Foot Launch

Paraglider launching from Mt 7 in Golden, BC

Foot launching is the classic method for paragliders to get into the air. In this method the pilot uses a combination of the wind and their legs to get the wing flying. Pilots launch either facing down the hill, away from the wing, called forward launch; or facing the wing, called a reverse launch. The pilot selects which is best based on the conditions, and the launch.

Paraglider launches from a low ridge near Saskatoon, SK

Once the wing is inflated the pilot always turns to face down hill and accelerates. Contrary to how it may appear pilots never ‘jump’ they are lifted away from the hill as the glider’s natural downward flight angle (called glide slope) is not as steep as the hill.

Depending on the location, the pilot might then fly away from the launch to search for thermal lift, which is the case in most mountain locations. Or may stay near the launch and use air flowing up the hill to climb, call ridge soaring.