Hang Gliding FAQ
What is Hang Gliding?
Hang Gliding as a sport has its origins in the 1960's phenomenon of Australian water skiers tying themselves to kites and getting towed into the air. Two water skiers John Dickenson and Bill Moyes of NSW, adapted a Rogallo wing developed by NASA for space craft re-entry, into a controllable kite that could be released from the tow line and flown down to land using only the shift of the pilots weight to steer.
Today's wings still use the flex-wing weight shift principle but development now allows foot launch from hill tops as well as towing up behind boats, cars, ultra lights and winches. Now with improved glider performance and pilots having years of flying experience, altitudes of up to 10,000 feet (legal height limit) and flight distances up to 427km (Australian distance record) or 500km (World distance record) can be achieved using only natural air currents and thermals.
Compulsory equipment carried in hang gliders is a helmet, parachute and for competitions, a camera. Additionally pilots carry altimeter + variometer + flight computer to help navigate the air currents, GPS + compass + map to help them navigate the course, two way radio + mobile phone to communicate with their retrieve driver and other team members, water + food to keep their brain processes functioning, flying suit + gloves to combat subzero temperatures, oxygen for high altitude flying (above 10,000 feet). Pilots also carry emergency items in case of isolated outlanding.
What is the Appeal of Hang Gliding?
Hang Gliding appeals to adventurous outdoor men and women. The appeal is different to different people. It can be the adrenaline rush of launching from a mountain top, or the thrill of flying close to contours of the mountain terrain looking for elusive thermal, tranquillity of flying just below the clouds 3 km up from the ground, or the joy of soaring with the eagles, or the challenge of competing against a fellow pilot, or the thrill of approaching a landing paddock at 100km/h, the excitement of pulling off some aerobatic wing-overs or loops above the crowds In a landing paddock, or the satisfaction of landing at the end of a days flying.
Hang Gliding is the cheapest method of getting airborne, and one of the most satisfying.
What is a Hang Gliding Competition?
A Hang Gliding competition is a series of races around a course finishing at a goal up to 160 km away. Pilots who make goal get points based on there speed to goal. Pilots who do not make the goal get points based on how much of the course they completed. Photographic evidence is used to verify the correct course was followed. Flying skills include judging the weather conditions, launching at the right time, climbing the fastest in a thermal crowded with other hang gliders, choosing the best course line, spotting gliders and birds in other thermals, formation team flying, and cross the goal line the fastest