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Parasailing vs. Hang Gliding
By Hanna Nilson

 

Parasailing vs., Hang Gliding; It's the difference between driving and being driven.

Many people get these two sports mixed-up when, actually, they are very different. If you're considering an airborne adventure but can't decide between parasailing and hang-gliding, consider whether or not you would like to be in control. The difference between parasailing and hang gliding lies in the equipment and its usage.

Parasailing allows you to be driven while hang gliding gives you the freedom to direct the sail at your will. This is because, when parasailing, you are attached to a high-speed moving vehicle (car or boat) which keeps the parasail aloft and allows the parasailor to relax and enjoy the ride. Also, unlike the hang glider, the parasail is comparable to a parachute. It is a large envelop, which is designed to catch the wind and keep the rider up in the air.

On the other hand, the hang glide is designed to sail through the air, so it is flat with the aerodynamic structure of a large kite. The pilot is attached to a frame or handle-bar which, once in the air, allows the pilot to maneuver the aircraft without the help of another vehicle. This aircraft is usually launched from a high altitude, such as from off a cliff or mountain ledge. It gradually descends over various distances ranging from about 40km to 60km. Other launch techniques include foot-launching from a hill, tow-launching from a ground-based tow system, air-towing (behind a powered aircraft), powered harnesses, and being towed up by a boat

If it is your first time attempting an airborne sport or if you are nervous in anyway about flying, it is advised that parasailing be the first step. Parasailing is a team effort and requires mutual cooperation and support. With the help of a professional or more experienced person to take control of the direction and speed, parasailing can be a very relaxed and leisurely experience.

Potential parasailors or hang gliders are also encouraged to seek training from a certified professional or training instructor before taking their first solo flight. Furthermore, it is a smart practice to make sure that the equipment that will be used is standard and in good condition. It is very unlikely that there will come across any damaged gear, however, accidents do happen and one can never be too cautious when practicing an extreme sport.

Likewise, hang gliding can be dangerous if the person pursuing it is careless. However, hang-gliding is a one man sport. So, the only person responsible for the trip is the pilot, you! Without the guidance of a driver below, the pilot has to stay alert and in control of the aircraft in order to safely enjoy the ride.

Since both parasailing and hang gliding are air sports, weather is a huge factor. This means that, especially if you are considering hang gliding; the pilot must be aware of the wind patterns and expected forecast. Hang gliding and/or parasailing in the rain or during heavy winds can be very dangerous. So, be sure you're in the clear and that the winds are calm.

 

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