Paragliding vs. Skydiving: which to learn?

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Hi guys. Given the nature of this board, I already know what the answer to the poll will be. I'm just wondering if anybody else has gone through this same delima, and if anybody can answer any of my questions.

I've been on one tandem jump about 5 years ago with my grandpa (Pat Moorehead), and it was AWESOME. Jumping has GOT TO provide a much bigger thrill. The tradeoff is that it only last seconds, while in a paraglider you can potentially stay up for hours.

The expense for training and equipment is roughly the same either way, so that is a wash.

My biggest hangup about skydiving is the recurring cost of rides up. What is the average now...about $25? Of course the tradeoff there is in a paraglider you have to have somebody give you a ride up the hill, and then come down, find you, and pick you up after you land. What a PIA for the victim. Also, the nearest paragliding school is down in Santa Barbara- about 1:15 away. There is a drop zone here in Lompoc CA (anybody know anything about it?) that is only about 10 minutes from me.

Another problem with paragliding is that if I move somewhere without hills (I'm in the military, so I move every 3 years), my only options are to stop flying, or to pay $5000 and get a motor unit. $5000 will pay for a lot of skydive rides! And even when you do have hills, you need to be very picky. They need to have nice, big, open takeoff and landing areas, need to be facing into the wind, and you have to be VERY picky about weather conditions- more picky than jumping I believe.

Safety is hard to quantify. I probably stand about the same chance of getting hurt either way. However, with paragliding, the injury rate per hour of flight time has got to be WAY better. You can get several hours of flight time in a day rather than a few years.

I'm not sure what to do. Any comments or suggestions?

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Iwas in roughly the same spot a few years ago. Anything related to flying, especially with as few limitations (like an airplane around you) as possible, was just so appealing. But falling out of a plane and flying your body through the sky is definitely more of a rush, more of an out-of-this-world experience than taking off from a mountain and flying around leisurely (given you don't take to the high performance paragliders- you can do insane stuff with those babies).
Ask yourself why you want to learn to skydive/paraglide. If you're in for the canopy rides and prefer those to last, giving you time to enjoy the solitude of the sky, you might be better off paragliding.
If, on the other hand, you like how a skydiving canopy behaves better and on top have a desire to do stuff most people are terrified of (like leaping from an airplane at 13000 feet), start skydiving.

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Yeah...that is the delima Jerry- I want BOTH, but that is just too much time and $$$.

I originally wanted to become a pilot- since I was 10 years old. Joined the Air Force, but my color vision wasn't good enough. But flying civil aircraft isn't a practical transportation-oriented endevour. You do it for fun. If you are only flying for one, I reasoned, why not just pair it down to the minimum and get a paraglider? But then, as long as I'm getting something like that, why not get that absolutely awesome perma-grin inducing RUSH of freefall, and feel like you are flying without any equipment whatsoever?

Having a dropzone 10 minutes away, while the flying hills are over an hour away, is an issue. My two biggest hang ups with jumping is the recurring cost of the plane rides and the short duration of the actual flight time.

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Okay, one more thing then...are you completely certain the cost of trainning and gear is about the same? Granted, I live in Europe, but over here paragliding gear definitely comes cheaper than skydiving...same for training. If you haven't done so yet, try it once. Based on my experience with paragliding, I'd say it's quite different than flying a skydiving canopy and I definitely want to learn it better one day just to enjoy a long peaceful flight from time to time, but skydiving will definitely remain my #1 flight-addiction.

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Another problem with paragliding is that if I move somewhere without hills ...

good point: that's one of the reasons that drove me towards skydiving. you'll find a DZ pretty much anywhere in the western world.
good point for paragliding is so many awesome places to ride far from the crowd and so close to the nature (i like the smell of jetfull like any adrenaline junky but, well...)
i've tried both and to date i've done only a few days paragliding and 500+ skydives. anyway, canopy ride is what stokes me on every single skydive while the dive itself is not always that good. duno if you can figure out anything out of that :S
there's something very special in skydiving vs paragliding: diving 140mph with your buddies a arm legnth away, or flocking together for over 2 minutes in a wingsuit. nothing on our little planet can beat that B| paragliding is more of a solo trip.
i'd say go for skydiving if you've got a good dz close to the place you live right now. time will come for paragliding, eventually.
if some time i came to live closer to a good gliding place, i'll go into it. no doubt.

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I've done both.

Paragliding pluses:
-More in touch with the air; it takes more skill to fly a paraglider than a parachute.
-Better exercise.
-Better views; you get to see a lot more of the country on flights.

Skydiving pluses:
-More of a community
-More to do - canopy flight is just one small part of skydiving

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Paragliding and Skydiving are both very special sports in their own very different ways. To say which is best is impossible!

