There are over 24 activities in the Paragliding category.
During a tandem flight you can admire the incredible landscapes from a bird's eye view. Hotspots for paragliding are Interlaken, Central Switzerland and the Engadine.
As a passenger of a tandem flight you do not need any previous knowledge. You will be instructed by the pilot before the paragliding flight in the launch preparation, what you need to pay attention to during takeoff, landing and also during the flight. From the age of 16, there are no restrictions and the weight should be between thirty and one hundred kilograms. Special fitness is not required, but in case of serious illnesses, you should consult your doctor and indicate this when booking. Sturdy shoes, long pants and a windbreaker are mandatory. For children from about seven years, a tandem flight is possible in most cases, but the parent or guardian must give their permission.
Anyone wishing to practice this sport as a pilot in Switzerland must first pass two exams for single-place paragliders. One exam concerns the theoretical training, which is divided into five sections. The practical examination is completed in a maximum of three paraglider flights. This tests the pilot's mastery of the glider. This is done in three sections at take-off, during the flight and at landing within a given thirty meter circle. In order to be credited for the training, the take-off and landing area must have a minimum altitude difference of 300 meters. To fly a tandem parachute (also called a biplace) you need to pass another strict exam. The license is called Hängegleiter Ausweis in German (Licence de vol libre, Licenza per aliante da pendio, Hang gliding license) and is issued by the Swiss Confederation. Anyone who has passed these exams is allowed to fly as a paraglider pilot.
In order to be allowed to take off with a paraglider in Switzerland, only the permission of the land owner is required. The launch and landing sites are usually managed by flight schools, local clubs or even mountain railway operators. However, a concluded liability insurance is a prerequisite. As a foreign guest pilot, you must obtain a confirmation from your insurance company that your insurance also covers your flights in Swiss airspace. Guarantees and coverage for third party damages must be sufficiently covered. As a pilot, you can also take out 30-day insurance with the Swiss Hang Gliding Association.
The pilot sits safely in a harness under the paraglider, which is connected to the harness by lines. He steers the flight by means of control lines. In a tandem flight, the passenger sits in a second permanently connected harness directly in front of the pilot. All the equipment fits into a backpack and weighs between fifteen and twenty kilograms. In the mountains, the flight is usually performed with a forward takeoff. The paraglider is behind you and you slowly start walking until the paraglider has filled with air and is above you. If nothing is tangled, you take a few more steps accelerated downhill and already at 20 km/h the paraglider lifts you into the air.
Professionalism and safety are guaranteed in paragliding. All pilots, without exception, are tested by the Swiss Hang-Gliding Association SHV and have a brevet, the hang-gliding certificate. Pilots who are allowed to perform tandem flights go through an additional strict examination. There are also very strict regulations for paragliders. All parts of the paraglider must be able to withstand at least an eightfold load. Today, paragliding is the safest aviation sport of all. Between 2000-2017, an average of 8 people died while paragliding according to BFU. With 16,000 registered and licensed paragliding pilots, this is a comparably low figure. Especially if you consider that every pilot flies several times a year.
Paragliding has been around in its beginnings for more than seventy years. NASA engineer Francis Melvin Rogallo received the first patent of a predecessor paraglider in 1948. Somewhat later, David Barish also developed and tested very similar gliders.
In Switzerland, the German Strasilla brothers, who lived here, together with Andrea Kuhn, a Swiss, developed the world's first paraglider from drag parachutes in 1973. They registered their own paraglider patent as the Skywing. Even then, their glider had an ingenious system of pull- and control lines. Dieter and Udo Strasilla were the first people to fly together from the 3,466 meter high Jungfraujoch to Lauterbrunnen, about six kilometers away, covering 2,676 meters in altitude. That was the birth of paragliding in Switzerland.
Even today, the world's first paraglider, an 11-cell glider made of spinnaker fabric, can still be seen. It is located in the Flugwerft Schleissheim near Munich, which belongs to the German Museum. The Bernese Alps south of Interlaken are known for their triumvirate of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau and with peaks over 4,000 meters in altitude offer ideal conditions for paragliding.