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Flying With Hang-Gliders

Date: 23/06/2014
Author: Chris Jones, Tony Moore, Richard Hellen
Position: HG Chief Coach, HG Safety, PG Safety
Contributor: Chris Jones, Tony Moore, Richard Hellen
Iím sure many of you will have seen that recent YouTube video of the crash between a HG and a PG in Australia. Luckily they both lived to tell the tale, but it once more raises the question of flying safely together for HG and PG pilots.

Visibility From A Hang-Glider
(all viewing angles are for general illustration only)

HG Visibility

  1. Hang-glider pilots in general cannot see above and behind when in level flight. It physically impossible to
    crane the neck enough for most pilots and being close to the wing the glider also blocks the view

  2. When flying in the prone position, as the majority of hang-glider pilots do, the normal area of view is
    straight ahead and down. Area 2 can be viewed by craning the neck upwards, but this position cannot be
    maintained for long. Therefore the chances are that pilots may not be away of what is in this area 100%
    of the time

  3. Always in view

  4. This area can be viewed with effort, but normally only viewed when clearing turns

Things change when banked up in a turn, in fact when circling hang-glider pilots have their best view of
their surroundings.

For PG pilots I hope this illustrates the more limited view of the world that HG pilots have. Flying seated
does make it much easier to see up and behind (less contortion of the neck and the majority of us arenít
getting any younger!).

Landing With Hang-Gliders

Many paraglider pilots who were once hang-glider pilots have stopped flying hang-gliders for two main

  • Paragliders are much more convenient to live with (are much lighter to carry, store and
    retrieve after a nice XC flight)

  • They are MUCH, MUCH, MUCH easier to land, especially if the winds are light and variable

Many new hang-glider pilots spend their first 10 hours after training, worried about their landings and for
some the worry never goes away. As with everything, practice makes perfect, but even old hands will
admit thatís itís the one phase of flying a hang-glider where you really need all the odds to be in your
favour if you are going to achieve even close to a 100% perfection rate. The goal field at a hang-gliding
competition can be quite an entertaining place to be for the casual spectator!

On our own sites we can all help improve the odds for new and less-new hang-glider pilots by ensuring we
donít inadvertently become distracting obstacles to a successful landing by getting into the habit of:

After landing always carry out to the edge of the landing field before packing up.

This may on occasion seem unnecessary, as there may be no other gliders around, but things can change rapidly.

  • Imagine one lone glider being packed away in the middle of Westbury bottom landing and an
    experienced HG coming into land... no problem youíd hope even though the winds must be light. It
    as big field, the odds seem OK.

  • Now consider 4 gliders being packed, placed randomly in the field, a red ribbon HG coming into
    land, this now becomes a major issue as these obstacles will have stacked the odds against a worry-free landing by making the field seem a damn sight smaller.

  • In a small field like the Mere top landing this could become a contributing factor to a very
    unsuccessful arrival, resulting in bent metalwork and even some pain. Moving your glider can easily
    lessen the likelihood of this happening.

  • At Westbury you are also more likely to get a lift back if you are packing up by the gate

The bottom line here is give the other guy or girl a sporting chance and help stack the odds in their favour.


We've had some good feedback already about this section - thanks! The more eagle-eyed will note that I've done some more work on it too. If you have any articles you'd like us to include, please email them to myself and the Nova Editor.