Hang Gliding: Do’s and Don’ts

on August 7, 2012

Do find an experienced instructor. Some hang gliding schools have their own instructor training program, but make sure your instructor has completed the United States Hang Gliding Association’s or the United States Hang Gliding and Parachuting Association’ Instructor Certification Program and is an active pilot.

Do learn with a group. You get more for your money with group lessons—mostly because you can watch and learn from others’ successes and mistakes. Plus, you’ll have folks rooting you on, which may encourage you to try again if you’re struggling with the learning curve.

Don’t underestimate safety measures. Listen carefully to instructions regarding equipment, harness and helmet fit, etc. If something doesn’t seem right, bring it to the attention of an instructor. While most lessons are done in a controlled environment, and thousands of people learn to fly annually without incident, there is risk involved in hang gliding, and precautions are taken for a reason.

Do prep yourself. Check out YouTube videos on how to hang glide to better acquaint yourself with the challenges of the sport. The more you know going in, the more relaxed and confident you’ll be during your lesson.

Do relax and focus. There’s that word again—relax. Tension, particularly in your shoulders and arms, can throw off your form and make it difficult for you to have a successful flight.

Don’t look down. It’s tempting to want to look at the ground—to see how far up you are, if for nothing else. But as it is in many sports, where you look determines the direction in which you’ll go. Find a focal point on the horizon so that your chin is up, and keep your eyes trained on it.

Do go when the temperatures are mild to cool. You can hang glide in the heat of the summer and in the dead of winter, but when you’re learning, it’s best not to have to handle weather extremes. You want your focus to be on learning to fly—not staying hydrated or avoiding frostbite!

Do consider tandem instruction. Once you’ve completed your foot-launched lesson, you can graduate to tandem instruction. By rope, a small plane tows you and an instructor on a specially built glider, releasing you at heights upwards of 2000 ft., where you can get a deeper experience with the sport.

For more information, check out the FAQ section on the United States Hang Gliding and Parachuting Association’s website.

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Click here for tips on what to wear for your first time hang gliding.


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