Difference between Parachuting and Paragliding

Key difference: In parachuting and paragliding sports, there is a use of similar types of canopies that are the parachutes and paragliders. These canopies differ in their patterns and weights, that is, the parachutes are heavily built than the paragliders.

Both, Parachuting and Paragliding are adventurous air sports and the parachutes and paragliders used in these sports are derived from the common ancestor, the parafoil kite.

The parachuting technology was actually developed by the militaries, in order to save their aircrews at the time of emergencies; which afterwards became an international sport in 1952.

Parachuting (Sky-jumping) is an action sport, in which the parachutists exit an aircraft and return to the Earth with the aid of gravity, by slowing down the last part of the descent with the help of a parachute. It is performed as a recreational activity and a competitive sport. It is used in the deployment of military personnel airborne forces. It is also used occasionally by the forest firefighters.

Parachuting is performed from both, the lower and higher altitudes. If the jump is taken from a lower altitude, then the parachute gets deployed immediately; however, if the jump is taken from the higher altitudes, then the skydiver may first free-fall for approximately 1 minute, and then would deploy the main parachute. The aircrafts required for the parachuting involves light aircrafts, such as a Cessna 172 or Cessna 182. At busier drop zones (DZs) larger turbine-powered aircraft may also be used, which involves the Cessna 208, de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, GippsAero GA8 Airvan or Short SC.7 Skyvan. The Parachutists ride to the high altitudes in a light aircraft, fly to the 'drop zone' and then exit the aircraft. In parachuting, the parachute opens first, and then the jumper controls the direction and speed with the help of the toggles situated at the end of steering lines. The toggles are further attached to the trailing edge of the parachute, from where the jumper aims towards the landing site and lands with a gentle stop. People make their first parachute jump with help of an experienced and trained instructor.

Domina Jalbert in 1952 concluded that the advanced governable gliding parachutes with multi-cells and controls can be used for the lateral glides. These are today used for the flights in paragliding.

Paragliding is a recreational, competitive and adventurous sport of flying a paraglider, which is a lightweight, free-flying, foot-launched glider aircraft with no rigid primary structure. It is unique among the other soaring aircrafts and is easily portable. Its complete equipment pack is in a rucksack, which can be carried easily on a pilot's back, in a car, or in a public transport. In comparison with the other air sports, paragliding simplifies the take off while traveling and suitably selecting a landing place. The paraglider flights do not use the engine, despite which it can last for many hours and cover hundreds of kilometers. These flights of 1–2 hours can cover some tens of kilometers, which is more than the norm.

Paragliding relates to some of the activities such as the:

  • Hang gliding
  • Powered paragliding
  • Speed riding or speed flying
  • Commercial activity
  • Power kites
  • Kite skiing

In paragliding, the pilot sits in a harness, which is suspended below a fabric wing consisting of a large number of interconnected and baffled cells. The wing shape is to be maintained by the suspension lines. The pressure of air enters the vents from the front side of the wing and the aerodynamics force the airflow towards the outside. The paraglider wing or a canopy is usually known as a "ram-air airfoil" in the aeronautical engineering. These wings comprise two layers of fabrics which are connected to the internal supporting material in rows of cells. The paragliders are known as an advanced evolutionary aircrafts that can go to places and do things unlike any other vehicles.

Comparison between Parachuting and Paragliding:




What are they

Parachuting also known as the Sky-jumping is an action sport.

Paragliding is a recreational and competitive adventurous sport of flying a paraglider.

Type of canopies

A parachute is a cloth canopy which fills with air and allows a person or heavy object attached to it to descend slowly when dropped from an aircraft; or which is released from the rear of an aircraft on landing to act as a brake.

A paraglider is a wide canopy resembling a parachute that is attached to a person's body by a harness in order to allow them to glide through the air after jumping from or being hauled to a height.

Purpose of designing

A parachute is designed mostly to arrest the fall.

A paraglider is designed to travel forward with great maneuverability.

Comparisons of the canopies

They are heavy in weight as compared to the paragliders.

They are lightweight, free-flying, foot-launched glider aircrafts with no rigid primary structure.


Parachutists ride themselves to a high altitude in a light aircraft, and fly over the 'drop zone' and then exit the aircraft.

Paraglider pilots most often launch themselves from a slope of a hill, mountain or coastal cliff.

What does they do sometimes

The parachutes may have to be opened all of a sudden.

The paragliders do not have to be opened.

Image Courtesy: blog.clothes2order.com, wikimedia.org

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