Parapenting is essentailly running off a mountain with nothing but a winged parachute and a pair of skis, and you're parapenting. Beginners fly strapped in front of or behind an instructor who uses toggle strings to control the direction and angle of the ascent. It is not for the faint-hearted.
Parasending is one of the best ways to see the ski area that you have visited, holidays can last up to an hour, and are worth every penny.
If you want to learn to pilot a parapente you should start by enrolling onto a course that is organised by a reputable school. You don't start by flying off a cliff high up in the mountains and hoping for the best. This means learning to control the characteristics of the canopy (sometimes called a wing) and making sure that you know how to inflate it properly. Then you will start by making short holidays down gentle slopes under the careful eye of two instructors.
A parapente is like a large kite or wing. To take off the pilot has to fill the wing with air to give it the required about of lift so that she/he can launch it into the sky. Then, by manipulating the rear edge of the wing a pilot can control the movement of the wing through the air. If there is no lift the parapente simply glides down the slope to a pre determined landing spot.
However, you can also locate columns of rising air (called thermals) that will give you extra lift. This means that instead of gliding towards the ground you will actually gain height. Thermals are created by the upward movement of warm air and by air forced upwards by the sides of valleys. The skill of the pilot is to find and use the thermals !
Tandem holidays are great fun and give you an opportunity to see what flying a parapente is like before comittimg yourself to a course. You are "strapped" to an English speaking instructor who flies you around the mountains. It's great fun and pretty addictive. See what it's like to fly like a bird above the mountain tops !