Thousands of people all over the world are attracted to the sport of paragliding, and regularly launch themselves into the air supported by a few metres of fabric and lines.
Why do they do it?
There is no clear single answer to this question, which most pilots have been asked at some point.
To look up and see someone soaring high above the ground tends to elicit different reactions from different people, for an (admittedly small) proportion of the population, the reaction is: “I would really like to do that”.
Paragliding is both “extreme” and actually quite easy to do, and although it undoubtedly has risks, it also offers a great sense of freedom. You are moving unconfined by roads or obstacles like rivers or mountains or forests, you have a unique perspective of the environment, and the silent and extraordinary sensation of low and slow flight is compelling.
A real bonus is that we often fly over beautiful and sometimes remote terrain, so the feeling can be one of real exploration. At the same time, the sport demands focus and some physical skills, so it is a source of continual challenges. This is important, as although any flying is a wonderful thing, even that soon becomes boring when you are travelling in a straight line for very long.
Paragliding is not a team sport, and most flying is solo, but we do fly together and pilots share camaraderie and a sense of the extraordinary when they chat about their experiences with each other.
It is relatively inexpensive in comparison to other forms of personal aviation and is unique in its portability. Many pilots take their kit on their travels with them; you can fly paragliders all over the world. Snow-covered mountains, deserts, and beaches can all provide excellent flying sites.
Perhaps a better question is: “Why would anyone not want to fly?