Personal Journals about Hang Gliding

Are HG pilots obligated to warn paragliding daredevils?

Postby Rick Masters » Sun May 15, 2016 9:15 am

In an effort to understand why the attrition rate in paragliding is essentially unchanged over 15 years, this blog explores the supposed duty or obligation of hang glider pilots to warn people who fly or plan to fly paragliders about the danger of canopy collapse.
    Does this obligation exist? I think we can all agree that every death, regardless of wing type, is a black mark on freeflight. But people who choose to fly paragliders assume an additional and unreasonable risk that others in freeflight do not - that of sudden canopy collapse in ground or thermal turbulence during landing approach or low flight over mountainous terrain, often resulting in an agonizing death.
    Today a 34-year-old man flying a paraglider encountered turbulence at 20 meters while landing below Mt. Archer in Australia and fell to the ground. His legs absorbed some of the force of impact as they both broke, then his skull shattered. These are typical injuries of falling from such heights.
    This was the 1,465th paragliding fatality I have recorded in my extensive research on freeflight accidents. More than half of these were the result of collapse in turbulence below effective emergency reserve deployment altitude. Surely, it would seem, anyone would agree that there have been way, way, way too many fatalities in paragliding since the attrition curve began rising in the late 1990s.

So far in 2016, I know of 24 paragliding fatalities.
1 drowning
7 collisions
1 collapse in turbulence during take off
4 collapses in turbulence on landing approach
9 collapses in turbulence above terrain
2 falls from harness
1 locked-in spiral dive

Of course, the most active season for paragliding attrition is yet to begin - the Northern Hemispheric summer.

If we include the previous 12 months (May 16, 2015 to May 15, 2016), we come up with a total of
1 malfunction (brake lock, etc)
1 midair
1 result of aerobatics
2 towing accidents
3 drownings
17 collisions (trees, powerlines, etc)
5 collapse in turbulence during take off
14 collapses in turbulence on landing approach
44 collapses in turbulence above terrain
7 falls from harness
7 locked-in spiral dives
9 unknowns

There are certainly many more.

So again, I ask, do hang glider pilots have an obligation to point out the problem of collapse to their paragliding friends?
    My experience has been that people who paraglide are in universal denial of the risk and choose to attack those who bring up the problem.
    They present extensive rationalizations and invariably bring up hang gliding attrition in their defense, as if hang gliding has anything to do with the deficiencies of paragliders.
    But if you have a friend who paraglides, have you discussed this with him?
    Did you feel an obligation and what was the result?
    Or do you feel it is better, on a personal and practical level, to avoid discussing the subject altogether?
Rick Masters
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Re: Are HG pilots obligated to warn paragliding daredevils?

Postby eagle » Sun May 15, 2016 4:12 pm

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Re: Are HG pilots obligated to warn paragliding daredevils?

Postby JoeF » Sun Nov 13, 2022 3:49 am


On a side effort Erika, hang glider instructor, has involved in motions to "respect" paragliding. What would "respect" imply? Tacit acceptance? That would be an ouch for me. What does a dad tell a son when the son is playing the game of collapse?

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Re: Are HG pilots obligated to warn paragliding daredevils?

Postby Chris McKeon » Sun Nov 13, 2022 8:38 am

To Me anyways. It just Blows My Mind How a couple of Paraglider Pilots have related to Me and A couple of My HG Pilots friends. How carefree the Attitude that Paraglider Pilots exude.. I have a friend of Mine who seconds My attitude regarding Paragliders. He said to Me; I will consider flying a Paraglider as soon as Paragliders only collapse as often as My Rigid wing Does. I have been up on My local Mountain site. I met, and I talked to a Paraglider Pilot who casually Blew off any concern regarding asymmetrical Collapses befalling Him. He told Me that collapses were not that big of a deal. He had Two Collapses in one Day. I mean how many Piot's can say that they had cheated Death Twice on One Flight? I am a 61 Year old Male Paraglider Pilot. I will Fly Paraglider After I have undergone the operation that would be mandatory for Me to fly a Paraglider. The operation will be to transplant two enormous Body Parts so as to replace the tiny Body parts that would need to be upgraded. Ok I will just say it this way as not to offend anyone. Para Glider are Pure-Guts, nerves of steel. Aviators who take the Word Bravery to new Heights.
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