If you look up the definition of "paragliding" in the dictionary you will find that it is a type of device that can be used to jump safely off mountain clifts and flot slowly to the ground.
As in every sport, multiple types of equipment exist. Unlike what you might have seen in action movies, paragliding isn't jumping out of planes and quickly landing to the ground (parachuting is probably the word you are referring too!).
Paragliding is technically considered like a small aircraft with the exception that it does not have a motor. It flys thanks to the pull of gravity and the push of different air masses (ascending air flows to gain altitude) into the front of the sail creating a wing shaped structure. The pilots control the direction by pulling on the small cords attached to the different sides of the sail, deciding where to go and the optimal altitude to have.
According to the French federation of free flight; paragliding is considered a popular sport. In 2021, the FFVL (Fédération Français de vol libre) counted a little more than 43 000 active members practicing different types of free jumping sports.
It has to be noted that different variations of free flight exist; such as a simple paragliding flight; long distance flights; aerobatic paragliding, hike paragliding where you can walk and fly multiple times a day; speedflying and or even speedriding...
We will discover how this leisure activity became so popular around the lake of Annecy, what type of equipment is necessary, how parachuting works and finally how the pilots of this recreational air transportation device manage to glide it safely through the air, and many more in the following articles!