For people who don’t have the fear of heights, one of the most interesting and exhilarating sports you could try is hang gliding. Hang gliding is gaining in popularity around the world especially in the US, particularly in the western part of the country especially California.
Hang gliding has similarities with paragliding in that it also utilizes an unpowered aircraft. However, hang gliding is more complex in technicalities compared to paragliding. Hang gliders could try tandem or solo flights which can both be thrilling or invigorating especially for first timers.
As a sport, hang gliding was first introduced in the 1970s. Since then, it has developed into a relatively safe sport using a glider with a simple design and built from aircraft aluminum, carbon fiber and sail fabrics. Launchings are normally done on top of a hill facing the wind. However, it can also be done in the flatlands by towing from a motorized winch or a microlight aircraft. The objective of this sport is very simple: that is to stay aloft for as long as you can.
Although considered as a safe sport, hang gliding can also be a dangerous activity for the inexperienced pilot. Experience and training are both important to help a person get accustomed to controlling the aircraft. Knowledge of geographic conditions and weather are also vital to ensure a safe flight. And if you like to stay longer in the air, you need to also learn about wind and thermal currents which can serve as your aircraft’s power sources. There are certified schools around the world that teaches all you have to know to give you confidence on your first flight.
Hang glider aircrafts normally have a harness attached to the kite for more stability. The pilot is suspended in the harness during the entire duration of the flight until landing. The pilot will have control over the aircraft through a control bar which can be used for turning and pitching the aircraft. Once in the air, the aircraft can stay afloat by taking advantage of the wind and thermal currents. To land, the pilot simply has to pull the glider upwards toward a stall position so that it will float back to the earth.
For an inexperience individual to train hang gliding, it normally takes about ten days to attain the Club Pilot level which is the minimum standard requirement for unsupervised flying in a recreational club. With continuous training, you could advance to become an experience pilot and be able to maneuver your aircraft and stay afloat for several hours. Among the most important things you can learn from formal school is about rigging and inspecting your aircraft before each flight.
If you are interested to take your first hang gliding flight, you should know that there are some places in the US including national parks except Yosemite that have certain restrictions when it comes to flying a hang glider. You cannot also just launch or land anywhere because there are only designated areas where you may do them. Following these designated areas will give you a better and safer hang gliding experience.