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Hang Gliders and Hang Gliding

So You Want To Really Fly?

"It looks so neat but it has to be dangerous".

Hang Gliding and hang gliders have been portrayed by the infamous "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 the pilot.

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, I 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"

There are only 4 criteria - what we call a TCL- that have to be met for safe flight (good equipment is a "given"):

  • 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).
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.

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 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.
  1. Good hang gliding instruction: Sure, we taught ourselves over 20 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 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 goes on.

    A good instructor is an active hang glider pilot. His/her 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.

  2. Work: The only way to become a good hang glider pilot is to fly and fly and fly in controlled 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 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".

  3. 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. The ultimate reward however, is beyone description.

  4. Oh yeah, one last thing: 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. 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.

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 questions?? Feel free to contact us at--
  • Tek Flight Products Home Page
  • Wills Wing Hang Gliders
  • Sky Adventures
  • The Falcon Cross Country Contest, from Arp.1 - Dec. 31 (for single surface hang gliders)

    Put "hang gliding" as subject.

    (Fear of highs/fear of falling is natural. A hang gliders fly and the pilot is in control. Falling is not an issue and altitude is a friend.)

    "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 and 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 meriad 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.

    An updated version of this page
    Our "form" letter to those who are interested in more detail.

    The End
    Or is it the beginning?

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