Difference Between Paragliding and Parasailing

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: October 17, 2023


Difference Between Paragliding and Parasailing

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Both paragliding and parasailing have very similar sounds, making them easy to confuse at first. We will outline the distinctions between the two activities so you can choose one to try. Running under a curved wing to gain lift and fly is called paragliding, and it can also involve a pilot and a passenger (tandem paragliding). A paraglider receives no help and is entirely propelled by the air and thermals, except Para motoring. On the other hand, a person is dragged behind a boat while linked to a parachute (thus the name “parasail”) during the enjoyable and very easy activity known as "parasailing." The pilot reaches flight when he or she has attained speed and lift. When the boat slows down or the pilot loses contact with the boat, the pilot will also slow down and land in the sea.

Paragliding Vs. Parasailing

Parasailers are tethered to a vehicle (often a motorboat) that provides adequate momentum and connects them to safety, which is the fundamental distinction between paragliding and parasailing. A leisure and competitive flying sport is paragliding. A foot-launched, free-flying aircraft is a paraglider. In the sport of parasailing, a person is tied to a specially-made parachute known as a parasail and is pulled behind a vehicle (often a boat). Parasailing comes in two flavors: aquatic (over water, towable by a motorboat), and terrestrial (over land, towable by a jeep). With a paraglider, you can soar higher on air currents like a bird. Paragliders frequently go long distances across the open country while staying in the air for three hours or longer.

Difference Between Paragliding and Parasailing in Tabular Form

MeaningA leisure and competitive flying sport is paragliding. A foot-launched, free-flying aircraft is a paraglider.A leisure activity in which a person is tied to a parasail, a specially made parachute, and trailed behind a vehicle (often a boat).
Canopy DesignIn aeronautical engineering, the paraglider wing or canopy is referred to as a ram-air airfoil or Parafoil. Such wings are made of two layers of cloth that are joined to an internal support structure to create a row of cells.Utilizes a parachute instead of a canopy.
CostA paraglider costs between $4000-$5000.In the US, a one-hour, forty-minute parasailing excursion may cost roughly $55.
EquipmentIt is necessary to have a wing or canopy, harness, backup parachute, helmet, boots, and flight suit. The fabric wing that supports the pilot is shaped by its suspension lines and the air pressure entering vents in front of the wing. The pilot is hung below the wing in a harness.Boat, tow rape, land vehicle, or parasail. Behind a boat with an engine that has less than 90 HP is where safe parasailing takes place. The company is required to supply a body harness, a canopy to start with, and a towline, along with a skilled boat driver, an observer, and personnel.
LocationsUsually, launches take place from a high cliff where there are favorable winds.A place where the waters are generally calm. The unsteady, choppy sea will shake the boat to which the parasail is attached, making the experience tense.

What is Paragliding?

A more complex type of flying called paragliding involves gliding through the air while attached to a parachute that resembles a pair of wings. A hill or mountain is used as the launch point for the person linked to the paraglider rather than a boat or other vehicle. Paragliding needs specialized training and equipment, as opposed to parasailing. You must get knowledge of paraglider control and how to interpret the wind and weather to paraglide safety. A harness, a helmet, and an extra parachute for emergencies are also necessary. But since the instructor does all the work for you, you don’t need any additional training to participate in a tandem flight!


NASA and the US military were the first organizations to adopt paragliding. The US Navy enlisted and trained sailors to pilot paragliders being towed by submarines during World War II. The men could see across the horizon for any oncoming warships from the glider's vantage point. It was the first time a free-flying, foot-launched aircraft had ever been used in this way. The para-commander parachute, developed in 1961 by Pierre M. Lemoigne, had vents in the back to enable prolonged glide. Since then, paragliding has grown to be a much-liked leisure activity as well as a competitive sport.


The paraglider comprises a harness, and a rip-stop nylon canopy (the actual “wing”), from which the pilot is hung by strong Kevlar lines known as risers. Carabineers are utilized to link the risers to the harness, and the brake cords offer further speed and direction control. To provide optimal comfort, the pilot sits in a harness. Check out the paragliding harnesses with a lumbar support adjustment strap for maximum comfort. They should make you feel like a king on the throne. With a span of roughly 30 feet, the wing or Parafoil must have a total area of 250 to 350 square feet. A maximum of 10 to 12 pounds should be used. A smoother aerodynamic experience is more likely to occur when the leading edge’s cells are closed in higher numbers.

