The main difference between paragliding and parasailing is that parasailers are attached to a vehicle (usually a motor boat) that generates enough momentum and connects the parasailers to safety.

Paragliding is a recreational and competitive flying sport. A paraglider is a free-flying, foot-launched aircraft. Parasailing is a recreational activity where a person is towed behind a vehicle (usually a boat) while attached to a specially designed parachute, known as a parasail. There are two types of parasailing: aquatic (over water where a motorboat is used) and terrestrial (over land towed by a jeep). With a paraglider, you can fly like a bird, soaring upwards on currents of air. Paragliders routinely stay aloft for 3 hours or more, climb to elevations of 15,000', and go cross-country for vast distances.

Comparison chart

Paragliding versus Parasailing comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartParaglidingParasailing
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ParaglidingParasailing
Description Paragliding is a recreational and competitive flying sport. A paraglider is a free-flying, foot-launched aircraft. A recreational activity where a person is towed behind a vehicle (usually a boat) while attached to a specially designed parachute called parasail.
Safe Conditions required The right location: a high cliff. Never take off into winds more than 15 m/hour unless highly trained. Never fly in winds of 25to 30 mph. Never take off in wet conditions. The wing will soak up moisture quickly & an uncontrolled decent can occur. Do not parasail in winds exceeding 50mph. All parasailing participants need to wear life jackets to prevent drowning and helmets to prevent head injuries. There should be no obstructions (trees, other boats, mountains) in your take-off path.
Equipment The wing/canopy, harness, reserve parachute, helmet, boots and flight suit are required. The pilot sits in a harness suspended below a fabric wing, whose shape is formed by its suspension lines & air pressure entering vents in front of the wing. Parasail, tow rope, boat or land vehicle. Safe parasailing takes place behind a boat with an engine of at least 90 HP. The co. must provide a body harness, canopy to start & a towline, in addition to an experienced boat driver, a observer & crew.
Canopy design The paraglider wing or canopy is known in aeronautical engineering as a ram-air airfoil, or parafoil. Such wings comprise two layers of fabric which are connected to internal supporting material in such a way as to form a row of cells. Uses a parachute rather than a canopy
Basic principles The 3 basic principles are: How to launch, turn and land a paraglider. Hand brakes are used to control speed, elevation and direction with the paraglider. You are fastened to a parachute tied behind a boat (jeep over land). The boat or land vehicle accelerates across the water and lifts you high into the air. The parasailor has little or no control over the parachute.
Cost A paraglider costs between $4000-$5000 A one hour 40 minute parasailing ride can cost around $55 in the US
Locations Launching is usually from a high cliff where the winds are good. A location with relatively calm waters. Choppy, wavy water will agitate the boat that the parasail is tethered to, which can create a nerve wracking experience.
Origin Was originally used by the U.S. military and NASA which led to Pierre M. Lemoigne designing the paracommander parachute. Following the design of the parachute, in 1961,the first mentions of parasailing is a flight by Colonel Michel Tournier Used by U.S. military & NASA, led to P. M. Lemoigne's design, the paracommander parachute. Col. Tournier flew behind a tractor in '61. IJacques-André Is tel bought a license from Lemoigne to make the parachute as a parasail with modifications.

Equipment

The paraglider consists of a canopy (the actual "wing") constructed of rip-stop nylon from which the pilot is suspended by sturdy kevlar lines called risers, and a harness. In addition, the brake cords provide speed and directional control and carabiners are used to connect the risers and the harness together. The pilot sits in a harness for maximum comfort. A paragliding harness should let you feel like a king on the throne; check out the ones with a lumbar support adjustment strap for extreme comfort.

Paragliding (with a canopy)
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Paragliding (with a canopy)

The wing or parafoil needs to have a total area of 250 to 350 square feet and a span of about 30 feet. The weight should be no more than 10 to 12 pounds. The more cells of the leading edge are closed the better chance to have a smoother aerodynamic experience.

A variometer allows the flier to find the right air hub to continue flying high or a sinking jet stream to return to the ground. Pick up a clearly audible version with an integrated GPS. These are worth the extra pricing. The newest GPS positioning devices have links to Google earth, which can show terrain changes and be extremely valuable in preventing a run-in with the unknown. you are subject to the air currents around you much more so than when in a private airplane. The variometer is a useful instrument for telling you how fast you are rising and falling, information that will help you fly with precision and control.

Parasailing requires a parasail, tow rope, boat or land vehicle with a winch. Safe parasailing takes place behind a boat that has an engine with at least 90 HP. The company that organises parasailing must provide a body harness, a canopy for the start and a towline. In addition, safe parasailing requires an experienced boat driver, a skilled observer and a ground crew.

