Paragliding is a light-weight, free-flying glider aircraft where the person sits below the suspended wing in a harness. The glider is able to control the aircraft via the use of suspension lines.
And surprisingly, competitive paragliding and paragliding in general is a relatively new sport. It wasn’t until the 1980s that it really took off. Since then, there are thousands of qualified pilots worldwide.
When it comes to competitive paragliding, there are three main types: cross-country flying, aerobatics competition, and hike & fly. The cross-country flying is the traditional form of paragliding competitions. It is competed on regional, national, and international stages. Aerobatics competition sees gliders perform highly-skilled moves. Interestingly, the aerobatics competitions are held for solo pilots as well as for synchronized teams. Hike & fly is ultimately a race to the finish where participants must hike and fly a certain distance over many days.
Paragliding is classified as an extreme sport. Potential for injury is based on the pilot’s skill level and experience, as well as equipment used. Much of the skill involved is rooted in understanding the site conditions and sufficient training to be able to perform emergency maneuvers, as well as control the wing.