Paragliding is the closest humans can currently get to flying like a bird. This extreme sport was invented in the late 70’s by rock and mountain climbers who were looking for an easy and simple method to descend mountains with steep slopes. Eventually paragliding became its own sport, emerging as one of the more popular methods of unpowered flight. This is despite the obvious risks involved, especially if minimum safety requirements are not met.
Paragliders have no need for an engine or fuel because they only weigh about 20 kilograms, with no rigid structure at all. This allows them to utilize wind as their only propellant. These ultralight and flexible gliders have either a harness with thin synthetic ropes or a chair suspended underneath the wing canopy.
Wing and harness designs have advanced a lot, meaning even recreational pilots can easily fly over 100 kilometers. And the world record single flight distance currently stands at 568 kilometers. Paragliders are able to fly these long distances by utilizing invisible pockets of warm, rising air. In fact, the core skills required for paragliding are efficiently finding and exploiting these invisible air pockets, while also avoiding dangerous turbulence.
When you are walking on air and seeing some incredible views, paragliding also improves mental health while providing a great physical workout. The psychologically challenging nature of flying so high above ground provide some positive mental health benefits. Paragliding helps by boosting confidence and concentration, while also reducing stress, and overcoming fears.
This exciting aerial sport burns calories while engaging deep core muscles and increasing upper body strength. Paragliding improves both flexibility and mobility which ultimately reduces the risk of injury from rigorous activities.
Paragliding is a fertile field for medical research with huge potential. It is a burgeoning discipline, with an enthusiastic community, and multitude of cognitive or physiological challenges.