- Last Updated on Friday, 22 August 2014 18:44
- Written by Matt Philips
Step 1: Ground handling
For your first lesson, the instructor will set up and inspect all the equipment before you arrive so you are able to get started with ground handling exercises right away. The first of these exercises is picking up and holding the glider on your shoulders. Beginner gliders weigh between 42 and 50 pounds, so they are not difficult to lift, but they are very awkward. This means that picking them up takes a bit of practice before you feel comfortable. Once you are able to pick up the glider, you move on to running with the glider and 'kiting' it. Since you don't have a harness on at this point, it is a lot like flying a giant paper airplane. You run to get the glider to flying speed and it will lift off your shoulders and magically fly above your head as you control it with the bars on either side.
Once you have mastered the art of kiting the glider and are comfortable with it, you will move on to kiting the glider with a harness. You will be shown how to put on, adjust, and connect a training harness to the glider. Once you are comfortable with the harness, you will do the same thing as the last exercise, but this time you will let go of the glider while you run and begin to feel it trying to lift you into the air!
Once you feel comfortable with these basic ground handling exercises, you will learn how to control a glider while it is in the air. Hang gliders are controlled by weight shift, so you will hang in the glider while it is on the ground and see what proper control inputs feel like.
Now that you understand how to pick up, hold, run with, and control the glider, you are ready to begin step 2 of your first lesson.
Step 2: Moon walking
Once you have mastered ground handling, you are ready to be hooked to the winch system. The instructor has full control over how high you go, so for the first few runs, you will be pulled just strong enough to get you really light on your feet, but not entirely in the air. At this stage, you should begin 'moon walking', where you aren't entirely off the ground, but your strides get longer and easier as you begin to feel lighter. It almost feels like the glider is an anti-gravity machine!
As you get light on your feet and the glider takes more of your weight, you will need to start using that weight shift control you learned about earlier to keep the glider flying in a straight line.
Step 3: Flying!
Once you are comfortable and confident with 'moon walking' and keeping the glider flying in a straight line while doing so, the instructor will give the winch a bit more throttle, lifting your feet 5-10 feet off the ground. As long as you demonstrate proper control and responses, the instructor will continue to pull you down the field. As you continue practicing and show better control of the glider, the instructor will take you higher and higher.
Since every person and day is different, Learn2Glide cannot guarantee any specific altitude or flight time, but we can promise that the better you listen to the instructor and the more you ask questions, the higher and longer you will fly. You will continue to higher and higher as long as you demonstrate the proper techniques and listen to the instructor. Most people manage to fly about 3/4 the length of the runway with about 15 feet of altitude on their first day.