Hang Glider – first step into general aviation
Hang gliding was invented in the 1970s and since that time has developed into a practical and rather safe kind of sport, which uses simple but the exquisite machines made of aluminum, carbon-fiber, and high-tech sail fabrics.
Hang glider pilots are suspended to their glider by a special harness and take off from high hills. Nevertheless, hang gliding is not limited to the uplands. Hang gliders can also be towed in the air by a land-based motorized winch, or behind a microlight aircraft.
Regardless of the applied technique, hang gliders have the same objective – to stay airborne in the air flows.
Some pilots can be satisfied soaring from a hill, yet others prefer to search for air holes, known as thermals, and use them to take a chance of long flights.
The record for distance in the UK presently stands at 277km (172 miles), while the record for altitude is 16,000 ft.
How do you control a hang glider?
The pilot starts his machine by running to accelerate it to flying speed, then lies into the prone harness and controls the glider by moving his weight in relation to the control bar. Flying a hang glider is not that easy to learn, but the machine is capable of much higher speeds and better gliding performance, compared to a paraglider.
Are they expensive?
A brand new hang glider, used at competitions, can cost over £6,000, though machines with only a slightly less performance cost around £3,500 – £4,500. A harness, helmet, flying suit, and boots are also required. As you grow in experience, you may also want to buy some additional items, like an emergency parachute or a GPS.
Where do you fly hang glider from?
Pilots fly from various hills, controlled by a local recreational club, which can be found in any country. Tow and air tow operations can also be found in the flatlands.
What can you do with one?
It is indeed wonderful to circle up on a summer day over fields and towns. Landing after a long flight using only the natural power of air and your own skills gives you a feeling of success and power.
Besides enjoying the beauties of cross-country flying, pilots often come together to soar from small nearby hills and face simple life pleasures and see the sunset. They seem to have a rare privilege, which few of the millions possess – the ability to fly like a bird. In fact, you can get this privilege too, if you come to a hang gliders’ club!
Learning to fly a hang glider
It normally takes ten days of training (in case of good flyable weather) to become grow from a potential pilot to the Club Pilot level – the minimum standard required to fly independently.
The instructor shows you how to equip and inspect the glider before your first short flight. For the first couple of days, the glider is restrained by tether ropes until you succeed at steering and controlling airspeed yourself by moving your weight.
Then you will be transferred to higher and longer flights and will be taught some initial amount of theory. Usually, such lectures take place when the weather is not favorable for flying. As soon as you complete the required tasks and pass a simple theory exam, you can receive your Elementary Pilot award. This is the first stage in the BHPA Pilot Rating Scheme.
Afterward, you can progress onto a more complex glider and after 4-6 days of instruction can prepare you to your Club Pilot tasks. If you are successful, you learn to soar and stay up in favorable winds to make longer flights.
At the next step, if positively assessed by your instructor and having passed the examination, you receive your Club Pilot rating. This will allow you to start flying independently at your local recreational clubs and move to more and more complex flights as you gain experience