Rising British paragliding star Jack Pimblett preparing to fly in the EEL Paragliding Flight Environment Simulator
What are we studying and why?
In Phase I we showed paragliding was primarily mental, not physical. So what is happening to our ability to think when we fly?
How are we doing it?
We can’t do tests of thinking (cognitive function) at the same time as flying a paraglider, as we wouldn’t be concentrating properly on either flying or the tests. So, we decided to build a simulator that would mimic the paragliding flight environment in the Fiennes Chamber of the University of Portsmouth Extreme Environment Laboratory. We could simulate cold, headwind and the hypoxia of altitude, while using validated cognitive testing batteries to assess thinking ability.
The first group of ten pilots ‘flew’ in the simulator in February and March 2018 and the data are now being analysed.