How to keep your paraglider performing as long as possible

performances de sa voile

A paraglider is made almost entirely of fabric. A technical and very elaborate fabric that provides all the performance to your aircraft. It is therefore essential to pay attention to this fabric to increase the life of your paraglider and to keep its performance as long as possible.

What can deteriorate the performance and quality of a sail and accelerate its ageing?

  • Water / moisture: the worst enemy of fabric is moisture! A wet wing will age much faster, greatly weakening the fabric and fibres. Flying under a wet wing can render your sail unusable by deforming the fabric irreparably. When your wing is wet or damp, after a rainy flight or a landing, it is imperative that you dry it directly at home in a clean and airy place. Do not hesitate to move it from time to time by changing the surfaces exposed to the air so that all parts dry well and avoid the appearance of mould.
  • Friction: A second factor in sail degradation is friction. Walking on the canopy can weaken the fabric, especially if the ground is hard and rocky. Similarly, avoid dragging the glider over such a surface with stones and thorny grasses when taking off for the same reasons. This may seem logical to you as a paraglider pilot, but for spectators at take-off and especially children, it is better to be careful and anticipate their actions.
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  • UV: The third big enemy of fabric is UV. Even if modern paragliders are better protected from UV, it remains an important factor in the ageing of the glider. It will first degrade the colours, then the fibres of the wing and finally the coating... The wing is already strongly exposed to UV in the air, so avoid leaving your glider to sunbathe in the sun at take-off for long minutes or even hours!
  • Extreme temperatures: Storing your sail in a temperate area is very important for sails. The fabric will not withstand excessive heat and freeze/thaw cycles and will cause serious damage to the fabric. So avoid storing them in your car parked in the sun, next to a radiator or in a garden shed where temperatures can become negative in winter. The worst combo is heat plus humidity which will accelerate the hydrolysis process and kill the fibres and the coating of your sail.
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  • Failing to fold the glider properly: Folding a glider properly is essential to preserve its quality, especially if there are parts made of mylar (shape memory material) which will keep the folds. It is important to pack the glider case by case, keeping the leading edge flat, in order to keep the characteristics and performance of your glider as long as possible. It is important to note that few sails today contain mylar; most have replaced it with nylon or alloy ropes. These new materials are less likely to lose performance when folded incorrectly.
  • Insects trapped in the sail: Another little enemy of your sail in summer is insects, especially grasshoppers. Trapped in your sail, they will try to find their way out by piercing the fabric. Before folding your sail, watch out for these little intruders that might have got into your sail and take them out. This is easy to avoid and prevents unpleasant surprises.
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  • Repeated overloading: The last enemy of your glider is repeated overloading in flight. Although your glider is built to withstand very demanding manoeuvres and these are not immediately dangerous, their repetition accelerates the aging of the glider. Acro pilots know this and have to change their glider quite regularly.

How do I store my sail when I'm not practicing?

Finally, to sum up, if you have to store your sail for a certain period of time, first make sure that no insects are present in the sail and that it is not damp.

If it is, let it dry in a clean, airy place, not too exposed to UV light and in a temperate place (so avoid the garden in the middle of summer at 30°C).

If you want to clean a stain on the sail, do not use abrasive products or solvents that could attack the fabric and make the sail porous and lose its resistance to breakage. Instead, use water and mild soap, always making sure to dry the sail afterwards.

Once dry, fold your sail properly in its bag without compressing it too much and store it in a dry and temperate place. You can leave the bag ajar to air out the interior.


Now you know all the things that can accelerate the ageing of your glider and how to store your glider properly when you are not flying.