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Paragliding vs Hang gliding – which one is really dominating the skies?

Two sports with a lot in common, we break down the reasons to choose one of these free-gliding sports for your next aerial adventure.

Seemingly different with a shared approach to motor-free flight, paragliding and hang gliding might seem like two opposing sports but, look a little closer, and you’ll see why they’re both popular flight options supported by the ‘Fédération Française de Vol Libre’.
Check out our comparison below:

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Kit

The biggest visible difference is the shape and size of the ‘kite’. Hang gliding uses a distinctive triangular formation that’s more rigid and supported by metal struts (A-Frame) for improved aerodynamics. More like a parachute, paragliding uses a soft, wide surface used to trap the air below.

 

Price

When it comes to comparing kit, hang gliding kites cost more than paragliding chutes (€4500 vs €2500 average) but last longer. If you’re thinking about renting your gear or taking your first flight, it costs around €80 for a two-hour hang gliding flight and around €500 for a multi-day course.

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Size

Packable and fitting neatly on your back, paragliding is more practical than the rigid structure of a hang glide. Whilst paragliding equipment can be easily transported by car, train or plane, hang glides measure 5m and need a specialized roof rack.

 

Weight

While paragliding equipment weighs only 10kg, hang gliding is more than triple that – and don’t forget about the piloting extras like a harness and helmet.

Safety

Two sports with different safety ratings, paragliding is considered a calmer activity with a larger surface area to catch an updraft and glide on thermals – but, the higher you go the more volatile the energy distribution. Even in the case of a chute collapse, the loss of altitude will stabilise the airflow and, just in-case, you even have a second deployable parachute. Today, hang gliding technology and development makes it far more secure with minimal risk factor.

 

Thrill Factor

Travelling at 100km/h, hang gliding is the speedier alternative to paragliding (approx 20km/h) – plus there is more opportunity for aerial acrobatics and tricks. Paragliding is considered a scenic and leisurely activity suited to sightseeing. Hang gliding is fast, furious and packed with fun – we’ll let you decide…

Training

Easier and less expensive, paragliding can be learnt in just a few lessons – whilst hang gliding demands at least 10 lessons. Being heavier and more cumbersome, hang gliding is great for sporty and determined athletes – with both practising the same land-based take-off technique.

 

Positioning

In hang gliding, the pilot is laying down in a ‘pendular’ position under the A-frame using the body to turn. In paragliding, you sit in a harness and control the chute with your hands. A less natural position, hang gliding offers longer flight times and its streamlined profile means takeoffs are easier with winds up to 40km/h (only 25km/h for paragliding).

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Availability

As hang gliding has become less popular, paragliding’s image has soared. Therefore, hang gliding schools are in decline and harder to find. Harnessing the same natural elements, paragliding is favoured for its comfortable position and security aspects that make it more practised today.

 

Destinations

There may be more opportunities to try paragliding but, in general, both can be practised in the same locations. At Adrenaline Hunter, we have over 200 activities in destinations across the world!

 

Our vote

At Adrenaline Hunter, we’re pretty biased – anything fast and fun and we’re willing to give it a try. We love the sensations of hang gliding and using the updraft to try tricks and turns like a bird of prey – it definitely gets our vote. A proud champion of sporting underdogs, help us get hang gliding back on top!

 

Check out activities online at Adrenaline Hunter

 

 

Interview with Jean-Baptiste Chandelier, paragliding pro.

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