How much do you know about Paragliding? Here we got some interesting details for you!
Written by: Ana Martin
After spending two full days in the Aventurate Yearly Activity presenting Hawk Paragliding School and answering questions about paragliding I have one thing clear: Paragliding is not skydiving.
How so? Let me explain: When seeing a paraglider, most people think of a parachute, quickly imagine a jump into the void and get goosebumps (of course, some of the excitement and others of fright). Actually, they are not entirely wrong.
The paraglider is the little cousin of the parachute. It emerged in the early 1970s, and was initially used by French parachutists to eliminate the need for an airplane in their jumps; in the early 1980s, it became popular among mountaineers as a quick way to descend from climbing peaks. Hence its name “parachute of slope = para-glider”.
The paraglider consists of a flexible wing that uses the relative wind that is created when descending a slope to flight.
This is the first difference we find, with the paraglider there is no jump to the void but the take-off is done with a short run from any mountain where we receive the wind from the front. Once in the air, the paraglider is steered by using two brakes and carrying the weight of the body to one side or the other, which allows us to fly in the desired direction and choose the landing site.
A second difference would be that with the glider you can climb beyond the height at which you took off.
Although the glider, like the parachute, always descends, it can descend within an upward current. For example, if the air column ascends to 15m/s and the glider descends to 3m/s, the glider will rise to 12m/s with reference to the ground. These columns of hot air, known as thermals, are what allow the glider to gain altitude and thus be able to fly very long distances, even exceeding 500km in one flight.
The Dominican Republic is a privileged place to practice paragliding thanks to its mountainous geography and the breeze from the sea. Currently, the center of paragliding in the country is Jarabacoa, where there are several conditioned takeoffs with different wind orientation, but it is not the only flying site. There are takeoffs with spectacular views in Paraíso, Azua, La playita, la Hoz, as well as in Constanza, Casabito, and Puerto Plata, among others. Recently, free flight is also being promoted in Las Terrenas, Miches, Bayahibe, and Punta Cana.
As well as the flying sites, the community of pilots is growing and, with the help of the Dominican Association of Free Flight, meetings and competitions are held in which the country’s pilots have the opportunity to share good moments and demonstrate their flying skills.
The last of these was held in Jarabacoa at the end of last year and its winner was Juan José Díaz (Pichón), one of the most experienced pilots in the country and who we will soon be interviewing for our extreme kid’s section.
If you haven’t tried it yet and want to enjoy the experience of being suspended in the air like a bird, you have two options:
- To make a tandem flight, in which you will fly with a pilot who will be the one who directs the glider.
- Or to take a flight course in which you will learn everything you need to fly by yourself.
You can find out more information about both options at www.hawkparagliding.com
Images: External Sources
MEET: Juan Jose Diaz – Paragliding Pilot
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