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.
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.
How to ground handle a paraglider ➞ Improve your ground handling techniques
Are you wondering how to ground handle a paraglider? It is quite important for a paraglider pilot to improve your ground handling skills. We say it is very important both for building your confidence before starting to fly and for your own safety on the launch site. But there are always common questions, such as: “Where should I practice it?” or “What should I try to do?”
Today, at Overfly Tenerife, we will give you some tips about how to ground handle a paraglider and a set of exercises in order to get you started on mastering the control of your wing. Furthermore, if you are interested in more information related to paragliding, you can take a look to other posts of our blog. For example:
Now, it is time to show you how to ground handle a paraglider!
How to ground handle a paraglider
You have to look for a wind with a speed of 10 or 20kilometres per hour on an open slope. We strongly recommend you to try and do ground handling on a sloping field than on a flat field. It is worse because, on a flat field, your wing will sit back slightly from vertical, so it makes it harder to get a real feeling of what your paraglider will do on the launch site.
Normally, if you go to a paragliding site early in the morning, you will arrive there before many people do. It is then when you can just go off to a side and practice there. We recommend you to stay a little bit back from the launching area. This way, you will be more on the flat top of the hill and, although you won’t fly off the slope, that will give you a great real situation to work and find out what the wing will do in a usual airflow on a launch site.
What you have to use for ground handling a paraglider safely
There is nothing special that you have to use for ground handling your paraglider. We recommend you to use the same paragliding equipment that you would normally use for flying. That will give you good practice, gets you familiar with the feeling of your harness and your glider.
Remember that safety is vital when you are practicing this aerial sport. So you always have to wear your paragliding helmet! It is quite important when you are ground handling, due to you are extremely close to the ground. So it is very easy to get tripped over or lifted up into the air. If that happens, you will probably bang your head against the ground. So please, put your helmet on!
You also have to use back protection — it is a good idea to have a harness with foam in the back. That will be really useful if you find yourself lying on the ground. Although you are not flying very high, it is dangerous too. Don’t you want to break any of your bones, right? Then, use your harness, but make sure that it has got back protection in. Most of them do!
It is also important to protect your hands and your feet, so we recommend you to use paragliding gloves and boots too! You must use gloves because it is quite easy to get burnt with the lines, and boots, as you would use them for a normal flight. You can also do it with trainers, but definitely not in sandals. That is quite obvious, because your feet will be dragged across the ground, and we guess that you don’t want them to get hurt.
Top 10 exercises to learn how to ground handle a paraglider
Now that you know how to ground handle a paraglider, trying this exercises is a must! We strongly recommend you to take a look at the Ground Handling Challenge, where you will find lots of videos which show all these exercises and techniques. But beyond that, down below you will find the list that we have created with our 10 favourite ground handling exercises:
Now, we will show you some exercises in order learn how to ground handle a paraglider.
Keep it up – Exercise 1
At the beginning, you just have to focus on keeping the paraglider up in a reversed position. For that, you have to do a reverse launch facing the paraglider wing, pull it up, and work on keeping it up. You can do it simply moving yourself under the wing to centre it. If it falls over one side or the other, you have to move your feet and keep the wing up.
We recommend you to start trying to do small brake corrections, and do the big corrections with your feet. Then mix it up and do it all the way around. This way, you will have the chance to learn what the inputs are doing. You will see how that changes the feeling of the wing and its responses.
Face forwards – Exercise 2
Turn around and face forward. If you look at the ground and you look ahead, you will feel what the wing is doing. You will feel which way it is pulling, reacting to move underneath the wing, or if it is pulling one way or another. What you can do is spending as much time as you need just walking around the paragliding site until you feel entirely connected to your wing.
Flying speed with minimum distance – Exercise 3
You should practice loading up the chest strap before running. Doing that will help you to prevent the harness from sliding up your legs, and it will also give you a better connection with the wing than running upright. So we recommend you to try it and load the chest strap up. Then, increase to flying speed while you cover the minimum distance. But be patient, because this could take you a few days to get it right.
