Tuesday, January 01, 2002

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General FAQ

What are paragliders?

Paragliders are unpowered foot-launched soaring craft that resemble modern parachutes. Pilots fly seated in a padded harness that is suspended by lines below a nylon canopy, and the craft is steered by the application of weight shift and brakes. Our craft are similar to hang gliders in that they allow pilots to soar in wind currents and updrafts, but in many ways the craft are quite different. Our gliders are made of only cloth and lines, with no rigid parts, so they are much lighter and can be packed into backpacks for hiking. In addition, paragliders are forced by their design to fly slower than hang gliders. This limits the windspeeds in which we can safely fly, but it also means that our launches and landings are made at more manageable speeds.

Is it safe?

Safety is our primary concern. The safety issues related to paragliding are similar to those of other popular recreational pursuits that have inherent risks, such as surfing or mountain biking, where good judgment is required to assess natural conditions. Our members are all trained, certified and regulated according to strict safety guidelines developed by our national association. Our members fly with helmets, radios, and reserve parachutes.

Visitor FAQ

We have about 10 intermediate rated sites we fly pretty much year-round. The sites we fly on this island are rarely suitable for novice visiting pilots due to various challenging launch or LZ or weather conditions. The flying here is mostly ridge soaring, often in very strong winds. We have one site that is thermal-only, but good conditions for flying there are more rare. To fly our ridge sites, you will need excellent ground handling skills, and you should be on the upper side of the weight range of your wing. We ask that our visitors fly with a reserve and helmet and a 2m band VHF radio.

During the winter and spring months we see a lot of weeks where it rains too much or it's just blowing too hard. We have one officially permitted site where we are strictly regulated and prohibited from commercial activities like tandems or tour groups. Our other sites are unpermitted but very sensitive. Our island is very populated and developed compared to the others, so we are often dealing with landowner and PR issues. Please don't fly our sites without locals present. Also, please note that we love to share our sites with individual visitors but our sites will not accommodate large groups of visitors.