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Having taken a tour of paragliding equipment, it's time to understand how it all works. Why does paragliding fly, and how does the process work ?

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Of course, paragliding equipment also plays a role. Thanks to the technical nature of the wing, and the action of the air, the glider is able to inflate to take on the shape of an airplane wing. These include air resistance, lift and glide. We won't go into too much detail here, but there are many technical elements that can be taken into account to explain "how a paraglider flies".

Aerodynamic lift is "the resultant of the pressure forces exerted on a moving body in a fluid, perpendicular to the direction of velocity", according to the Larousse definition.

More simply, it's the result of the force of pressure exerted on the paraglider as it moves through the air, perpendicular to the direction of the wind/current. Lift counteracts gravity and is one of the elements that enable a paraglider to fly.

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In addition to this, we can measure glide ratio, which indicates that a paraglider is capable of traveling a certain distance horizontally, greater than the distance traveled vertically. This allows the glider to move horizontally. Glide ratio is a measure of the ratio between the distances covered in these two directions in a given time (in 1 second, we advance 8 to 12 meters, for a fall of about 1 meter). This measurement varies according to the technical nature of the paragliding equipment.

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In addition to the technical characteristics of the equipment, flying is made possible by energy sources such as wind and sun. Paragliding is made possible by the use of updrafts. These currents can be dynamic or thermal.

Dynamic updrafts are the result of the wind blowing against a landform, such as a mountain. This has the effect of redirecting the wind's trajectory upwards, as it bypasses the object that is the relief. The wing therefore comes up against this wind, which ensures its lift as defined above.

Thermal updrafts, on the other hand, are upward currents of warm air that carry the glider along with them. Warm air is lighter than cold air, which is why it rises. Air becomes warm directly from the sun, or indirectly through its effect on the ground and its surroundings. We can imagine a bubble of warm air rising while the surrounding air is colder than it is. Paragliders can use this updraft to follow their momentum and gain height.

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