Air Sports: 10 Things That Can Go Wrong

In flying activities like paragliding, beauty and danger collide. Air sports are a risky yet thrilling activity. Even the most well-trained air sports enthusiasts must be cautious of the lengthy list of things that may go wrong during a flight.

There are ten separate air sport disciplines, according to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, which serves as the international regulatory organization for air sports and aeronautical records.

  • Aeromodeling
  • Aerobatics
  • Astronautics
  • Ballooning
  • Aviation in general
  • Gliding
  • Hang gliding and paragliding are two types of hang gliding.
  • Microlights
  • Parachute jumps (skydiving)
  • Rotorcraft

There’s also wingsuit flying, which isn’t subject to FAI regulations.

When you lift someone into the air, additional issues emerge. When you’re plummeting to the earth or flying, a variety of faults might occur. We’re going to look at ten of these possible issues.

1. Failure Of The Parachute

It may seem like parachute failure is a thing of the past, yet it does happen on occasion. These issues are divided into two categories: partial and complete failures. A minor fault may be fixed, but a whole malfunction indicates that something went wrong with the canopy deployment.

Bad packing, wrong body posture, or defective equipment may all lead to parachute mishaps. When a parachute is deployed, the canopy must quickly detach from the pack and spread out. This will not happen if it becomes knotted due to poor packaging. Poor body posture may also cause the chute to deploy erroneously, resulting in the skydiver being entangled in the chute. An experienced skydiver can frequently disentangle or reverse the situation if it’s just a partial failure.

2. Getting Disoriented When Landing

It’s bad enough to be lost on land, but getting lost after a flight is far worse. It’s always possible that you won’t reach your desired landing site when flying through the skies, regardless of the method of transportation you choose. This may be influenced by a variety of things, including the wind and your own poor judgment.

It might be daunting and perplexing to reach the ground in a strange area. You’ll want to make sure you have a few survival supplies with you before you go. You’ll need a GPS, compass, and a map of the region, depending on the sort of flight and the air sport you’re participating in. It’s also a good idea to have a mobile phone and, if possible, a two-way radio.

You’ll want to keep an eye on the ground as you move closer to it, regardless of your skill level, so you can plan your escape path before you ever land. However, if your landing is unexpected or you’re wounded, it’s probably advisable to ask for aid and wait for help to arrive.

3. Engine Failures 

Engine failures are prevalent in air sports, as they are in any other kind of motorized land transportation. Because many of the aircraft used in air sports are single-person vehicles, engine failure is always a possibility. While mechanical problems are inevitably unforeseen, there are certain steps you may take to assist avoid catastrophic failures.

When an engine dies in the middle of a flight, a pilot’s sole option is to make a landing. Single-person planes and other air sports planes, like cars, need regular maintenance and upkeep. Unfortunately, you can’t simply pull over to the side of the road and ask for help when anything goes wrong. You’ll have to understand how to detect issues before they occur. This includes pre-flight tune-ups, once-overs, and whacking anything that seems to be out of whack with your wrench.

If an engine fails, you should have emergency procedures in place, which might involve manual ejection or forced landing procedures if you’re at a high enough altitude [source: Goyer].

4. Collisions In Mid-Flight

Midair collisions are a risk in practically all air sports, and whether you’re in a machine or free falling, colliding with anything may ruin your experience. Collisions are one of the most common causes of skydiving-related mortality, accounting for around 15% of all deaths.

Most planes include a detecting system that can assist pilots avoid collisions with bigger airplanes in mid-flight, however activities like skydiving and paragliding don’t. Rather, keep your head up and remain alert of your surroundings, even if you believe you’re alone in the sky.

5. Power Outages

Even the most experienced air sports athletes may pass out while plummeting through the air or flying at extraordinarily high speeds. These blackouts may be disastrous, which is why it’s important to follow all of the laws and procedures for air sports before taking off.

You shouldn’t fly if you’re prone to blackouts. If you’re overweight, epileptic, addicted to drugs or alcohol, or have heart problems, you’re at a higher risk. Even if you aren’t, how your body reacts to high altitude or the effects of fast speeds might surprise you.

6. Faulty Equipment

We’ve previously spoken about defective parachutes and engine breakdowns, but there’s a lot more equipment that may go wrong in the air. Air sportsmen depend on a variety of protective and useful equipment.

Busted straps are a typical issue in a variety of air sports. A skydiver or hang glider may not see her harness fraying, and a skydiver might not notice the rip in his bag. Because the planes are designed to be light, every strap and pulley matters; failures may be fatal. It’s not only the safety straps that may break; goggles, helmets, and carabiners can all break if not properly maintained. You may lose vision or the ability to steer if they give way.

Defective landing gear might potentially spell tragedy. A pilot has no choice but to depend on his wits and hope for the best when an engine fails.

7. Inadequate Education

While all sports need some knowledge of laws, regulations, and traditions, air sports necessitate it much more.

It isn’t only about the sport itself when it comes to education. While it’s important to keep your equipment in good working order and learn how to participate correctly in any activity you’re interested in, you also need to be aware of your surroundings. You may be in for a perilous landing without even realizing it if you aren’t familiar with the area you’ll be flying over. If you’re paragliding or hang gliding, this may imply trying to land on a rocky terrain and fracturing or spraining a leg as a result of being snagged on a sharp stone.

8. The Climate

Weather may be a pain for any athlete, but since air sports are so high-risk, it can easily increase danger and speed up injury.

Rain and snow storms are two obvious instances of this, both of which may wreak havoc on visibility and landing. Lightning and thunderstorms may be dangerous no matter which air sport you’re participating in. Direct lightning hits or technical faults in your craft are both possible outcomes of storms. Fog may make landing dangerous since the ground is clouded or not seen at all.

Before you take off, check with the Federal Aviation Administration’s weather-briefing center to be sure you’re allowed to fly at the altitudes you want.

Then there’s the matter of landing. If you’re landing on your feet, a slick surface might make this difficult.

9. Dropping

Falling is a nasty thing no matter how you slice it. Falling from a few hundred to a few thousand feet is quite dangerous. Every year, at least a few individuals fall out of balloons, whether it’s due to a midair accident or simply because the passenger is leaning over the edge for a better view.

Falling is most common during ballooning, however it may also happen when paragliding or hang gliding. If it isn’t obvious by now, air sports are quite risky in and of itself, so placing oneself in unnecessary danger, such as dangling from the exterior of a balloon or not being securely tied, is a horrible idea.

10. Errors In Landing

While the majority of possible air sports tragedies occur in the air, there is also the possibility of failure on the ground. Landing may be a difficult beast to master, and it is one of the most common causes of accidents and deaths in practically all air sports. More than half of all hang gliding accidents occur after landing.