When it comes to paragliding, the question of safety is often on people’s minds. As we consider whether to try this exhilarating sport, it’s natural to wonder about the risks involved. So, just how safe is paragliding?
Really, How Safe is Paragliding, especially for kids?
Why am I asking this question?
- I am scared of it. I’ve got vertigo and afraid I’ll vomit.
- But…I want to send my 12 year old up so she doesn’t end up a scaredy cat like me.
- But I want to know the facts, so here’s my findings based on real research.
I didn’t even come close to barfing. 😜 🪂
How Dangerous is Paragliding?
There can never be a guarantee of safety, only risk reduction. As always, this is YOUR decision to make.
#1: Most problems occur during takeoff and landing, and during a pilot’s first 10 flights.
#2: According to various studies and statistics, paragliding is generally considered a safe activity as long as proper precautions are taken.
If you’re worried about paragliding, you can go tandem with an experienced pilot who is certified to fly. This means that you will be attached to the pilot during the flight, which adds extra weight and stability to the paraglider. The pilot will also provide expert guidance and there will be reserve parachutes available to minimize your risk. Going tandem is a great way to experience paragliding while feeling safe and secure with an experienced pilot.
#3: Of course, as with any adventure sport, there is always some level of risk involved. However, when compared to other activities such as driving or horseback riding, paragliding has a lower fatality rate.
To ensure safety while paragliding, it’s important to use well-maintained paragliding equipment and to have proper training and guidance from experienced instructors.
If you are curious about how paragliding works, read my detailed article about my daughters first time paragliding in Germany.
TL;DR: How Dangerous is Paragliding?
How To Reduce Risk Paragliding
|Risk Mitigation Factors||Description|
|Proper training||Receive training from a certified instructor and practice in a safe environment before attempting to paraglide on your own.|
|Equipment||Use high-quality, well-maintained equipment that’s appropriate for your skill level and the conditions you’ll be flying in.|
|Weather conditions||Check the weather forecast before flying and avoid flying in strong winds, thunderstorms, or other hazardous conditions.|
|Site assessment||Assess the site for potential hazards such as power lines, trees, or other obstacles before launching.|
|Risk management||Be aware of your surroundings and be prepared to make quick decisions in case of an emergency. Most problems occur during takeoff and landing, and during a pilot’s first 10 flights.|
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🔥 ➡️ Related Reading – Outdoor Europe Travel Tips:
- How To Visit Iconic Lago di Braies in the Dolomites
- Austrian Hidden Gem ➡️ Paragliding in Mayrhofen
- The Best Paragliding Tours in Chamonix France
- What Exactly is the Difference Between Paragliding and Hang Gliding?
How Safe is Gliding?
What does the Science Say?
When I want to know something, I skip people’s “opinions” and I go right to the scientific literature. A “systematic review” is considered the highest level of evidence as it aggregates multiple studies and all the statistics are repeated to ensure they are valid.
Here’s what I found in a systematic review published by the BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation regarding injuries in Alpine summer sports.
Paragliding accidents are most common in mountainous areas and usually happen due to bad weather, with most accidents occurring between May and August.
A study showed that paragliding is responsible for most injuries in airborne sports, with an injury rate of 10.8 injuries per 1000 participants per year.
The mortality rate is about 0.46 per 1000 people at risk.
Most injuries involve the lower part of the body, especially the ankle joint, and spine injuries are also common. The most common cause of accidents is when the wing collapses during flight, and most crashes happen during landing.
The most dangerous phases of flight are takeoff and landing, with beginners having more accidents during these phases, while experienced pilots are more accident-prone during flight.
How Safe is Paragliding for Kids?
After evaluating the risk, I decided to go for it for my daughter. It was kind of a bribe. She went hut to hut hiking with me for 3 days and I got her a tandem paragliding experience in Oberstdorf, Germany. And guess what? It worked like a charm!
Is Paragliding Scary?
Soaring high above the Bavarian Alps was totally worth the money to pay for a tandem flight. I have to admit, I was a little nervous at first, but seeing the joy on my kid’s face made it all worth it.
She said it was not at all scary.
I wish I could feel that way.
Paragliding is a thrilling sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, but it’s not risk free. I’m going to discuss the safety aspects of paragliding and what you can do to minimize the risks involved to be the safety paraglider you can be.
Paragliding Equipment List
Paragliding equipment is the most important aspect of safety. Before you take off, you must ensure that your equipment is in good condition. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Check your wing, harness, and reserve parachute before every flight.
- Make sure that your equipment is certified and up-to-date.
- Do not fly with old or damaged equipment.
- Always wear a helmet and back protector.
