Q. How safe are hang gliders?
The first questions we usually hear pertain to safety. As with any adventure sport, the possibility of injury exists in hang gliding, but is not likely. A safety minded pilot who uses good judgment, will probably never have a problem. Mountain Wings stresses a safety oriented program . As one would expect, weather conditions are extremely important when it comes to hang gliding, and although it can be frustrating when Mother Nature doesn't cooperate, be assured that you will fly only when it is safe to do so. Like any form of sport aviation, hang gliding can be dangerous if pursued carelessly. Gliders in the US are now certified for airworthiness by the Hang Glider Manufacturers Assn. (HGMA). Also, hang gliding instruction has been standardized and students learn from certified instructors using a thorough gradual training program. The vast majority of pilots fly their entire careers without sustaining a serious injury. Hang Gliders are tested to over 6 G's positive load and 4 G's negative which is almost twice as strong as a Cessna airplane. Hang Gliders can not go into dives, are resistant to spins, resists stall and are tested not to break, they fly hands off. The Untied States Safety Council says that hang gliding is one of the safest recreational sports the public can be involved in. safer then foot ball, kayaking, skiing, sky diving, bicycling, skating, rock climbing, air planes, ect. Hang Gliding is a very safe sport and very regulated.
Q. How do you steer?
Hang gliders are controlled by shifting the pilot's weight with respect to the glider. Pilots are suspended from a hang strap connected to the glider's frame (hence the name "hang" glider). By moving forward and backward and side to side at the end of this hang strap, the pilot alters the center of gravity of the glider. This then causes the glider to pitch or roll in the direction of the pilot's motion and thus allows both speed control and turning. Hang Gliders have the quickest roll rate (turns 90 deg to 90 deg) then any commercially built aircraft. And fly with your finger tips, not a strong grip.
Q. What happens when the wind stops?
Nothing! - a controlled, smooth, gliding decent. Hang gliders (and all aircraft) create their own "airspeed" from gravity, and gravity never stops. We do not need to have wind to fly, in fact we teach with no wind. But if you want to soar, (stay up for hours or gain altitude) you need to have wind that is going up faster then you are falling, we fall about 160 ft per min which is not very fast.
Q. How long can you stay up?
The duration record of 11-1/2 hours was set back in the 1980s by a student pilot with an abundance of enthusiasm. I am tired just typing about it. Back in the 1970s Bob Wills stayed up for over 24 hours at Makapuku Hawaii. His brother Chris brought him refreshments in his hang glider.
Q. How far can you go?
The Ellenville distance record of 201 miles was set by Dave Hopkins in 2009, when he flew to the New Hampshire seashore. We secretly think he was trying to get back to his native state of Maine for a lobster dinner.