Is paragliding the New Hang Gliding?
No. Paragliding is the new parachuting.
It sure looks like a lot of fun in the late day glass-offs. We have more Hg accidents in the LZ than the PGer's do. I'd appreciate your ideas about late day glass-offs using the PG as the vehicle.
If skilled people flew paragliders only in guaranteed conditions, I never would have criticized flying them. I love flying. Lawn chairs and weather balloons even look fun to me.
However, there are no guaranteed conditions. Anywhere. Ever. You will never meet an experienced pilot who has never launched into what he assumed to be mild conditions, only to encounter severe turbulence somewhere along his flight path. It happens. It will happen. And when it does, hang glider pilots are glad they did not bring a knife to a gunfight.
I'd caution you about coming to conclusions about paragliding after studying their performance in ideal conditions. The big problem with paragliding is not when everything goes right. It is when something goes wrong, particularly within the Paraglider Dead Mans Curve - below reserve deployment height. You have no protection. You have no recourse. Your injuries are much more likely to be massive than any hard landing with a hang glider.
Consider the well-known "paragliding limp." I do not remember ever hearing of a "hang gliding limp." Why is this? I suggest you evaluate the risk of freeflight vehicle choice by the span of a career rather than instance.
I do not enter a broken leg or broken arm, wrist or finger into my database. That kind of injury is a risk we accept in exchange for the joy of freeflight on any vehicle. It is the high number of massive injuries and deaths in paragliding compared to hang gliding that appalls me.
It is not sufficient just to say that there are more paragliders flying so there are more accidents. There is a very significant qualitative difference in the severity of paragliding injuries as compared to hang gliding. In the most common paragliding accident - loss of airfoil shape near the ground - the operator will fall vertically, slowed only by the insufficient drag of whatever part of the paraglider's canopy may provide.
The numbers work out to be pretty scary. Every PGer should know these numbers by heart. None do. Every PGer I've ever discussed the numbers with injects some form of wishful thinking (denial) into the argument.
When a paraglider's canopy balls up and he falls out of the sky, at the end of the first second he is falling 21.9 mph minus drag.
By the end of second #2, he is falling at 43.9 mph minus drag.
By the end of second #3, he is falling at 65.8 mph minus drag.
By the end of second #4, he is falling at 87.7 mph minus drag.
By the end of second #5, he is falling at 109.7 mph minus drag.
You can whack a hang glider dozens of times and walk away. You fix a downtube, you're back in the air. It's not a big deal. But you need only have a collapse near the ground in a paraglider once. Note that without the added drag or some luck in hitting soft or sloping ground, nothing beyond 2 seconds would likely be survivable. The high vertical speed, often augmented by pendulum force, explains the severity of paragliding injuries - both arms and legs broken, crushed pelvis, broken backs, severe internal injuries, commutative (shattered) and open fractures - sometimes all at the same time!
Those hard hang glider landings you mention, in light or no wind conditions - the ones that go "Whack!" and instill silly fear into the hearts of parachute lovers with the loud energy-absorbing noise - also occur at around 21.9 mph when the hang glider stalls out. The vector however is horizontal. The glider falls vertically only a few inches or feet and the nose digs into the ground, creating the first energy-absorbing collision. In the "second collision," the pilot, if properly trained, swings forward, possibly bending the downtubes or even slamming into the sail's undersurface. In a harder crash, energy is dissipated with every bent or broken piece of tubing. The airframe is protective and expendable. It can save your life in a bad crash. The forces of the collision, that would have been entirely absorbed by the operator of a paraglider, are often transferred to the airframe of a hang glider in an accident, allowing the hang glider pilot to escape serious injury.
To choose a paraglider over a hang glider is to completely disregard or give up this protection.
As a hang glider pilot, this makes no sense to me. You do not mention switching from a high performance hang glider to a big single surface hang glider for glass-offs, instead you suggest moving straight to a paraglider. I don't get it.
That wouldn't even occur to me.