Safe Conditions

Safety is paramount when paragliding. Safe conditions include the right location such as a high cliff. Wind speeds can vary by the minute, but a paraglider should never take off into winds more than 15 miles per hour unless highly trained. Never fly in winds of 25to 30 mph.Never take off in wet conditions such as rain or snow. The wing will soak up the moisture quickly and an uncontrolled descent is likely to occur. Cloud cover can affect atmospheric pressure.

One should not parasail in winds exceeding 50mph. All parasailing participants need to wear life jackets to prevent drowning and helmets to prevent head injuries.there are no obstructions in your take-off path. Some obstructions include, trees, other boats and mountains.

Parasailing (with a parachute, and grounded to the boat)
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Parasailing (with a parachute, and grounded to the boat)

Basic Principles

There are 3 basic principles to paragliding: how to launch, turn and land a paraglider. To launch the paraglider, run into the wind and down a slope with the paraglider behind you. This technique is called "hopping" and lets you get a feel for the lift the paraglider receives when it encounters air.

In parasailing, a rider (sometimes two) is put into a harness that is attached to a parachute. As the vehicle he is on goes faster, air fills the chute and the parasailer is lifted up, but remains attached to the vehicle by a tow line. Parasailers ride to the rear of boats equipped with winches--machines that pull tow cables and parasailers back to the boat. As the boat accelerates, the parasail catches air and increased pressure within it lifts the parasailer into the air, at which point his altitude is dependent on the speed of the boat.

Cost

An introductory lesson in paragliding costs about $500. A tandem lesson may cost less, around $150. A certification course costs an average of $1500. A paraglider costs between $4000-$5000. As safety is paramount, it is recommended that only new equipment be purchased.

A one hour 40 minute parasailing flight can cost up to $55 in the U.S.

Learning

The best way to start paragliding is with a tandem introductory flight. This gives you a taste of flying. You fly solo during your first day of paragliding instruction, which is one of the advantages of the sport. Under radio supervision, you will fly solo from the training hill and progress to higher flights, all in two days. The basic techniques of paragliding - launching, turning, and landing - are fairly easy to learn. However, in order to acquire the basic skills necessary to fly on your own without instructor supervision, you need to take a Novice (Para 2) Certification Course, which generally takes a total of 7 days and a minimum of 25 flights. As this is a self regulated flight one does not need a license to fly.

Parasailing requires no formal training, and most beaches and holiday destinations offer parasailing activities. The ground assistants take their positions holding open opposite sides of the sail. The boat driver slowly begins accelerating to take up the slack line while ground assistants and the parasailor move forward with the rope. Assistants hold the guidelines to help the sail fill up with air. The parasailor should take a few long strides with the rope taut, but not aid in the liftoff process by jumping or pulling up his or her feet. The canopy will do this on its own. Steer the parasail by pulling down on risers on the side of the desired direction. No steering should actually ever be necessary. Release the safety pin to allow the parasailor to float gently down into the water at either a high or low altitude.

Origin

Paragliding was originally used by the U.S. military and NASA. During World War II, the US Navy recruited and trained sailors to fly paragliders towed by submarines. The vantage point of the glider allowed the men to see over the horizon for any approaching warships. This was the first documented use of a free flying, foot launched aircraft in such a fashion. In 1961, Pierre M. Lemoigne invented the paracommander parachute, which had vents in the rear to allow for longer gliding From that time, paragliding has developed to become a popular recreational activity and a competitive sport. In 1978, three French paragliders, Jean-Claude Betemps, Andre Bohn and Gerard Bosson practiced a technique of running and jumping off the face of cliffs in the French Alps. This form of paragliding became increasingly popular, and in 1979 Bosson flew a paraglider at the Hang Gliding World Championships.

The first mentions of parasailing is a flight by Colonel Michel Tournier from France flying behind a tractor in 1961. In 1963 Jacques-André Istel from Pioneer Parachute Company bought a license from Lemoigne (who invented the paracommander parachute) to manufacture and sell the 24-gore parachute canopy he had developed for towing which was labeled as a "parasail".

Competitions

The first Paragliding World Championship was held in 1989 in Kossen, Austria. Since that time, the championships have been organized by the Paragliding Commission of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, or FIA, which governs all air sports. The championship is now divided into three separate events. One is for cross-country, another for aerobatic stunt, and one for accuracy. In addition to its championships, the FIA also maintains world records for paragliding.

Land based parasailing has been formed into competition sport in Europe. In land based competition parasailing, the parasail is towed to maximum height behind a 4 wheel drive vehicle and then releases the tow line and flies down to a target area in an accuracy competition. The sport was developed in the early 80's and has been very popular ever since. The first international competitions were held in the mid 80's and continue to run today.

Related Viideos

Here are some good videos on parasailing and paragliding:

References

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