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hang glide FAQs

Questions you may have about getting started Hang Gliding:
 

  What is hang gliding, what is a hang glider?
  Is hang gliding the same as parasailing, parachuting?
  How is hang gliding different from paragliding?
  What can you do with a hang glider?
  Is hang gliding safe?
  Is hang gliding scary?
  Who can do hang gliding?
  How much does a hang glider cost? How long does a hang glider last?
  What do you need to know when purchasing your first hang glider?
  How do you get started?
  Do you need a license to fly?
  How long will it take you to learn to fly?
  What should you look for when signing up for a lesson?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is hang gliding, what is a hang glider?

 

  What is hang gliding, what is a hang glider?
Hang gliding is one of the simplest forms of human flight. A hang glider is a non-motorized, foot-launched wing. A Hang glider has a rigid frame maintaining the shape of the wing, with the pilot usually flying in a prone position. The hang glider wing is constructed of rip-stop nylon or mylar over an aluminium frame.

Hang gliders are controlled by shifting the pilot's weight with respect to the glider. Pilots are suspended from a strap connected to the glider's frame (hence the name "hang" glider). By moving forward and backward and side to side at the end of this strap, the pilot alters the centre of gravity of the glider. This then causes the glider to pitch or roll in the direction of the pilot's motion and thus allows both speed control and turning.

With a hang glider, you can fly like a bird, soaring upwards on currents of air. Hang gliders routinely stay aloft for 3 hours or more, climb to elevations of 15,000', and go cross-country for vast distances.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Is hang gliding the same as parasailing or parachuting?

 

   Is hang gliding the same as parasailing or parachuting?
No, it is not the same as parasailing. Parasailing is what you do at a beach. You are in a modified parachute tied to a boat. You get dragged around the harbor by the boat. You do not "pilot" a parasail.

No, it is not the same as parachuting. Parachutes are designed to be deployed during free-fall from an airplane and to then descend to the ground. By contrast, the hang glider is designed to be foot-launched from a gentle hillside. Hang gliders are much more aerodynamic and are designed to go up rather than down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 How is hang gliding different from paragliding?

   How is hang gliding different from paragliding?
A Hang glider has a rigid frame maintaining the shape of the wing, with the pilot usually flying in a prone position. The Paraglider canopy shape is maintained only by air pressure and the pilot is suspended in a sitting or supine position. The Hang glider has a "cleaner" aerodynamic profile and generally is capable of flying at much higher speeds than a Paraglider.

The paraglider folds up into a 30 lbs. backpack in about five minutes and can be easily transported Ė people commonly carry their paragliders to the top of peaks in the Cascades, Alps, Andes, and Himalayas. The hang glider, due to its weight and rigid frame, is transported on a vehicle with a roof rack and requires about 30 minutes to set up and again to take down.

Because hang gliders fly faster, they can cover greater distances more easily. But paragliders, which have advanced rapidly over the last few years, can now cover distances almost as great and, due to their tighter turning radius, can often stay aloft in light lift when hang gliders canít.

It's somewhat easier to learn to fly a Paraglider. Paragliding has a faster learning curve than hang gliding due to the paragliderís slower forward speed and more forgiving design. Your launches are not "committed" with a paraglider; if you want to stop your launch, you just stop running and the canopy floats down behind you. By contrast, once you start your launch in a hang glider, which weighs anywhere from 60 to 100 lbs., you are committed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What can you do with a hang glider?

   What can you do with a hang glider?
Hang gliders are designed to soar. The duration record is over 11 hours and the distance record is over 300 kilometres. In training you will start out just skimming the ground. As you progress and become more skilled and confident you will probably want to go higher and use the wing for its designed purpose -- soaring!

Average recreational pilots, utilizing thermal and ridge lift, routinely stay aloft for 3 hours or more, soar to altitudes of 15,000' and travel cross-country for great distances.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Is hang gliding safe?

   Is hang gliding safe?
You can make hang gliding, like most adventure sports, as safe or dangerous as you want. Ways you can make it safe are to receive instruction from a certified professional and use safe equipment -- professional schools will create as controlled a learning environment as possible.

Hang gliding is an outdoor sport and Mother Nature is unpredictable -- weather is always a big consideration. The primary safety factors are personal judgment and attitude. You must be willing to learn gradually and use good judgment and have an appropriate attitude. If you donít, then you can get injured or killed; if you do, then you can hang glide until youíre 90.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is hang gliding scary?

  Is hang gliding scary?
Hang gliding is an exciting way to fulfil your dream of free flight! You jog down a slope and glide away from the mountain. You do not free-fall or jump off of a cliff. Your launches and landings are deliberate and, once in the air, you will probably be surprised by how peaceful the experience is.

Even if you have a fear of heights, it will rarely be a factor, since there is no sensation of falling. Your solo lesson will require more effort (physical and mental) than your tandem lesson, but it lays the basic groundwork necessary to becoming your own pilot.

