WHAT IS speedflying?
Speedflying is an air sport derived from paragliding which utilises much smaller, faster wings. From it's origins of a small group of pilots foot-launching modified parachutes in the French Alps, the sport has seen immense growth in the last 5 years. Speedflying often involves (but is not limited to) flying close to the ground at high speed which contributes to the sports reputation as being a high adrenaline, dangerous sport. The sport does however cover a much larger range of flying styles than this and speedflying can, under proper guidance and training be conducted safely and responsibly.
how is a speedwing different to a paraglider
The most fundamental difference between a speedwing and a paraglider is the canopy size. Paragliders typically range in size between 22m² and 34m² where as speedwings range between 18m² and 8m². The vastly higher wing loading results in faster trim speeds and (combined with shorter line lengths) more agile, dynamic handling characteristics. Because speedwings are often flown close to the ground where a collapse (deformation of the leading edge of the wing) would be catastrophic, speedwings also have a modified profile to increase internal pressure and angle of attack.
how do I get started?
Speedwings take a considerable amount of skill to safely pilot and the increased trim speeds and dynamics make them totally unsuitable for new pilots. Margins for error are reduced and consequences for bad decisions are far more drastic. For this reason, to fly a speedwing you need to first be a proficient paraglider pilot. We're often asked whether a background in skydiving or kite surfing will suffice to enter the sport however the canopy dynamics and controls are very different and the required knowledge of aerodynamics and meteorology are only shared with paragliding.
At Paragliding Queensland, we use speedwings as a learning tool (in a controlled, safe environment) for all of our lesson courses, so you will have the ability to understand the difference in dynamics by the end of your paragliding course. We stock Australia's most comprehensive range of speedwings, from your first speedwing to the worlds most high performance speedwing - the Gin Fluid2 8m and everything in between.
The HGFA (Hang-Gliding Federation of Australia) recently introduced a requirement for speedwing and mining pilots to hold a relevant endorsement. The endorsement is aimed at reducing the number of speedwing and miniwing related accidents and improve pilot understanding of the unique requirements of such wings. Our instructors Phil Hystek and Guy Bolton collectively have over a decade of speed flying experience in Australia, New Zealand, France, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. We regularly run speedwing and miniwing training clinics at our local flying sites to ensure our students continue to develop their understanding of the sport and remain current with their pilot skills. Our international tours also allow our pilots to fly some of the most spectacular speedflying scenery the world has to offer.