Paragliding is a new flying sport which began in the French Alps during the mid 80's. The French call it PARAPENTE (pronounced para-pont). A paraglider, as we call them in the U.S.A., is a non-motorized, foot-launched inflatable wing. It is easy to transport, easy to launch, and easy to land.
The paraglider itself has no rigid structure and the pilot is suspended by lines. The pilot is clipped into a harness and oriented in a sitting position for maximum comfort. See picture below.
With a paraglider, you actually fly like a bird, soaring upwards on currents of air. Paragliders can stay aloft for hours, climb thousands of feet in altitude and go cross-country for hundreds of miles.
An illustration detailing more technical information on how the glider works can be found here.
Mitch Bogden paragliding at Tiger Mountain
Paragliding is not Hang Gliding Hang gliders have a metal frame and fly in faster winds with the pilot steering by pushing and pulling on a metal bar. See picture below.
Paragliding is not Parasailing Parasailing is done with a round parachute that is usually towed behind a boat. Unlike paragliding, the person being towed has little control over the parasail. See picture below.
Paragliding is not Kiteboarding A kiteboarder uses a board with foot-straps or bindings, combined with the power of a large controllable kite to propel himself and the board across the water.