Hanggliding

Hanggliders have been around for several decades. Now you see them less than paragliders. But ...they will be back. They have their advantages in wind situations and range.

More advantages

  • open air feeling (fun when warm)
  • birdlike position of pilot

More disadvantages

  • landing on feet
  • when there is too much wind, you are the second one that stops flying. Paragliders are the first.
  • open air (when temperature drops)

Explaining the graph

Speed

Hanggliders for beginners go a bit faster than paragliders. The more expert stuff go really faster. This means that hanggliders still fly when paragliders stop flying due to strong winds.

Ridge soaring is still the exception. There you need strong winds to have the updrafts along dunes, hills, cliffs.

Low Cost

Hanggliding is still very affordable. You need your glider and a harness. A harness for beginners is really simple.

If start/land on grass, all your stuff gets green. Strong herbs can puncture your sail. If you start/land on concrete or other stone, all your stuff gets like sanded with sandpaper (sails and sacks wear off easier when sanded). Treat your equipment with care and you fly longer with the same stuff.

Range

As a beginner you will fly from A to A or downhill A. But ...you can make cross country flights with hanggliders. You just need to be good in finding thermals or ridge updrafts.

Going cross country means that you always need somebody to pick you up. Flying in a area where you are sure about good portable phone connection is a help. Reading the book "Cloudsuck" by Davis Straub tells a lot about the pleasures and the dangers of going cross country.

Open air

Open air is a disadvantage in winter. Flying at low temperatures is only for the die-hards. Remember, normally it is a fact that when you go higher, you get in more colder air. You can even get in cold air in spring or autumn.

But ...when flying in warm weather, you can really enjoy the feeling you have with the elements of nature.

Flying in rain

You don't want to fly in rain with a hangglider. Your sails gets wet and starts to weight more. Not sure yet what it does to the stability in flight. But i think it cannot be good. If you know more about flying hanggliders in rain, please, tell your story. I like to know.

Are you a toy of the wind?

Pilots know there is a thing called turbulences. It is when the wind does things you would not expect in a steady wind. Suddenly you are thrown upwards or pulled downward. Or you get diverted to left or right. And ...you cannot predict it.

Some air-vehicles have not much trouble with those small turbulences. Reason: they are really heavy. They are harder to push around. Now ...hanggliders are very light. So ...if you are in a turbulence, you get shaken around. So, as a beginner you need to keep track of the weather. Weather with a lot of turbulences or areas with a lot of obstacles that create turbulences are to be avoided. Learn your weather forecast. Ask a expert if doubting.

Trailer

Do you need a trailer ??? Noooo way! You can transport your hangglider on a roof rack on your car.

You can carry it on your shoulder and go walking towards your starting point. That was the system in the old days. But watch out ...a hangglider can be like 25 - 30 kg (55 - 66 lbs). Can you handle that weight for a long trip towards a starting point on a mountain? Luckily there are a lot of starting places where you can arrive with a car.

Hangar

No. Just hang it under the roof of your garage. Be sure to support it on several points. Not just two.

Group or solo

You can use your paraglider as a single person.

In some wind conditions (like when going for ridge soaring) you can need helping hands to keep your hangglider down or to help you from being blown away when the wind gets too hard while your sail is pulled up. So ...having people around you when you are still a beginner is good. 

Also, when you are in a group. You can hear how other pilots observe the weather and decide to fly or not. Follow the advise of the experts. One tip: that guy that makes loopings and flies when drinking is NOT the guy to ask safety tips.

Last but not least. Paragliding is one of the only air sports you can really fly in a bunch of friends. And that is fun. But ...use the same system like the others. Are thermals are taken in the same circular direction. Don't go in opposite direction!

Enjoy the fun with your friends.


Looks easy, but you better take lessons.


Me during lessons at Wallaby Ranch, Florida, USA

Don't make the mistake to buy a hangglider and just jump off a hill. That was the way in the past, but ...most likely you will make the same errors as in those days and you will probably hurt yourself and your hangglider. These days there are many hangglider schools around. I had the opportunity to learn to fly hanggliders using three systems. Using traininghills, being launched by winch and being towed up by powered ultralight airplane. I prefer being winched or towed up. You learns in one flight more than during twenty hill jumps. And if towed up ...you can have a instructor with you.

Here you see one of my traininghill flights. The link below shows a playlist with a lot of traininghill flights of me and others. The mistakes we made are explained in the texts beside the video.

www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6BD3EBB31613176F

I loved flying at Wallaby Ranch, Florida, USA. I found this video which promotes them properly.

I encountered Tom Haagdorens of Trike Valley in Belgium. He uses a winch system to pull up the hanggliders. Super easy and super fun as well. You have not the instructor next to you, but Tom guides you by radio. You start very low over the ground and Tom increases the height of his pull up as your experience increases.

Another reason why you need lessons is to learn how to read aviation maps. You really don't want to fly in the same area as those larger Boeings. Really, you don't want to! I had a close call once. We were both a bit too close to the edge of our fly zone. And i can tell you ...those Boeings come closer VERY QUICK.
Also ...being shot down because you fly over military zones or prohibited zones, you want to avoid. A friend of a friend flew too close to a protected house. The turbulences of the Security helicopter gave him a rough time in the air. Avoid that!

MOST COMMON MISTAKES

  • placing the wing onto very strong herbes. They can damage your sail.
  • not selecting the right hangglider for you. As a beginner you need a very docile, slow hangglider. Go for a real beginner model.

HANGGLIDING SCHOOLS IN THE WORLD