Basic Hang Gliding FAQ

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Seeing hang gliders in the sky sparks curiosity in many people. A lot of questions come to mind. How can they fly without a motorized aircraft? How far or high can they go? Is it not a dangerous sport? Some people are just curious while others are curious because they are interested to try it out. But regardless of which group of people you belong, here are some basic FAQs about hang gliding which may answer your questions:

1. Do I need certification to be a hang glider?

No. Hang gliding is a sport that is self-regulated and there are no official certifications required in order for a person to own or fly a hang glider. However, most sites for launching and landing should be certified by the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA). Before flying, it is best to always check the certification of the site you intend to launch or land.

2. How can I learn hang gliding?

There are groups that offer hang gliding lessons for an average cost of $70 and $150 per lesson, which is normally inclusive of equipment rental. You can search them out online or through a local club.

3. How much does a glider costs?

Used gliders may cost as low as $300 but quality used gliders normally cost around $1,500. New gliders cost $3,000 and above.

4. I like to try hang gliding, where can I go?

It is best to take a tandem flight on your first try. You can check the USHPA website to look for an instructor and hang gliding site nearest you.

5. Is it okay to fly my hang glider anywhere?

No. There are places where hang gliding is explicitly prohibited like in national parks except in Yosemite Park. You may not also fly in private lands unless you have permission. It is not also allowed to fly over congested areas and in controlled airspaces.

6. How do I launch my glider?

There are three ways to get your glider to the air. The most common of which is through foot launch from a cliff or hill. Another is by towing by an ultralight airplane, boat or truck. You may also launch through a winch.

7. How high can gliders go?

In the US, you can go as high as 17,999 feet above sea level. However, most gliders feel safer below 1,800 meters.

8. How long can you fly?

You can fly for as long as you can. You can take advantage of thermals and ridge lifts to remain aloft. The world record for the longest hang gliding time is more than 24 hours.

9. How can you control the hang glider?

Hang gliders are easy to control using weight shifts which require balance and a light touch. It may require constant practice to master but it can become your second nature once you learn it.

10. Is hang gliding a dangerous sport?

Hang gliding is generally a safe sport. Gliders are secured by a strap capable of holding up to 10 times the weight of an average person. The aircraft is also sturdy and made of aircraft aluminum. It is unlikely that you will fall down unless you are not properly strapped or your aircraft has some structural defects which you did not take notice.

If you are interested in hang gliding, these FAQs can help you make an intelligent decision about engaging in this sport.