cocoon which when in flight, covers your entire body except for your head and arms. This can be great for longer flights and competition where it’s important to reduce drag and wind resistance, and the extra weight can give you a little more speed. They’re also great for keeping warm in cold, windy conditions. However, pod harnesses are more expensive and are not beginner-friendly, especially when taking off.

Gin Harness

The Gin Harness is fast becoming a popular choice amongst paragliding enthusiasts and for good reason. It’s similar to the pod harness where it offers support and shelter from the weather, however it’s lighter and easier to use for those with less experience. These can be easily adjusted to make pilots feel comfortable and safe.

Which Type of Paraglider is right for you?

If you’re a beginner or still fairly new to paragliding, a paraglider with great stability and ease of control is the best option. Depending on your experience and flying frequency, an EN-A rated wing with a Sky Harness will do just find. As you progress there are many options depending on your flying frequency and the type of conditions you enjoy flying in.

How Long Does a Paraglider Last? – 9 Ways to Make Your Paraglider Last Longer!

You’ve passed the lessons and tests and now you’ve purchased your first paraglider. Now is a good time to learn a bit about paraglider care and how to make your paraglider last longer. I’ll go over a few tips I’ve learnt from years of paraglider ownership. Hopefully this will help you to get more return on your purchase and avoid things breaking while you’re in the sky!

The main reasons which paragliders wear and break are due to environmental and mechanical wear and tear. Some of these factors are unavoidable and will simply occur over time from use of your paraglider, others can be controlled and avoided. Making smart decisions in how and when you paraglide and how you care for your paraglider after flying can make a big difference in the lifespan of your paraglider wing and lines.

A paraglider wing which has been looked after, should last for about 300 hours. The following tips below will help you to achieve this level of duration and get the most value from your wing, as well as other key components such as your lines and risers.

Avoid Excessive Strong Sunlight

This is a hard one, as the activity of paragliding in itself will expose your paraglider to sunlight. Most wings, harnesses and lines are made from petrol-based synthetic materials. Thin paraglider wings are particularly susceptible to sunlight wear.

Unfortunately there’s not much you can do about sunlight. The main thing to remember is when you’ve finished your flight, either clean it or take it home, clean it and put it away once it’s dry. Don’t leave it sitting under a verandah where it might get sun at certain times of the day or in the back of your car or truck.

Those who do use their paragliders frequently may wish to consider avoiding a thin wing and purchase something a little thicker and durable. Many regular pilots love paragliding and simply accept that regular upgrading of their gear is part of the sport.

Don’t Let Moisture Built-Up

Paragliding in the rain isn’t great anyway, but avoid getting it wet. This can easily happen when laying a wing and lines out before launching or letting it sit on the ground after landing.

One thing pilots should avoid is packing and storing a paraglider when it’s wet or damp. Always completely dry your paraglider after each use.

If it gets wet, moisture can lead to mould growth, which can easily occur when the wing is packed away between flights. Moisture can cause dust and other particles to sink deep into the wing and cause wear and tear. Moisture can also cause lines to shrink.

If you paraglide at a beach, make sure any salt water which comes into contact is washed off with fresh water.

Avoid Ultra High Temperatures

Don’t worry we’re not going to recommend you stop paragliding on hot, sunny days! But when you land, don’t let the wing sit on the ground for too long and don’t leave it in the back of the car for hours. Extreme heat can cause plastics in the wing to become deformed.

Clean Your Paraglider Regularly

Spread your wing out and give it a gentle wipe for dirt, sand, dust, insects, grass or any other loose particles.

Avoid Abrasive Cleaning Products

When cleaning dirt, salt water or anything else off your paraglider, avoid soaps or any cleaning products. They’re not necessary and the chemicals can often penetrate the thin, delicate surface of the paraglider wing.

Also avoid using any hard scrubbing. Scrubbing hard may not cause visible damage straight away but it can speed up the rate of wear. A soft cloth or light sponge is all you should need. Also avoid having anything underneath the wing which may cause abrasion while you scrub it such as rocks or nail heads sticking up from outdoor decking.

Be Careful Where You Launch & Land

If you use a dedicated, managed launch site it’s likely that it will have clear grass areas to stretch out your wing and take off without getting it caught on sticks, rocks or other items which could tear the wing.

Landing is the same, if you’re able to plan and follow through on a smooth landing this will help. However if you need to land suddenly, you’re main priority should always be safety rather the longevity of your paraglider.

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Also when landing, avoid letting your wing land on the leading edge, as this can break the wing cells.

