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hang gliding on the left, paragliding on the right
Often the question comes up... What is the difference between "hang gliding" and "paragliding"? As shown in the picture at right, a hang glider is on the left side and on the right a paraglider. They differ in many ways. The hang glider has an aluminum frame inside a shaped sail that typically has a pointed nose and a V shape as seen from above or below. The paraglider is essentially a "parachute" wing, has no frame and is fairly elliptical as seen from above or below. Check out the comparison chart below.
Item Hang Glider Paraglider
Wing Weight with harness & reserve parachute 65 to 100 lbs 30 to 40 lbs
Average New Cost (wing & harness) $4000 to $5000 $4000 to $5000
Assembly time on the hill 10 to 30 minutes 6 to 12 minutes
Flying Airspeed 18 to 60 mph 15 to 25 mph
Transportation Mode Typically a 15 to 20 foot length resembling a telephone pole. A rack for your car is a necessity. On air carriers, early arrival, some strange looks, and a short 13' breakdown with bubblewrap taking 30 minutes is recommended. (Some air carriers don't allow it.) Resembles a large backpack. Goes into the trunk of your car. On air carriers, it is usually checked similar to a suitcase.
Days or lessons for training to mountain solo competency Varies, typically about 5 to 15 lessons. Varies, typically 5 to 10 lessons.
Safety This is mostly a factor of the real desire of the pilot to want to fly safely. About 1 out of 1000 pilot years results in a fatality. (If the average pilot flys 100 flights per year this means 1 in 100,000 flights per fatality. Much the same as hang gliding. Although it started out in the early nineties with a higher fatality rate, it improved over the years to a much higher safety level.
Age of the sport. Early beginnings might be argued to be late in the 19th century but the modern resurgence started in the late 60's. Started in Europe in the mid 80's. Popularity still growing but not as it did from 1988 to 1994.