Transitions: smooth turns – Exercise 4
You have to work on your transitions, so you better go back from a reversed launch position. You must turn, but without bouncing your head — trying to keep a low martial arts stance. This way, you can swing around to face forwards and turn back to face reverse without the paraglider notices that you have moved indeed.
You have to focus on getting a smooth and continuous pull-up from reverse position, bringing the wing up, turning continuously and running with a short launch run. You can get a nice and short effective launch if you keep the process absolutely smooth.
Slow rise – Exercise 5
You must work on slowly bringing the wing up. This way, you will control the speed that is coming up with a slow rise. You can control the speed with your own movement, so move away from the wing or towards it to control that pull-up speed, taking the power out of the wing to bring it up as slow as you can. This way, it will still come up all the time and it won’t drop back.
Slow descent – Exercise 6
You have to work on a slow descent by controlling the speed. This will give you some control, which will help you developing a feeling of power over the wing. It will also save your wing from being whacked down on the ground.
Stall point and fly again – Exercise 7
Explore the stall point. For that, you will have to try and drop the wing back a bit. You can do it walking towards it or using a bit of brakes, or doing both things at the same time. We recommend you to establish where the point is exactly on the arc while your canopy stalls.
Every canopy is different, so it depends on the wind speed and the slope you are standing on. However, it is good for you to get an idea of when the wing is about to stall. Moreover, you have to check if you can get it to fly again just as it stalls. So you better work with the stall point, and letting your wing fly again.
Maybe, you need some help to energize your wing again — it will depend on the type of canopy you have. IN any event, play with your wing and experiment with more or less stall. That is the only way that you will really learn about that transition phase between the wing flying and not flying.
Pitch forward and collapse – Exercise 8
The next step is exploring the pitch forward while you allow the wing to search ahead of you on launch without checking it on the brakes. Then, see if you can anticipate when it will collapse. Later, blowback behind you — but you will need to reverse pull up again for that. You have to do it over and over until you develop a feeling of what does the wing look and feel like just before it collapses in front of you.
Tip touches – Exercise 9
You must do tip touches to develop an excellent control on the brakes. You can do it sending the canopy over to the side actually very slow. We recommend you trying to keep your body position fixed and leaning away from the wing. This way, you can rotate your body slightly — so that you will have a nice stabilized position — and then, use the brake to simply fly the wing slowly back up over your head.
You have to do it on both sides of the wing so that you can develop a real excellent control on the brakes. It is so much easier to stall the upper wing tip when it is over on the side. So, if you can fly it back up and put it back down again, you know you have developed an excellent control on the brakes. Those are good news!
Pull up variations – Exercise 10
Finally, you will have to try some pull-up variations. Then, see if your wing is able to pull-up without the A’s, leaning back into a stiff breeze only. If it is not, you will have to check if you are able to control it just using the back risers. This means leaning back, letting the wing come up and finally, controlling the pitch with the back risers.
We recommend you to try with both A’s in just one hand and put the brake in the other, and you can even try swapping hands. That is a very useful technique for thermic launches. It is also a good option when the wind is changing a lot or when you are not very sure about its direction. Train this technique — swapping hands, pulling the wing up, and keeping control.
All these exercises are about learning. They will teach you a lot about your wing, your different options and yourself as a paraglider pilot.
More ground handling challenges
There are many other things that you can try to do with ground handling. If you get bored with the exercises mentioned previously, you can always vary. Change them! Try launching backward, try a ‘no control’ launch… and if you are still bored, you can always look for some turbulence, or go and find an obstacle. And, if there are not any… put some obstacles out, run around them… do whatever you want, but have fun! This is what paragliding is about.
We hope that you have enjoyed our post about how to ground handle a paraglider, as well as we hope that the information we have provided has been useful. You can also take a look at our paragliding guide for more information! And if you have any doubt, you need more information or you are interested in our tandem paragliding flights in the south of Tenerife, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are waiting for you in Costa Adeje!
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!