For the numbers-minded, there's some interesting statistics about paragliding here, so read on for a figure-fest!
As of 2006, the sport of Paragliding is only 21 years old.
There's your first figure :-)
Here in Australia, 21st birthdays are a big deal, but I haven't heard of anyone celebrating this one as yet!
Does the thought of all those figures leave you cold? Then just try my almost numbers-free discussion of the safety aspects of this sport. Also, check out some tips for avoiding dangers when flying paragliders.
If you are already flying solo, you'll probably find this paragliding safety primer a good read. It's by a top instructor, a veteran of the sport.
Here's another thing on the safety theme. If you are old enough to remember reading Dick and Dora books at school, you might just get a kick out of the Paragliding Primer. This is a unique set of moralistic safety tales like no other. ;-)
Paragliding shares some unfortunate history with hang-gliding. That is, in the early days of the sport, the statistics about paragliding looked pretty bad. At this time the sport was growing very quickly. Occasional fatalities made big splashes in newspapers and radio.
Because of all this bad publicity, the sport went backwards for a while during the 90's. In Europe, the number of paraglider pilots dropped to about half, before better training and better equipment combined to make it much much safer. Paragliding figures eventually rebounded.
In any aero-sport, somebody always has to try to go higher, further, faster, longer or all of the above. Paragliding is no exception! As in other soaring sports, there are a number of standard world records that are always being chased by the most ambitious pilots.
Paragliding has advanced so much in the last few years that these records are now comparable to the corresponding hang-gliding records. The gap in performance is nowhere near as large as it used to be, and this can be seen in paragliding statistics.