More than any other purchase, you should consult with a qualified instructor about a wing. It is probably your most important decision, right behind picking a good instructor.
Also, there is a very good reason for choosing a beginner glider, it’s safer! The instructor will help you choose a size that’s right and a capability that’s appropriate to your situation. A good instructor will match your desires, inherent talents, intended flight location, weight, whether or not you’ll use wheels to the appropriate wing.
Detailed specs on wings can be found at www.para2000.org. Remember that in-flight weight includes the wing’s weight (about 7 kg or 15 pounds). So if the spec says 80-105 kg, that means that it’s really certified to carry up to 98 kg.
Handling has a lot to do with a wing’s size. A 28 sq meter version of a wing will be more sluggish than the 24 sq meter model. My comments are appropriate to the wing flown and I’ll try to say whether it was appropriately sized. But basically at my weight, about 210 lbs (145 lbs of me and 65 lbs of motor) an appropriate sized wing is about 25 sq meters. Bigger wings will feel sluggish and smaller wings will be more sporty.
I’ve flown a lot of wings that aren’t reviewed because I didn’t get a chance to do any direct comparison.
Size vs Weight (and Small Wings)
You’re bigger than me, how much faster will you go? Here’s a way to tell. Of course it only applies to the exact same wing.
Certification (Article on paraglider certification)
Most all paragliders get some kind of certification to attest to basic handling and recovery from upsets. Although only DULV does any testing with power, even unpowered these tests are valuable to have a known starting point. Here are the primary organizations that perform glider testing.
EN: The European standardization standards from the Comité Européen de Normalisation (European Committee for Standardization). This group set out to combine various testing standards into one that will yield safer gliders.
DMSV: The German Paramotoring Association has received, as of July 2007, authority to certify paramotors and paragliders. We look forward to finding out what other ways they plan on serving the paramotor community.
DHV: The German Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association Germany requires this certification so it is a semi-official task. It is the most commonly used and is perceived as being the most stringent. It concentrates more on how far afield a glider goes when maladies are induced.
AFNOR: A European standards organization for many things including paragliders. Its tests concentrate on how much time a recovery takes from various induced maladies. As of 2005 testing standards were combined with DHV into new standards set by CEN.
DULV: German Ultralight Association. They certify powered ultralights including paragliders and paramotors.
SHV (FSVL): Swiss Hang gliding and Paragliding Association.
Speed Vs Sink Vs Weight
One of the most important performance criteria’s for a paraglider is glide performance. It is best shown on a graph where sink rate is plotted against airspeed. That’s extremely time consuming so we typically just get the sink rate with no brakes and maybe the accelerated speed when testing glide and sink. Carlos Curti has also done testing on several gliders and have combined his tests with mine and put the results on the graph below.
There is also a speed vs glide chart to better compare performance. Its particularly interesting to see the gliders compared on the same chart. Remember, these lines wouldn’t normally be straight with more data points.
Also, you can see how fast you would go at your weight using the formula here.