Paragliding and hanggliding are the most popular recreational airsports as they are fun and easily accesilbe to anyone. They both emerged in the last decade as a popular hobby, adventure activity and competitive sport. Rightfully so because they are both awesome bucketlist adventures which you have to enjoy at least once in your life, with the risk of getting addicted to them for life, just like us =)
But what exactly is the difference between paragliding and hanggliding? And which one is more fun, paragliding or hanggliding?
Allow us to enlighten you!
"Paragliding is the recreational adventure sport of flying or soaring from a slope or a cliff using a lightweight, free-flying & foot-launched wing with no rigid primary structure."
Contrary to what many believe paragliding is not done with a parachute but with a so called paragliding wing. The wing has no rigid structure and can be folded and packed into a backpack. The wing shape of the paraglider is paramount as it gives the paraglider the ability to use updraft winds and thermals to stay in the air for long periods of time.
The pilot, and the passenger, sit upright in a harness suspended below the wing, connected with vertical lines. The wing shape of the paragliding wing is maintained by these suspension lines, While flying the wind fills the wing with air and this pressure together with the aerodynamic forces of the air flowing over the outside of the wing make a paraglider fly.
Steering and controlling the paraglider is done by applying the brakes or weight shifting within the harness.
All in all paragliding is awesome!
"Hanggliding is the sport of launching oneself from a cliff or a steep incline and flying through the air by hanging from a very small aircraft without an engine, consisting of a frame covered in cloth."
Hanggliding is a spectacular air sport or recreational activity in which a pilot uses a light, non-motorised foot-launched and heavier-than-air aircraft called a hang glider to fly. Hanggliders differ from paragliders in as much that they use a rigid structure for their triangular shaped wing. Most modern hang gliders are made of an aluminium alloy or composite frame covered with synthetic sailcloth to form a wing shaped aircraft. The pilot is attached to the hangglider through a suspended harness attached to the airframe. Steering and controlling the hangglider is achieved by shifting body weight. The hanggliding pilot, and co-pilot, are horizontally suspended underneath the hangglider while facing downwards. This head first, facing downwards position makes hanggliding a highly spectacular and adrenaline rushing activity.
The difference between paragliding & Hanggliding
The main difference between paragliding and hanggliding is that a paraglider doesn’t use a rigid structure for its wing and a hangglider does.
While paragliding you sit comfortably upright, in what many call the most comfortable seat ever. Hanggliders on the other hand, hang horizontally suspended and face-down underneath the hangglider.
Typically hanggliders fly with a faster horizontal speed than paragliders.
Is paragliding or hanggliding more fun?
Both paragliding and hanggliding are heaps of fun. Comparing them is comparing apples and oranges. Hanggliding is faster so a bit more of an adrenaline rush while paragliding is better to take in all the amazing views and to enjoy the serenity of a bird’s eye view of the world.
For an ultimate verdict of which one is more fun we suggest you try them both! That would settle the question once and for all.
What are you waiting for?!
"Until you spread your wings, you'll have no idea how far you can fly."
A wise man once said that. And he is right!
You, me and all of us can actually fly...and have loads of fun while doing it. Seeing the world from above is a one of a kind experience that you must do at least once in your life. Spreading your wings and fly through the Swiss skies will show you that anything is possible.
Spread your wings .... and fly
Even Queen the band who dared to spread its wings and eventually flew to eternal and global fame wrote a song about exactly that. The 1977 song “spread your wings” became eponymous with the sentence ‘spread your wings and fly’ and when you read the songtext you will understand why:
Queen - Spread your wings (1977)
Spread your wings and fly away
Fly away, far away
Spread your little wings and fly away
Fly away, far away
Pull yourself together
'Cause you know you should do better
That's because you're a free man
Come on honey
FLY WITH ME!
So when you travel to Interlaken and are ready to spread your wings and fly gives us a call and we will help you make that dream come true!
When you look at the Interlaken skies, full of paragliders comfortably soaring the soothing winds of the beautiful valley, you don’t realise that paragliding actually is quite a young sport and activity invented in the mid-20th century….
the history of paragliding, a new sport is born
Paragliding grew out of military parachuting. As a means to train future parachutists how to land safely the military was looking for effective training mechanisms. Repeatedly going up and down in an airplane to drop the parachutists was complicated and time-consuming so in order to fit more landing practice into a day, they would attach the parachutists to a truck with a tow rope and drag them up into the air. As the vehicle picked up speed, the parachutist would float higher and higher until the parachutist released the tow rope and descend back to ground level. Many parachutists soon became more interested in the floating part than the landing part and for fun, they would launch themselves off steep hills and parachute to the ground below, experimenting with how they could harness air currents to stay in the air longer.
development of better paragliders and longer flights
The new activity of paragliding, known as parasailing or parafoiling at the time, attracted a range of daredevils that started experimenting with the shape and design of the parachutes. They changed the shape, surface area and materials to see which ones would give them more stable and longer glides and airtime. In 1952 Canadian Domina Jalbert patented a governable gliding parachute with multi-cells and controls for lateral glide. It was a step forward but still nothing close to the gliding capabilities of the paragliders today….
