WHAT IS PARAGLIDING?
Dr Francis Rogallo, a key player in Paragliding history. In the 1940's the Dr persuaded NASA, his employer to fund him and his experiments with kites and paragliders.
It was in 1948 when he filed for a Patent for his flexible delta designs. From then on, people & organisations in different parts of the world pushed the boundaries for paragliding & hang-gliding. In world war 1 they even towed sailors behind submarines for them to spot objects on the horizon. It wasn't until about 1980 though that parachutes were foot launched regularly from hills. At first it was mainly a small minority of French and Swiss Pilots in the Alps that played with the hang-gliding design. From then on the sport quickly spread with surprising speed, being seen on all continents bar Antarctica (South Pole)
And now to the modern day, Paragliding is a hobby and much loved sport with a strong and well proven history of rigorous designing and testing and is now loved and enjoyed by people from all across the globe. From Acrobatic paragliding to Cross Country. XC-
The whole idea of being able to maintain powerless flight is the feeling that has people addicted to this amazing sport. To be able to see the land from a birds point of view, to have too read the land and judge how the local meteorology systems work, and understand this in order to maintain flight, gain height and fly further a field.
Paragliding has now advanced to become a competitive adventure sport with the paragliding rigs that are on the market being so well designed, they are able to push the boundaries to the limit. With Pilots being able to pull off complete flips to soaring and flying XC with the record being 513KM's Of non-stop flight in Brazil.
A BASIC DESCRIPTION OF A PARAGLIDING RIG ASSEMBLY
The Canopy & Lines
The Canopy or wing, this is the sole piece of the equipment that enables us to "Glide" through the sky. Constructed of a top and bottom surface joined in the middle with a number of vertical segments, creating numerous "Cells" with "openings" on the Leading edge of the wing. The back edge of the wing is called the "trailing edge"
On a typical Canopy, there could be any number of cells, from 30-100, with the differences dictating the Spec. of the wing.
Wings are made from non-porous coated fabrics, either Nylon or Polyester. Then some have additional finishing coats to further protect against ultra-violet light.
Then we have the lines, these are made from two main types of material: Kevlar, which is a Polyaramid (Carbon Fibre) which is usually encased in an outer shall of Dacron (terylene) or something similar.
Then Polyethylene, also known as Dyneema or technora. Spectral the USA. The Polyaramid material is extremely strong and has good resistance to stretching or shrinking, it is not temperature sensitive however it requires regular checks as knotting or kinking around a small radius can damage it, therefore it is most commonly used for the main extension lines where keeping an accurate length is critical.
Polytherelene (Dyneema) is also very strong but more flexible, which is why its the material of choice for being used for the "Brake lines" or "control Lines". However Dyneema is sensitive to stretching and shrinking and should not be left in direct sunlight as to prolong its life. As with all materials used on a ring, they degrade over time, a yearly inspection of all gliders are therefore maintained.
As the lines come down from the Canopy, they all connect to the Riser, one on either side of the Pilot. The risers are made of 1 inch or 25mm webbing material, they in turn are then connected to the harness with a carabiner. The Risers are simply the piece of equipment that all the lines connect to, then filtering them down into 3 or 4 pieces of fabric. It is here that is the point of connection to your harness, normally via a Carabiner.