Hang gliding is an air-based activity that involves flying a non-motorized, foot-launchable aircraft called a hang glider. It can be traced back to the days of Leonardo Da Vinci whose drawings expressed desire for human flight. In hang gliding, the pilot is suspended from a wing or kite in a harness and the body weight is shifted from side to side in order to steer. Hang gliders are kept in motion by the constant pull of gravity, causing air to flow around the wing, pulling the glider forward. Flights can either be solo, with just the pilot, or in tandem, which involves a second person being harnessed in behind the pilot. This means that you don’t need training or experience to enjoy the heights and sights.
Modern hang gliders are composed of a triangular control frame, made of extremely light aluminium, with a strong sailcloth that forms a wing. The individual slips a cocoon harness over their head that lies out in front of the legs during launch, but once in the air the pilot will tuck their feet into it. The activity is often confused with paragliding, which also involves a foot-launched aircraft, however paragliding lacks any rigid structure and instead consists of mainly woven material.
A number of methods can be used for take off – ranging from launching from a hillside to being towed behind a truck or even another aircraft. Once in the air, the glider naturally descends constantly, so to travel further the pilot must find rising air currents, usually thermals – similar to paragliding. This skill is particularly important for those wanting to fly long distances, known as cross-country hang gliding.
Flying a hang glider offers an unparalleled sense of freedom, feeling the movement of the air across your body and using the wind’s force to stay in flight. The activity offers pilots and passengers the opportunity to glide over cities and landscapes and see the world from a different point of view. Fancy giving it a go? Check out some locations near you below.
- You don’t need anyone to help you into the air
- Robust, long-lasting gear
- Soar like an eagle
- High performance for low cost
- Bulky equipment
- Weather dependent
Training & Qualifications
Training schools offer certification after which pilots generally join their local club to progress.
- Element Pilot
3 to 4 days including flights up to 40ft in height
- Club Pilot
4 to 5 days including flights from at least 200ft. you are now qualified to fly outside the school.
- Pilot and Advanced Pilot
Additional qualifications paid for by the hour for tuition
Your equipment includes the harness, helmet and emergency reserve parachute. Gliders come in a range of shapes and sizes offering varying levels of performance.
Initially aim for a glider which is easy to fly and forgiving on mistakes.