Paragliding and hang gliding are EXTREME SPORTS and by default that makes them HIGH RISK. Injuries do occur when gliding, mainly to the lower limb like twisted ankles suffered during take-off or landing (or a few bumps and bruises from the frequent draggings when initially learning). More than 90% of injuries happen during the first ten flights a pilot makes, the majority of these injuries being to the lower leg. But we are generally proud of our bumps and bruises and of course the majority of us don’t tend to make the same mistake twice!
There is a lot of camaraderie between the Pennine pilots and the experienced pilots are very happy to give advice and swap notes on techniques and safety issues with novices. The learning period is very important so don't be afraid to ask for advice, everyone was a beginner at some time. No one is going to laugh at you for asking questions, or getting something wrong, all we want is to keep each other safe. It spoils everyone's fun if someone is hurt. Paragliding and ang gliding can be made a lot safer if you are aware of your limitations and take into account the weather conditions before launching.
So what can you do to make flying as safe as possible?
- Don't try and teach yourself how to paraglide or hang glide, that can be extremely dangerous. Both are forms of aviation and you'd never think about trying to teach yourself how to fly a jumbo jet…would you?
- Learn to fly from a fully qualified paragliding / hang gliding instructor.
- Join a registered club.
- Don’t go out on your own, it’s safer to fly when someone else is around … just in case. OR AT LEAST tell someone where you are going.
- If you are a beginner don't buy second hand equipment, unless it has been seen by your instructor and is deemed suitable.
- Paragliders and hang gliders are rated on performance. If you join a registered club you will be taught on equipment that has been rated for a beginner.
- Equipment you will need apart from a canopy/glider is a harness, warm clothes such as ski pants/jackets/thermals or even a flight suit, sturdy boots and a helmet.
- More advanced pilots may also need navigation instruments and other accessories.
- Plan your flight beforehand.
- Take the weather into account before launching.
- You don't need a hill to paraglide. You can be launched on the flat by towing, using an engine driven winch. It's important however that you have been trained in the technique of taking off using a tow before attempting it. The tow operator must also have been fully trained.
- Use caution if you are attempting to fly in weather conditions you have never flown in before.
- Don't attempt a level of flight that is beyond your level of experience.
- Never attempt fixed rope towing or tethering, this is extremely dangerous.
- Use your common sense. Don't take unnecessary risks. Paragliding and hang gliding can be dangerous enough without making rash decisions or judgements.
Otherwise… if in doubt… ASK!