Ok this is not for the faint hearted or risk-averse.
It is the extreme end of the sport of paragliding. It takes great skill and nerve to fly a paraglider upside
down and inside out!! (which I remind you is a soft wing held open by air presure). The launch for acro can also be
mild or extreme. Launch off a mountain or a hill and catch a thermal up to acro altitude(thats the mild one) get a
winch or boat tow or the extreme end is to D-bag from a helicopter, hot air balloon or ultralight. D-Bagging is
similar to a static line parachute jump where the wing is specially packed, and opens as the pilot jumps.
The wise extreme pilot always does acro over a large body of calm water and definitely carries a reserve
parachute(or two)...just in case, plus a rescue boat must be at hand. Some acro pilots carry a balistic parachute
to ensure a fast reserve opening.
The forces experienced can be veeerrrrry high. For example, the G-forces involved in a spiral dive can be
upwards of 4G. If this is sustained, the pilot can grey-out. A good understanding of how to get into and out
of the manoeuvers is essential, as well as knowing your body's limits.
Some common acrobatic manoeuvers are described below, but first, enjoy some acro-action in these videos.
I think these videos explain the fun and the risks best.
The best acro paragliders in the world!
The RISK (saved by a reserve parachute)
D-bagging from heli demo.
The Acro Spin
A paraglider wing is a regular airfoil just like any other aircraft. A spin occurs when one half of the wing is
stalled, while the other half is still flying(just). he result is that the drag on the stalled wing is higher than
the flying wing. The flying wing wants to fly forwards but is held in the centre by the other half of the wing.
Result, one side rotates around the other. This can be very disorienting, and can be very fast. To get out, the
pilot must slow the flyinging side of the wing and allow both sides to fly again.
his is the most basic of the acro paragliding moves. It involves using weightshift and brake to gradually
increase a trun from left to right and back, each time increasing speed and bank angle. Stopping the manoever also
needs to be done gradually as a sudden change of direction can cause a stall or overshoot and collapse.
This is basically a reverse loop. Contrary to popular belief the manoeuvre is actually the wing revolving around
the pilot, not the pilot around the wing. It is entered by starting a spin in one direction, then rapidly reversing
the spin direction resulting in a very strong wing overshoot which actually goes under the pilot. It takes complete
commitment. Any hesitation may result in the pilot falling into the wing.(thats bad!). The wing almost fully
stalls at every revolution, so exit is also critical.
The future of Acro
The sport of paragliding acro continues to evolve. Combination manoevers are becoming the norm as the top pilots
push the limits and try new things.
Here are some of the latest developments in the sport of acro paraliding.