The Paraglider is a row of inflatable air pockets shaped into a Parafoil.
Patented in 1963 by the American Domina Jalbert and called a Ram-air. This design developed into the modern Paraglider.
NASA at this time began developing a space capsule recovery device called a “Sail Wing” with David Barish based on the work of David Rogallo. NASA ultimately rejected the design.
However in the late ’70s American skydivers started flying their parachutes by launching off small hills. While in the French Alps climbers found they could make their descent from the mountains by using small Ram-air canopies to help them float down the mountain. Achieving a glide of 1:3. That dropped them 3 meters in height for every 1 meter forwards.
In the 1980s it was realized that flight times could be extended by riding currents of rising air and turning in circles within the thermal updrafts. Thereby staying up almost indefinitely and covering longer distances.
By 1986 the modern Sport of Paragliding had established itself in Europe and began to spread across the world. Every year and with each new design performance increased rapidly. By increasing wingspans, using nonporous fabric and continuing to modify the shape and trim of the airfoil, the modern Paraglider achieves a glide of 10:1. That drops only 1 meter in height for every 10 meters forward.