【Paragliding vs. Parasailing】 | Comparison between these two aerial sports

What Is Parasailing?

Actually, there are very few similarities between parasailing and paragliding, if there are some. Then you may be wondering — what is the difference between parasailing and paragliding?.

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There is a wing in parasailing that is used as a kite in which the passenger is towed captively in a vehicle — usually a boat — at a height of no more than 90 or 100 meters. The passenger has no control over the wing nor is accompanied or assisted by any instructor during the flight.

Paragliding is an ultralight aircraft that has glider capabilities. Take off is made on foot and you can reach the height of the clouds any day with normal weather conditions. You can fly alone if you have a flight license, or you can hire an instructor to enjoy a tandem paragliding flight. It is the closest experience to flying as birds do, inside thermal currents, controlling the direction all the time.

What Is Paragliding?

Paragliding is an activity included in the so-called adventure sports and it is done with a wing or glider called paragliding. Its developed design allows the pilot to travel long distances and fly at a considerable height taking advantage of the thermal currents.

The parachutes have been the precursors of the current paragliders. In the 1960s, Francis Rogallo developed the parachutes that the NASA would use in its missions to recover space capsules.

It was in the 1980s when the paraglider took off definitively as a sport activity with the evolution of the paragliding designs, which are still changing nowadays.

We hope that the difference between parasailing and paragliding is clear now. Remember that if you have any doubt or if you want some more information you can contact us anytime!.

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Welcome back to our blog! Today at Overfly Tenerife, we are going to compare these two aerial sports: paragliding vs. parasailing. Although it may sound quite obvious, there are many times that people confuse both sports because they are very similar somehow.

Down below you will find all the information needed and related with paragliding vs. parasailing. However, if you are interested in discovering more information related with paragliding, you must take a look at our blog:

Paragliding vs. Parasailing

The main difference between these two sports (paragliding and parasailing) is that paragliders are not attached to a vehicle. Parasailers are usually attached to a motor boat that generates impulse enough at the same time that it connects the parasail pilots to safety.

On the one hand, paragliding is a recreational and competitive aerial sport in which the pilot uses a paraglider — it is a free-flying, foot-launched aircraft. 

On the other hand, parasailing is a recreational activity where a person is towed behind a vehicle (usually a boat) while attached to a specially designed parachute, known as a parasail.

There are two types of parasailing — the terrestrial and the aquatic. The terrestrial way of practicing parasailing is over land and you are attached to a jeep. Meanwhile, the aquatic way to practice parasailing is over water, where you will be attached to a motorboat. Anyway, if you use a paraglider, you will have the chance to fly like a bird.


Safe conditions of paragliding and parasailing

Safety is the highest priority when it comes to paragliding. Apart from the paragliding safety equipment, such as the helmet, safety conditions include being at the right place at the right time, such as being at a high cliff during a sunny day. You should pay attention to the speed of the wing because it can vary by the minute.

A paraglider should never take off into winds more than 24 kilometres per hour unless highly trained. Never fly in winds of 40 to 48 kilometres per hour. Never take off in wet conditions such as rain, storms or snow.

Bear in mind that you must never practice parasailing if the wind speed exceeds 80 kilometres per hour. Everyone who flies using parasail needs to wear helmets to prevent head injuries and life jackets in order to prevent drowning.

Basic principles of both sports at launching time

One the one hand, we could say that there are 3 basic principles to paragliding: how to launch, how to turn, and how to land a paraglider. If you want to launch the paraglider, you can run into the wind and down a slope with the paraglider behind you. This is one of the many paragliding launch techniques, which is called “hopping” or “jackrabbit”, and it lets you get a feel for the lift the paraglider receives when it encounters air.

On the other hand, we find that in parasailing, the rider or the riders (2) are put into a harness which is attached to a parachute. As the vehicle starts to speed up, the air fills the parachute and the parasailer is lifted up. However, they keep attached to the vehicle by a tow line.


Origins of paragliding and parasailing

In this section, we want to tell you a little bit about the origins of paragliding and parasailing. However, we have already talked about the origins of paragliding in another post of our blog, so we invite you to read it for getting more complete information — Paragliding History ➞ Let’s take a look over the origins of this aerial sport

With regard to parasailing, the first time that someone practiced this sport was in 1961. That flight was performed by Colonel Michel Tournier — from France —, who was flying attached to a tractor. Later — in 1963 —, Jacques-Andre Istel from Pioneer Parachute Company bought a license from Lemoigne, who invented the paracommander parachute. He bought the license in order to manufacture and sell the 24-gore parachute canopy. That canopy he had developed for towing received the name “parasail“.

We hope that you have enjoyed our comparison between paragliding vs. parasailing. Anyway, if you have any doubt or you need any further information, don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be here to help you anytime! Remember that we are waiting for you in the south of Tenerife to fly higher than you have ever done before. If you are looking for unforgettable paragliding trips in Costa Adeje, don’t miss out on this amazing adventure.


We want to fly with you; we want to be your wings.

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