A variometer helps the pilot in locating the air hub to continue driving at a height or for the descent. The GPS tracking systems that we have now are connected to Google Earth and are very helpful.

Safety Conditions

Whether it is any sport, safety comes first. But for paragliding, you should be extra cautious. The speed of the wind might fluctuate at any moment but the paraglider pilot should not take off into gusts over 15mph. When the speed of the wind is between 25 to 30 mph, never fly. Also, never take off when it is snowing or raining.


It was in 1989 that the first Paragliding World Championship at Kossen, Austria took place. Since then, the Federation Aeronatique International, or FIA has been organizing championships. There are three different types of competition within the championship namely, for precision, for aerobatic stunt and cross-country.

What is Parasailing?

Being pulled behind a boat and flying things in the air are both required for the activity of parasailing. A tow line that is tied to the boat is where the parasail, which resembles a parachute, is fastened. The person linked to the parasail and the boat both rises into the air as the boat travels forward. Though it’s frequently done on the water, parasailing is also possible on dry land. Many beach resorts offer it as a popular pastime, and it’s frequently seen as an enjoyable and manageable way to experience flying. Everyone of any age can partake in parasailing, which doesn’t require any special training. While parasailing is an enjoyable and thrilling sport, it is vital to keep in mind that, if not done properly, it can also be risky. Accidents may happen if the tow rope snaps or if the parasail becomes tangled, sending the person plunging into the ocean or crashing into a structure or other obstruction.


Colonel Michel Tournier of France made the first recorded parasail flight in 1961, flying behind a tractor. Lemoigne, the inventor of the para-commander parachute, sold Jacques-André Istel of the Pioneer Parachute Company a license in 1963 to produce and market the 24-gore parachute canopy he had created for towing and dubbed a ‘parasail’.


A boat with an engine of at least 90 HP is required for safe parasailing. Apart from this, the other requirements include a body harness, a start canopy, a towline, an observer, a ground crew, and an experienced boat driver.

Safety Conditions

When the wind speed is greater than 50mph, parasailing is not a good option. For the safety, all parasailers should wear helmets to protect their head from any kind of injury and life jacket to prevent from drowning.


Parasailing is an adventurous activity that takes place at most beaches. No official training is required for the same. There are assistants who will guide the process and help people to parasail.


The first International competition began in the middle of the 1980s and is still prevalent today. It has now become very popular.

Main Difference Between Paragliding and Parasailing in Points

  • Flying with a powered paraglide is known as paragliding. On the other hand, parasailing involves utilizing a parasail to be towed behind a watercraft.
  • In paragliding, the pilot has control over both flight speed and height. On the other hand, the boat controls the altitude and speed of parasailing.
  • Greater independence and control in the air are made possible by paragliding. On the other hand, a more relaxing, picturesque experience is offered by parasailing.
  • Operating a paraglider often takes greater expertise and training. On the other hand, The learning curve for parasailing is typically lower.
  • Paragliding equipment is more expensive and heavy. On the other hand, equipment for parasailing is reasonably affordable and portable.


Two related but different aerial sports that provide a thrilling way to experience the thrill of flight are paragliding and parasailing. Both hobbies provide interesting sensations, but paragliding gives the pilot greater freedom and control while parasailing is more passive and relaxing. For individuals who are interested in these aerial sports, knowing the distinctions between paragliding and parasailing is crucial for helping them decide which type of experience they want to have. In addition to providing a sense of thrill and adventure, these hobbies present chances to appreciate the beauty of the natural world from a different angle. The ultimate purpose of paragliding is to witness the beauty of the planet from a new vantage point and to feel the rush of flight. 


  • https://www.flywithjordan.info/post/parasailing-vs-paragliding-what-s-the-difference
  • https://aspiringyouths.com/compare/difference-between-paragliding-and-parasailing/


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"Difference Between Paragliding and Parasailing." Diffzy.com, 2024. Fri. 19 Jul. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-paragliding-and-parasailing>.

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