Hang gliding is one of the most freeing experiences in the world — Icarus definitely had it right (albeit with dodgy architecture). Hang gliding is often seen as a safer flight experience than paragliding given its resilience through harsher winds and increased stability. We are fortunate to be located in sunny Southern California and hang gliding in LA is one of the joys that we have here.
The most painful part of hang gliding is definitely lugging and storing your equipment. You’ll need to get a car rack first and foremost. If you want to get high quality equipment check out Thule’s racks and for a few hundred dollars you can get great removable racks. Or just tie some rope around your car but we recommend the former. Your wings are about 20 feet in length and weigh about 50 pounds so we hope you don’t live in a studio apartment. Storage can be a pain as well as transport so if you want to visit flight sights around the country you should probably be comfortable renting.
The launch is easy to start with. Just keep the nose of your glider at the correct angle to attack the slope and start running. The most important thing when you’re air bound is to keep good track of your speed of flight and of course the direction where you’re going.
Controlling your in air velocity shouldn’t be too bad as long as you pay attention to trim. The glider needs to be trimmed so as to become rigid relative to the bar and move forward at a slow speed. For turning you just need to roll with your glider and shift your weight in the direction where you want to go. You want to go faster? Lean forward. Want to slow down? Lean backward. It takes some practice to get the controls right at first and it’s very easy to over shoot the direction you’re going in thus making a snake course on the way down but once you start getting the hang of it you’ll do great!
Now let’s come to the landing. Controlling your speed — as always — is going to be the most important part of the approach. You’ll often notice that hang gliders approaching landings quite fast and then break closer to arrival. Just pay attention to your instructor and you’ll be absolutely fine.
This is of course a very high level summary of how to get started hang gliding and as always we recommend trying it out for yourself with a proper instructor. So with that in mind we have the best suggestion for where you can hang glide for the first time! Check out Windsports on Dockweiler Beach and get the best instruction and intro course possible. For a real kick starter pick the seven flight course and when you’re done ask about going on the hill!
Look forward to high-fiving in higher skies.