I entered the world of paragliding a bit differently than most people. I wouldn't recommend it. As a result of my unconventional and stubborn approach, I ended up buying three paragliders before I found one that actually works for me. This article is written for those that want to get into paragliding or is new at paragliding, so that they don't end up buying three paragliders like myself.
Your First Wing Doesn't Matter
There's more than 50 shades of paragliders. There's paragliders that's designed for cross country flying, coastal flying and acro flying. There's wings (wing=paraglider, paraglider=wing) that have a lot of brake travel when you give it input and there's wings where you hardly touch the brakes and you're already upside down. Every wing behaves a little differently in the air.
I've been asked what I think is the best paraglider for someone entering this sport. The important thing to understand there isn't such a thing as "the best paraglider." As I mentioned earlier, there's more than 50 shades of paragliders and each shade is a little better or a little worse for every individual's personality, purpose in paragliding, desire in handling, etc. On the other hand, there might be a "best paraglider" for you. What are your goals in paragliding? Do you want a paraglider that's great at making flat, efficient turns (you loose less altitude in flat turns) or do you want a paraglider that's easier to dive towards the ground? Are you hoping to cover distance or do you just want to fly around your local area? Will you have to hike miles before you fly? Do you want to go upside down or keep the wing right side up? There are a lot more of these questions, but what's more important than any of these questions is that your first wing doesn't matter!
|This was my first paraglider. It was a awful!|
|My Second Paraglider - Too Big (Photo: Meeks Digital Studios)|
Paragliding instructors are most often dealers for a paraglider manufacture or two and hate me telling potential students to find used wings. Despite it usually costing between $1,500 and $1,700 per student for training, instructors don't make a lot of money. Top Ramen gets old after a while and if you really like your instructor, buying a new wing through them is a kind gesture of support. Additionally, they will be able to eat burgers for a while.
|Third Time is a Charm (Photo: Meeks Digital Studios)|
Most pilots upgrade to another paraglider with more performance after their first flying season. When they get to this point, they'll have a better understanding of what their goals are with paragliding and will be able to the best paraglider for them. Until people are able to know what they want in a paraglider, they should ask these two questions.
- Is it safe?
- Is it designed for beginners?