Paragliding Near Canaan Valley, West Virginia
Paragliding, an adventure sport similar to hang gliding, involves a silent, lightweight plane without an engine that harnesses the pilot just below its wing. To fly, the paraglider allows air to enter through the vents of the front of its wing and the aerodynamic forces push the air over into the outside. The average speed of a paraglider ranges from twelve miles per hour to forty-seven miles per hour. A skilled pilot is needed for the paraglider to increase in height, keep the paraglider soaring for an extended amount of time, and to effectively land the paraglider.
To paraglide, the pilot must launch by either a forward or reverse launch. This means that the pilot can either run into the wind so that the air pressure inflates the paraglider’s wing, or once in the air, turning under the wing and running to complete the launch. Forward launches are typically done at low wind speeds, whereas reverse launches at high winds. Jumping is not needed at any time during the launch.
Due to its increasing popularity in the United States, Canaan Valley Resort State Park now offers a launch site for paragliding behind its existing ski hill. After six years following careful consideration to preserve the surrounding forests and the Cheat Mountain Salamander, an endangered species, a boardwalk was placed over the area to protect the environment and leave the species undisturbed.
The launch site can be accessed by Canaan Valley Resort State Park’s chairlift. This launch site is unique, being one of only two sites in the Eastern United States to be accessible by a chairlift. At over 4,000 feet in elevation, the launch site sits toward prevailing winds offering views of the Allegheny Front and Red Creek River.
To access the launch site, paraglider pilots must be U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association members and must pay a $7 fee to ride the chairlift to the top of the mountain. Landing sites are also in place near the Resort.
Reservations to paraglide off of Canaan Valley Resort State Park’s launch site can be made through Memorial Day to the end of October and through mid-December to mid-March.