Parasailing Vs. Hang Gliding - What's the Difference?


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Parasailing is a recreational sport that began in the early 1960s when a man named Pierre Lamoigne attached a parachute to his car. Not to be confused with hang-gliding, parasailing (also known as parascending) is achieved when a person is attached to an open parachute and harnessed to a moving car or, in most cases, a boat, and the vehicle drives off at high speed, lifting the parasailer (or pilot) into the air.

The thrill and excitement of being airborne has made parasailing a popular family sport. There are parasailing locations all over the United States and the world, but the open spaces and beautiful landscapes make Nevada the perfect place for land parasailing. Land-based parasailing has even been formed into a competition sport in Northern Europe and Finland. The first international competitions were held in 2004. The contest is in two parts: first, dropping or throwing a parasailer to a target; second, accuracy landing.

Many people confuse parasailing with hang gliding, but they are very different sports. The difference between parasailing and hang-gliding is the equipment and how the light aircraft are power and controlled. In parasailing, a moving high speed vehicle is required to pull the pilot harnessed to a parachute up into the air and keep the parachute aloft. With hang gliding, however, the pilot is attached to a frame, and once up in the air, the pilot propels the aircraft with his or her own power without the help of another vehicle.

Like hang gliding, though, parasailing is as safe a sport as the person pursuing it and can be dangerous if undertaken carelessly. Parasailing should only be attempted in the proper weather conditions, and the equipment should be both industry standard and in good shape. Potential parasailers are urged to get training from certified parasailing instructors before taking their first solo parasailing flights.

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