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Paragliding and Hang Gliding
See Dorset’s famous Jurassic Coast and great countryside from the sky by paragliding or hang gliding. Take off from one of Dorset’s many hills and glide hundreds of feet above the ground and miles across it.
Paragliding or Hang Gliding?
The main difference between the two is the shape of the canopy. The hang glider has a V-shaped canopy while the paraglider resembles a parachute. Also the hang gliding canopy is sturdier and is more durable against the sun’s ultra violet rays than the paraglider’s.
Here are a few facts about the differences between the two to help you decide which you want to do:
- Hang gliders can get a descent ratio of up to 20:1 (for every 20 metres you travel forward, you descend 1 metre), paragliders can get up to 10:1.
- Speeds achieved when paragliding range from 20km/hour to 75km/hour and hang gliding can reach speeds of 30km/hour to 145km/hour – faster isn’t always better if you want to enjoy the view
- When paragliding you are in a sitting position facing forward, whereas the hang glider puts you in a lying down on your front position.
- A paraglider is small and lightweight and the hang gliders have a heavier framework. This gives the paraglider quicker setting up and packing away times than the hang glider. It is also easier to store.
- Both can have fatal risks involved if the pilot isn’t experienced and prepared – see training and safety.
Training and safety
Paragliding and hang gliding can be dangerous sports with both requiring training from qualified instructors. Follow the iCoast map links to find the paragliding and hang gliding training centres in Dorset and any further information on the activity.
Flying on your own
To fly on your own in the UK a ‘Club Pilot’ exam is needed and become you need to be a member of the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association for an annual fee. This includes 3rd party insurance, a training magazine and the monthly magazine Skywings. You will be directed to this company upon completion of training.
What to look out for
Watch out for wildlife:
- The Dorset coast has many areas that are important for wildlife and birds. These areas have restrictions at certain times of the year to help to protect the wildlife. On iCoast please turn on the restricted areas icon to show these areas when planning your activity.
- Don’t linger for too long when you are close to wildlife – By all means look, but then move on.
- Avoid damaging plants and the habitats where you launch and land.
Watch out for the environment
- Take home all rubbish – do not discard rubbish at sea or on the beach. Marine and beach litter spoils peoples experience of the Dorset coast, can harm marine wildlife and can disrupt commercial industries such as by litter getting tangled up in fishermen’s nets. Find out more about marine litter in Dorset.
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