Chapter 15, Advanced Ground Handling, covers The Alan Method of reverse kiting. This method can also allow you to fly backwards.

Recently, we set out to get pictures of this technique and others from one of our motor haunts near Chicago. The chosen hill, a dirt pile, wasn’t much but, with the strong winds present, it was indeed soarable. I would kite up the face of the cliff and push off the top, using the brakes as shown for both steering and to prevent twisting around to forward. Normally, you would let yourself untwist and fly forward but I held it for the pictures. Plus, the value of this technique is that if you get successively lifted and plopped down, you maintain far better control.

Admittedly, flying backwards is neither safe nor terribly useful in most cases. But in strong winds, where you are likely to get lifted, it can be the skill that prevents a toppling turtle.

As described in the book, if you get lifted unexpectedly while reverse kiting, expect to get twisted around and dropped, off balance, in the turtle-inducing forward position.

Flying backwards is a skill that can really only be practiced in a soaring harness from a small hill. Even then it’s quite dangerous due to getting disoriented and pulling the wrong control. So the way to practice it is from level ground in a moderate wind. Only do that once you’ve mastered high-wind kiting as described in Chapter 15. 

Bill Heaner is reverse flying using the “Alan Method” which is holding the brake LINES above their pulleys.

The two keys to success are 1) keeping your body horizontal to increase rotational inertia which helps prevent untwisting and 2) countering the small untwist force with the brake lines. This is possible because, by holding the brake lines above their pulleys as shown, you can impart an anti-twist force. Without this, you’ll eventually succumb to the risers wanting to untwist.

Please don’t try such antics without significant soaring experience. I had planned on getting blown over the back and had an out (which I had to use). Getting blown over the back would likely result in an injury, at best, since you’d be in for a 20 foot free fall when the wing deformed in rotor from the hill.

Thanks to Tim Kaiser’s help, we got all the pictures we set out for. Other techniques that we captured were high-wind inflations, some riser holds and how to handle a cravat. These will be posted eventually as PPG Bible Extras.