In 1954, in an article in Flight magazine by Walter Neumark, it was predicted that in the near-future a glider pilot would be "able to launch himself by running over the edge of a cliff or down a slope ... whether on a rock-climbing holiday in Skye or ski-ing in the Alps.”
And indeed this future was around the corner.
Domina Jalbert invents the ram-air parachute
The solution came with the invention of the ram-air parachute. Also known as the parafoil, it changed everything. Developed by Domina Jalbert in 1963, the ram-air parachute altered the shape of the chute from round to rectangular. The parachute -- called a wing or sail -- was broken up into cells with an open leading edge and a closed trailing edge inflating the paraglider by the air flow. As the sail caught the wind, air would "ram" into these cells, filling up or inflating the sail. The shape allowed the wing to glide or float rather than immediately descend, as a traditional parachute would. The ram air paraglider was patented on the on January 10, 1963 under US Patent number 3131894. He improved further on his design and in 1964, he filed a patent titled "Multi-cell Wing Type Aerial Device" This would become key to paragliding, sky diving, powered paragliding, landboarding, kite surfing and cargo-ship kite tugging.
the word paragliding is coined in 1985
In the mid sixties David Barish was developing the "sail wing" (single-surface wing) for recovery of NASA space capsules and they used slope soaring as a way of testing out their Sail Wing.” After tests on Hunter Mountain, New York, in September 1965, he went on to promote slope soaring as a summer activity for ski resorts, which was a first try at commercialising the new sport of parasailing.
In the UK Walter Neumark wrote the book ‘Operating Procedures for Ascending Parachutes’, and in 1973 he and a group of enthusiasts with a passion for tow-launching PCs and ram-air parachutes broke away from the British Parachute Association to form the British Association of Parascending Clubs (which later became the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association).
Patrick Gilligan (Canada) and Bertrand Dubuis (Switzerland) wrote the first flight manual, The Paragliding Manual in 1985, coining the word paragliding.
paragliding and parapente
All these developments from around the world were combined in June 1978 by three French friends, Jean-Claude Bétemps, André Bohn and Gérard Bosson. , from Mieussy, Haute-Savoie, France. After inspiration from an article on slope soaring in the Parachute Manual magazine by parachutist and publisher Dan Poynter, they calculated that on a suitable slope, a "square" ram-air parachute could be inflated by running down the slope. After being ‘sure’ their calculations were correct Bétemps launched himself from Pointe du Pertuiset, in Mieussy (France), and flew for over 100m. His friend Bohn followed him and glided down to the football pitch in the valley 1000 metres below. With these experimenting flights, gliding over a slope, the friends invented "Parapente" (pente being French for "slope"). A new sport was born.
the emergence of paragliding as a sport
These experimental flights in Mieussy, France are considered the beginning of modern paragliding as we know it. They are the starting point of paragliding as a sport and hobby activity.
Ever since then paragliding equipment has evolved a lot, with more complicated suspension and steering systems and ever lighter and more technical materials used. Nonetheless all contemporary paragliding wings are based on Jalbert's original design and can be traced back to three friends in France gliding over a slope!
It is thanks to them we can enjoy this amazing activity and fly through the stunning Interlaken skies like a boss!!
Loving Paragliding in Interlaken is an inevitable virus you catch when you first hit the skies of Interlaken. It is a combination of the love and passion for paragliding and a love and passion for the magical scenery of Interlaken. Put them together and you get the ultimate Interlaken Paragliding Love💓💓💓!!!
Falling in love with paragliding in Interlaken
It only takes one flight to fall in love with paragliding in Interlaken. It already starts on the drive up towards the take off. The drive up allows you to get an ever increasing view of the snowcapped mountains and gazing out of the car window you see some flashes of the emerald blue lakes that just seem straight out of a movie.
Then you walk to the take off and when the terrain slowly opens itself up you get presented with the most majestic of views onto the snowcapped Eiger, Mönch & Jungfrau mountains that the crown jewels of the Alps.
Your pilot guide prepares you for the flight.....you start running ....and slowly, then suddenly, Interlaken, and the whole world, is at your feet!
Then you realise this is pure bliss…the purest bliss
This is pure Interlaken Paragliding LOVE!
