f l y i n g    f y s h

last updated: Monday, January 7, 2008

copyright © 2003 - 2008 flyingfysh.com all rights reserved

glossary >
terms and acronyms

Flying Fysh's very own glossary of paragliding terms, acronyms and miscellaneous references. Go crazy!

acpul   ...acronym for the European association of paraglider manufacturers, the Association des Constructeurs de Parapente Ultra Legers. Conducted paraglider homologations prior to AFNOR.

active flying   ...in essence, flying with feel. Keeping constant brake input (say 20%) in flight and normalising any noticeable loss of wing pressure by timely operation of the corresponding brake. Anticipating and dampening any surges and roll oscillations detrimental to efficient flight. Applying plenty of weight shift where needed and generally "getting loose" in the harness.

afnor   ...acronym for the French standards institute, the Association Française de Normalisation. Conducts paraglider homologations using ACPUL standards and rates the airworthiness according to the characteristics of the wing during flight.

agl   ...acronym for Above Ground Level.

air time   ...the accumulated flight time of a pilot or equipment as measured from the beginning of the launch phase, during free flight and until the aircraft comes to rest after landing.

aircraft   ...a machine or device that is capable of flight through the atmosphere. In the context of paragliding, the glider and harness combined.

airfoil   ...a term used to desribe the curved appearance of a wing's surface, whose inherent shape and orientation derives lift.

airservices australia   ...an organisation providing air route facilities, air and ground traffic control services, as well as fire fighting and search and rescue services in Australia.

amsl   ...acronym for Above Mean Sea Level.

angle of attack   ...in flight, the angle of attack (AoA) is essentially the incidental angle at which air hits the wing. All paragliders have a naturally "positive" AoA, ie. the leading edge is higher than the trailing edge in flight. The only flight instrument used by the Wright brothers on their first airplane was an angle of attack indicator.

asac   ...acronym for the Australian Sport Aviation Confederation, the Australian hang gliding and paragliding representative member of the FAI.

aspect ratio   ...the ratio between maximum span length and mean (average) chord length of a paraglider wing.

camber   ...in the context of an airfoil, the cross sectional curvature of the wing. The inherent arch in the shape along the chord. In a paraglider, braking changes wing camber.

cao 95.8   ...Civil Aviation Order part 95 section 95.8 issue 3, exemption from the provisions of the CARs enabling hang gliders and paragliders to be flown legally in Australia.

caos   ...acronym for Civil Aviation Orders, a specific and detailed requirement governing Australian civil aviation activities. CAO 95.8 specifically concerns hang gliding and paragliding.

cars   ...acronym for Civil Aviation Regulations. In total, approximately 700 Australian CARs in 22 parts are imposed on local aviators by the national regulatory body, CASA. The CARs contain detailed requirements in the form of CAOs.

casa   ...acronym for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, the Australian civil aviation regulatory body. Regulates civil air operation in Australian territory and Australian aircraft operating outside Australian territory.

chord   ...the straight line distance between the leading edge and the trailing edge of a wing.

civl   ...acronym for the Commission Internationale de Vol Libre, an air sports commission established by the FAI to represent hang gliding and paragliding.

collector   ...a term used to describe a specific area thought to be the source of thermic activity (where air may contact a heating surface or hot body) or generally have thermic potential.

crabbing   ...a flight technique for keeping course in cross winds. Except along the line of wind direction, all straight flights in wind follow curved flight paths. Compensate for any sideways drift by altering your flight path to head slightly upwind of your intended target.

top ^

cta   ...acronym for Controlled Airspace, an area or zone where all air traffic is strictly controlled (provided locally by AirServices Australia). Controlled airspace is designated class A, B, C, D or E.

dhv   ...acronym for the Germany hang-gliding and paragliding governing body, the Deutsher Hängegleiter Verband. Conducts paraglider and equipment homologations and issues a Gutesiegel grading according to the inherent characteristics of the wing to certify airworthiness.

fai   ...acronym for the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, a global body formed in 1905 governing sports aviation. Sanctions international paraglider competitions and administers pilot rankings and world records.

firebird   ...a German paraglider manufacturer, whose wings (Ignition, @, Matrix) are flown and recommended by Flying Fysh for their safety and reliability in flight. Check out the Firebird website or contact us for more information.

hexagon theory   ...a theory of thermal formation proposed in the 1980's by a team of French meteorologists. They concluded that, in nil wind conditions, thermals form along the edges of a hexagonal pattern with regular length sides. In wind, two sides of the hexagon line up with the wind direction, these two sides becoming elongated as the wind becomes stronger.

