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Thanks to Freedom Parapente and its lexicon, the jargon and terms of paragliding will no longer hold any secrets for you. Whether you are a beginner or a more experienced pilot, you will find here all the definitions of the terms most frequently used in the world of free flight. There are still terms that you hear and that you do not understand? Don't hesitate to ask us, we will explain everything and add the definition in the lexicon :)


8 or "S" shaped approach:

An approach where you go straight into the field entry to multiply the base steps to lose the remaining altitude.

Aerodynamic drag:

The sum of everything that opposes our movement through the air, this is the evil force we seek to minimise. It is caused by the friction of the air on the glider and pilot, the shape of the profile, and the turbulence created in the wake of the glider.

Aerodynamic forces :

The combination of lift and drag that counteracts the weight to allow flight.

Angle of incidence :

This is the angle formed by the string and the relative wind. The angle at which the air hits my leading edge.


Base stage:

The second part of the approach where you fly parallel to your field entry waiting to be lowered enough to enter final. Can be doubled indefinitely as long as the ground height is too high to consider the final.

Brake guard :

A kind of brake reserve, slack on the halyard that comes to form a lobe aft in a flying situation when there is no action on the control.


Civil Aerial Liability :

Compulsory insurance for the practice of free flight. It aims to insure the world against material or physical damage that you could cause with your paraglider.


When the leading edge folds in partially (asymmetric collapse) or fully (frontal collapse). The angle of incidence is no longer sufficient, the stop point moves upwards and the air inlets are no longer properly pressurised, which transiently "softens" the profile. This is also known as under-incidence.

Contact point :

Hand position from which I get feedback from my canopy. The brake halyard is barely taut, I am in contact with the trailing edge.


Decision making :

A fundamental step in the take-off sequence that differentiates paragliding from Russian roulette. This decision is made after inflation, based on the pilot's feelings and the environment. Choosing to let the glider down to re-inflate in case of doubt is not a failure but a conscious and responsible pilot attitude.

Depression on the top surface:

The airflow over the top of the wing generates a vacuum as the glider moves. The acceleration of the fluid due to the shape of the profile creates this force. This vacuum is mainly located at the front of the profile.

Downwind :

The position downwind of an area, terrain or object. Example: downwind of a MacDonald's, it smells like Chips.

Drift :

Or "drift angle". In flight and in the presence of a crosswind, this is the angle formed by the chord of my wing and my ground track. Just like when I swim across a river, if I swim facing the bank, I end up a little bit downstream, that's the drift (irrelevant example if you have foot). The word "craber" is also used.


Elevator :

A strap that connects to the harness and joins all the lines (A, B and C possibly D on older sails.

End point :

Theoretical area of the ground defined as ideal for landing. Used as a reference to evaluate our position in space and adjust our turns before landing.

Extrados :

The "top" of the canopy, the part that looks up at the sky once the wing is over my head.


Flare :

The final braking of the landing sequence to create a resource to land as gently as possible. #kisslanding.


The final stage of the approach, ideally a long stabilised straight for a smooth return to the ground.

Finesse :

The ratio of distance flown to altitude consumed, my horizontal speed to my vertical speed. This allows me to determine my trajectory. For the hardcore, it is also the ratio of lift to drag.

Flying range :

The set of hand positions I can adopt to fly my paraglider.

Free flight:

For those who go on PUL.


Gradient wind :

A decrease in wind speed as you approach the ground, like a gradient.

Jonc : A rigid part of the leading edge that allows it to be shaped to improve inflation, safety and profile performance.


Harness turn:

The alignment of the leading edge, fronts and harness is not respected. The harness has rotated fully on the vertical axis, also known as the stage init nightmare.


A fundamental concept in paragliding, direction, azimuth, trajectory... Knowing how to follow a course means knowing how to avoid obstacles. To follow a course, our best tool is our eyes.

Horizontal speed:

The speed what. But horizontally.


Intrados :

The part of the canopy that faces the ground after inflation, this is the surface where the tabs that connect the lines to the profile are sewn.



One or more lines entangled with each other or with a root or the like. A spanner distorts the airfoil and can change the trajectory and behaviour of the wing.


Laminar :

A smooth flow, with tidy streams of air. Good conditions for learning to paraglide.

Also called smooth air.

Leading edge:

This is the front of the sail, the part of the airfoil where the air inlets, the caissons are located.


The beneficial force that makes us fly, the one that distinguishes us from a brick.

Lift is the combination of forces that act around the airfoil when air flows over it. These are the depression on the upper surface, the deflection of the airflow downwards behind the airfoil and, to a lesser extent, the overpressure on the lower surface.


