Paragliding for Beginners: Overcoming Common Fears and Challenges

Paragliding offers a great sense of freedom. However, let’s be real, it is common for beginners to feel a mix of excitement and apprehension at the prospect of their first flight. Here we cover the most common fears associated with paragliding and practical advice on how to overcome them.

Understanding Common Fears

Fear of Heights (Acrophobia)

A fear of heights is very natural and one of the feel fears that we are born with! It is no wonder it is the most common fear when it comes to an activity like paragliding. Fear not, (lol) this absolutely doesn’t disqualify you from enjoying the sport. Paragliding introduces height in a gradual, controlled manner, often helping individuals manage and sometimes even overcome their acrophobia. The sensation of flying can feel surprisingly secure, given the harness and the peaceful glide that defines the sport. It is quite different from the mad rush that is skydiving.

My personal story is that I still get scared of heights when paragliding. If I hit some bumpy air or am doing a banked turn then I still get nervous. For me it was about channelling this fear into the adrenaline buzz that I get from flying.

Fear of Falling or Losing Control

The thought of losing control while suspended in the air can be daunting. However, paragliding is built on a foundation of safety and control. Beginners start their journey with extensive ground training, learning how to manage the wing and control their flight. Moreover, modern paragliding equipment is designed with numerous safety features and redundancies to ensure pilots remain in control and safe at all times.

Modern EN-A rated wings are incredibly stable in the air and take a lot to stall or collapse. This is the same for tandem wings which are designed with safety at top of mind.

Fear of Equipment Failure

Worries about equipment failure are understandable for any activity involving gear. Given the nature of the activity, paragliding equipment manufacturer take their safety testing very serious and have detailed maintenance checks for users to minimize the risk of malfunction.

Additionally, pilots are trained to handle a wide range of scenarios. Paragliders also carry an emergency parachute, which can be deployed if something goes wrong with the main wing. Equipment failure is very rarely the cause of incidents when paragliding.

If you are flying tandem, you can skip this bit. If you are learning to fly solo, you will also learn about how to conduct your daily and pre-flight checks so that everything is in order before every flight. While you are learning and gaining confidence it always recommended to have someone on the hill with you to check your launch procedure and make sure you follow every step!

Challenges for New Paragliders

Physical Preparation and Fitness

One of the initial hurdles for new paragliders is ensuring they have the physical capability for the sport. While paragliding does not require extreme fitness, a basic level of physical health is important for handling the equipment and managing takeoff and landing processes. Core strength, endurance, and flexibility can all enhance the experience and reduce the risk of injury.

Mental Preparation

Mental readiness is equally critical. Paragliding demands focus, calmness, and the ability to make decisions in the air. Newcomers often underestimate the mental aspect of the sport. Developing a mindset that embraces learning, patience, and resilience can be as crucial as mastering the physical skills.

Learning and Understanding the Basics

The learning curve in paragliding can appear steep initially. Grasping the fundamentals of aerodynamics, weather conditions, and equipment use is essential. Comprehensive training programs are designed to build this knowledge progressively, ensuring that beginners gain confidence in their understanding and abilities.

Overcoming Fears and Challenges

Structured Training Programs

The key to overcoming many of the fears and challenges associated with paragliding lies in structured training programs. These programs offer a step-by-step approach to learning, beginning with basic ground control and advancing through to solo flights. Quality instruction ensures that beginners are well-prepared to handle their equipment and understand the principles of flight safely.

Tandem Flights

Tandem flights serve as a great confidence builder and can bridge between training and solo flights. Some schools will do tandems with their EP students in order to practice certain skills. Flying with an instructor allows for taking the controls or experiencing the sensations that come with flying. This can alleviate fears by demonstrating the control of the equipment and situation.

Joining a Paragliding Community

I would massively encourage anyone taking up paragliding to engage with the community. Whether through local clubs or online forums, connecting with others offers access to advice, encouragement, and a healthy dose of poor jokes.

Book your tandem flight here or here in Southern England. If you want to learn to go solo check out our elementary courses here.

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Co-founder and Chief Adventurer

I am Max, the co-founder and CEO of adventuro. We are on a mission to help you get into the sports you have always wanted to try, or develop in the sports you love, exploring new skills and locations. We do this by partnering with the best instructors, guides, and activity centres to get a great spread from beginner all the way to instructor training.

For too long, it has been way to confusing to find your next steps, or even to know where to start when getting into adventure sports. I am an experienced and/or qualified paraglider, skydiver, scuba diver, freediver, power boat driver, snowboarder, kitesurfer, kayaker, mountain biker, surfer, dirt biker, wakeboarder, and sailor.

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