Category Archives for Paragliding History

Award Winning Instruction

Benoit Bruneau named 2010 Paragliding Instructor of the year.

Instructor of the year.

Every year, the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association elects a US instructor to receive this award. In 2010, Benoit Bruneau, owner and head instructor of Let’s Go Paragliding, LLC, received this honor:

Benoit Bruneau is the founder of and head instructor at Let’s Go Paragliding; he has been teaching the sport since 1999 and is certified by the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (as well as the Canadian and French equivalents). An experienced paragliding instructor and highly qualified outdoors-man, Benoit is just the person to help you experience the joys of paragliding.

• Certified advanced paragliding instructor (in the U.S.A., France and Canada).

• Certified paragliding tow technician.

• Certified white water kayaking instructor and rafting instructor.

• Certified caving instructor.

• Certified canyonning instructor.


“I have always found it exhilarating to help people discover new ways to enjoy life and forget the stresses of daily living through outdoor activity. In particular, paragliding allows us to not only achieve an understanding and respect for our environment, but also to achieve the ultimate dream: the ability to fly!”

What exactly is Paragliding?

Before you actually decide to give paragliding a try, you need to know more about what this sport is how you do it and what it’s all about.  When done properly and with the right training, this sport is not only a pure rush, but it’s very safe too.

So, what is it?  When you were a child and would fly a kite, did you ever dream of what it must have been like to be attached to that kite?  That’s kind of what paragliding is.  You get started much the same way as a kite does – by walking or running into the wind.  When you understand the wind currents and how they work, you’ll soon find that your loose fabric becomes a canopy that will lift you into the air.

The secret is flying with the air currents.  You’ll know them as thermals and you’ll learn how to use them.  Before you fly on your own, you will want to go through a thorough introduction day.  This will help you to learn everything you need to know to help you with start flying on your own.

You’ll learn what you need to know and your first flight will be little, but if you don’t get the education you could be risking injury and be putting yourself in unnecessary danger.

The paragliding equipment

So, if you don’t have an engine, what does the equipment consist of?  A chair style harness for starters.  You can lean back, sit comfortably and enjoy the ride.  There are also a right and left brake line, which – when combined with the right amount of weight shift – helps you to steer and will provide all the control you need for a comfortable and safe flight.

The aerofoil is what keeps you afloat.  It’s also referred to as a wing, glider, canopy and it’s most commonly called a paraglider.  This is what helps to lift you into the air.  This material has been designed to capture the air currents and can allow you to soar higher and higher.  It’s soft and flexible, which means greater control for the flyer.  Because it is so flexible, the paraglider is easy to store in your back pack and travel with it.

When you’re starting out, buying your own equipment might not be an option, but most professional schools provide the equipment to get started.

What you should know about paragliding

There is a lot that you need to know about this sport before you decide that you want to try it.  For instance, it’s essential that you find an excellent instructor.  Never attempt paragliding on your own if you haven’t done it before.  You will need to be properly trained before taking off for a solo flight and then you should make sure that you’re flying with someone until you’re familiar with the process.

You should also make sure that you choose to paraglide with an individual or company that has a good, solid safety reputation.  As with all extreme sports, paragliding can be dangerous when the proper safety gear is not used.  You can ensure that you have a great experience by choosing the right individual or company to get you started.

The Evolution of Paragliding

Many people know what paragliding is, but it might take some time to get past the “cousins” of this sport that include hang gliding and parasailing before the sport of paragliding is really understood. Once a person understands that paragliding is much like being attached to a kite that they control, the concept is much easier to grasp. However, many people wonder how this sport in particular came to be.

It’s easy to imagine that someone that loved flying kites thought how fun it would be to be “attached” to the kite, but it’s much more likely that this sport was developed through a few different channels.
They say it has a French connection
It might be up for debate where paragliding started, but the bottom line is that this sport really started to “boom” in the French Alps during the 1980’s. Is this where it started? That’s not entirely clear, but it is known that this sport did become very popular in France at this time.

At any rate, it’s likely that many different athletes were developing their paragliding techniques at the same time. So the exact birth of this sport as we know it today might be a bit foggy.

Influences from all around the world
You probably know that paragliding takes its influences from all around the world. It’s a little like hang gliding, it’s a little like parachuting and you use similar principals when paragliding as you might if you were flying a kite. The desire for man to feel like a bird is undoubtedly behind the birth of paragliding, but it isn’t credited to just one or two people like hang gliding can be.

For instance, in 1958 when Gertrude and Francis Rogallo were working for NASA, they invented the Rogallo wing. This was developed for recovery. Rogallo is also known for innovative development of paragliders and hang gliders that were more rudimentary.

It is thought that the first paraglider as we know it today was invented by David Barish in 1965 while he was also working for NASA. At that time, he called his invention a “sail wing” and took his first flights in New York.

It wasn’t until the late 1970’s that three French parachutists named Andre Bohn, Gerard Bosson and Jean-Claude Betemps began running to launch their paragliders. In fact, the practice caught on and that’s why it is often said that France is the “birthplace” of paragliding as we know it today.

Paragliding the sport and the equipment that is used today has undoubtedly evolved. It’s become safer, easier and more fun to do. Paragliding has also become a science, with the study of thermals (or the air currents), and how a paraglider can use them.

If you’re interested in learning to paraglide, the first step is to find a good instructor or school and take the time to learn all you can about it. While paragliding is safer than many extreme sports, it’s important to learn all you can and get started with an experienced instructor so you can enjoy the sport at your pace.