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Hang Gliding, Hang Gliding instruction and Hang Gliders
So You Want To Really Fly?   Well do it!
Just understand that to be a good (which does also mean safe) pilot will take practice and work but you
will fly while most of the rest of the world will only be spectators
The desire to fly is not natural. Nearly all people are fascinated with
flight but they really don't want to fly anything and if offered the chance,
scramble around finding a bunch of reasons (or excuses) for staying
earthbound but it all comes down to most people don't want to fly. If you are
among the very small percentage of those that want to join us in one of life's greatest
adventures, read on.
"It looks so neat but it has to be dangerous".
Let's talk about some of those standard questions.
- Do I have to take lessons?
- Is there some weight restriction?
- How old do you have to be to fly?
- Am I too old to fly?
- How much does a glider cost?
- How hard is it to learn?
- What is the cheapest glider that I can get?
- How dangerous is it?
- Do you need a mountain to fly from?
Hang Gliding and hang gliders have been portrayed by the
"media" as a dangerous sport/occupation whose practicioners have
a death wish. Nothing is further from the truth.
What should be true is that you are taking far greater risks driving
to a flying site than in flying. Whether that is true or not is up to
When flying a hang glider, I am more in control of my fate than at any other time that I am in motion. As a hang glider pilot, no longer anchored to the earth, I experinece (and love) life far more than the earth-bound can even start to appreciate. I can state that "I will not have an accident flying a hang glider" with the same certainty that I can say "I will not break my neck walking down the stairs". How can I make such a rash statement?
There are only 4 criteria - what we call a TCL- that have to be met
for safe flight (good equipment is a "given"):
That's it. No mysticism, no magic just learned, solid skills and the
wisdom to fly in predictably safe conditions and yes, you can really,
actually pick them.
- You can launch perfectly (a learned skill).
- You can make the glider go where you want it to (a learned skill).
- The conditions are well within your envelope of safety (learned
with guidance and caution).
- You can land well, safely, consistently (a learned skill).
Bear in mind that today's hang glider has fantastic potential. There
is one 400 ft. site near here that regularly lets us get to cloudbase. We have had some great cross country flights from there. Alegra
(my wife) got to over 12,000 ft. in New York a year or two ago,
(which is probably a record for the East coast). Out West in many places, pilots fly with oxygen as altitude gains regularly put them higher.
Hang gliders are not toys. They are really neat sophisticated aircraft.
If you weigh anywhere between 75 and 400 lbs. there is a glider manufactured that can take you up to the clouds -- a glider that is easy to launch, to fly and to land. That package that you can carry on your shoulder can take you up there. Almost a miracle.
If someone truely wants to fly and is willing to go to the effort
of learning the necessary skills to fly a hang glider with confidence and competence, they too, can join us in the sky, looking down at the earth-bound who, not understanding the joy of flight, call us "crazy".
What is involved in learning to fly a hang glider?
Good instruction, a lot of flying and work are the key ingredients to learning to fly a hang glider.
Do you have to be a certain age to fly a hang glider? Well, on the "young" end of the spectrum, the pilot has to have enough maturity and judgment to think ahead and plan for what might happen if nature throws a curve at them. At the upper end of the age spectrum, there is really no limit as long as the pilot is in reasonable physical condition. Learning foot launched flight will be work and it would not be wise to ----- well let's say the pilot has a slow launch so that they can only launch safely if the wind is blowing in at 10 mph or more. That would not be safe. Either the pilot works to develop a fast launch or they should not foot launch. Yeah, maybe they could get away with windy cliff launches but "get away with" is not an acceptable hang gliding term.
Towing (aerotowing in particular, has become quite popular) can be an option for those not fleet of feet (or without hills) as the pilot and glider can launch from a towed dolly on flat land but there
are certain inherent dangers that are associated with mechanical force applied to you when you are close to solids. The whole system becomes more complex. For those on the flatlands, there is no option but to tow. There are a host of advantages to have the facilities to do it BUT towing is more complex than running off a hill/mountain so learn the skill well with qualified instructors and appreciate and respect the hazzards.
- Good hang gliding instruction: Sure, we taught ourselves 30 years ago and a lot of us paid a high price. Man, were we lucky. Things like proper "hang checks" were developed after watching someone launch off a cliff while not properly hooked in. The need for understanding micrometereology was discovered after watching someone get pounded into the ground by an unanticipated rotor. A little knowledge would have been great. The list of the meriad of things that we had to learn by often painful error goes on. Good hang gliding instruction saves you from that.
A good instructor is an active hang glider pilot. Their rating is not as important as their ability to "get into your head" and find the best words to generate the most complete understanding of what you are supposed to do and why you are supposed to do it. A good hang gliding instructor is a cost effective investment.
