Flight instruments used in paragliding are lightweight, portable and commercially available devices which, in flight, are attached directly to either the pilot or the harness.
Generally speaking, not all flight instruments are required, and not all flights require flight instruments. It all depends on your flight plan! Soaring a low ridge, the recreational pilot could easily establish position, ground speed, altitude and areas of lift and sink by visual reference. However, cross country and competition paraglider pilots flying at height may only have minimal points of visual reference available. Onboard instruments provide these pilots with real-time information about the flight in progress that is not immediately obvious or measurable.
In Australia, the HGFA requires that all paraglider pilots carry an altimeter, displaying height in feet and set to area QNH, on all flights in excess of 300 ft agl.
A variometer (or "vario" for short) uses relative air pressure to calculate the gliders lift and sink rates. Most can be configured to notify the pilot how fast the glider is climbing or sinking via audible tones. Altimeter, chronometer and thermometer functions are routinely included in all varios.
A conventional global positioning by satellite system is essential in cross country and competition flying. During flight, a GPS routinely reports glider position, bearing, ground speed and the estimated time of arrival to the next waypoint in a preset route.
A small handheld device used by paraglider pilots to measure wind velocity prior to launch. Sometimes referred to as wind meters, units can also be attached to the risers or harness to measure the gliders forward airspeed.
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