Which Paraglider Category?

It makes sense for wings to belong in a paraglider category such as beginner, intermediate and advanced. Actually, the sport has organised itself into Standard Class/Learner/Intermediate canopies at the 'low' end, then Sports Class/Performance for more experienced pilots, then Competition Class for the really crazy guys!

Standard Class/Learner/Intermediate

Basically, the learner paraglider category canopies are easier to launch and generally the safest and easiest to fly. And particularly if they are a bit old they are the cheapest! However, a word of caution here - the best flying schools will tell you that old used paragliders aren't necessarily such good value. A more recent one, or even a new one will last longer and fly so much better, improving your learning experience and general enjoyment of the sport. Your local paragliding instructor will help you find the best one for you, taking a number of factors into account.

Intermediate canopies are ok for talented beginners or those who have learnt to fly and want something with a bit more performance. These are often rated DHV-1/2.

Sports Class/Performance

In the middle category are canopies suited to keen pilots who are flying on a regular basis. They might now be looking for a more capable paraglider. They want to stretch themselves a bit and try flying cross-country from thermal to thermal, for example.

The downside is that these designs are less forgiving. A bit of turbulence can make the canopy react in a way that would scare an absolute beginner. Partial deflations of the canopy can occur, which a more experienced pilot can deal with easily. As a Sunday flyer you might say 'no thanks' to the experiences these DHV-2 or DHV-2/3 canopies can dish out!

Competition Class

At the advanced end, paragliders fly even faster and more efficiently, and require even more experienced piloting to ensure safety. Actually, some regard competition pilots as slightly insane to trust themselves to the amazing high-aspect-ratio creations in this category!

Hi-tech assemblies of material and spider-web lines that are starting to approach the performance of vintage sailplanes. If you know anything about other gliding sports already, that's very impressive. Used DHV-3 paragliders don't shift off the shelves too quick, as some paraglider shop owners have found out. Mmmm wonder why... ;-)


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