How can I make a safe choice for my first paraglider ?
How do I choose my first wing?
One of the biggest mistakes that new pilots make occurs in purchasing their first wing.
Gliders must first pass a test to be placed into one of the following letter categories:
– A for Beginner,
– B for Intermediate,
– C for Advanced, or
You can see an example of paragliding test results here: Paragliding test results
You will see that each maneuver is assigned a letter depending on the behavior of the glider, giving you more details about the wing and what to expect.
Where this can get confusing is that an A paraglider like the Ozone Element 2 can be an A glider in all sizes except XS, which is categorized as a B as well as the Gin Carrera—and those two gliders are definitely designed for completely different pilots. The Gin Carrera is designed for XC pilots who already have good skills and reflexes to handle the less forgiving behavior of the wing, whereas the Ozone Element is a great wing that we use in school because of its very forgiving behavior.
Choosing your first wing can be tricky and the right wing can make the difference between a happy and relaxed pilot who enjoys a long, injury-free flying career and a stressed-out pilot who is much more likely to give up the sport. This begs the question: which wing is the best one for me? It’s very simple: you will not fly better because you purchase a more advanced, high-performance wing. You will fly better, faster, and farther if you are relaxed and totally confident under your wing.
So, here are a few things you should keep in mind before making a choice:
1) Your technique level:
– Can you take off in a safe and totally controlled manner when the wind is cross and variable?
– Do you have good control in all axes of your wing (pitch, yaw, roll)?
– Do you have a good, balanced sitting position in your harness in all conditions?
– Do you handle collapses and slow speeds quickly?
2) How many times you fly per year:
It’s no secret that you need to fly regularly and kite weekly to be safe and well-acquainted with your glider.
– How many times per week will you fly?
– How many hours of kiting can you fit in per week?
3) Your understanding of the air mass:
– What is your knowledge about the air?
– Where are the turbulences?
– Where should you fly in relation to your site and the time of the day, and where should you not?
The idea is that when you purchase your wing, you want to be relaxed and be able to use it to its full potential.
If you fly under a wing that is too demanding:
– You’ll be more stressed while flying,
– You’ll get tired faster, have shorter flights, and possibly make wrong decisions, and
– You won’t be able to take advantage of the best conditions, such as avoiding strong thermals.
For these reasons, any pilot will have less efficient results under a too-demanding wing, and will feel less safe than a pilot who is relaxed under an easier glider with which he won’t hesitate to use the full speed bar and won’t have any problems handling or preventing collapses, etc. In the end, choose your first glider for safety and fun. Enjoy the learning experience. You’ll get to the performance part eventually once you acquire strong skills and sharp reflexes.