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Paraglider are for paragliders suitable freiflug grade (that is, without connecting to the ground line), controllable, aussteifungslose aircraft, after their main purpose in parachutes (type surface parachute !) And paragliders are divisible. Today's paraglider consists of an air-filled, textile wing consisting of several chambers, which is connected to the "payload" by a system of lines and straps.

The term paraglider has a slightly different meaning in Germany: Here paragliders are a separate order within air sports equipment under aviation law and are therefore mainly used as the official name for paragliders. Any motorized paraglider is also an aerospace device, but then falls into the category of ultralight aircraft .


As early as 1948, conceptual ideas for paragliders made only of fabric and cord were laid down in a patent by Francis Melvin Rogallo . The decisive difference to the round-cap parachutes of the time , which also consisted only of “fabric and cords”, were the u. a. gliding properties achieved by the different shape of his devices. Extensive experiments were carried out in practice.

At the beginning of the sixties, in connection with the ambitious space plans of the USA and the USSR, the development of paraglider systems was also intensified in order to be able to better bring landing modules back to earth after the end of the mission. In connection with corresponding research programs at NASA , two different new umbrella concepts were patented in 1964, which, in addition to the common departure from the usual round canopy system of the parachutes used to date, were characterized by opposites: The Barish system was a three-arched, rectangular individual surface Parachute, Jalbert's system, on the other hand, comprised a box- or mattress-shaped, multi-cell parachute concept called “Parafoil”, with which he had basically taken up his earlier ideas after the compensation and approval of the Rogallos patent by NASA in 1964.

Patent drawings of Jalbert's "Multi-Cell Wing" / Parafoil from 1964

The so-called Sailwing , a further development of the BARISH system in the following year, can be regarded as the first paraglider in history, because it was used for paragliding flights (see paragliding) as early as 1965, while those with the JALBERT parafoil system were only carried out in 1967. The primary purposes also speak clearly in favor of the Sailwing as the "original paraglider", because its purpose was clearly paragliding after a mountain start, while the Parafoil was and remained mainly a parachute from the basic intention.

Today paragliders based due to the further history of Gleitsegelfliegens but still not up to Sailwing, but like all of today's usual skydiving parachutes in the imaginary of Rogallo principle and ultimately based on it dihedral multicellular parafoil -Fallschirmkonzept Jalbert.

Despite their common origin, surface parachutes and paragliders have developed so far apart due to aerodynamic and technical adaptations to the special requirements of the respective sport that a parachute for mountain starts is basically just as unsuitable as a parachute for parachute jumps. New opportunities for sporting development could result from bridging precisely these current differences. In 1998 the French Francis Heilmann and Xavier Demoury had already propagated a “new aircraft” in this sense in Paramag magazine: a jumping paraglider or a parachute with paragliding properties. Individual umbrella developments and sporting activities are already going in this direction.

Web links

Wiktionary: Paragliding  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations
Commons : Paragliding  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files