What to do if your paraglider goes in the water

In May 2010 i recorded an interview with Elisabeth Guerin of Paratour’s glider shop about what happens when your wing gets dunked and what to do. She’s now had lots of experience dealing with wings that have been dumped into both salt water and fresh so I figured she could spread some light on the issue.

Her suggestion matches others I’ve gotten from wing people. If your paraglider goes in the water pull it out carefully by the trailing edge, and lay it to dry it in the shade, preferably in warmth, for a half-hour or so. Then kite it for 10 to 20 minutes and finally fly it for 30 minutes or so. Lines will naturally tend to shrink which is detrimental to its flying qualities. Flying will help pull them out to keep their length better by keeping them loaded.

Flying doesn’t load the D’s much so it would be wise to do a line length test after a few days. D-line shrinkage will make the wing sluggish on inflation. You may need to stretch these lines to bring it back into specs.

Salt Water

If your wing gets into salt water, that’s a much bigger deal. Rinse it out right away then kite and fly. Elisabeth has seen the porosity increase dramatically on wings that have been in salt water without going through a thorough cleansing in fresh water. The thought is that minute salt crystals abrade the nylon enough to cause the degradation.

For those of us who like foot dragging in water, this is something to think about. Not only do you want to be able to stand up if the motor quits, but you want to be able to get it falling onto dry ground! Keeping the wing dry is just below not drowning on the desirometer.