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Revised: Aug 21, 2002

Recommended RAMP "RULES"

What makes a good ramp?
... pardon the pun, but, building upon past experiences...

The Best Ramp is No Ramp

Build your ramp to imitate a natural slope and
Build a ramp which makes up for launch deficiencies.
Remember the following basic "rules"

The more extreme the angle (steep or shallow) and
The shorter or narrower the Ramp;
The less wind speed and direction you'll be able to launch into and
The more experienced you will have to be to use the ramp safely.

Ramp Slope, for Hang Gliding, should be:

  • Set to the point where you'll feel like leaning into the run.
  • Too shallow and you'll feel like the base bar is driving into the deck.
  • Too steep and you'll feel a lack of control or feel like holding back on the run.
  • If you consistently can't run to the end of the ramp, regardless of conditions, the ramp may be so steep as to be a hazard in itself.

The (all safe weather, all experience level) MINIMUM Hang Gliding:

  1. Safe Takeoff Length is circa 20 feet (6.5 meters)
  2. MINIMUM Width is circa 8 feet (2.5 meters)

Expanded Metal Hang Gliding Launch Ramp showing an excellent example of a wire crew hanging platform @ Sauratown Mtn. NC
Air flows through the metal mesh, making for a smoother air transition off the ramp. Less problems with lifting wings, giving the pilot a confident feel during launch

The (all safe weather, all experience level) MINIMUM Paragliding:

  1. Safe Takeoff Length is circa xyz feet (xyz meters)
  2. MINIMUM Width is circa xyz feet (xyz meters)

Thedford Mines Paragliding Ramp, Quebec. Photo by Daniel Lavertu

Insufficient ramp length must be made up for by joining a natural slope to the ramp
Insufficient width must take into account a place for all Hang Gliding wire crew to stand and be clear of the glider at takeoff.

  • This could mean a hanging basket or safety lines to secure the exposed Wire Crew.
  • Fall Arrest Safety lines for Wire Crew (PG Term?) should be a permanent fixture on the ramp or ground.

Do not extend the end of the ramp over a drop off unless filling in a concave takeoff point which presents a hazard to the wingtips.*

A Good Ramp Provides:

  1. Limited cross wind takeoffs
  2. A safe place for the nose wire crew to lie down or step aside
  3. A safe place for two side wire crew
  4. A non slip surface (example paint mixed with sand)
  5. Streamers placed low to the ground at intervals down both sides of the length of the ramp and in front (as possible) to indicate possible rotor as well as wind direction

Do not elevate the ramp unless absolutely necessary and then as little as possible.
The higher the wings are off the ground the more susceptible you Hang Gliders will be to gusts and turbulence and the more difficult it will be for you and your side wire man to assist you.

Examples of good portable ramps are:

  1. 5/8" by 4' by 8' plywood sheets on a lumbar frame, spacers at 16" intervals, precut to size and assembled on site. Use non rusting screw nails that will not work their way out.
    It may also be a good idea to install a number of long wood screws down the middle of the ramp - the most abused area.
  2. Place 2" X 4"s on edge leaving a (1/2") space between each one. (No space should be large enough to allow a Hang Gliding base bar to fall inside which can fracture tubing) Another way to avoid Hang Gliding base bar "traps" is to angle the 2" x 4''s
  3. Many clubs have had success with a grated metal ramp in exposed situations to reduce turbulence from up slope winds.

* And finally remember:

The authorities often destroy ramps that are perceived to be a hazard to the public - as they (the public) would not put themselves in such a risk situation were it not for the ramp's presence. This applies in particular to any ramp which projects over a drop off.

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