The Thrill of Free Flying in Europe

 By: James Smi
The allure of flying has prompted man to make remarkable discoveries and developments in the fields of transportation, entertainment, and even sports. For who would not want to soar high above to experience a bird's eye view of spectacular sceneries?

If you want to test your gut, engage in a free flight sports. Free flight has many forms but the most common of which are paragliding and hang gliding.

In Europe, free flight exploits are regular but nonetheless marvelous ways to tour and enjoy its captivating landscapes and seascapes, thanks to pleasant climate and fresh air. The proliferation of many gliding events, flying centers and gliding clubs demonstrate the fact that paragliding and hang gliding are serious sports thrills in this continent.

Gliding in the Air

Paragliding and hang gliding are cousins. A paraglider is shaped like a wing but with a billowy appearance while a hang glider takes a more rigid form of a V-shaped wing.

A paraglider is made from fabric and strings. Inflated by air through its holes, the fabric of the paraglider forms a hollow wing, thus creating a billowy appearance. Suspended from this wing are several fine strings, which connect to a harness that serves as your seating. Speed and direction are manipulated by pulling on some of the strings, which in turn warp the back of the wing. Because of its construction and materials, a paraglider is literally an aircraft in a rucksack.

A hang glider, on the other hand, is made from lightweight metal frames but also covered with a fabric. Moving the metal bar in front of you controls the speed and direction of your flight.

Both are lightweight gliders, which can reach thousand of feet above land, cover several hundreds of miles, and stay up in the air for hours. Both can be launched by yourself too, as long as you get ample training and muster enough flying spirit in you.

However, being lighter, paragliding is the more popular sport. Weight matters especially when you have to travel up a hill from where to launch. It is also slower and therefore easier to learn than hang gliding. But if you want more speed, hang gliding is your thing. Hang gliding also requires greater skill especially in landings.

Takeoff Points
Hang gliding is a fresh way to tour Brazil's Rio de Janeiro. Fly at about 1700 feet above well-known beaches and mountains. No prior experience needed since you will be accompanied by a certified master. Most tours last about two hours, with about 15 to 20 minutes in the air.

Slovenia has also many launch sites, having hosted several world championships in gliding and paragliding. So do United Kingdom, France where paragliding is called parapenting), Ireland, Germany, Turkey, and many other nations of the region. The Derbyshire Peak District in the UK and the Chamonix Valley in France are only two of the many popular spots dedicated for gliding and similar sports.

Whichever of these sites you plan on taking that first launch, what is basic should be mastered, especially when you're planning to go solo flying. Master how to control wind, for it will carry you throughout the flight.

These free flight activities roll transportation, entertainment, and sports into one breath-taking exploit of the unexplored beauty of nature, letting you take yourself to specific spots your heart desires.
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