Impressive, isn't it? Seeing all those wings in the air and wondering why there is never a collision accident. 🤔

Credits : Martin Petz

These photos take the influx of paragliders during a distance competition (called cross country) to the extreme. Here the pilots have to follow the same route and are “forced” to fly together.

During a paragliding tandem flight in Annecy, you will never find so many people gathered in one place. Seen from the ground, you have a 2D vision (without depth), with the impression that the pilots are all huddled together whereas they are flying in a large 3D volume. The pilots are scattered, some close to the terrain, others above the lake, etc… The distances you cannot see with the naked eye are due to the phenomenon called parallax. In addition to the immense space we are offered to fly, there are of course rules of the air.

Similar to the highway code, paragliders also respect flight priorities. The only difference is that there are no traffic signs or markings on the ground, nor traffic lights. The pilot has to pay attention in 3 dimensions. He looks to the sides, in front and behind him, but also below and above! It is important not to confuse your right and left!

 

When there is no terrain and two paragliders are flying opposite each other, each one clears to the right. When pilots fly close to terrain, priority is given to the one with the slope to his right. The one coming in front of them will then move aside to give priority.

To better understand, here is a drawing given to beginner paragliders during an initiation course.

When pilots decide to take the same thermal to gain altitude (see the article “How does a paraglider stay in the air?“), again there are priorities. If a pilot spots a thermal first, he is then free to turn into it from the right or the left. The second pilot who wishes to join him must simply follow the movement by integrating on the opposite side. Once in the thermal, if a pilot manages to climb faster than the one above, the higher pilot must then give way to let him gain altitude. The pilot above can see the incoming paraglider while below the pilot can only see his glider.

Here are the common situations experienced in flight. During a flight, have fun observing these rules! Which way do you turn? Do you have priority in flight when the terrain is to your left?

Credits: FFVL (Fédération Française de Vol Libre)

Regarding the distances between each glider, the pilots all have a different margin. However, it is common sense to keep enough space between us. If it is a friend, pilots have fun getting closer by communicating their intentions beforehand (by radio for example). If we don’t know the pilot, each one respects the other and flies quite far away from him.

Did you get it all? If not, ask your questions in the comments!
See you soon in the air!

Lorenza

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