03/20/2014 Flying A Hang Glider |
I soloed a hang glider! (sorry Mom).
No, I'm not going to go bonkers like I did with paramotoring but will try
mastering the basics. I'll take
more training from respected mountain instructors before launching willy
nilly into rocky highlands.What I'm doing now is aero-tow--in
most ways it's much easier and in a few other ways is more difficult.
About March 15th, after an evening of tandems, my Quest Air instructor "Spinner",
felt I was ready. The air was right and we put the solo glider together.
I was nervous. Probably because I've spent time studying what goes wrong
and hold no delusion that I'm exempt. As we finished putting the glider
together a sea breeze came in from the east. Bummer! But I had no more
interest in flying in strong conditions than Spinner did so we put it off a day.
The next morning I
was out early. Spinner gave me some final words and sent me on my way.
The flight turned out to be almost anticlimactic.
Tow scares me a bit. There's always a swirl of air from the prop
blast just about lift off. It's actually never been a problem but
requires a moderately aggressive response. And lets face it, I'm the FNG.
(freaking new guy).
The instruction and advice paid off because the flight went well. And
boy, the solo glider was WONDERFULLY easier to fly than the
Not wanting it to be a fluke I did another two high tows to get used
to the different handling then did 3 pattern tows. A total of 6
uneventful flights with a few unnerving pops on launch due to increasing
thermals but it never felt too close to my control margins.
I definitely feel like a beginner in this.
Yesterday I got to do another first, mostly because the solo glider
with the permanent wheels was in use. I took off with a cart. Even
though the glider had "M & M" wheels, I figured it was time to try foot
They gave me pointers as did Phil Russman who came with me and is a
long time hang glider pilot.
Takeoff on a cart is interesting. You're holding the cart with little
rubber hoses that must be released at lift off. I was scared I'd forget to
let go, or let go of the control bar, or some other buffoonery. So I
rehearsed in my head the process while holding everything to get a feel. It's kind of
like the difference between kiting and kiting with a throttle. I marvel
at how little it takes to throw us off.
I'm reasonably comfortable flying a hang glider trike so it doesn't seem like a big
deal but it is. In fact, the trike flying works against me more than my
other flying. On the hang glider you've got to move your hips, on the
trike you just move the bar. Problem is, if you use the trike technique
on a hang glider, nothing happens. That's bad.
Over the next few weeks I hope to become proficient enough to not be
nervous about tow. That first 10 seconds of tow is a bit nerve racking.
Foot landing is another thing that will almost certainly take me a lot
of time to master--more like become competent. Landing a hang glider on
your feet in calm wind is kind of like forward launching a paramotor in
no wind. Even if you nail it every time it's barely successful.
I really want to try hang gliding at Point of the Mountain sometime
where I can play in a wind. Next time I'm out there for paragliding I'll
see about taking a lesson or two.
A grand experience that renews my thrill of flight. Yes, being back
at beginnerville is a bit frustrating but sure is rewarding.