So come fly with AlpinAir Paragliding Interlaken and have a unique experience with the risk of falling in love💓💓💓....in love with paraglding in Interlaken!!
Paragliding is an activity almost anyone can do, with a tandem flight that is. Being a tandem pilot however takes extraordinary skill, courage and loads of training time. You almost need to have supernatural powers to become a world-class tandem pilot. Turns out all of AlpinAir’s paragliding pilots have exactly that: amazing superpowers! No wonder they are the best paragliding pilots you can find in the whole of Switzerland.
Alpinair's Superhero Paragliding pilots
They are fun, fierce and fantastic!
They soar the sunniest skies, fly fantastic and far and on top of that all they are the best that Interlaken paragliding has to offer!
They are AlpinAir’s Interlaken Superhero paragliding pilots...
There is Angel, Batman, the Black Widow and Colossus who are represented by AlpinAir superhero's Roberto Caspani, Timmo Marcin, Daniela Iseli and Valentin Gillich.
Then there are Deadpool, Elektra, the Green Lantern and the Hulk who forcefully and gracefully are AlpinAir paragliding superheros Simon Lei, Nicola Woods, Marc Herzig and Sebastien Bourquin.
Then we have got the Invisible Woman, Iron Man, Odin and Raven who are the wicked and wonderful paragliders Nathalie Hänzi, Martin Giller, Urs Mäder and Carolyn Lansdell.
More paragliding superheros are Silver Surfer (Yves Waser), Spiderman (Olivier Delacrétaz), Storm (Gery Georgieva) and Superman (Martin Schäfli).
And last but not least there are the Flash (Chrigel Güegi), Thor (Lars Eymann) and Wolverine (Pascal Geebelen).
Together these powerful paragliders form the legendary and worldclass AlpinAir Paragliding Interlaken team.
Come fly with a superhero, fly with AlpinAir!
Sunny days in Interlaken are awesome. The snowcapped Jungfrau Top of Europe mountain backdrop combined with the emerald blue lakes creates a unique visual spectacle unheard of. Imagine now seeing all that from a birdseye view, soaring high up through the sky while the snowcapped mountains reflect the pure sunrays and the lakes reflection has a diamant glitter to it. Life doesn’t get much better than this!
Interlaken's best views are from the Sky
The view from Interlaken’s Harder Kulm is a classic on a sunny day. It is easily accessible with the Harderbahn funiculaire and the views are simply magnificient from the ‘Top of Interlaken’. Equally impressive are the crowds and throngs of people all vying for the best view. What better than avoiding all those other people by enjoying the magnificient views from high above while soaring the Interlaken sky during a paragliding flight.
With every turn the view changes…...
You see the world famous snowcapped Eiger, Mönch & Jungfrau mountains coming ever closer…..
The lakes glitter like a diamant….
Gazing across the lake of Thun you see the impressive silhouette of the Niesen mountain, aptly nicknamed the Swiss pyramid…
It is stunning….it is unbeatable…..and it is definitely one-of-a-kind!
This amazing sunny paragliding experience is just priceless and one of Switzerland's unique experiences you just can't miss out on!
We have all dreamed about that moment when we are soaring through the sky, flying like a bird or gliding like a eagle closing in to it's nest. It is one of those ultimate fantasies that seem unreachable and too far-fetched. Not in Interlaken, Switzerland’s adventure travel capital and the paragliding capital of the world!
Paragliding: a must-do activity in Interlaken
No matter from which direction you come, arriving in Interlaken, you will firstly notice the gorgeous mountains, but secondly (and unmissable) you'll see the dozens of paragliders flying through the sky high above town and the surrounding mountain peaks. No matter if you look North, in the direction of Interlaken’s home mountain the Harder Kulm, or South, towards the towering Schynige Platte (backed up by the stunning Jungfrau) you will see paragliders floating through the sky.
Arriving by train at the Interlaken West or East train station you get the impression they are flying so low you can touch them.. but where would they land you wonder?
You get off the train and follow the string of paragliders soaring over the town center.. and step-by-step you close in on the epicenter of Interlaken Paragliding: the Höhematte! This grassy, green and very open park is located right in the middle of town and is the landing field for the uncountable paragliding fans that fly daily through Interlaken’s sky.
I want to go paragliding in Interlaken
You stand around the Höhematte landing field for some time and observe all the happy faces landing right next to you. You stroll around the park watching them coming from every angle possible. You might even go for a drink or something to eat on one of the terraces surrounding the big field. And then you know it: “I must go paragliding in Interlaken, it just looks so awesome”. And you are right because soaring through the sky, flying like a bird or gliding like a stork closing in on its nest is a once in a lifetime experience, and must-do activity!