A paraglider is a soft wing and is not to be confused with a parachute. A paraglider allows us to glide through the air and not descend vertically in the way a parachute does.

Paragliding evolved from skydivers who were curious enough to try to fly their parachutes from high mountainous areas, it worked alright but the glide angle was very poor. In 1968 Dan Poynter wrote an article for Parachutist magazine reporting that ram air parachutes had been foot launched near lake Placid USA. The sport got a little more popular later in the 1980s in Europe, mainly in the Alps, where a small group of pilots carrying their ram air parachutes over their shoulders joined the local Hangglider pilots.

Today we all fly very high tech computer designed paragliders with micro lines of "Kevlar" (dental floss) 60 cells is not uncommon, glide ratio 9:1, harnesses with full protection even airbags, complete with reserve parachute(some rocket propelled).

The paraglider itself has no rigid structure, the canopy is laid out, inflated and controlled by weight shift and its brake lines, modern paragliders can be soared effortlessly on windward slopes, and flown across country in good conditions. They can not fly in as strong wind strenghts that hanggliders can, but a paraglider is more portable, a little easier to learn to fly and easier to land in small fields.

Licensing Requirements

Paragliders are exempt from any pilot licensing requirements when operated internally in Ireland, i.e. used for recreational pleasure flying and not used for hire or reward i.e. commercial tandem flight or commercial aerial photography. Read Our Sites page and contact the IPPHA Sites Officer for advice.

The fact that there is no licence requirements does not give us the freedom to do what we like. We are all bound by Irish Airlaw in just the same way road users are by the Road Traffic Act. We would emphasise that both the IPPHA and the Irish Aviation Authority strongly recommend that no one should fly or attempt to fly these aircraft without receiving a full course of approved training. Failure to receive such training may result in serious injury or loss of life, as well as damage to aircraft and property.