The pilot’s experience and skill level are crucial when it comes to paragliding safety. Here are some tips for pilots:
- Do not fly in conditions that are beyond your skill level.
- Always fly with a qualified instructor or experienced pilot.
- Do not fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Stay up-to-date with the latest safety regulations and guidelines.
Flying safely is all about making the right decisions. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Always check the weather conditions before taking off.
- Avoid flying in turbulent or gusty conditions.
- Maintain a safe distance from other pilots and objects.
- Do not fly over populated areas unless you have to.
Proper training is essential for paragliding safety. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Choose a certified and reputable paragliding school.
- Complete a comprehensive training program before taking off on your own.
- Practice emergency procedures with your instructor.
- Stay up-to-date with the latest safety guidelines and regulations.
Paragliding can be a safe and enjoyable sport if you take the necessary precautions. Always prioritize safety over thrills and take the time to learn and practice proper techniques. Remember, we are responsible for our own safety and the safety of others around us.
Fear of Paragliding
Paragliding can be an exciting and thrilling experience, but it can also be intimidating for those who have never tried it before. In this section, we will discuss some common fears associated with paragliding and how to overcome them.
Fear of Heights
One of the most common fears associated with paragliding is the fear of heights. It is understandable to feel nervous when you are thousands of feet above the ground. However, it is important to remember that paragliding is a safe and controlled activity. You will be securely strapped into a harness and under the guidance of an experienced instructor.
If you are feeling nervous, take some deep breaths and focus on the beautiful scenery around you. Remember that the view from above is something that few people get to experience, and it is worth pushing through your fear to enjoy it.
How safe is paragliding for people on their first time?
If it is your first time paragliding, it is natural to feel anxious. You may be worried about the safety of the equipment or the experience itself. However, it is important to remember that paragliding is a well-regulated and safe activity. The paragliding safety record is well-know and distributed by government agencies.
First Time Paragliding Tips
Before you take off, your instructor will give you a thorough safety briefing and explain how to use the equipment. They will also be with you throughout the flight, providing guidance and support. If you have any concerns or questions, do not hesitate to ask your instructor.
Paragliding can be an adrenaline-packed experience, and some people may be worried about feeling out of control. However, it is important to remember that you are in control of your flight. Your instructor will guide you, but you will be the one making the decisions about where to go and how fast to fly.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and focus on your breathing. This will help you to stay calm and in control. Remember that paragliding is a unique and exhilarating experience, and it is worth pushing through any fears to enjoy it.
Your instructor will be with you every step of the way, providing guidance and support. So, don’t let your fears hold you back from experiencing the thrill of paragliding.
Mishaps and Accidents
Paragliding is an adventure sport that requires proper training, equipment, and safety measures to ensure a safe flight. However, mishaps and accidents can still occur, and it’s important to be aware of the risks involved.
According to statistics, the fatality rate for paragliding is low, with an average of 0.46 in 10,000 flights resulting in a fatality. However, it’s important to note that this rate can vary depending on various factors, such as weather conditions, pilot experience, equipment failure, and more.
Paragliding accidents can range from minor injuries to life-threatening situations. The most common accidents are caused by pilot error, such as misjudging weather conditions, poor decision-making, and lack of experience. Other accidents can be caused by equipment failure, such as broken lines or parachute malfunction.
To reduce the risk of accidents, it’s important to follow proper safety procedures, such as performing pre-flight checks, wearing appropriate safety gear, and avoiding flying in unfavorable weather conditions. It’s also important to undergo proper training and seek guidance from experienced pilots.
When it comes to paragliding, tandem paragliding is a popular option for those who want to experience the thrill of flying without having to go through the extensive training required to fly solo.
Tandem paragliding involves flying with an experienced pilot who controls the paraglider while the passenger sits in a harness attached to the pilot.
One important consideration for tandem paragliding is weight.
The maximum weight limit for tandem paragliding is typically around 220 pounds (100 kg). This is because the paragliding canopy needs to be able to safely support the weight of the pilot, passenger, and all additional equipment.
Fitness, age, and disability are also factors to consider when it comes to tandem paragliding.
While there are no strict age limits, passengers should be physically fit enough to run a short distance during takeoff and be able to sit upright for the duration of the flight. Those with certain disabilities may not be able to participate in tandem paragliding.
How Safe is Paragliding Tandem?
Safety is always a concern with any adventure sport, and tandem paragliding is no exception. While no extreme sport is entirely safe, all tandem pilots must have their APPI 5 Advanced Pilot Qualification certificate.
This means they must have completed at least 200 authenticated flights across varied locations and weather conditions. The greatest care is taken to avoid accidents, but it is important to remember that there is always some level of risk involved.
