Are you dreaming to fly? Nowadays people have several options to fulfill such a dream – much more than in the near past. You can try things like flying an ultralight airplane, making BASE jumps, flying a hang glider or paraglider, skydiving and indoor skydiving. In this article I'll focus on two of the most popular options – both are "engine free" – flying your own light sport aircraft is really complex and expensive, so let's not talk about that. Let's instead of that see if Paragliding or Skydiving is the right sport for you.
What Is Paragliding?
Paragliding is a recreational activity, considered an extreme sport, practiced by using an engine-free aircraft. The aircraft used in paragliding are extremely simple and they are often called just "wings". A typical paraglider consists of a fabric wing and a harness. There is no cockpit like in the "real" gliders neither a hard wing like the ones that hang gliders have. Exactly this however is one of the important reasons for the increasing popularity of paragliding – paragliders are affordable and do not take much space. You can even put one in a large backpack, which certainly can not be done with a glider.
In paragliding you are launching the aircraft by foot – usually people use hills where they run and jump to start flying. Paragliding gives you good amount of control over the flight. Although not generally used for transportation, paragliders can serve for this purpose because one flight can continue up to several hours. Of course that depends on the weather conditions, your skills and other factors.
What is Skydiving
Skydiving looks similar to paragliding because of the equipment but the similarities probably end here. Skydiving is an extreme sport that involves jumping with a parachute from an airplane. Unlike paragliding, skydiving evolved from a practical activity used a lot in the military as a safety mechanism for airmen. Skydiving jumps generally continue less than paragliding flights because the jump is simply said a movement from up to down instead of horizontal flying. The parachutes in skydiving offer less control of the flight than the paragliders do. Skydiving is often practices also as performance sport – groups of skydivers perform various figures. This is less likely in paragliding which is more a sport for pure pleasure of the individual or the tandem who flies.
Paragliding vs. Skydiving
The advantages of paragliding over skydiving are mostly two: in paragliding you have more control and can fly much longer. You can also choose a direction for your flight and travel some distance. The second major advantage of paragliding is that you do not need an airplane to lift you – just find a hill, run and start flying. It's so cool indeed.
Skydiving also also has its advantages. First, you do not need to run – the airplane does the job for you and you can concentrate absolutely on the activity you wanted to do in first place. Second, in skydiving you can reach higher altitude – often the jumps start at 12,500 feet – 14,500 feet above the ground level. You can not go as high in paragliding unless you have some really high mountains near you. And third, the feeling of the free fall before you open the parachute is something that can not be compared to anything.