If you would like to watch the sunset from the air, supported by the buoyant evening air, with perhaps an eagle or hawk joining you off your wing tip, then hang gliding is for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who can do hang gliding?

  Who can do hang gliding?
Almost anyone can fly a hang glider. If you can jog while balancing a 50 - 70 lb. weight on your shoulders you can learn to fly.

While flying does not require great strength (since the straps not the pilot's arms - hold the pilot up) long duration flights in turbulent conditions require a moderate degree of upper body endurance. This typically develops as the pilot progresses through training to these longer flights.

Since flying depends more on balance and endurance than on brute strength, woman and men make equally good pilots. While the fraction varies regionally, about 10 - 15 % of the hang glider pilots in the US are women. 

More important than physical conditioning, is being physically and mentally alert and prepared. To be a successful hang gliding student and pilot, you need to be able to think clearly and to listen well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How much does a hang glider cost?     How long does a hang glider last?

How much does a hang glider cost?     How long does a hang glider last?
A new hang glider, harness and reserve will cost somewhere between $3,600 and $5,000. After four years of fairly active usage and exposure to UV light from the sun, a hang glider is generally in need of replacement. This of course varies with how you care for your wing. Itís easy to test your sailcloth for strength and thus determine your need to replace your hang glider long before it becomes unsafe. Harnesses and reserves should last indefinitely with good care. Most pilots who get into the sport also purchase a two-way radio and a variometer (which tells you if you are going up or down and how fast) for an additional $500 altogether.

Good used equipment is often available for half as much though it will have a shorter life-span. In addition, because the sport is evolving rapidly, newer hang gliders can have significantly better performance and behaviour than older ones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you need to know when purchasing  your first hang glider?

  What do you need to know when purchasing  your first hang glider?
First, you need to know how to fly. No would-be pilot should purchase a wing before learning at least the basics of hang gliding. It is your instructorís job to help you select your first wing. Different hang gliders have different characteristics and require different skill levels; your instructor will match the glider to your particular interests, strengths, weaknesses, and skill level. Develop a solid relationship with an instructor you trust before purchasing equipment. "Good deals" generally end up costing the naive new pilot a great deal of money. Most instructors rely on referrals and repeat business so they are very determined to help you make the right decisions. When purchasing equipment, a responsible dealer will always require some proof of certified rating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do you get started?

  How do you get started?
The best way to start is with a tandem introductory flight. This gives you a taste of flying. Once you have seen what it is like then you can sign up for an Introductory Course. Under radio supervision, you will fly solo from the training hill and progress to higher flights, all in two days. The basic techniques of hang gliding -- launching, turning, landing -- are fairly easy to learn. The length of the course is designed to compensate for weather constraints and different learning curves. If after your introductory flights, you want to continue with hang gliding, the next step is to enrol in a Novice Certification Course which will teach you different launch and flying techniques, safety procedures, etc. It is best to complete the Novice Course in a concentrated period of time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Do you need a license to fly?

   Do you need a license to fly?
Hang gliders are regulated under the Federal Aviation Regulations Section 103 and therefore a license is not required to hang glide. So, in essence, hang gliding is a self-regulated sport under the auspices of the United States Hang Gliding Association (USHGA).

To keep it self-regulated, pilots and instructors alike adhere to the policies and guidelines of the USHGA. This program consists of a specific set of flying skills corresponding to a series of pilot proficiency ratings (Beginner through Master) each of which carries a set of recommended operating limitations. Beginner rated pilots, for instance, should only fly from hills under 100 ft in height in mild winds and under the guidance of an instructor. Local flying regulations may require the pilot to have certain USHGA certified ratings in order to fly a particular site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How long does it take to learn to fly?

   How long does it take to learn to fly?
Typically, a student will spend 5 - 10 lessons to obtain each of the first two USHGA pilot ratings (Beginner and Novice) - a process which generally takes from 3 to 6 months. At the end of this primary training process, the student is usually flying from moderate altitudes (several hundred to a few thousand ft.) in relative mild conditions. Progression to more difficult flying conditions continues from then on under the supervision of more experienced pilots or Observers/Advanced Instructors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What should I look for when signing up for a lesson?

  What should I look for when signing up for a lesson?
When selecting a school for hang gliding instruction, first make sure that the instructors are certified by the United States Hang Gliding Association (USHGA). Things to look for include:

  • What USHGA ratings do the instructors have? (The highest rating is called Advanced Tandem Instructor.)

  • How many instructors are at each class, what is the student to instructor ratio?

  • Are the flights radio supervised?

  • Will the training proceed gradually up progressively higher hills?

  • Does the school have hills to accommodate more than one wind direction and thus more flying days?

  • What is the safety record of the school and of the instructors?

  • How many students has the school taught, how many of its students receive certification each year?

  • Does the school operate full-time to fit your schedule?

You may call the United State Hang Gliding Association at 719-632-8300 for the names of instructors you may want to interview. You may also visit their web site at www.ushga.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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