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himachal paragliding

Himachal Pradesh

* Manali, Himachal Pradesh
* Bir Valley - Billing, Himachal Pradesh

Uttarakhand (Coming Soon)

* Chakrata
* Pauri



















Paragliding (known in France, Spain and Portugal as parapente) is a recreational and competitive flying sport. A paraglider is a free-flying, foot-launched aircraft. The pilot sits in a harness suspended below a fabric wing, whose shape is formed by the pressure of air entering vents in the front of the wing.

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The paraglider wing (or ‘canopy’ or parafoil) is a self-inflating structure consisting of a row of cells, most of them open at the front and all of them closed at the back, joined together side by side. Moving through the air keeps them inflated as air enters in the front but can't get out the back. In cross-section, the cells form an aerofoil shape to produce lift, just like an airplane wing.

The pilot is supported underneath the wing from a web of lines (each with the strength to support the pilot). The lines are then attached to strap-like risers that are attached to the pilot's harness. Controls held in the pilot’s hands, which pull down the trailing edge (rear portion) of the wing, are used to control speed and to turn. The pilot is strapped into the bucket-seat harness, which usually holds a reserve parachute, and includes a ‘speed system’ which pulls down the leading edge for maximum flying speed. Modern recreational harnesses have a foam or air-bag back protector.

Paraglider wings typically have an area of 25–35 m² with a span of 8–12 m, and weigh 3–7 kg. Combined weight of wing, harness, reserve, instruments, helmet etc is around 12–18 kg. Glide ratio ranges from 6:1 for recreational paragliders to about 10:1 for modern competition paragliders (compared with an average of 15:1 for hang gliders and up to 60:1 for some sailplanes), and speed range is typically 20–65 km/h (stall speed – max speed): though safe flying range is smaller. Modern paraglider wings are made of high-performance non-porous fabrics such as Porcher Sport & Gelvenor, with Dyneema/Spectra or Kevlar/Aramid lines. For storage and carrying, the wing is folded into the harness seat, and the whole stored in a backpack (which is normally stowed in the harness in flight). Recent developments in light-weight harness design include the ability to turn the harness inside out such that it becomes the backpack removing the need for a second storage system.

Tandem paragliders, designed to carry the pilot and one passenger, are larger but otherwise similar. They usually have higher trim speeds (fly faster), are more resistant to collapses and have a slightly higher sink rate compared to solo paragliders.

Parachutes including skydiving canopies are generally used for descending purposes (i.e. jumping out of an aircraft or for dropping cargo) while paragliders are generally used for ascending. Paragliders are categorized as "ascending" parachutes by canopy manufacturers worldwide and involve "free flying" (without a tether). However Paragliders can sometimes be tethered for a short period during towing to get airborne.

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In unpowered flight, rising air is needed to keep a glider aloft. This rising air can come from two sources:

  • when the sun heats features on the ground, columns of rising air known as thermals are generated
  • when wind encounters a ridge in the landscape, the air is forced upwards, providing ridge lift.
In mountainous environments, flying is mostly based around thermals, which can be used to stay aloft before heading for a landing field below the launch site. In hill environments, ridge lift is used for ridge soaring, and landing can be done either back at the launch site, or at a landing field at the bottom of the ridge. In either case, more experienced pilots can use thermals to go ‘cross country’.

Launching / landing,

As with all aircraft, launching and landing are done into wind (though in mountain flying, it is possible to launch in nil wind and glide out to the first thermal).
In low winds, the wing is inflated with a ‘forward launch’, where the pilot runs forward so that the air pressure generated by the forward movement inflates the wing.
In higher winds, particularly ridge soaring, a ‘reverse launch’ is used, with the pilot facing the wing to bring it up into a flying position, then turning under the wing to complete the launch.

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The pilot holds controls in each hand which pull down the trailing edge of the wing. Pulling down the trailing edge increases the angle of attack of the wing from its ‘trim’ (hands-off) position, which slows it down and increases the lift generated (like flaps on an aircraft wing). Turning is achieved by a combination of pulling down the control on one side and ‘weight shift’ within the harness. Faster than ‘trim’ speed can be achieved by pushing out a ‘speedbar’ with the feet, which pulls down the leading edge to reduce the angle of attack.
On occasions when it is necessary to lose height more rapidly, the tips of the wing can be ‘folded in’, in what is known as ‘big ears’. This reduces the flying area of the wing, and increases the amount of drag, causing the glider to descend at a greater rate than in normal flight.
In more extreme conditions, other manoeuvres such as ‘b-line stalls’ and spiral dives can be used, but most pilots avoid getting themselves into situations where these are required.


