Like in most adventure sports although incidents of emergencies when paragliding are rare, they do happen occasionally and it’s important to know the kinds of things that can happen and how to cope with them.
Even if you’re a proficient hang glider pilot and are trying paragliding for the first time, you should remember that, although there are many similarities between hang gliding and paragliding, a paraglider has no solid structure and this makes it behave somewhat differently to other types of flying machines. Therefore, it’s important that you are fully aware of the risks and hazards that are specifically associated with paragliding before you embark upon a flight as problems in flight tend to become emergencies as a result of the pilot feeling helpless and not knowing what to do rather than the actual situation itself.
There are so many things that can go wrong that you’ll be fully trained in how to deal with every eventuality and learning how to cope will require a good technical understanding as to how a paraglider works alongside an ability to remain calm.
However, here are a few common problems and basic procedures for correcting them.
There are often indications that a paraglider is heading for a stall. They include a sudden lack of noise and a loss of height and you’ll notice that resistance increases. In order to avoid this happening, you need to accelerate the wing.
By releasing the brakes completely, the wing should stop spinning. If it doesn’t, you need to instigate a complete stall but if you’re too low to do that, then you need to deploy the reserve parachute.
Ascending too High
Stalling the B-lines will enable you to reduce your height in situations where you’re unable to get out of a strong rising current.
If you have no other option but to land in water, you need to disconnect your chest and leg straps in order that you can jump free just prior to hitting the water. Keep you knife handy so you can free yourself from the canopy. If it lands right on top of you, remain calm and swim underwater away from the impact area as you can easily get trapped underwater by the lines and the parachute.
If you have to land in a tree, you should prepare for impact by adopting an attitude of hurtling yourself at the tree. This may sound strange but you’ll have a better chance of rooting yourself within the branches and less chance of falling out of it which, from a great height, may even be more dangerous, so you’re looking to get your parachute and the lines firmly tangled up in the tree where possible to ensure you remain in a stable position to await rescue.
If you’re coming down on power lines, you should tuck your chin into your chest and wrap your arms around your head. Try to approach the power lines by coming in at an angle that makes your physique as narrow as possible as you’ve more of a chance of bouncing off them that way or it can even make a difference between hitting them and clearing them.
If you get tangled up in them do not let any would be rescuers attempt to touch you until it’s certain that the power lines have been turned off. If you’re unhurt, you may also have an urge to cut yourself free and jump to the ground if it’s not too high but you should only attempt this if you’re sure that you won’t dislodge the paraglider or parachute in the process as that will make things far worse.
These are all only the basics of coping in an emergency situation when out paragliding and a training school will teach you a lot more and how to deal with any situation you might find yourself in. In fact, your training will often involve practical attempts at getting out of spins and stalls etc so that you have some real practical experience should the unforeseen happen.