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Paragliding vs. Gliding

One of our team tries out a new type of flight

This weekend, one of our team members, Adam, decided to try something new. Having been a keen paraglider for over 5 years, flying both solo and as a tandem passenger, he thought he’d give gliding a try. Finding a club in East Sussex nestled in the beautiful South Downs, he headed over there for a new experience. Here are his views on gliding versus paragliding!

What made you want to try gliding?

I have always loved the feeling of being up in the sky, reaching for the clouds and soaring like a bird. I also love to try new things and seek out adventure. So, I decided to swap my paragliding wing for a glider and see what happened!

What are the main differences between gliding and paragliding?

In paragliding, you are suspended underneath a large wing and are open to the elements. Paragliders can feel the breeze in their hair and have an unobstructed view over beautiful countryside. When doing a tandem paragliding flight, the pilot sits behind the passenger and can control the direction and speed of the flight. For gliding, you are seated in a small aircraft with an instructor sat behind you. You are closed in, so you don’t get the same feeling of being out in nature. While a paraglider can take to the air by simply running to the end of a hill, a glider needs to be winched or towed to take flight. I did the aero-tow option, meaning a small motored aeroplane towed us up high into the air. With the ability to get higher than a paraglider, I was treated to incredible views across the South Downs, looking at some of our usual paragliding sites from a different angle! Gliders fly at a greater speed too, meaning they can be a bit more flexible and fly longer distances than a paraglider. As we touched down gently in the landing area after a 30 minute flight, I was glad I had tried this new flight experience.

Will you be changing to a new hobby?!

Overall, I think not! One of the great things about paragliding is that once you have passed your pilot licence, have your own paragliding wing, and have become a member of the local flying club, you can head out to any site and fly. As long as the weather is right, you can arrive at the site and fly as soon as you are ready. You don’t need to hire a plane or a winch, you don’t need to have a trailer full of heavy equipment, and you don’t need a big team of people. And while climbing Mount Caburn with a wing on your back is hard work, it can be easily done without a tractor!

I’d love to try gliding again some time and am still on the lookout for new adventures and new ways to experience the sky. But for now, paragliding is still my favourite.