If you’re planning on having a paragliding experience for the first time then there’s every reason why you might feel apprehensive, a little scared, and not sure what to expect. After all, you’re going to be high up in the air traveling at fast speeds! Who wouldn’t be worried?
Before I share the comments of first-time experiences of what paragliding feels like, let me just put your mind at rest; providing you are with a qualified instructor then the chances of getting hurt are slim, but it still is a dangerous activity.
However, statistically speaking, paragliding is a safe as driving in a car. On an annual basis, 0.01 percent of car drivers are killed. With paragliding that statistic drops ever so slightly to 0.009%.
I hope that’s put your mind at rest at little, so without further ado let me share with you the experiences that first-time paragliders have had. I asked 13 people to tell me what paragliding feels like as a first-timer to give you a taste of what’s to come!
Handy Hint: There’s even a video lower down the page which shows what it’s like to paraglide for the first time including the jumping off a mountain part!
What does paragliding feel like as a first-time experience?
Here are the 13 responses I received when asking people what paragliding felt like. All of the people interviewed below had a paragliding experience when on vacation in Europe.
1. Calm and quietness like I had never experienced before
“It seemed to take forever to take off as we had to wait for the wind to lift the glider up. Standing on the edge of a cliff wasn’t helping my nerves to start with, so this wait made things a lot worse! The instructor then shouted at me to start running and we leapt off the edge of the cliff… I thought we were going to crash down into the ground but then this weird sense of floating took over and we were soaring! The view was amazing, and I felt so calm as the quietness is something I had never experienced.”
2. Initial nerves and fear followed by fascination and thrills
“Taking off wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. We just ran for a few steps down a hill and before I knew it, we were up in the air. Once we were flying my nerves settled down as I couldn’t help but admire the mountains and forest. I would say my emotions were ones of fear, fascination, and being thrilled all at one time. The silence was eerie though. When it came to landing I wasn’t prepared for how the fast the land starts to come up on you. You don’t realise how fast you are going until that point. The landing was smooth despite that, as the instructor reduced our speed as we got nearer to the ground”
3. It’s a mind-numbing adrenaline rush with insane views
“If you’re wondering what to expect when paragliding I can only describe it as a mind-numbing adrenaline rush. You get insane views and memories that should last a lifetime. It’s very hard to put into words anything more about a first-time experience, some people compare it to a rollercoaster! I would say if you don’t like heights or suffer with motion sickness it’s probably not a good idea for you.”
4. The best thing that I have done in my life
“Paragliding is the best thing I have ever done! It’s exciting and you get to feel as free as a bird. Don’t get me wrong, I was tense, nervous, and feeling really freaked out but once we got in the air and started gliding it was easy to forget about all that. I did feel a little sick after we landed, but still wanted to go again.”
5. The silence blew my mind
“What blew my mind was how silent everything becomes. All you can hear is the instructor and the sound of the wind rushing past you. I was a bit chicken, so the instructor took it easy and didn’t do too many twists and turns which suited me. I was worried about landing, thinking it would be a big crash but that was really smooth too.”
6. A thrilling experience and not for the feint-hearted
“Having to stand at the edge of a mountain isn’t for the feint-hearted. It’s hard to put it into words. After a short run up we were up in the air and flying, taking in magnificent views. It is a thrilling experience that’s for sure. I landed with both of my feet on the ground, and not getting dragged on my backside as I assumed it would happen!”
7. A feeling of joy and ecstasy where nothing else matters
“All I felt when paragliding was a sense of pure joy and ecstasy. It’s crazy that you can look down from the seat and feel like you’re floating above everyone going about their everyday business who have no idea you’re above like a soaring bird. Paragliding made me feel so tiny and insignificant. Even my problems suddenly disappeared, kind of like nothing else matters. I would describe paragliding feeling like serenity and purity.”
8. Feels like a feather being blown on a breeze
“Once I had my helmet and harness on there was no going back. We ran forwards as fast as we could and were then swooshing through the air. The wind was strong and carried us up further for what was a totally surreal experience. I felt like I was flying and soaring. At other points it was like being a feather being blown on the breeze.”
9. Fulfilled my dream of being able to fly like a bird
“My first-time paragliding experience felt amazing. It was like I was a feather that was caught in the wind. If you have ever had a dream to fly like a bird, then this is what it feels like and is the closest you can get to it. I was up in the air for 15 minutes over the Swiss Alps and would love to go back and try it again.”
10. Like a breath-taking spiritual experience
“I can only describe paragliding as being like a spiritual experience. It’s simply breath-taking and let me fulfil my dream of being able to fly like a bird. I was surprised at how comfortable I was in the harness and felt at one with the skies. It was relaxing.”
11. A terrifying experience that’s unnatural and scary
“As the edge approached before leaping off, I was terrified. It just felt so unnatural and scary. My body was expecting us to drop like a stone, but instead we soared off into the sky. It was crazy. I did feel a bit sick as we got higher, and it took me some time to get over that. After landing I had to lie on my back to get myself reacquainted with mother Earth.”
12. I won’t be doing it again as felt out of control
“I hated it and am never, ever, going to do it again. If I was to give you some words to describe paragliding it would be; loss of control, fear, panic, sickness, feeling of helplessness, and overall a massive anxiety attack. I never realised I was scared of heights before paragliding so won’t be doing it again!”
13. Paragliding felt like being on a rollercoaster
“I went paragliding for the first-time last summer so can share my experience; I didn’t like it. It felt like I was on a boat in rough seas and my stomach was in knots. I just felt really sick the whole time especially when the instructor started to turn in the wind. Paragliding felt like a rollercoaster, and not a good one. It’s not for me.”
What experienced paragliders say
But what do experienced paragliders and trainers say? How do they think paragliding feels like once you have the experience and training to do multiple flights? Here are a couple of comments from UK-based instructors.
Paragliding feels different for everybody
“Paragliding will feel different for everybody, but for me it’s something I had wanted to do ever since I was a kid… I wanted to be able to fly like Superman. I assumed it would feel like hovering, but it doesn’t. As long as the weather is good and there’s no turbulence, paragliding feels like a have a sense of freedom I can’t get anywhere else. There is nothing else in the world that makes me as happy as paragliding.”
It’s a thrill a minute adrenaline peak
“If you want a thrill a minute, adrenalin peak, then paragliding is for you. I’ve heard people compare it feeling like you’re Peter Pan and I tend to agree. You’re up in the air thinking happy thoughts as you soar over the countryside below you. You can’t beat the feeling of weightlessness and being completely free whilst airborne. Nothing beats it.”
Does paragliding feel like a rollercoaster?
There are a few recurring themes that I can see with the first-time experiences of paragliding being described. Two people even compared it to being on a rollercoaster.
From my limited experiences of paragliding whilst on holidays, I do tend to concur with this opinion. Paragliding does feel like a rollercoaster, so it’s ideal for thrill seekers!
Some words to describe paragliding
What I’ve done is go through the interviews above and put together a list of words to describe paragliding that appear regularly.
If you would like to experience paragliding for the first time and still have some concerns over how safe it is, what it will feel like, and whether it’s a good choice for you, then read below.
- Do paragliders wear parachutes when flying?
- What is the weight limit for paragliding in tandem?
- Is paragliding or hang gliding the safer sport?
- Will I get motion sickness when I paraglide for the first time?
- Can I go paragliding if I am pregnant?
I hope that this has given you a good idea on how experiencing paragliding for the first time can feel. I tried to get a decent spread of answers, including from people who didn’t actually like it.
The common theme seems to be that whilst most first-timers will be very nervous, once you get up in the air, all the fear tends to disappear.