Let me clear up some misconceptions about paragliding that may not be that obvious:

-Most Paragliding records are flown from winch launches. (The current world record is over 260 miles) You don't need a mountain.

-PG can be as docile or as exciting as you want to make it. You can spend hours ridge soaring at the beach in perfectly smooth air or you can climb to 18 000 ft in 2000 ft/minute thermals. Paragliders can be spiraled, stalled, spun tumbled and looped.

-More often than not you will be flying with friends, thermalling wingtip to wingtip, but you will also find yourself sitting alone at 10 000 ft with only the wind whistling through your lines.

-Skydiving is safer than PG.

If at all possible do both! But realistically, if you have to choose start with skydiving. It will change your life and eventually make you a better paraglider pilot!


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Thanks a lot. Great points. Would you elaborate on these last two, if at all possible, though?

Also, I'm guessing you jump and glide, right?


-Skydiving is safer than PG.

...But realistically, if you have to choose start with skydiving. It will change your life and eventually make you a better paraglider pilot!


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Yes I do both, but I started paragliding after I had about 200 jumps.

I should actually rephrase what I said about safety. Again PG can be as safe or as dangerous as you want to make it. If you choose to fly paragliders in strong thermic conditions you will probably have an accident sometime during your career. Paragliding canopies can colapse in turbulance. If you get a big collapse too low to fix or throw your reserve bad things will happen.

Skydiving will teach you basic canopy skills which will give you a big advantage when moving to PGs. More importantly, it will teach you how to control your fear, allowing you to be more aware of your environment and make good decisions quickly under pressure.


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The tradeoff is that it only last seconds, while in a paraglider you can potentially stay up for hours.

Firstly, I think you have to coolest Grandfather of all time. I met him on an AFF Evaluation dive at Perris while watching over Don Yarling. He was messing with my "student" and I asked him to please allow my student to focus on his upcoming skydive. He apologised and the rest of the dive was uneventful. (or as uneventful as an AFF eval dive could be!)

Only during the debrief did Don tell me who I had chastised. I found him and apologised immediatly, and he just laughed it off.

Now to your comment. Quite simply - they're different.
If we wanted things to last longer - we'd still be going everywhere in boats. Sometimes we look for speed - and sometimes we look for endurance. I prefer the speed in my skydiving, and the endurance watching TV.

It's the year of the Pig.

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After having made about 140 paragliding flights in interior zones
in conditions of dynamic and thermal flight. Also after to have tried the
paramotor flight, I judge, although it am still initiate, to be to the height for, of
a brief form, to do an analogy between the skydiving and paragliding,
establishing common points between an and other activity, the degree of
danger, as well as the advantage of her to have practiced one of this activited for to begin in the
other and the knowledge and learning common to the two.

I flew with 7 different wings beginning (for the roof) with a wing level 3,
then level 2 and finally level 1/2 that is it more adapted in terms of
safety for an initiate pilot. (That this doesn't serve of example to anybody)

Only for to clear, the levels of the wings in the paragliding according to the norms
international DHV settles down in 3 levels; level 1 initiation, level 2
advanced, level 3 competition. And the more high the
performante level also more dangerous it is the wing of flying.

The image

Usually, for us skydivers the image that reveals of the paragliding is
that is a calm when compared with the skydiving, that is as the
like the line fishes, to go for a walk calmly in the sky without anything of abnormal to happen. That it is
activity for the " slack " ones that don't get to jump of an airplane.

For the paragliding it idea of the skydiving it is that is an activity
for crazy boys that jump of an airplane and they only want to arrive here below more the
quickly possible. For these the canopy is not wings that fly
but yes just nylon mushrooms that seek to soften the fall of the
paraquedista to the ground.

The reality

The reality is not a nor other, it is very different
The free flight can be a calm, relaxing activity, without any
assail when practiced the coastal zones close to, with flowed winds and
soft coming of the sea. There there is not fright any we just hovered in the
space, singing and whistling and contemplating everything that the landscape can
to offer for us.

But when the conditions are stronger and we passed for the zones of
interior, close to the mountains, where there is always some coming turbulence
of the relief and irregularities of the land, of the venturis provoked by the
throats and of the thermal ones always presents, there the situation radically moves
of a soft flight we passed to an agitated flight, ascents and gone down vertiginous,
a constant fight to maintain the wing to fly well, to avoid
pendulums and swingings, fechos and front or lateral collapses that can
to bring us for the ground the high-speed in an unrecoverable spinning.

Also the paragliding pilot in general walks a little far away from the truth when speaks
of the skydiving.
The today canopy is just as wing paragliding, perfect machines
of high flight performance that they no only are destined for the coming the jumper
for the soil, but also to provide it the pleasure to fly, although more
down, and to terrify with aerobatics and fantastic flares.
For besides the classic accuracy competitions precision practiced there is
decades with canopy Ram Air, today they are already made international competitions
of flare, speed and precision in wings of HP with great inpact mediatic

If the skydiving demands great courage and autodominio to leave of the airplane and
to practice free fall, the free flight demands it in the same way to fly in
situations as the I described.

