Turn Transition Launch

Checks and Launch Setup

© Jeff Greenbaum

Your reverse or turn transition launch will go without a hitch if you follow these set up procedures and safety checks.

The system begins with connection of the risers to the harness and assumes that a complete wing pre-flight has already been done. These checks are done at the beginning of every paragliding flight you make.

Built into this system is that all steps are done with left as the direction. That is, you turn your left shoulder to the wind, the left riser should be on top, roll the risers to the left and so on. All tasks are done with the direction term left to make the steps easier to memorize.

Connect to the Paraglider

Begin by connecting the risers to the harness. After completing a thorough preflight of the wing, line up the risers with the A lines side by side on top. (Picture 1)

Turn transition launch - connect to the paraglider.

Picture 1

Next, rotate the risers at the bottom connection loop 180 degrees to the left. (Picture 2)

Picture 2.

Picture 2

The risers can now be connected to the carabiners in this position. The carabiners lay out horizontally. Keep the risers oriented the same as they were, with the 180 degree twist, as you connect each respective side. (Picture 3)

Picture 3

Once you have finished connecting the carabiners, you will connect your speed system. Align your risers so that they are all in parallel with the A riser untwisted and facing the ground. Take the connector from the A riser to the outside and connect the speed system line to this. Make sure that the speed system line is on the outside of all harness webbing as it goes to the connection point. It should not wrap around anything on the way from the pulley to the connector. (Picture 4)

Picture 4


Now that you are properly connected, you can begin your Harness Preflight. In other words, the connection preflight. The steps are broken down into the pneumonic Helmet, Harness, and Risers & Brakes.

I recommend verbally stating each phase of the following checks as you do them. It gets you in the habit of the full checks and helps build the system that promotes safety not only to you, but to those around you as well.


The Helmet check is to see if your helmet is on and secured. To test this, simply pull on your helmet’s chin strap. I use the chin strap because this ensures that not only is the helmet on, but the chin strap is secure. If you just tap the helmet, you could take off with your chin strap unsecured.


The Harness check involves a list of components.

  • Leg Straps – Check that leg straps are connected and secure
  • Waist Belt – Check that it is secured
  • Carabiners – Verify gates are closed and locked
  • Speed System – Verify that it is connected, routed right and ready for use
  • Reserve – Reach with hand to verify if reserve handle is secured to harness and has not become dislodged.

Risers and Brakes

The Risers & Brake Check is done to ensure that the risers have been correctly routed. The risers should be routed such that they will not be twisted following the turn from facing the wing to facing forward. You are also checking the correct routing of the brakes and speed system as you do the subsequent checks. With the risers crossed as you face the glider, align the risers so that each A riser and line set is on top. Make sure that the risers are grouped with the webbing aligned in parallel. Put both risers in your palms and do a 1/2 turn to the left. I call this check the Half Turn Check

Hand Setup For The Half Turn Check.

Hand Setup For The Half Turn Check

Turning to Check the Risers.

Turning to Check the Risers

A Full Half Turn check, final positionA Full Half Turn check, final position

A Full Half Turn check, final position

A Variation of the Half Turn check.

A Variation of the Half Turn check is pictured here.

In this position, look at the speed system lines and check if they are routed correctly for the turn transition. Check that the front of the risers will remain the front as you do your turn transition to the left.

The next step is to separate the brakes from the risers. Turn back toward the wing and align the risers making an X with the A risers and lines on top. Make sure that the left side is on top. That is, the riser connected to the carabiner on the pilot’s left. Since I teach turning the left shoulder toward the wind, the left riser set should always be on top.

On the left riser set, line up the risers from the carabiner to the top so that all of the webbing (A to D) is aligned parallel. At the top of the riser set, the A riser should be on top and the A lines should be on top as they go up to the wing. At the bottom of the riser, where the carabiner connects to the harness, the riser grouping will have some twisting as a result of facing the wing. (Picture 9)

Picture 9

Picture 9

Once the above steps have been checked, you can now rotate the entire riser grouping to the left 180 degrees so that the brake will be on top. This is where you execute the included Brake check.

Look at the brake line and ensure that the line goes straight from the pulley to the handle and that the line does not go around anything on the way. If it does go around anything, correct this. Once this is good, you can hold the riser set in your right hand and break free the brake handle into your left hand. (Picture 10)

Picture 10.

Picture 10

Once the brake is disconnected, you can take the entire left side riser grouping and let if hang on the left side of the right side riser set. Keep the left side brake in your hand as you do the following steps to check the right side. (Picture 11)

Picture 11.

Picture 11

Now you can do the same process to the right side riser set. Lift the A riser to check that it and the A lines are on top as they go to the wing. Since the left side lines are draped over the right side lines, lift the A riser and lines to ensure that there are no other lines besides the right A’s supporting the left side set. (Picture 12)

If they are not, rotate the right side riser set until the A riser and lines are on top and are the only lines supporting the left side lines. Once this is done, line up the right side risers from the carabiner to the top so that the webbing is parallel with the A riser.

At the bottom of the riser, where the carabiner connects to the harness, there will be some twisting because you are facing the wing. It will look more twisted on the right side because of the turn direction.

Picture 12.

Picture 12

Once the above steps have been checked and the right riser is parallel with the A on top, you can now rotate the entire riser grouping to the left 180 degrees so that the brake will be on top. (Picture 13) Repeat the above Brake check for this riser set and while holding the right riser group with your left hand, separate the right brake into your right hand.

Picture 13

Picture 13

Drop the right riser set and you will have both brakes in your hands. (Picture 14)

Picture 14.

Picture 14

Now, you can back up slightly and cross the risers so that they make an X in front of you. All that is left is to grab each A riser. If they are split A’s then grab the center A, not both. Before you grab each A Riser, ensure that it is on top. Once you have assured this, you can grab the riser above and to the right of the X into your right hand and the riser above and to the left of the X into your left hand. The brakes should be below both hands as you grab the risers. (Picture 15)

Picture 15.

Picture 15

This completes the connection and harness preflight. You are now ready for a reverse or turn transition launch.

It is noteworthy that the entire harness connection checks must be done after putting the harness on and connecting to the glider. When on the training hill, prior to each flight and as long as you have not gotten out of the harness or anything similar, you should do the Half Turn Check and Brake setup for every flight. It would not harm you to repeat the entire set of checks, but should not be necessary unless you have changed or disconnected any part of your gear. To further ensure your safety, never undo buckles or such unless you are going to fully exit the harness.

If you have not been out for a paragliding lesson yet, get as familiar as possible with this system. Don't worry about memorizing it, it takes some repetition to get there. For those that have been out, use this article to refresh the technique sequence and steps with the goal of better memorization of the checks and quicker familiarity with the procedure as a whole. Of all the tasks I teach, this system is one of the hardest for most students. That alone is a main reason I wrote this article.

'Turn Transition Launch...' was reproduced from the original article 'Reverse Connection to a Paraglider' by Jeff Greenbaum, with permission. Jeff is the paragliding instructor behind Airtime of San Francisco.


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