how it works

So just how does a paraglider get transformed from a lifeless piece of material into a creature of the skies? Read on...

Fig 1. Parts of a paraglider

01. Wing/ glider. Constructed from Ripstop nylon material with a silicon-like coating to produce windproof properties
02. Leading edge
03. Cells. The paraglider is divided into individual sections known as cells
04. Cell walls. These have holes to equalize and distribute air pressure throughout the wing
05. Wing tip
06. Trailing edge
07. Top surface
08. Bottom surface
09. Brake line. Runs from the trailing edge of the wing to the pilots hand and is used for steering and controlling the paraglider
10. Lines. split up into a, b, c, (d) lines made from Dynema or Kevlar, have normally sheathing for protection
11. Risers. The connection between harness and lines (a, b, c, d, risers)


Like all gliding aircraft a Paraglider uses the flow of air over the top and bottom surfaces to create lift. The air travelling over the top has further to go than the air underneath and therefore must move faster in order to arrive at the trailing edge at the same time as the air underneath. This creates a difference in pressure between the two surfaces, the high pressure air under the wing tries to flow toward the low pressure air on the top and the lifting force is established. Unlike other aircraft, a Paraglider uses some of the same airflow to inflate and maintain shape during take off and in flight..

The Take off (launch)

A take off can be divided into 3 distinct phases.

1 Inflation: Facing into the wind, the pilot pulls on the glider while running or walking forward (depending on wind strength) this causes the glider to start filling with air and will rise above the pilots head.

2 Control: Once the glider is overhead and in the airflow it can be controlled using the brakes. By looking up the pilot can check the glider and if all is well he/she can then commit to the final phase.

3 Run: With the glider inflated and under control the pilot then runs down the slope to bring it up to flying speed, usually this is no more than a fast walk. As the glider reaches flying speed it gently lifts the pilot from the ground and flight is achieved!


Controlling a paraglider is incredibly easy, the controls (brakes) that the pilot holds in each hand connect to the trailing edge of the glider. Pulling on these brakes causes the glider to fly slower and releasing the pressure causes the glider to fly faster. So if you want to turn to the right, all you have to do is pull on the right brake and release the left this causes the right side of the glider to fly slower and the left faster and around you go.


By the above mentioned use of the controls the pilot manoeuvres his/her way to the landing area (almost all even and open areas will do) and as the ground approaches simply slows the glider to a speed that is acceptable. Trust me it's even easier to do than explain!

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