Real Hang-Glider

Today I finally flew a real hang-glider after some days flying trainers. It was an aircraft with a 18-square-meters wing. The first impression is fantastic, at least I am in the middle of recommended weight limits! In Russia I flew only training hang-gliders manufactured by Aeros with a 16-square-meters wing, I am a little bit heavy for them. As I understand, Icaro makes hang-gliders with a 1-meter step wings. It is so cool to fly a hang-glider that perfectly fits!

After using training models with 21-square-meters wings I had to run much faster during takeoff, and act more aggressively during landing. However even with this wing I can takeoff with a nil wind.

The second new factor is a new harness. This one is used for flying, while previously I wore the one that is more suitable for running. To be honest, I did not see any real difference during takeoff and landing, but it is amazing in the air. The only drawback is that I have to take it off to carry the hang-glider back to the hill, and put it back on before takeoff.

I have to leave today, but I’d like to come back. There are a few places in the whole world with those incredible mountains, and where it is possible to fly in all seasons. I associate this place with a spirit of freedom. I think that later, when I will be older and calmer, I will have a strong desire to live in a such place. Therefore I just have to become older and calmer, find a pretty mountain and master my flying without an engine. However, it will be later. Now I have a lot of things to do, for example, finish my PPL 🙂

Coordinated Turns

What is required for a good landing on a pretty small landing area? One should correctly estimate an altitude, estimate wind and apply proper wind correction and make coordinated turns with a predictable altitude loss. Today I practiced those things, except for wind estimation which is easy because there are a lot of windsocks on the hill. Firstly do 45-degree turns, then 90-degree turns. The goal is establishing a proper course on an appropriate height, i.e., I should not lose substantial altitude before and during my turn. Then level the wings, flare and land.

Straight legs are much better, for both the glide path and horizontal projection. You can do good solid takeoffs even with a nil wind. Of course I understand that with a 16 wing I will still need to run much faster and longer. Landings are good, almost all of them are on the feet and with a proper wing stall. I am making progress 🙂

Without an Engine

Temporarily I fly without engine. I came to Italian hang-gliding school.

I don’t have a license. I don’t know anything about terrain and aerology of that place. I do no fly regularly, and I did not fly almost a year. So, I am starting from a basic exercises.

The training approach is somewhat different here. Initially you run with a 21-square-meters hang-glider. The sail is very light, like the one used in paragliders. It’s very easy to take off, but relatively hard to control it: it flies by itself.

I start with a very low angle of attack. It means that I try to gain more speed, but I don’t lift off for a long time, which is bad. I simply don’t let it fly for a long time! I used to fly 16-meters hang-glider, which requires more speed on a take off. The flight itself is very unstable. But landings are pretty good. I spent a lot of time on them previously 🙂

They don’t put the hands out of the downtubes if the landing seems to be on the wheels. Possibly that is because the landing spot is totally flat without any rocks, bushes and plowed furrows.

Also they don’t use radio for initial training. The instructor just stands near the landing spot and shows turn direction (if needed). And during the landing he is usually rather close, and can just speak loudly.

The training itself is possible during almost the whole day: the training hill is between mountains, and there are neither dangerous turbulence nor strong winds even in the afternoon. Ideal place to training. I remember my training in Crimea, where I had to wake up at 5 in the morning…

There are two trees near the landing spot, “to be more precise”. Once I flew directly to the tree, happily it was pretty far away. Don’t look at the obstacle, because if you do it, it becomes a reference point 🙂

Totally I have some crazy number of 2-3-meters-height flights during the day, definitely more than 20. I used to practice it 5-7 times during my previous training… My take off is much better, my flight is much more stable 🙂