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last updated: Monday, January 7, 2008

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flight harness

The paraglider harness, the second half of the aircraft, is suspended approximately 8 metres beneath the centre of the canopy in flight. Practically all harnesses attach to the glider's risers via two karabiners. Some manufacturers use a variant locking mechanism, usually manufacturers who produce both harnesses and paragliders - in an effort to keep sales, not because their connections are any more secure. All connection points and restraining buckles on the harness however should be of a type where the security can be visibly checked after fastening.

Unless you are specifically looking for a mountain harness (very meagre and lightweight), avoid harnesses that can not accommodate a reserve parachute, back protection or speed system. The reserve parachute pouch can be located in the back, base or side of the harness, though occasionally a harness may have a frontal reserve pouch which sits in the pilots lap. Industry preferred back protection consists of high-density foam, up to 20 centimetres thick. Tests have shown that rigid (Kevlar) back protectors transfer more shock load to the lower back upon impact. The harness must also have provision for the unrestricted movement of lines in the speed system.

Standard paragliding harnesses are made of heavy duty material, in which the pilot sits upright on a rigid seat. Competition or cross country harnesses have a lightweight and streamline construction, the pilot reclines right back in a supine position and is usually semi enclosed in the harness. In general, two leg straps and a chest strap ensure the pilot is securely "clipped in". Almost all current harness models are equipped with a "safe-T" strap system. Two chest straps attach in the middle to a "T" buckle which is anchored via webbing between the legs (sometimes to one of the leg straps). This ensures that the pilot doesn't slip out of the harness after launch if the leg straps are forgotten - a common and often fatal oversight!

Additional cross bracing along the chest strap available in some harnesses help dampen pilot movement in turbulent air but restrict the ability to weight shift in turns – remember that the harness acts as a hinge between the two halves of the wing. A wide chest strap results in more roll motion transfer. Making the chest strap tight dampens the roll motion but increases the risk of twisted risers in a spin or canopy collapse. Usually, a 40 to 45 centimetre spread between the connecting karabiners in flight is adequate for the average wing. Check with your wing's manufacturer, the DHV results will specify the type of harness used and the distance between karabiners for certification.

Another important consideration is the comfort factor. Whenever possible, try the harness before you commit to it. At best, fly with it - adjust it in the air, throw your weight around, try different manoeuvres, move into different positions - make sure it fits you and the glider! A harness that's suitably adjusted for flight should be a little tight across the shoulders whilst on the ground, the leg straps tight enough to let a hand slip under whilst standing upright.

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We can advise you on the different paragliding harnesses and suggest one that's just right for you to stay comfortably airborne at flyingfysh.com!

wingtip

Just because almost all gliders and harnesses are attachable does not necessarily mean that they're all compatible! Check what sort of harness your glider was certified with.

"the quality of the box matters little... success depends upon the man who sits in it"

Baron Manfred von Richthofen (The Red Baron)

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