Max Finesse :

For a given profile, the amount of brake with which I obtain the best speed/sink rate compromise, more vulgarly said, it is the position where I will go the furthest without wind.

Max Speed :

The hand position at which my aircraft is fastest. The brake handle positioned as close to the pulley as possible, or in the jargon, "arms up".

Minimum sink rate:

The number of metres lost each second. The minimum sink rate is the position at which the sink rate is at its optimum for a given profile. This is where I lose the least amount of altitude each second.

Minimum speed :

The theoretical flying position below which my glider will not fly. This is the lower limit of my flying range, just before the stall.


Pitch :

A pendulum movement from front to back, comparable in feel to that experienced on a swing.

In the pilot's frame of reference, the wing appears to be either behind or in front. The aerology as well as our piloting actions can create pitching.

Preflight :

A set of checks that are systematically carried out before choosing to take off. This includes preparation of the canopy, checking the rescue parachute and the harness attachment points.


 A cross-section of the glider, used to better understand the airflow around the glider. Sometimes synonymous with glider.

P.U.L. :

Ultra Light Glider, this is the class of our aircraft. To belong to this class, you must take off with muscle power alone, weigh less than 250 kg and be non-motorised.


Raviole :

Speciality of the Royan, but also of the Champsaur.

Relative wind:

This is the wind I feel on my face when flying. It is generated by my movement and its origin is opposite to my trajectory in the air.

It is also called air speed.


A line that connects the leading edge to the trailing edge.

Roulis :

A pendulum movement lateral to the trajectory, said by wikipedia it gives: rotational movement of a mobile around its longitudinal axis.

More prosaically, from the pilot's point of view, the wing seems to swing to our left or right. The roll can be induced by our piloting or the aerology.


Shear :

The area of contact between two air masses of different directions.

Sink rate :

Synonymous with vertical speed.

The number of metres lost each second.

Stabilos :

Synonymous with wingtips, feathers.

Stall :

When what distinguishes us from the brick has disappeared.

The angle of incidence becomes too great and the air streams can no longer stay glued to the upper surface. The lift disappears and the glider no longer flies, you fall, the horizontal speed is zero. This is also known as over-incidence.

Stopping point :

The precise point on the leading edge where the air streams that will pass under and over the profile separate. Can migrate depending on the incidence.

Suspension :

Small strings that carry us and connect us to the sail, can be sheathed or unsheathed, mostly made of dynema or kevlar.

Synchro :

Synchronisation, a braking action at the end of inflation to stop the canopy above the head. Synchro is used to prevent the wing from overtaking the pilot, to coordinate wing/pilot speeds and to allow time to decide whether or not to take off.


Tailwind Branch :

The first segment of the approach where you come up along the ground to come to the leeward side of it in the base leg.

Thermal :

Upward flow. A bubble or volume of air that rises as a result of heating up on contact with the ground.

Tie :

A line that runs over the leading edge and distorts the profile. This can prevent inflation and alter the trajectory.

A parachutist's hanger.

Total flying weight :

PTV: This is the weight of the whole, pilot dressed and bag on the back.

Trailing edge :

Opposite of the leading edge, the trailing edge is the back of the sail. It is sewn to keep the profile inflated. This is where my brake controls will act.

Trajectory :

This is the direction in which my glider is moving in space. It can vary depending on whether we are talking about air or ground trajectory (air speed/ground speed).

Turbulence :

Disturbed airflow, as opposed to laminar.

Twist :

Twist turns are when the risers are crossed. To undo these twists, simply separate the two riser bundles.



A position upwind of an area, landform or object.

Ex: On the terrace, I stand upwind of the smokers so I don't smell like a fag.

U-shaped landfall:

A type of approach borrowed from aeronautics that includes a downwind leg, a base leg and a final leg.


Vertical Speed (Vz):

Synonymous with Rate of Fall.

Variation in altitude measured in metres per second.

It is also called rate of fall, which is the speed at which I descend.

One day perhaps your vertical velocity will be positive, then it will be called rate of climb.

Venturi effect :

Acceleration of the wind when crossing a topographical constriction (pass, summit...), as when you pinch the hose too short in the hope of reaching the row of potatoes at the bottom of the garden.

Visual flight :

Visual flight rules. Rules that govern the flight of aircraft flying without instruments in uncontrolled areas. These rules mainly involve flying during daylight hours and out of clouds according to the "see and be seen" principle.



Synonymous with stabilos, Feathers.

The two ends of the sail.



This is the rotation of the wing around a vertical axis, similar to a helicopter blade.