Mini Wings & Speed Flying
Mini Wings – What are they and what are they for?:
Basically, a very small paraglider. Mini wings tend to be bigger however than their cousins the speed wing. Mini wings are more designed for ease of use and often have full certification. They are designed for hike and fly where the glider is used as a means of descent from a mountain top or another option for when the wind speed becomes too strong to launch and fly a conventional paraglider. Speedwings are even smaller and appeal to pilots who want the adrenaline fix of close proximity flying down the side of a mountain usually as fast as possible. The most extreme version of the sport of paragliding.
How much experience do I need to fly mini wings?:
Some mini wings are now certified ENA so these would be suitable for and beginner and for training. As the sizes get smaller however, the certification does tend to get more extreme. Many small sized mini wings have an ENc certification and although this is fine for the experienced pilot, it is far above what a beginner should want or need. Speedwings are a bit of a bowl of contention with opinions ranging from suitable for all and even to learn on to those that say ‘for experts only’. The smaller the wing however, the truer the latter statement is for sure.
What is the level of passive security?:
As above with ENa being the best for beginners for the mini gliders and speed wings with their huge wing loading have an enormous amount of passive resistance to deflations. Even so, the small sizes of the speed wings make them almost impossible to pass the standard paragliding test procedures so other than strength testing, they tend to mostly be uncertified.
How easy is a mini wing to launch?:
Simple. Their small size and low weight make launching a complete breeze. Because of this, they can also be used as effective ground handling training tools. You will be required to run a lot faster in low wind conditions than a full-size paraglider though.
How does a mini wing handle?:
Because of the increased wing loading over a conventional paraglider, mini wings tend to be more responsive and direct to input. The smaller the size, the more pronounced this becomes. Small speed wings are easily capable of being barrel rolled in flight.
How good is the performance?:
Glider performance is actually really good for the larger sizes and very good if penetrating into a headwind. With speed wings, the glide angle decreases rapidly with size but isn’t a problem when used for their designed purpose.
Is this category for me?:
If you like to hike and fly and need another tool in your arsenal to enable you to increase your effective flying window, then yes, a mini wing could be for you. If adrenaline is what you seek, the extreme world of speedflying maybe for you if you are willing to accept the increased risk level.
As always, it is encouraged that you ask a question if you need clarification on anything that is written above using the form at the bottom of the page. If something is puzzling you, it is guaranteed that you will not be on your own. By putting your questions on this page, other pilots will also be able to learn.
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Here to Help
I have been involved in paragliding full time since the very beginning of the sport in the UK. I have been instructing full time since 1993 until 2017 and available to help you with advice whenever needed. Helping paragliding pilots new or old is my way of putting back into the sport which has given me such incredible experiences all over the world and I want you to be able to share in that. If you need any help, just write in the chat box found on this site and I’ll get back to you either immediately or when I’m back in the office.
Good Flying! Paul Williams