Which offers more control paragliding or paramotoring

Paragliding vs Hang Gliding - What's the Difference?

Paragliding is an extreme sport in the air. You can paraglide for both competition and entertainment. But it is often confused with another extreme air sport - hang gliding. Here we will tell you about some of the key differences between paragliding and hang-gliding. Let's look at the main differences between these two interesting adventure sports.

About the origins

Paragliding is a newer sport. Its popularity has increased over the past few years. It enables anyone who dreams of feeling free as a bird to fulfill their dream. The sport can be traced back to the activities of the French parachute inventor Pierre Lemoigne. In the 1950s, he launched his advanced round parachute parachutes. The kite and parachute designs by American inventor Domina Jalbert from the early 1960s form the basis for the cell structure of the paraglider.

Hang gliders have evolved from the Rogallo wing - Francis Rogallo's original flexible wing type - to modern flying wonders. Francis Rogallo was a NASA engineer. Francis and his wife Gertrude Rogallo invented a self-inflating flexible wing. It's a strange detail that they loved to fly kites together. This couple was really in love with the skyscape. And we bet you will be in love too if you try any of these air sports.

The design

The main difference between the two sports is in the wing shape and design. Paragliders have soft wing structures without an inner frame. The kite used in paragliding is quite similar to a parachute kite. The surface is soft and wide and traps air underneath. When inflated, the shape is elliptical.

A characteristic triangular shape is used in hang gliding. It's stiffer and is supported by metal struts. The A-frame offers improved aerodynamics. Hang gliders use metal with heavy canvas material stretched over the A-frame to create a rigid wing profile. Nowadays hang gliders are made of aircraft aluminum or carbon fiber, stainless steel cable and Dacron.
Typically, as opposed to the 30 to 40 pounds of paragliders, hang gliders weigh between 65 and 100 pounds. This means that paragliders are easier to transport because of the lightweight materials they are made of.


The basic equipment for hang gliding includes:

  • the glider
  • the dishes
  • the helmet

Some pilots like to have equipment (such as an altimeter and variometer), goggles for eye protection and glare reduction, and an emergency reserve parachute (usually for high altitude flights).

The paragliding equipment includes:

  • the paraglider wing
  • the dishes
  • Parachute
  • helmet
  • Variometer
  • Radio (to communicate with other pilots and paragliding assistants)
  • GPS (it is used in competitions, it helps the pilot to geographically check the area; other pilots can also track each other's movements)

Position of the pilot

There are radical differences here.
When it comes to hang gliding, lie in a horizontal position under the A-frame. You will use your body to turn. The modern paraglider harnesses are like chairs. The pilot sits upright. You control the slide with your hands. This is more convenient and not as scary for a beginner.

About the complexity of the flight

Well, the fact is that a paraglider is less physically demanding. You don't need that much muscle strength to get started. Therefore, elders can also enjoy paragliding. Let's not forget the Scottish lady Peggy McAlpine, who set the world record for the oldest paraglider pilot at the age of 104. Paragliding can be learned in fewer lessons. Hang gliding is a physically demanding sport. You need to shift your body weight while turning. That's why it's great for athletes. Learning takes longer. With hang gliding, you have a greater chance of doing tricks and feats.

Hang gliding vs. paragliding safety. Which one is safer?

Never underestimate security! Both sports can be dangerous if you are careless about them.

In general, paragliding is viewed as a quieter activity. It is suitable for those who want to enjoy the peace and quiet of flight. You can fly around and enjoy the view. However, the higher you climb, the more unstable the energy distribution. But even if the slide collapses, the loss of altitude stabilizes the airflow. Do not forget that you can rely on the reserve parachute.

Hang gliding is actually considered safer. The kite cannot be folded up and does not lose its aerodynamic shape. While the paragliders can collapse and lose their wing shape.
The rigid structure of the kite allows you to travel at a higher speed. It's also less prone to weather conditions and wind. It's less likely to get out of hand. Today's hang gliding technology makes it safer than ever.

Duration of hang gliding and paragliding flights

We can say that the duration of each flight depends very much on the following things:

  • the pilot's skills
  • the topography
  • the weather conditions
  • the experience you are aiming for

Both gliders can stay in the air for almost the same time.

Starting styles - paragliding vs. hang gliding

In terms of takeoff, the styles of hang gliding and paragliding are very different.
Hang gliding offers countless possibilities:

  • Foot start from a hill
  • Aero towing behind a powered airplane or boat
  • Tow start from a ground-based towing system

Paragliding offers two options:

  • the standard forward start
  • a reverse start

Landing a kite vs. landing a paraglider

Landing a kite is much easier than taking off. Due to its exceptional gliding range, it can reach a wide variety of landing areas. However, the hang glider requires a larger landing area. Landing also takes longer; landing is easier with a paraglider. It arrives more slowly and, unlike a kite, doesn't take up as much space.

The conclusion

Both hang gliding and paragliding are amazing ways to enjoy the feeling of flight. And many people would enjoy both hang gliding and paragliding. However, the differences between the two forms of flight can help you choose. Undoubtedly, hang gliding is suitable for those who crave adrenaline. Paragliding is preferable for those of you who don't want to perform tricks and don't need to reach high speeds to be satisfied.

Don't forget to have fun, cherish the moment, get the most out of the experience and stay safe!