hgfa   ...acronym for the Australian governing body of hang-gliding and paragliding, the Hang-gliding Federation of Australia.

homologation   ...from homologate: confirm; approve; agree; (law) confirm or ratify by a court. In the context of paragliding, a series of airworthiness tests conducted to ascertain and rate the overall characteristics of a wing in flight.

hypothermia   ...a physical condition where wind, wetness and/or altitude take away body heat faster than it can be produced. Pilots flying at height without adequate clothing can suffer hypothermia by wind chill effects on core body tempurature. Symptoms (not in any order): lethargy; loss of coordination; loss of concentration; slurred speech; blurry vision; and loss of consciousness.

hypoxia   ...a medical condition where the body suffers from a lack of oxygen. As altitude increases, air pressure and oxygen levels decrease, enabling less oxygen to pass through the lungs and be absorbed into the bloodstream. Symptoms (not in any order): hyperventilation; lethargy; euphoria; loss of coordination; blurry vision; headaches; nausea; and loss of consciousness.

ippi   ...acronym for International Pilot Proficiency Identification, an international hang-glider and paraglider pilot ID card issued via the governing body of the pilot's home country.

nova   ...an Austrian paraglider manufacturer, whose wings (X-Act, Carbon, Artax) are flown and recommended by Flying Fysh for their safety and reliability in flight. Check out the Nova website or contact us for more information.

top ^

paraspective   ...a tendency for paraglider pilots to view notable accomplishments and bad incidents out of perspective. Accounts for the phenomenon where pilots experience a massive collapse but a mere tip tuck is witnessed by a third party.

passive flying   ...opposite to active flying. Pilots guilty of passive flying are affectionately known to their peers as "solo passengers".

pilot in command   ...a trained and certified person ultimately responsible for the safe operation of an aircraft during flight.

plf   ...acronym for Parachute Landing Fall, a hard landing technique developed by military parachutists. The idea is to absorb and spread the shock of landing progressively - legs together with knees bent slightly at initial touchdown, the pilot then rolls smoothly down one side of the body and across the back.

pulled apex   ...a term used to describe a round (solid cloth) parachute canopy with an additional line pulling down the apex of the dome, resulting in faster opening times and slower descent rates, but sacrificing some vertical stability in the process.

qnh   ...acronym for standard pressure (1013.2 hectopascals) measured at mean sea level at one atmosphere. Used as an altimeter setting. Area QNH refers to a reference pressure setting applicable for all aviation activities in a particular area.

reynold's number   ...a measure of efficiency in fluid dynamics given by the formula Re = (U x D) / v; where U is the velocity of the fluid, D is the frontal height of the obstacle in the fluid, and v is the viscosity of the fluid. In the context of aviation, air is regarded as a fluid with a certain viscosity. This viscosity has greater influence the smaller the airfoil, often reffered to as the scale effect.

sat   ...acronym for the Safety Acro Team (formed in 1998), a group of paraglider pilots specialising in acrobatics manoeuvres; also, a pilot induced acrobatic manoeuvre created by Raoul and Félix Rodriguez of the SAT. Whilst in a spiral dive, a stable spin is induced and maintained by the pilot. The centre of rotation is between the pilot and the wing (the pilot ends up travelling backwards). Also known as a reverse or inverted spiral.

sink rate   ...a measure of the rate of descent of a paraglider, quoted in metres/second or feet/minute.

span   ...the maximum length of a paraglider, measured from wingtip to wingtip.

tandem   ...a recreational (sport) or instructional paragliding flight involving pilot in command and a passenger. Can also be used to describe the glider itself, a canopy with a larger surface area and weight range specifically designed to carry a pilot in command and a passenger.

trim speed   ...the natural forward speed of the paraglider in flight with no brake input (around 35 kph for most DHV1-2 gliders).

wind dummy   ...an affectionate term used in paragliding circles to identify the first pilot in the air at any given launch site. Essentially, cautious pilots testing the water by letting someone else do it first!

top ^


Make sure your paraglider harness is symmetrical loaded in order to promote straight and efficient flight of your aircraft.

"he moves not through distance, but through the ranges of satisfaction that come from hauling himself up into the air with complete and utter control; from knowing himself and knowing his airplane so well that he can come somewhere close to touching, in his own special and solitary way, that thing that is called perfection"

Richard Bach (A Gift of Wings)

Best viewed in 1024 x 768 (or higher) resolution using Internet Explorer 5 (or higher)