Hang gliding

    What is Hang gliding?

    Hang gliding started by the earliest pioneer aviators who dreamed about flying like a bird. Those guys where the real extremer’s of teir time, all the way back to the 1880s when the first working gliders took off to the air. The death percentage was high, mostly because within the limits of technology it was really hard to understand how things worked aerodynamically, and the materials available were weak and unreliable. The method was based on trial and error- you try some new design, if it flies grate! If it dosen’t and you crash, then it’s back to the lab, unless you die then someone else will go to the lab to try and improve your design.

    Today hang gliding has reliable state of the art technology which leaves most of the accidents to human error.

    You control a hang glider by shifting your weight, by that bending and changing the aerodynamic characteristics of the flexible wing.

    Top speeds of these gliders are about 140 km/h (87 mph).

    The gliding rate is about 18:1 depending on the type of your hang glider. (for every 18 meter forward you lose 1 meter of altitude)

    For us, adrenaline seekers, hang gliding itself is not an extreme sport anymore, speed hang gliding is. Hang gliding is all about gaining altitude and going as far from the ground as possible using air currents near mountains or hot rising thermals. But in speed hang glideing you do the exact opposite. You jump with your hang glider from a mountain top and try to follow the terrain as low as possible. There were some competitions held in Europe which are about going thru a number of gates on the way down. The fastest flyer to get to the finish line wins. After reaching the finish line they have enough speed potential to finish it up with some aerobatic tricks.

     

    What’s extreme about it?

    Like said before, hang gliding is not an extreme sport, even if you try to spice it up with some aerobatics at high altitude, because you can’t feel any speed and there is no competition factor, so all the adrenaline you can squeeze out of it is just the light rush of hanging high above the ground. This is really small amount of adrenaline.

    But then, why not take your hang glider and scratch the ground, go inside valleys, flying at high speed in full control?

    Yes indeed, that’s what speed hang gliding is all about- go as fast as you can as low as you can. It remotely reminds proximity wingsuit flying, may be less extreme in speed but closer to being a bird, a crazy bird, and with the more control than in proximity wingsuit flying, you can get more flying time and have the freedom of flying around and performing tricks.

    How dangerous is it?

    Back in the early days the chances of survival were against you. Trying to fly with the first hang gliders was almost certain death. The design of the hang glider itself was full of aerodynamic flaws and sometime just fell apart in mid air sending the desperate extreme flyer to his death. Today gliders are very reliable and have extremely safe aerodynamic characteristics. Most of the flyers carry a parachute with them in case things are about to get messy.

    Standard hang gliding is very safe. in fact, statistically it’s as dangerous as soccer or tennis. But we came here to fly fast and low, right?

    In speed hang gliding the danger factor raises but still is pretty reasonable and depends on how well you know your limits. The majority of the accidents happen out of lack of experience or by trying to do something that is over your head. Because of the relative slow speeds (in comparison to proximity wingsuit flying), not all crashes will end with severe injury or death.

     

    How to start?

    Most of the countries have a hang gliding associations, it is the only real way to get started. After you gain some experience you can start to learn some aerobatics and only then, when you are feeling one with your new wings you can start practicing going low and fast, doing speed hang gliding.