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What is a Hang Glider?

Hang gliders can be rigid or semi-rigid. Semi-rigid, which is the most common type, have aluminium spars and battens in their wings, but are covered in a tight sheath of Dacron cloth. Rigid hang gliders are made of hard, composite materials such as glass fibre and are becoming increasingly popular. In both cases, the pilot is suspended in a harness beneath the glider in a face down position and controls the direction and speed by moving a triangular control frame to shift his or her weight beneath the wing.

What is a Paraglider?

Paragliders are elliptical wings, or canopy, designed for soaring flight. The canopy is constructed of soft fabric and the pilot is suspended beneath it in a seat harness supported by a number of lines. The pilot controls the direction and speed of the glider by pulling on control lines that affect the shape of trailing edge of the wing. The pilot can also control the direction by leaning to one side of his or her harness.

The beauty of a paraglider is that it folds up and fits into a large rucksack, so if you have the energy, almost any takeoff site is accessible.

How much do these wings cost?

Hang gliders and paragliders are not cheap but they are one of the least expensive way to fly — and certainly the most portable. A new hang glider or paraglider suitable for a recently trained pilot will cost up to around $4,000. Used gliders can be purchased for much less. Pilots must also purchase a harness, a backup parachute and a helmet. Portable instruments such as an altimeter/variometer are very useful and owned by the majority of pilots.

How do you get into the air?

There are two ways to get into the air. The first one is to run off a hill or mountain. The second one is to get towed into the air. The one that is used is a matter of geography and preference.

Where can I learn?

There are a number of schools in Canada that can teach you to hang glide or paraglide safely. We recommend that you seek instruction from a HPAC/ACVL certified instructor. Make sure that you ask plenty of questions from the instructor or school as there are many different ways to learn to fly and many different instructor personalities. It is important that you be comfortable with the program and that you communicate effectively with your instructor. Above anything else, it is important that you have fun!
[ British Columbia ] [ Alberta ] [ Manitoba / Saskatchewan ] [ Ontario ]
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For hang gliding, training usually begins on a shallow slope. The student will learn to control the glider in the right attitude and run with it to attain flying speed. The training will progress to steeper hills and higher and longer flights. Where no hills are available, towing into the air will be used.

For paragliding, training usually begins on flat ground. Your instructor will explain how the canopy is laid out, inflated and controlled by its brake lines. You will learn how to inflate the canopy and control it while it is inflated. When you've become adept at ground handling, controlling airspeed and making gentle turns, you'll probably go to hill or get towed for flights.

In both cases, instructor may even take you up on tandem flights to demonstrate and have you practice steering the glider and getting you comfortable with altitude. These tandem flights can be used to complement training or most of your course can consist of tandem flights.

In the classroom you'll cover rigging and inspection, flight theory, meteorology and basic air regulations as they apply to hang gliding and paragliding.

May 13 2003   Top Top