Essential steps to paragliding safely

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(NEWS10) — Soaring through the sky can be an exhilarating way to spend your time, but it can also be a dangerous one without the proper training. Here we take a look into the art of flying and what it takes to do it safely.

“You can legally fly an ultralight without any sort of license and even without any sort of instruction or any kind of certification, but generally, in the United States, most people get a certification with the USPPA so that they learn how to do everything safely and appropriately,” Nick Antonaccio, certified flight instructor with the U.S. Powered Paragliding Association, said.

After what was an eventful night for many onlookers following a collision between a paragliding operator and a string of power lines in Altamont, interest is being sparked as more have been seen gliding throughout the Northeast.

“Truthfully, you know, the customers enjoy it,” Laura Teneyck, Indian Ladder Farms manger, said. “They have been flying around a lot, and you know, this is the first time we have ever had a problem with it, but we’re just so grateful he was not injured.”

And although you may not need a license to fly legally, Antonaccio said the high-flying hobby requires a skill set obtained only through proper training and repetition.

“The most important thing is to have the specific skills that keep you from running into situations that you can’t handle, and that’s a mix of knowledge and technical skill,” he said.

Skills include knowing what conditions to fly in, being able to control your altitude and direction, and knowing the extent of your abilities, which all can be obtained during a very methodical flight school.

“It’s a lot harder than it looks,” Antonaccio explained. “Typically, at least 25 flights before you get to the sort of level where you can get a certification that shows that you’ve got some of those basic maneuvers covered and that you can handle doing spot landings with the engine off. Do you understand your glide issues so that you don’t run into obstacles and don’t hit the ground unintentionally.“

And while it may be a rigorous training process, Antonaccio said it’s an experience unlike any other.

“It’s an amazing, fun experience,” he said. “For me, it’s like taking a vacation every time I go up. I’ve been doing this for 16 years, and I still love every moment of being in the air.”

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