Some people ask, “is paragliding fun” if it’s tandem, and I believe that the increased safety will make it more fun.
Popular Places for Tandem Paragliding
French Alps Paragliding
Mountain paragliding is very popular in France. Paragliding in Chamonix was my first experience paragliding and it was amazing! It’s the literal roof of Europe under Mt. Blanc (Europe’s highest mountain).
The Turkish mountains rise directly next to the Mediterranean making it a great place to try paragliding. Top spots include Fethiye paragliding, Oludeniz paragliding, Izmir Paragliding, and Pamukkale paragliding.
If you’re traveling in Portugal there are a few places that offer paragliding. The most extreme would be Madeira paragliding and a more gentle experience would be Algarve paragliding.
How Safe is Paragliding Compared to Skydiving
When it comes to extreme sports, skydiving is often compared to paragliding. Skydiving involves jumping out of a plane from a height of around 10,000 to 15,000 feet and freefalling for around 60 seconds before opening the parachute. Paragliding, on the other hand, involves launching from a hill or mountain and gliding through the air using a parachute-like wing.
Both sports have their own unique thrills and risks. Here are some key differences between paragliding and skydiving:
- Equipment: Skydiving equipment is designed for speed and safety, while paragliding equipment is all about comfort and control. Skydivers wear a jumpsuit, helmet, and parachute, while paragliders wear a harness, helmet, and wing.
- Risk of Injury: Both sports have a risk of injury, but statistics suggest that paragliding is slightly safer than skydiving. According to Outdoorasaurus, paragliding has a 0.0074% fatality rate compared to skydiving’s 0.0004% fatality rate. However, it’s important to note that both sports are still considered extreme and carry a certain degree of risk.
- Experience: Skydiving offers an intense rush of adrenaline and a truly unique experience of free-falling from a great height. Paragliding, on the other hand, provides a more relaxed and peaceful experience, allowing you to soar through the air and enjoy the stunning views from high above the ground.
- Training: Both sports require training and certification before you can participate. Skydiving typically requires a few days of training, while paragliding can take several weeks or months to master.
Both paragliding and skydiving are extreme sports with their own risks and rewards, statistics suggest that paragliding may be slightly safer than skydiving. Hang gliding vs paragliding is beyond the scope of this article. As is motorized paragliding. However, it’s important to remember that both sports require proper training and caution to minimize the risk of injury.
Paragliding is an exhilarating sport that offers breathtaking views and a sense of freedom. However, it’s important to remember that paragliding can be dangerous if not approached with caution and proper safety measures.
We have learned that paragliding can be made safe by following a set of safety guidelines and performing regular safety checks. This is different than powered paragliding safety however. That’s a different topic.
These guidelines include checking the weather conditions, using proper equipment, and taking lessons from a certified instructor.
It’s also important to keep in mind that accidents can happen even to experienced paragliders. In the event of an accident, it’s crucial to have a plan in place and to seek immediate medical attention.
While paragliding can be risky, it’s important to remember that many other activities, such as driving a car or riding a bike, also come with risks. By taking the necessary precautions and following safety guidelines, we can minimize the risks and enjoy the thrill of paragliding.
Stay tuned to our next safety article : How Safe is Parasailing? Because we love the sea too!
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FAQ : How Safe is Paragliding?
How common are paragliding accidents?
Not very common. Statistics show that paragliding is generally safer than activities like motorcycling or horseback riding. In Germany, for example, where paragliding is more popular than in the US, about 3 people out of 33,000 pilots are killed each year. This comes out to 1 out of 11,000 pilots, which is slightly lower than the driving fatality rate. Car accidents are a leading cause of death in the US, with about 1 out of every 10,000 Americans killed in a car accident each year. In 2011, there were about 32,000 deaths.
Is it safe to go paragliding?
Paragliding is generally considered safe, but there are some risks involved. These include injuries from crashes, getting lost or stranded in remote areas, and exposure to bad weather.
Which is safer skydiving or paragliding?
When it comes to paragliding and skydiving, statistics suggest that both activities are much less risky than people generally assume, and are actually safer than driving a car. While paragliding is a more relaxed experience compared to the adrenaline rush of skydiving, both activities have similar fatality rates. According to statistics, paragliding has a fatality rate of 0.0074% per year, while skydiving has a slightly lower fatality rate of 0.0004% per year. Therefore, it’s difficult to say which activity is safer, as both have a relatively low risk of fatalities.
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Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and passionate hiker who believes in exploring the world on foot with good food. Follow her journey as she shares science-based hiking tips and advocates for sustainable tourism.
Well, there you have it! Everything you need to know about how safe is paragliding.