I soloed a hang glider! (sorry Mom).
No, I’m not going to go bonkers like I did with paramotoring but will try mastering the basics. I’ll take more training from respected mountain instructors before launching willy nilly into rocky highlands.What I’m doing now is aero-tow–in most ways it’s much easier and in a few other ways is more difficult.
About March 15th, after an evening of tandems, my Quest Air instructor “Spinner”, felt I was ready. The air was right and we put the solo glider together. I was nervous. Probably because I’ve spent time studying what goes wrong and hold no delusion that I’m exempt. As we finished putting the glider together a sea breeze came in from the east. Bummer! But I had no more interest in flying in strong conditions than Spinner did so we put it off a day.
The next morning I was out early. Spinner gave me some final words and sent me on my way. The flight turned out to be almost anticlimactic.
Tow scares me a bit. There’s always a swirl of air from the prop blast just about lift off. It’s actually never been a problem but requires a moderately aggressive response. And lets face it, I’m the FNG. (freaking new guy).
The instruction and advice paid off because the flight went well. And boy, the solo glider was WONDERFULLY easier to fly than the tandem!
Not wanting it to be a fluke I did another two high tows to get used to the different handling then did 3 pattern tows. A total of 6 uneventful flights with a few unnerving pops on launch due to increasing thermals but it never felt too close to my control margins.
I definitely feel like a beginner in this.
Yesterday I got to do another first, mostly because the solo glider with the permanent wheels was in use. I took off with a cart. Even though the glider had “M & M” wheels, I figured it was time to try foot landing.
They gave me pointers as did Phil Russman who came with me and is a long time hang glider pilot.
Takeoff on a cart is interesting. You’re holding the cart with little rubber hoses that must be released at lift off. I was scared I’d forget to let go, or let go of the control bar, or some other buffoonery. So I rehearsed in my head the process while holding everything to get a feel. It’s kind of like the difference between kiting and kiting with a throttle. I marvel at how little it takes to throw us off.
I’m reasonably comfortable flying a hang glider trike so it doesn’t seem like a big deal but it is. In fact, the trike flying works against me more than my other flying. On the hang glider you’ve got to move your hips, on the trike you just move the bar. Problem is, if you use the trike technique on a hang glider, nothing happens. That’s bad.
Over the next few weeks I hope to become proficient enough to not be nervous about tow. That first 10 seconds of tow is a bit nerve racking. Foot landing is another thing that will almost certainly take me a lot of time to master–more like become competent. Landing a hang glider on your feet in calm wind is kind of like forward launching a paramotor in no wind. Even if you nail it every time it’s barely successful.
I really want to try hang gliding at Point of the Mountain sometime where I can play in a wind. Next time I’m out there for paragliding I’ll see about taking a lesson or two.
A grand experience that renews my thrill of flight. Yes, being back at beginnerville is a bit frustrating but sure is rewarding.