Paragliding History

 

 probably the first paraglider

Paragliders have evolved from two sources.

One was an evolution of round parachutes which were slotted to give them forward motion. these eventually evolved into ram air parachutes.

At about the the same time in the 1960's, David Barish assited NASA testing and developing a spacecraft recovery system(pictured left) which led to the Sail-wing. The project was not continued.

 Early Paraglider

 An early paraglider,

circa 1975. Note the plain webbing harness, and the similarity to ram air parachutes of the day.

The glide ratio of these gliders was below and up to 3 to 1. So for every 3 metres they travelled forwards, they descend 1 metre. Due to the low glide ratio and lack of harness protection, injuries were common.

 1980's paraglider

 During the 1980's, the distinctict eliptical shape of the modern paraglider was starting to appear.

Glide ratios between 3:1 and 4:1 became normal

 modern paraglider

 A modern paraglider has many lines each to an exact length to support the shape of the wing as a highly efficient airfoil.

Glide ratios between 8 and 9.5 to 1 are common with modern paragliders.

Note the evolution of the harness incorporating padding in case of hard landings.

 the future of paragliding wings

 A glimpe into the future of paragliding wings today. The deathblade, aptly named super high performance experimental paragliding wing.

Other evolutions include carbon rods within the cloth to increase wing stiffness.