In turbulent air, since the wing is not rigid, part or all of the wing can collapse. On modern recreational wings, such collapses will normally recover themselves without pilot intervention. For the rare case where it is not possible to recover from a collapse (or from other threatening situations such as a spin), most pilots carry a reserve parachute. Thankfully, most pilots never have cause to ‘throw’ their reserve. In case the collapse happens near ground, i.e. shortly after takeoff or just before landing, the collapse may not recover even with pilot intervention and there will not be enough time for throwing the reserve. Those cases can result in serious injury or death. Collapses and other hazards are minimized by flying a suitable glider, and choosing appropriate locations and weather conditions, for the pilot's skill and experience.

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Most pilots use various and radios when flying; some more advanced pilots also use GPS units.

Vario, Paragliding Instrument
Birds are highly sensitive to atmospheric pressure, and can tell when they are in rising or sinking air. People can sense the acceleration when they first hit a thermal, but cannot detect the difference between constant rising air and constant sinking air, so turn to technology to help.
A vario-altimeter indicates climb-rate (or sink-rate) with audio signals (beeps which increase in pitch and tempo as you accelerate upwards and a droning sound which gets deeper as your decent rate increases) and/or a visual display. It also shows altitude: either above takeoff, above sea level, or (at higher altitudes) ‘flight level’.
The main purpose of a vario is in helping a pilot find and stay in the ‘core’ of a thermal to maximise height gain, and conversely indicating when he or she is in sinking air, and needs to find rising air.

Radio, Paragliding Instrument
Pilots use radio for training purposes, for communicating with other pilots in the air, particularly when travelling together on cross-country flights, and for reporting the location of landing.
Radios used are PTT (push-to-talk) transceivers, normally operating in or around the FM VHF 2-metre band (144–148 MHz) (Note that transmitting in the 144-148 MHz band requires a ham radio license in some countries.) Usually a microphone is incorporated in the helmet, and the PTT switch is either fixed to the outside of the helmet, or strapped to a finger.

GPS, Paragliding Instrument
GPS(global positioning system) is a necessary accessory when flying competitions, where it has to be demonstrated that way-points have been correctly passed.
It can also be interesting to view a GPS track of a flight when back on the ground, to analyse flying technique. Computer software is available which allows various different analyses of GPS tracks
Other uses include being able to determine drift due to the prevailing wind when flying at altitude, providing position information to allow restricted airspace to be avoided, and identifying one’s location for retrieval teams after landing-out in unfamiliar territory.
More recently, the use of GPS data, linked to a computer, has enabled pilots to share 3D tracks of their flights on Google Earth. This fascinating insight allows comparisons between competing pilots to be made in a detailed 'post-flight' analysis.

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Paragliding is perhaps often viewed as a higher-risk sport than it actually is. Nonetheless, there is great potential for injury for the reckless or ill-prepared.
Most pilots will try to stay clear of:

  • overly ‘active’ thermic conditions – harsh thermals can induce collapses in the wing, which require skill and experience to manage
  • excessively windy conditions – landing can become dangerous, and if a glider is blown back behind a ridge where there is no longer rising air, it can encounter ‘rotor’, or turbulent air, which can collapse the wing – generally below the height at which a reserve parachute can be deployed
  • cu-nimbs – cumulo-nimbus clouds are fed by massive thermals which rise faster than a paraglider can lose height, and can push a pilot deep into enormously turbulent, blind clouds
  • hazardous landing conditions – in the lee of large trees or buildings there is ‘rotor’ which can collapse a wing; but among the greatest dangers are power lines
  • reckless pilots – a danger to others, as well as themselves

Safety precautions include pre-flight checks, flying helmets, harnesses with back protection (foam or air-bag), a reserve parachute, and careful pre-launch observation of other pilots in the air to evaluate conditions.
For pilots who want to stretch themselves into more challenging conditions, advanced ‘SIV’ (simulation d’incidents de vol, or simulation of flying incidents) courses are available which teach pilots how to cope with hazardous situations which can arise in flight. Through tuition over radio (above a lake), pilots deliberately induce major collapses, stalls, spins, etc, in order to learn procedures for recovering from them. (As mentioned above, modern recreational wings will recover from minor collapses without intervention).
While fatalities and freak accidents do occur, most properly-trained, responsible pilots suffer nothing worse than possible minor injuries – particularly twisted ankles and back injuries – and an occasional pounding heart.

Inputs from Wikipedia....

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