The History of Speed Flying: From Early Gliders to Professional Events

1 min read – Speed flying has come a long way since its early days. What began as a niche activity for thrill-seekers has evolved into a highly competitive sport, with professional events taking place around the world. But how did it all start? Let’s take a look at the fascinating history of speed flying, from the early gliders to the present day.

The Evolution of Speed Flying: From Early Gliders to Professional Events

The Evolution of Speed Flying: From Early Gliders to Professional Events


Speed flying is an extreme sport that involves flying down a mountain at high speeds using a small, high-performance paraglider. The sport has gained popularity in recent years, but its roots can be traced back to the early days of aviation.

Early Gliders

The first attempts at human flight date back to the ancient Greeks, who designed and built various flying machines powered by steam or wind. However, it wasn’t until the late 18th century that the first successful glider was developed by Sir George Cayley. His design featured a fixed wing and a tail for stability, and was the basis for all glider designs that followed.

Powered Flight

In 1903, the Wright brothers achieved the first powered, controlled flight in history. Their invention, the Wright Flyer, was a biplane with a wingspan of 40 feet and a weight of 605 pounds. It flew for 12 seconds and covered a distance of 120 feet. This breakthrough paved the way for modern aviation and inspired many people to pursue the dream of flight.


In 1949, a French engineer named Pierre Lemoigne invented the first paraglider by attaching a parachute to a simple frame. The design was crude and unstable, but it inspired many people to experiment with the idea of flying using a parachute. Over the years, paragliders became more sophisticated and reliable, and the sport of paragliding was born.

Speed Riding

In the early 2000s, a new form of paragliding emerged called speed riding. This involved using a small, high-performance paraglider to fly down a mountain at high speeds. The sport was initially practiced by a small group of extreme skiers and snowboarders, who used paragliders to access remote and difficult-to-reach terrain.

Speed Flying

Speed flying is a variation of speed riding that involves using a paraglider to fly down a mountain at high speeds, without the aid of skis or a snowboard. The sport requires a high level of skill and experience, as well as specialized equipment that is designed to handle the high speeds and dynamic conditions of mountain flying.

Professional Events

Today, speed flying has become a popular sport with a growing number of professional events and competitions. These events attract some of the best speed flyers in the world, who compete for prizes and recognition. The sport continues to evolve and push the boundaries of what is possible, as speed flyers explore new techniques, equipment, and terrain.


The history of speed flying is a testament to the human desire to fly and push the limits of what is possible. From the early gliders of Sir George Cayley to the high-performance paragliders of today, the sport has come a long way and continues to evolve. As more people discover the thrill of speed flying, it is sure to become an even more popular and exciting sport in the years to come.