Like in most fields, the paragliding world uses its own special words – words that people who are not familiar with this adventure activity might find difficult to understand. In this article, I’ll help you define some of these terms:

1. Tandem

This term refers to a flight that involves two people (the pilot and the passenger). Tandem paragliding is the opposite of solo paragliding which involves only a single person.

But “tandem” can also be used to describe the glider or the paragliding equipment designed to carry two people. In this case, a tandem glider is the opposite of a solo glider (one that is designed to carry a single person).

2. Back wind

Sometimes when you book for tandem paragliding flights the company offering this service can call you or send a message to inform you that due to “backwind” either you should expect delays or cancelation of your flights. Below I explain what they mean by the term backwind.

It is well known, in the aviation industry, that planes take off and land into the wind. Actually, it’s easier for the plane to take off or land when the wind is blowing against its direction of heading. This simply means that planes need wind that comes from the front for them to take off and land easily.

Paragliders, as well, need this front wind in order to take off. That said, let me quickly point out here that when the wind is coming from the backside of the take off site it is not only difficult to launch a paraglider but it is also dangerous! As far as paragliding is concerned taking off must be done facing the direction where the wind is blowing from. It cannot be overemphasized that taking off in backwind is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

3. Wingovers

Acrobatics are also popular in the paragliding world that there are competitions designed only for this type of flying. However, on a tandem flight the pilot can treat you to some adrenaline-pumping manouvres in which the glider or wing spins sideways or in circles. This is what we call wingovers. Although the pilot can do this to activate your adrenaline, wingovers are also done to lose height especially when approaching the landing area.

4. Blown out

This term is used to describe too much wind – wind that is blowing above the maximum speed limit. In Cape Town, Signal hill(where the take off site is) and sea point promenade(where the landing zone is) the maximum speed limit of paragliding wind is 30km/hr. If it exceeds this limit then we will tell you that, “It’s is blown out!”

Written by Trymore Mukoko


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