Have you ever tried paragliding? While on a morning walk on Buddina Beach recently, I was enthralled by the sight of the colourful paragliders soaring in the sky, with parachute-like wings floating dreamily against the bright blue sky and rolling surf.
Paragliding Sunshine Coast
One paraglider landed on the soft sand, long enough for me to snap a photograph, then gracefully lifted off again.
I didn’t have my movie camera with me but fortunately I had my iPhone 5, which I used to film all the footage in this video clip.
It packs into a rucksack that can be carried easily on the pilot’s back. When you watch an experienced paraglider in the sky, it looks like it could be the closest thing to being able to fly like a bird.
A paraglider is a pressurised aerodynamic wing. The pilot sits in a harness suspended below a fabric wing, which maintains its shape by its suspension lines, the pressure of air entering vents in the front of the wing and the aerodynamic forces of the air flowing over the outside.
Paragliders are usually launched by running off of moderate slopes with the glider inflated until you are lifted off your feet. It only takes a few steps to be airborne and the glider is controlled by using brake handles held in each hand.
It’s all about the air currents. Paragliders can stay aloft when the rising air currents are greater than the descent rate of the wing.
Paragliding is regulated by the CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) and is classified as hang gliding, so all paragliding pilots and instructors are members of the HGFA (Hang Gliding Federation of Australia).
The difference between a paraglider and hang glider is the paraglider canopy shape is maintained only by air pressure and the pilot is suspended in a sitting or supine position while a hang glider has a rigid frame maintaining the shape of the wing, with the pilot usually flying in a horizontal position.