If many students interrupt the skydivers activity for desmotivation
or lack of money, which, in fact and in the great maioriate of the cases it doesn't pass of that the
that commonly we called fear ", the same happens with the apprentices of

The perigosidade degree

The degree of potential danger I think equivalent in an and in another activity
If in the skydiving we have basically the danger of the bad operations, of the
shocks and of the aterragens, in the paragliding we have the danger of the descolagens, of the
I fly and of the aterragens, still added to the dangers imponderable resultants of the
unexpected alterations of the meteorological conditions
Still having the danger of the excess of self-confidence, especially of us
skydivers that can take us to belittle the conditions adapted for the
practice of the paragliding, taking us per times to confuse courage with
inconsciência and to assume purposeless risks.

The pilotagem technique

For the jumper it is very important the experience acquired in the control of
canopy for the paragliding practice and vice-versa. The beginnings
of control they are basically the same ones. They completely just modify
some parameters as the slopes that are much more flat in the
paragliding, the answer to the inputs that it is much slower in the paragliding and the
it forms of flying that for besides the normal toggle inputs it is supported by the
weight transfer (inclination) in the chair of the paragliding. The same already
we make some of us in the swoop to support the manobradores turns and to dive more
in canopy of high performance.
There is also a device of acceleration, the foot (bar) accelerator that actuando in the
suspension risers (bands) it alters the inclination of the wing (trim). just as us
we do in the canopies but alone actuando in the front risers.
In the paragliding the main goal is to win height, per times the difficult is to come
In the skydiving the difficult is to be there on top, the main goal is the
gone down.

Advantages of learning paragliding and skydiving

As it is I obviate it is advantageous to be paragliding experienced pilot for
to begin in the skydiving, as it is it to be also expert skydiver for
to begin in the paragliding. basically the flight feeling is the same and the
accumulated larger or smaller experience is very important for to give us the
good information on the heights, reactions of the wing to the inputs,
vertical and horizontal speeds and glide ratios.
There is even so, that to notice the limitations and differences of behavior well of
an and other and to respect them
For example it is absolutely normal a jumper to continue with the inflate wing
after the landing same with strong wind. Such it is unthinkable in the paragliding and it can
to bring serious resulting consequences of a sudden increase of the wind that
it cannot us catapultar against the soil or a sharp rock. As it happened with me
It happened after I landed in the same place that I made the take-off (Top Landing)
I was, in unbalance situation on a rock to contemplate the wing
open on my head, almost time, the wind increased
suddenly and I wrapped up and feeling an impact of a sharp stone in the
my integral helmet that was there very marked. I leave unhurt but I was safe
for the helmet and for the chair that has a foam protecção of big
The same problems can happen in the take-off.
The paragliding pilot always needs to become a specialist in meteorology for
to practice in safety and to take advantage of the conditions for to fly,
that is just important until a certain level in the skydiving that
things like with the limits of the wind, visibility and immediate forecasts.

The emotion

In an and in another practice there is plenty of emotion
In the skydiving she is without doubts more brutal " because everything happens much more
fast with more intensity. There is not anything that substitutes the exit and the free fall

In the paragliding the flight in strong, thermal and dynamic situations, is without doubts
a continuous and permanent emotion. It is never known what comes to proceed. One
alone activity for some. You can can believe.

The costs (In Portugal)
Basic course of paragliding 300 euros
Basic course (static line) of skydiving 350 euros
An paragliding complet equipment, chair, wing, reserve canopy,
helmet, new it will cost about 3500 euros
A skydiving complete equipment, container, main and reserve, cypres altimeter,
suit and helmet about the 6000 euros
The cost of the flights is the travel for the place
The cost of the jumps about 20 euros
The duration of the material
paragliding 300/500 hours
Parachute canopy about 1000 jumps

In the paragliding, brook lines and fabric tears for traction in the landing
or take off is frequent
In the skydiving are less vulgar the damages, but they you need too packing
the reserve of 4 in 4 or 6 months 20/40 euros, batteries for cypres 500 jumps or 2 years /
75 euros, maintenance of the cypres 4 in 4 years about 200 euros

Generalities and Construction

Glide ratio / Finess
Paragliding 6/1 to 9.5/1
Parachute canopy 2/1 to 4.5/1

Horizontal speed
Paragliding 20 to 65 Km/h
Parachute Canopy 20 to 100 Km/h

I number of cells
Wing of paragliding 30 to 70
Parachute canopys 5 to 36

Aspect ratio
Paragliding 3,5 /1 to 6,5 /1
Parachute canopy 1,6/1 to 3/1

Paragliding 23 to 30 m2
Parachute canopy 6 to 30 m2

Paragliding Nylon Ripstop impermebilizado of high density
Parachute canopy Nylon Ripstop low porositate and Z Po low

