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Since the success of the film Intouchables in 2011, many people with reduced mobility have decided to take up paragliding. So it’s only natural that the Fédération française de vol libre should respond to this challenge by offering a wide range of solutions for taking the plunge. So now it’s possible for anyone with a disability to treat themselves to a good dose of thrills and spills for an unforgettable experience!

Context and importance

2011 saw the release of the film Intouchables, masterfully brought to the screen by Omar Sy and François Cluzet. This short film tells the touching story of a billionaire paraplegic who hires a young man just out of prison. Over time, they become friends despite everything that separates them. And one of the film’s masterful scenes involves a paragliding trip with some incredible shots.

That was all it took for many French people with reduced mobility to realise that they too could embark on this adventure. Many foundations and companies were quick to seize the opportunity to meet the ever-growing demand. And it was only natural that the Fédération française de vol libre (FFVL) should perfect the technique of handi-paragliding, whether in autonomous or tandem flight. So now it’s possible for people with reduced mobility to paraglide anywhere.

Challenges and solutions

One of the main challenges of a paragliding flight adapted for people with reduced mobility is the question of the wheelchair. You’ll need to opt for a special tricycle-shaped wheelchair with all-terrain wheels. As for the structure, it needs to be sturdy enough to withstand the impact of landing, without braking during take-off. For a better understanding of the different techniques, the Fédération française de vol libre has developed chairs adapted to all situations.

The « passive » two-seater passenger chair

A tandem first flight is perfectly feasible for people with reduced mobility who want to go paragliding. And that’s exactly what the team of instructors at Adrénaline Parapente can offer you! Here, the chair is designed to ensure that people are well supported and protected from impact during the take-off and landing phases. In addition, a safety suit is fitted to reduce the impact of even the slightest shock. Thanks to this system, it is also possible to get the very elderly off the ground so that they can enjoy the adventure.

The student tandem passenger chair (active)

This chair, adapted for paragliding by people with reduced mobility, offers great arm mobility for learning to fly. Here, a system of « dual controls » allows the instructors to take over in the event of poor positioning or to correct a mistake.

The school chair

The school chair is designed for people with reduced mobility who want to learn to fly a paraglider solo. It is fitted with a roll bar or head support, a shock-absorbing system to limit landing errors and wheels adapted to avoid any positioning constraints.

The flight chair for autonomous pilots

Finally, the flight chair for autonomous pilots adapts exactly to the morphology, flight level and sites that the person with reduced mobility wishes to fly over. It’s a made-to-measure chair that makes it possible to practice handi-paragliding on a daily basis.

Testimonials and case studies

Among the inspiring practices is the initiative of the British Handgliding & Paragliding Association, which seeks to make paragliding accessible to everyone. It offers grants to people with reduced mobility to cover the costs associated with the activity. This grant can also lend equipment to companies to make this activity temporarily available to all its customers. Thanks to the support of many volunteers, handi-paragliding is gradually developing across the Channel and is proving a great success.

As for the United States, you have to head for Utah. Here, the non-profit organisation Project Airtime offers disabled people the chance to explore paragliding free of charge. It caters for the needs of people with motor impairments, illnesses or head injuries. It also enables the elderly and veterans to take to the skies.

Safety aspects

To ensure the safety of people with reduced mobility when paragliding, a number of specific installations need to be taken into account. Depending on the degree of impairment, head support remains essential, with the choice of a bucket seat or a roll bar. To avoid the risk of bedsores, a cushion under the buttocks and a thick foam back cushion should also be considered.

Depending on the flying site, you also need to ensure that the pilot is thermally protected during the flight. As for ensuring maximum stability for the wheelchair, the diameter of the wheels must be able to withstand a speed of 40 km/h to limit seizure problems in the event of a landing with tailwinds.

Legal aspects and regulations

To offer paragliding to people with reduced mobility, pilots must receive appropriate training to enable them to adapt their skills to flying for people with disabilities.

« The Handi Commission offers training courses both for tandem pilots who wish to fly for people with reduced mobility using a wheelchair, and for instructors who wish to broaden their skills to include disabled pilots. »

This qualification is registered by the FFVL Training Commission and is open to all professional or association tandem pilots.

Resources and references

Among the resources and references you need to know about paragliding for people with reduced mobility is, of course, the Fédération française de vol libre (FFVL). It has a tab dedicated to Handi-parapente, bringing together events, projects and all the innovations around this activity.

Among the inspiring resources, you’ll also find a number of videos, including a report on tandem paragliding for people with reduced mobility in the Eure region in 2016, the history of Handi-Ciel and a report on a new initiate of autonomous paragliding broadcast on France 3 with the Han’vol association.


In conclusion, people with reduced mobility can of course paraglide! In fact, more and more clubs are developing this activity. Of course, it is subject to safety conditions, including certification of tandem pilots and instructors, the use of suitable equipment and strict instructions. For the more adventurous and thrill-seekers out there, it’s a great way to leave your handicap on the ground and enjoy an unforgettable break!

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