Fold the Wing Cell-By-Cell

Keep the rigid parts of the wing parallel and without too much bending when rolling the wing. Don’t use the same central cell which you fold the other cells onto as this can cause the fabric to age from bending. Make sure you change the central cell each time you re-pack the paraglider.

Repairing Paraglider Wing Damage

Small rips less than 10cm (less than the palm of your hand) should be repaired before your next flight. Repair tape can be placed over the tear on both sides of the wing.

Bigger tears can be stiched up but if it gets much bigger it’s best to replace the wing. You need to consider your safety if the repair-work was to fall out mid-flight. The most dangerous part of the wing to suffer rips and damage is the top part near the leading edge. This area is subjected to significant aerodynamic force as it’s placed under high wing loadings. In most circumstances, damage to this part of the wing means the best option is replacement.

One Final Thought – Handle With Care But Replace When Safety is Compromised

Some pilots who’ve been around the paragliding community for a number of years may have heard tales about the cowboy pilot who fixed their broken line by tying a knot in it. We’re not playing croquet here, this is a dangerous activity if you’ve got damaged equipment.

Broken lines, torn or worn out risers or speed system elements must be replaced.

The 3 best paraglider folding techniques you need to know

At Overfly Tenerife, we want to provide you the best information about paragliding — such as the best paragliding sites or the best paragliding launch techniques. Today, we are going to talk about the best paraglider folding techniques.

If you are interested in paragliding, we are quite sure that you will be interested in paraglider folding techniques. It doesn’t really matter if you are an expert or if you are practicing paragliding for the first time — this information is going to be useful for any of you who want to live the paragliding experience!

3 paraglider folding techniques

There are many paraglider folding techniques — a lot of different methods to pack up your paraglider wing. So, down below we are going to talk about the ones that we consider the best paraglider folding techniques.

Concertina folding

The concertina-packing bag is the quickest paraglider folding technique and the best way to pack and store your paraglider wing. It is very important to bear in mind that the way you pack and store your paraglider directly affects its longevity and its performance. This means that a careless packing of your paraglider wing could crumple and damage the internal reinforcements of the wing.

It doesn’t matter if you use mylar*, nylon or any other similar element — these elements are crucial in forming the clean leading-edge profile that your glider needs to retain maximum performance.

*Mylar “a form of polyester resin used to make heat-resistant plastic films and sheets”

Concertina folding your wing is the most efficient and the surest way to protect the integrity of your leading edge, but this can be an annoying and time-consuming task. Moreover, it is difficult to handle on your own and almost impossible if there is a strong wind.

paraglider folding techniques

The XCertina IV is the quickest and the easiest solution to this problem. As we have said, it is quicker than the conventional packing system and it helps to retain the performance of your wing over time. Furthermore, as we have said it is the easiest paraglider folding technique if there is a strong wind, and what’s more, it is the simplest and quickest way to unpack and get ready to fly.

  • This paraglider folding technique has been updated, taking into account the new technology in paraglider wing design and the feedback from paragliding pilots.
  • Now, it has a longer mesh and velcro sleeve which holds the leading edge together to give a more comfortable and secure packing system.
  • The upper surface is completely made of mesh too, so it allows the wing to breathe more easily.
  • It also has a special pocket to store your risers in order to keep the whole package neat and tidy.
  • Moreover, it has a two-way zip too, so you decide which way to close the bag.
  • Finally, there is a compression strapattached to the bag in order to keep everything together.

This paraglider folding technique is the best way to conserve the performance and the characteristics of your glider. It comes in two different sizes:

  • S (2.5m). It is used for competition, Acro and EN D wings – weight 527g.
  • L (3m). This is for EN A, B and C wings – weight 623g.
  • If you don’t know the size of your paraglider wing, you just have to measure the chord at the centre of the wing to work out the right size for you.

Compression Packing

This paraglider folding technique is frequently used the vast majority of times by paragliding pilots because it is super-light and super-simple. So, in spite of concertina bags are extremely useful — especially for competition gliders and gliders with lots of reinforcing — we want to show you a method that you can use if you don’t want to buy a concertina bag or just in case you haven’t got it with you at that time.

paraglider folding techniques

This is a simple paraglider folding technique that keeps the leading edge protected and well compressed. You just have to pull out the centre of your paraglider wing and lay it out flat. Then, clip the brakes on and leave a metre of line off the trailing edge.

While you keep the lines on top of the glider, you have to do a little S fold along the trailing edge, bringing it in towards the centre. You have to do this on both sides while you are folding it over, three or four cells at a time.

That is just a hard fold which gets the tail of the glider neatened up — you have to fold it over and squash the air out of it, working towards the leading edge. Then bring your paragliding harness forward and put it on top of the folded portion of the glider.