Paragliding 250 to 300 meters aramid or covered kevlar or dynema
Parachute canopy 60 to 200 meters Dracon, Aramid, Spectra or Dynema

paragliding 5, 5 Kg for 7Kg
canopy 1,5 Kg to 4 Kg

The means

They are without doubts larger for the practice of the paragliding. Any cliff or
set up disencumbered and turned to the predominant wind they can serve for
to practice. In the skydiving we are always restricted to the airplane, or
that make BASE.


The skydiving is a fascinating, touching experience. brutal and until almost
The paragliding fascinating and touching and almost spiritual experience
An activity doesn't substitute the other, it is even something descabido to be to do
comparisons among them. I face them as complemental to each other for who
it likes the air.

Sincerely I recommend to some and others that try and practice the two.

My experience:
2100 Skydive Jumps with main canopys with 300 to 75 sq ft

150 paragliding flyings with wings livel III, livel II and I


Sorry for my bad ingles

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I have done both.

Been on a few dives with your granddad and done a hundred or so with your uncle or father (not sure which) when I worked as a tandem instructor in Hemet, California and he videoed.

I enjoy both paragliding and skydiving. Unfortunately now that i make my living as a professional skydiver, I have little free time remaining for paragliding.
They are two different sports. Paragliding is for people who enjoy their thrills at a medium pace and skydiving is for those who enjoy their thrills at a fast pace.
Oh, if you find paragliding boring, you are clearly not paying enough attention to airspeed, altitude, the wind ruffling leaves, smoke drifting, which other paragliders are climbing fastest, etc.
Different thrills for different people.
In a perfect world, skydiving students would have a few dozen paragliding flights - until they felt comfortable under canopy - before they ever tried freefall.
As for the skydiving school at Lompoc, California ... I know a couple of the senior instructors - decent guys - and contemplated working for them a few winters ago,

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in your second paragraph you refer to the jump as only lasting seconds.
As Pat Moorehead's grandchild you should know better.
Skydiving lasts a life time. I meet Pat last year in New Zealand when I was Chief Judge at the POs meet, and if you ask him, I'm sure he'll agree.

Do tell him I sid hi.
Watch my video Fat Women

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Come on...you know what I was talking about. Any activity you take up can last a lifetime, so that isn't an issue. What is an issue (to me, at the moment) is paying $25 for 40 seconds of freefall. That is about a dollar every two seconds! I could hardly pull the bills out of my wallet that fast! Of course you get a few minutes of canopy time as well. Not saying I won't make that sacrifice- only that it is an issue. Conversly, with paragliding the only recurring expense is the drive to the hill, and you can fly for hours per day.

I'm leaning towards jumping at the moment though. I need to decide if I'm going to pay for my dogs chemotherapy before I'm sure if I can afford either though.


in your second paragraph you refer to the jump as only lasting seconds.
As Pat Moorehead's grandchild you should know better.
Skydiving lasts a life time. I meet Pat last year in New Zealand when I was Chief Judge at the POs meet, and if you ask him, I'm sure he'll agree.

Do tell him I sid hi.

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Hi Adam,
I have been flying hang gliders and paragliders for 11 years now, and before that, was a skydiving junkie for 12. I have recently begun jumping again also.

Probably the main reason I got away from skydiving and went to paragliding was my personal schedule. I started working a job that required me to work weekends, and it just got too frustrating driving 90 minutes to the DZ on weekdays and waiting several hours to hopefully make up a Cessna load. Paragliding gave me the opportunity to fly however much I wanted on my own, whenever weather conditions allowed. Paragliding is much more weather dependant. If the wind is blowing more than a few degrees crosswind on launch, or too hard, you're staying on the ground.

As far as adreneline goes, skydiving equates to a mainline hypo, while paragliding is more of an IV drip in most cases. But as stated earlier, it is what you make it. It can also be as expensive as you want to make it, you can fly ridge lift sites all day with minimal equipment, land next to your car and go home. Or, you can decide on cross country flying, buy the varios, radios, gps, gas and driver to chase you and make it twice as expensive as skydiving! Either way, both are an awesome sport. I must say though that skydiving DOES have the tighter knit community. I know plenty of awesome people that I fly with PG/HG, but never have I found that sense of family I experienced at a DZ.

Anyway, I don't mean to recommend one over the other. But there are a lot of other things to consider besides cost. Whichever one ends up being the best fit for you, the financial end of it will end up being the least consideration.

As far as Lodi goes, it was and IS still my home DZ, and I can't say enough good about Bill and Kathy.


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