It’s probably every paragliding pilot’s biggest nightmare – flying within a gaggle of other pilots in search of lift and, even though you’ve kept your head on a swivel carefully watching for traffic, you notice something out of the corner of your eye behind your risers. A hang glider is coming at you.
One pilot, flying in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy, had exactly this experience a few days ago and caught it on his camera.
Fortunately, even though the hang glider pilot’s parachute failed to open, the flat spin was enough to let him down slow enough that he was able to survive the impact with the trees.
With the advent of GoPro cameras, many hang glider and paraglider pilots record their moments in the air. That has led to an abundance of scary, ‘there I was – I nearly died’ YouTube videos involving the sports.
While paragliding in Utah last week, building up my experience for a future “Cockpit Chronicles” article on the sport, I was initially surprised at how stressful it was to fly in a confined area scratching for lift with 20 other pilots. Occasionally, I had to give up the search and try for another flight later in the day when the traffic died down.
Paragliding enjoys a remarkably good safety record (a point that’s subject to debate as you’ll see in the comments below), so hopefully these videos won’t discourage you from trying this purest form of flying.