The origin of paragliding has roots in the sport of parachuting. The first time a parachute was used for anything besides slowing your fall was during World War 1. The navy recruited brave souls to be towed by parachute behind a submarine to see what they could see on the horizon.
During the 1950s the Paracommander was invented. The canopy was more oblong and it had vents in the back of the chute to produce some glide and better directional control. In 1958 Francis and Gertrude Rogallo invented the Rogallo wing for NASA’s rocket recovery. Francis Rogallo is credited for his innovative development of both rudimentary hang gliders and paragliders.
In the early 1960’s, American parachutist Pierre Lemoigne was successful in cutting slots in the round parachute canopy to allow for air to flow through the canopy. This had a dramatic effect on the lift to drag ratio and allowed for the pilot to steer the chute in a predictable manner.
In 1962, Walter Newmark of England took note of Lemoigne’s design and modified it so the chute could be towed aloft. During the 60’s, parascending become a popular sport amongst the English. Newmark was responsible for the creation of the British Association of Parascending in the early 1970’s.
In 1964, Domina Jalbert of Florida invented a square canopy called the Ram Air Para Foil. The Ram Air worked by allowing air to pass through the double surface glider allowing for better maneuverability and increased lift. Walter Newmark soon adopted this canopy for his parascending activities.
In September of 1965 David Barish, who was working with NASA took his first flights with a “Sail Wing” from Hunter Mountain in New York. He is considered the probable inventor of the Paraglider.
Not until the 1970’s did the sport take off. The popularity of paragliding arose when pilots in the French town of Mieussy successfully launched the wing by running down the hillsides of the Alps.
Andre Bohn and Gerard Bosson were mostly responsible for developing the sport into how it is today. Bosson introduced paragliding at the 1979 World Hang Gliding Championships. It was not long until paragliding schools were opening up around the world.
In the early 70’s towing ram air parachutes became the passion of the British Association of Parascending. Both ram air canopies and paracommanders were towed behind a vehicle and then released. The early airfoils or squares were relatively fast and offered tricky landing characteristics. The quest for better performance and more gentle characteristics was on.
In 1978, French parachutists Jean-Claude Betemps, Andre Bohn and Gerard Bosson refined the technique of running and launching from a slope at Mieussy, France. The practice soon attracted attention and Mieussy became the first Mecca of Paragliding.
In 1979 Gerard Bosson introduced paragliding at the hang gliding world championships. Ten years later the first Paragliding World Championships occurred in Kossen, Austria.
Now an international sport enjoyed by millions of people every year, Paragliding is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cape Town South Africa. Let Parapax paragliding company show you Cape Town from a whole new angle, join us today for a flight from Lions Head, it will change your life!