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You can do this next with a strap, nevertheless — you can do it even lighter and got rid of the strap. Coming around to the front, if you pull on the cells the paragliding harness is pinning the back edge, so you can get a nice bit of tension. You can also do your leading edge concertina folds — as you would normally do for a concertina bag — by gathering the nose cones. If you have got that little bit of weight on the glider, that will help you getting them lined up nice and tight.

You have to push some of the air out of the glider and step over the wing, so you will be facing the leading edge with the paraglider wing between your legs. Then, you have to use your feet to trap the paraglider wing and that will give you a nice tensioned section at the front of the glider. This way all the nose cones are still nicely folded in the front. While you pull the glider forward, you have to bend it around to the left and fold it against itself.

paraglider folding techniques

This works better on those paraglider wings that have short reinforcing rods in the leading edge. If your paraglider wing has a very long reinforcing, you may want to start the fold just after the end of the reinforcing. Another option is to make the tight fold and then stuff your flying jacket into the centre of the fold — this way you will give it a wider arc.

Using your feet, you can pinch that again to tidy it up slightly just by folding the loose glider fabric inwards, before pulling it forward and creating another fold in the same direction. The result is that all the nose cones are lined up in the centre — you have to keep your hand against them in order to make sure that they don’t move.

Next, you have to lift the whole thing slightly off the ground and trap the paraglider wing between your legs again, ready for putting it into the bag. Try to keep the bag lined up with the nose cones, so when you push the air out, you are keeping a nice fold.

You are going to have one little piece left over — don’t worry, it is just the tail of the glider. What you have to do is folding it over the top, down on the outside of the bag. This shouldn’t be a problem unless you have lots of long trailing edge reinforcing. It is usually only the leading edge that is critical to fold neatly.

If you put the bag on in the right direction, it will be safe to sit on the glider, squash the air out, and if you have an advance compressbag, it will allow you to get the packed shape much tidier. When it is all nicely packed away, it is ready to go into the backpack.

Le Tube

Le Tube is a paraglider folding technique inspired by the concertina folding method. This paraglider folding technique gently compresses the canopy automatically when you are packing. It works releasing air from the cells and maintaining the paraglider wing flat and compact.

paraglider folding techniques

This intelligent packing bag has two exclusive things which guarantee its success. The first one is that the opening — which is a hoop at one end — acts as a sort of funnel to feed in the leading edge. The second one is that this packing bag is made of a carefully selected choice of materials.

Among those unique materials, you will find elasticated neoprene, which has been used to facilitate the glider smoothly sliding inside the bag as it is fed through the opening. It gently compresses the canopy while it releases the air simultaneously — and that will be all! There you are a lightweight, supple and breathable storage bag for your glider.

Le Tube is a folding storage bag without straps or zippers for storing your wing. This paraglider folding technique is especially suitable for those paraglider wings with a rigid leading edge because of its opening. As we have said, it uses a hoop to facilitate the introduction of the leading edge into the bag in just a few seconds.

As the underside of Le Tube is made with elastic lycra, the remainder of the bag easily slides over the rest of the glider in one swift movement keeping your paraglider neatly folded and tucked away. This paraglider folding technique makes that packing up your glider is an easy matter, even if you are in windy conditions or on a bumpy area.

Due to the lycra panel, the paraglider will always be able to breath — even when it is stored for long periods of time without being used. The lycra panel on the underside acts as a compression bag too, so your paraglider wing will automatically stay in place if the bag is folded or laid flat.

And, if you want to get the glider out of the bag, you just have to undo the chord and hold up one of the ends. Then, shake it gently and your paraglider wing will slide out. But the question now is how to pack your paraglider wing using this paraglider folding technique.

paraglider folding techniques

Now, we are going to focus on the preparation of the paraglider. A few concertina folds will be enough to slip the hoop over the leading edge, holding it in place while you get as much air as possible out from the rest of the paraglider. You will get this air out by pushing upwards from the trailing edge to the hoop, flattening the paraglider as you go.

The advantages of this paraglider folding technique are numerous. Apart from being compact and lightweight, it protects the leading edge too. The leading edge is protected by storing it flat without the use of clips, zips or straps found on other folding bags, which are supposed to deform the batons.

We hope that you have enjoyed our post about the 3 best paraglider folding techniques and that it has been useful for your paragliding practice. You know that if you have any doubt or if you need any further information you can contact us at any time — we will be waiting here to fly with you!

Source https://globalparagliding.com/types-paragliders/

Source https://globalparagliding.com/paraglider-last-longer/

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