Hang Gliding – Ground Instruction

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 15,393
    Professional hang gliding instructor Dan Zink from Lookout Mountain Hang Gliding discusses hang gliding ground instruction.

    Dan Zink: Hi! My name is Dan Zink with Lookout Mountain Hang Gliding. I'm an advanced instructor. Today, we're going to learn the basics of hang gliding and we're going to start out with ground instruction and the first part of that is strapping in to the hang glider. To do this, there are four words that start with the letter C that we're checking. Chin strap, crotch straps or cheeks, carabiner on your harness or clamp and the fourth one is the clearance, the distance above the bar when I'm hanging.

    So, what we're going to do is we're going to hook into both of these hang straps right here. One is the main hang strap, the other one is just a safety backup. We have a backup for everything in hang gliding. So, if this would ever fail, you'd still be in another one. Now they are rated to 5000 pounds, and I have never seen one fail. But we have a backup for everything. Right off. So, what I'll do is, I'll hook in and my carabiner has got three straps going to it from my harness. Every harness will be different, but you have to know how many straps your harness has and make sure they are all in there. So, I will hook into both of these loops here, the main one plus the backup and I will screw up my carabiner to the top and go back and turn. Now, I'm ready to do a hang check. On this particular glider, I can just lay down. If I had a different glider, that didn't have this landing gear, I'd need someone to pull my nose down, so I was in a flying position. So, I'm all set on this one. And I'll just lay down and what I want to do is look up and make sure, I am in my main loop. My backup loop is locked. I've got my three harness straps. And I know I have my chin strap in, I have my two leg straps through, and my clearance above the bar is one, two, about three fist, and my hang check is done. That's all you need to do.

    But I will tell you that if you fly and you don't have good hang check procedures, you are really asking for trouble. We're going to learn what makes the wing fly. First thing we have to do is give it some momentum, and we have to have just the right nose angle, 10 or 12 degrees up because what happens is as the air comes in, a certain amount of air will go above, certain amount of air goes below. This top surface is curved, so it whips over the top little faster, little faster. Gets lighter air pressure, you've got lift. What we'll do is, we'll learn how to run with the glider into the wind at just the right angle. And this we will start lifting off our shoulders, while we're running on a flat ground. We won't go in the air, but we want to get the glider to lift up off our shoulders, and basically be flying and let's learn that technique.

    First thing we have to do and most important is pick out a target, right where we want to go. Because we're going to follow wherever we're looking. So, we want to target level, far away in the distance, something that's not going to move. We do not want to target to be down at the ground. If you're looking at the ground, while you're running, first of all, you can't see the glider, but secondly, everything will rush by real quick, so you have got to look up, where everything is calm and peaceful. And you certainly don't want to look at the nose of the glider, that would be like looking at your hood on the mid-point of driving your car. It doesn't give you that long-term perspective, so eyes on target. The next thing, is we'll pick up the glider with our shoulders, not with your hands. You have to use the corners of your shoulders for the down tubes back here to wedge down onto. Let the shoulders carry the loads, your hands are free, they will be light, and control the pitch.

    So, I have got my eyes on target, got it on my shoulders right. The third thing is, set your nose angle or the pitch to about 12 degrees and use peripheral vision to do it. You want to look right at that target and you can raise this, lower it to wherever you think it needs to be. I'll help you with that. Make sure it's just right. The fourth thing, is make sure your wings are leveled. You have got to have leveled wings, if you start off with them unleveled, it'll want to turn you a little bit. So, keep on level. Once again, use peripheral vision. You can tell from looking at this big wing above you, whether they are off-kilter or not. Feel free to wait till you get them just right. And your last thing is clear. Clear means you're going, everyone is out of your way, it's kind saying, stay out of my way. Once you say clear, you never take it back. Get rolling, move along. The sooner you get moving, the more this glider wants to fly. But it is important to start off calmly, and just kind of not rushed. You don't want to do what we call it jackrabbit start, real fast. Start off smoothly, so you can keep the wing leveled and keep that nose angle from wavering.

    Once you get a few steps, going into the air and the airflow, the glider will want to start lifting for you. Baam! That's what you want. Let it fly. Let it float, you've to lighten up your hands. Let it come up above, it's very sensitive. If you grab on real tight, you'll hold that nose down, you won't let it fly. So, you're constantly going to hear me saying let it flow, let it fly. Just keep pulling it long like you are the locomotive. Now the first one we do, we're going to practice not hooked in. We just want to show ourselves, boom! It's going to float up. So, let me climb back here, I've got my target, way off at a distance, pick it up using your shoulders and it's a little windy right now. So, it's moving the glider a little bit. Now set your nose angle and now the nose angle is real good, make just sure your wings are leveled. That looks pretty darn good right there.

    So, if I'm ready, I would say clear and I walk. Don't change anything and then jog and then give it a run and let it float up, see how she just floats. So, the glider just wants to fly. Our job is to let it fly, let it float up above you. So we'll practice this a few times and then we'll actually go to a hill to start practicing on a very slight decline on a hill. If you do real good on that run and you let it float and fly, off you'll be. You'll take off into the sky. Now, we've learned what makes the wing fly and we've learned some basic safety procedures. Now, we'll move on to the simulator.