Parascending is an activity, done by a group of pilots that fly canopies, usually towed into the air by a big car. Initially, such canopies where parachute-based and had a round or square shape, but these days pilots use winches to tow both paragliders and ascending canopies.
Parascending is usually done in large fields and airfields. The height gained before releasing the tow line and descending can reach 1-2 thousand meters. If the conditions are favorable, paragliders may even fly across the country.
Learning to fly a parascending
Most beginners start training on a simple round canopy. The first lesson begins with a parachute landing fall training (PLF), followed by a “ground” instruction on equipment, launching, collapse, and field packing of the canopy. In the beginning, flights are conducted towed on a 100-meter rope behind a big car (usually Land Rover).
Such flights usually take only a few minutes and are totally controlled by a vehicle driver. At the end of the flight, the pilot is gently brought back to the ground, where he performs a “parachute landing fall”.
As students become more skillful, they learn how to “self-release” the tow line and lend without assistance. They may also be allowed to try a higher performance with a “ram-air” square canopy and work towards flying circuits and try to land on a target. After the students learn basic flight theory, laws of air and meteorology, and pass a final exam, they are prepared for their BHPA Club Pilot rating.
Progressing paragliders may switch to flying paragliders or concentrate on landing accuracy to take part in competitions. Others simply enjoy social flying weekends, helping with the launching. They may progress into being a tow “operator” of even an instructor.
Most parascending schools are only open at weekends as they work with voluntary instructors and operators.