The History of Paragliding: From Early Gliders to World Championships

1 min read – Paragliding has become a popular adventure sport for thrill-seekers all over the world. But where did it all start? Let’s take a journey through the history of paragliding, from its earliest beginnings to the world championships of today.

The Evolution of Paragliding: From Early Gliders to World Championships

The Evolution of Paragliding: From Early Gliders to World Championships


Paragliding is a thrilling and adventurous activity that involves flying through the air using a parachute-like wing. It is a relatively new sport that has gained immense popularity in recent years. However, the history of paragliding dates back to the early days of aviation when inventors and aviation enthusiasts were tinkering with various glider designs. In this article, we will explore the evolution of paragliding from its early gliders to world championships.

Early Gliders

The history of paragliding can be traced back to the early 1900s when aviation enthusiasts were experimenting with various glider designs. The first glider was designed by Otto Lilienthal, a German aviation pioneer, in 1891. His glider had a rigid wing structure and was controlled by shifting the pilot’s weight. Lilienthal’s glider was the first successful aircraft that could sustain flight for a considerable amount of time.

In the years that followed, various inventors and aviation enthusiasts continued to experiment with glider designs. They made significant advancements in glider technology, including adding a motor to the glider, which led to the development of powered gliders. However, most of these gliders were not practical for long-distance flights or for carrying passengers.

The Birth of Paragliding

The birth of paragliding can be traced back to the 1960s when French engineer Pierre Lemoigne developed the Para-Commander, a modified parachute that could be steered and controlled. The Para-Commander had a wing shape that allowed it to glide through the air. This design was a significant breakthrough in the development of paragliding, as it allowed pilots to stay aloft for longer periods and to control their flight path.

In the 1970s, paragliding started to gain popularity in Europe. Pilots began to modify the Para-Commander design, making it more aerodynamic and adding features such as brakes and adjustable steering lines. These modifications made paragliders more efficient and easier to control.

Modern Paragliding and World Championships

Paragliding continued to evolve throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Advances in technology and design led to the development of high-performance paragliders that could reach higher altitudes and fly longer distances. In 1989, the first Paragliding World Championship was held in Austria, with pilots from around the world competing in various events.

Today, paragliding is a popular sport with millions of enthusiasts around the world. There are numerous paragliding events and competitions held every year, including the Paragliding World Cup and the Paragliding World Championships. Pilots continue to push the limits of paragliding, setting new records and achieving incredible feats.


The history of paragliding is a fascinating journey that spans over a century. From the early gliders of the 1900s to the modern and high-performance paragliders of today, paragliding has come a long way. The sport has evolved and continues to evolve, with pilots pushing the boundaries and achieving new heights. Paragliding is a testament to human ingenuity and our desire to explore and experience the world around us from a different perspective.