What is the difference between Paragliding and Speed Flying? This is an important question to answer because it will determine which direction you decide to go in the sport. Let’s explain.
Paragliding involves piloting a very large “ram air” canopy with the ultimate goal of soaring for extended periods of time. The wing is long and narrow, which creates a large amount of lift with very slow airspeeds. Paragliding is a cruising sport, where the pilot makes strategic use of the winds and other natural lift sources to sustain flight. Those individuals that would be drawn to sailing a boat are the same types that would enjoy paragliding.
Speed Flying, on the other hand, is for the fighter pilot at heart. A speed flying wing is shaped more like a high performance parachute and meant to descend out of the sky at adrenaline inducing speeds. The pilot begins her flight at the top of a mountain, launches from a healthy sprint, and then races slalom style through the different terrain features on the way down. Speed flying is certainly a cousin to paragliding, but it’s the cousin that the rest of the family loves to share stories about, but not necessarily join in the adventure.
This explanation of the differences between paragliding and speed flying should suffice to give you a good idea of which sport is for you. We will now answer common questions specific to each sport below, such that you can skip directly to what most interests you.
** We recommend to achieve a paraglider course and obtain the patent PG2 to fly legally and safely in NZ. (check our Ozone School)