(taken in Tromso, Norway)
Paragliding (known in Greece, France, Spain and Portugal as parapente - παραπέντε or αλεξίπτωτο πλαγιάς in Greek) is a recreational and competitive flying sport. A paraglider is a free-flying, foot-launched aircraft. The pilot sits in a harness suspended below a fabric wing, whose shape is formed by the pressure of air entering vents in the front of the wing. The paraglider wing (or ‘canopy’ or parafoil) is a self-inflating structure consisting of a row of cells, most of them open at the front and all of them closed at the back, joined together side by side. Moving through the air keeps them inflated as air enters in the front but can't get out the back. In cross-section, the cells form an aerofoil shape to produce lift, just like an airplane wing. The pilot is supported underneath the wing from a web of lines (each with the strength to support the pilot). The lines are then attached to strap-like risers that are attached to the pilot's harness. Controls held in the pilot’s hands, which pull down the trailing edge (rear portion) of the wing, are used to control speed and to turn. The pilot is strapped into the bucket-seat harness, which usually holds a reserve parachute, and includes a ‘speed system’ which pulls down the leading edge for maximum flying speed. Modern recreational harnesses have a foam or air-bag back protector. Paraglider wings typically have an area of 25–35 m² with a span of 8–12 m, and weigh 3–7 kg. Combined weight of wing, harness, reserve, instruments, helmet etc is around 12–18 kg. Glide ratio ranges from 6:1 for recreational paragliders to about 10:1 for modern competition paragliders (compared with an average of 15:1 for hang gliders and up to 60:1 for some sailplanes), and speed range is typically 20–65 km/h (stall speed – max speed): though safe flying range is smaller. Modern paraglider wings are made of high-performance non-porous fabrics such as Porcher Sport & Gelvenor, with Dyneema/Spectra or Kevlar/Aramid lines. For storage and carrying, the wing is folded into the harness seat, and the whole stored in a backpack (which is normally stowed in the harness in flight). Recent developments in light-weight harness design include the ability to turn the harness inside out such that it becomes the backpack removing the need for a second storage system. Tandem paragliders, designed to carry the pilot and one passenger, are larger but otherwise similar. They usually have higher trim speeds (fly faster), are more resistant to collapses and have a slightly higher sink rate compared to solo paragliders. Parachutes including skydiving canopies are generally used for descending purposes (i.e. jumping out of an aircraft or for dropping cargo) while paragliders are generally used for ascending. Paragliders are categorized as "ascending" parachutes by canopy manufacturers worldwide and involve "free flying" (without a tether). However Paragliders can sometimes be tethered for a short period during towing to get airborne.