- Work: The only way to become a good hang glider pilot is to fly and
fly and fly in supervised conditions so that you generate the proper habits that make it virtually impossible for you to behave incorrectly. These "habits" are both mental and physical. Every one of us is unique and learns in somewhat different manners. Hang glider pilots fly using senses not instruments and each of us take different amounts of time to develop the use of and coordination of those senses to become a safe/good pilot. Nature does not care about us at all, so we have to take the time to learn how to evaluate conditions to deal with what she (p.c.?) may throw at us and learn how to make sure that we are always in a manageable environment. It doesn't take magic. It just takes work. The rewards fulfill the soul of that unique breed--the "Hang Glider Pilot".
- The neat thing is that this work involves flying. The down side is
that the work may not seem proportionate to the immediate reward if you
are seeking instant gratification---like being at cloudbase on day 1, day2, day 3. The ultimate reward however, is beyone description.
- What about the cost of gliders? Here we get into a very sticky
area. We have older gliders that are very inexpensive that we would love to get rid of. Would we be doing you a favor selling one of them to you?
What is the better investment, a glider that you can fly easily and that
will safely take you up to the clouds or one that is stiff handling,
hard to land and that leaves you white knuckled every time you get
hit by some little thermal? Sure, you are smart and good and can overcome all the little problems that will arise. Sure you are. My bet is that if you were to get one of these treasures, you would quit wanting to fly and so--------
- The proper hang glider for you is one that
you can have fun flying. Many pilots have stopped flying hang gliders
because they were hyped into buying a glider that did not fulfill
their dream of flight (or because "It was cheap and all I could
afford" while they went out and blew their money on video games or 5
days of vacation or beer).
Just because someone's article or some dealer felt that a particular
hang glider was the ultimate flying machine, does not mean that it is fun to fly-- for you. I have found that I tend to stay up twice as long in the winter, when I am test flying a glider that we are selling to one of our new pilots as opposed to flying some "hot damn" super ship. For some reason I don't get cold as fast. So which is more fun??
People invariably ask "How long does it take to become a hang glider pilot?"
That is about the same as asking "How long will it take me to learn to play a guitar?".
You will probably be flying and be a pilot the first day on the hill. How soon you will be able to be on your own, properly evaluating conditions, responding properly to the varying conditions that you encounter in flight varies with each individual. It helps to fly as often as possible. The more you fly, the better you get and the closer you get to that first mountain flight. Just remember that if you jump ahead of your competence/confidence level, you may either hurt yourself or, (possibly worse), start to fear that fantastic world we live for---flight with nothing getting us high but our skills and nature.
"I don't need no sitinkin lessons" is an attitude that we periodically run into. Hey, when we started flying, that was my thought too. Going back over the last 15 (of our 25 + years of teaching) I can't find one of those people flying today. It's too bad as many would still be flying if they hadn't been scared out of flying by their being in what they felt was a threatening, unmanagable environment.
And now, here are some pages where you can find out about the experiences of some pilots who may just possibly be able to get you to feel what you will experience as you grow from whatever you are now, into a hang glider pilot. If you really want to, you too can do it and join them looking down on the poor earthbound who will never have the slightest idea of what it is like to actually fly using nothing but yourself -- the glider will be a part of you.
Bruce Stobbe's Hang gliding page
Peter Perrone's Hang gliding page
Very short video clips of what to expect
Any more questions?? Well, check out the sites below ----
Instruction, hang gliders and accessories Tek Flight Products Home Page
Tek Flight Products Lessons info.
Hang gliders and accessories Wills Wing Hang Gliders
Links to instruction and misc. Sky Adventures
Information and entry forms for the Falcon X-C Contest
Great prizes, no entry fee. (Apr.-Dec. for the entire world)
"What is the cheapest glider that you have (because I want to get one
and teach myself to fly)?" is a question that we are getting with increasing
frequency. I can sympathize with the "sticker shock" that people get
when they hear the cost of lessons that will get them off a mountain----
"What is all this cost for something that looks so simple"? So why not
get a cheap glider and carefully teach yourself? You will read all
about it and know the "rules", what you have to do and will do it by
the book. Yes, you could teach yourself and you might succeed without
incident. Unfortunately, there are very significant odds that you
would get into an "OOPS?!*" situation from ignorance of one of the
myriad of little things that you were not aware of and which caught
you and planted you hard on the ground or in a tree. Give a single
lesson from a good instructor a chance then decide what you want to
do and how you want to do it.
For a list of the schools in your state, you can go to the USHGA (United
States Hang Gliding Association) page at "www.ushga.org" where I appologize
in advance for the scarcity of instruction.
If you have more questions check out --Our "Form" letter in response to most inquiries.
Or is it the beginning?