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How Safe Is Paragliding?

by Marie Mulrooney
Three paragliders in the sky.

Three paragliders in the sky.

Soaring into the sky on a thermal while dangling below a massive silk glide is undeniably fun -- and dangerous. With that said, the statistics on paragliding fatalities are surprisingly low: There were only two in 2010, according to a report from the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association. Recorded fatalities vary, with a low of zero in 2001 and a peak of nine in 2003.

Additional Statistics

The most recent year the USHPA published an accident summary was 2010. In addition to the two fatalities in 2010, 45 incidents were reported, 36 of which involved injury to the pilot or another pilot, or damage to property. Men accounted for the vast majority of accident pilots, although the small number of women pilots makes it hard to establish definitive statistics.

Pilot Training and Rating

The USHPA assigns pilot ratings from 0 to 5 to ensure that pilots have the necessary training, knowledge and experience to fly safely. A student with a P-0 rating accompanies the instructor in tandem flights. At the P-1 rating, the student can operate his own paraglider under instructor supervision and in limited flying conditions. A P-2 pilot can operate the paraglider without an instructor's supervision in limited conditions; and from P-3 onward, the pilot handles increasingly more challenging conditions by himself.

Photo Credits

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