Hang gliding is a sport in which competitions are held on an aircraft heavier than air, consisting of a frame (three main duralumin pipes connected at the front point so that a fan forms in the horizontal plane, and several auxiliary pipes and cables) with a dense synthetic cloth.
The pilot, connected to the central tube of the structure with a special suspension, holds his hands on the trapezoid (a triangular structure made of tubes, fixed in a certain position with thin steel cables). To control the flight, it is enough for an athlete to change the position of his body in space relative to the attachment point to the aircraft.
Hang gliding was officially recognized by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale in 1974, and in 1976 the first world championship in this sport took place.
Hang gliding appeared in 1974. Hang gliding was officially recognized as a sport by the FAI on September 27, 1974. But it originated much earlier. At the end of the 40s. last century, American Francis Melvin Rogallo decided to make a kite to entertain children. In this work, his wife Gertrude helped him. The toy, designed by an aviator engineer, had excellent aerodynamic properties. Observing the behavior of the kite in the air, Rogallo realized that the same principle could be used to make an aircraft capable of carrying a rather large load. On March 20, 1951, the inventor received a patent for the "Rogallo kite" created by him, and in 1957 he presented his aircraft to the NASA competition (the most effective means of landing for spacecraft were being sought). The invention was approved as one of the best options, renamed Rogallo Wing, but after a series of tests it was rejected due to problems with the deployment system. In the 60s, athletes became interested in NASA's articles on a new invention, at first using the Rogallo wing only for towing, and only a little later, after several design changes, for flying on it. Officially, the date of birth of hang gliding is May 23, 1971 - it was then that the athletes who gathered in California to honor the memory of Otto Lilienthal (a German engineer who worked on improving gliding aircraft and who died during the tests of one of them) proposed to combine the "Rogallo wing" and balance glider into a single structure (hang glider).
At first, the hang glider appeared in the USA, later in other countries of the world, in particular in Russia. Misconception. The athletes of Australia were the first to master the new aircraft, in 1962 they adapted the "water kite" (this is how the somewhat smaller copy of the "Rogallo wing" was called) for towing flights behind the boat. It was they who equipped the aircraft with useful innovations: a triangular-shaped control handle and a seat for the athlete controlling the "kite" movement. Flights of this kind in the USSR were carried out in 1967 (not towing flights - since 1972), at the same time the idea of creating a "paraglider" (as the hang glider was called at that time), equipped with a motor, was developed. And in the USA, the "Rogallo snake" appeared only in 1969. By the way, it was American Dave Kilbourne who came up with the idea to start from a running start (nowadays, starting with feet and landing on feet is one of the main signs of hang gliding).
The name "hang glider" for the name of an aircraft of a certain shape is used in all countries of the world. At first, the aforementioned aircraft was called "Rogallo's serpent" (the name perpetuated the surname of the inventor), then it was renamed "Rogallo's wing", and after a while, when work began on the improvement and practical application of this design, many new names appeared. Due to the similarity with the Greek letter "delta" (Δ), this aircraft received the corresponding names: in Russia - hang glider, in Spain - ala delta, in France - deltaplane, in Italy - deltaplano. In other countries, there were several variants of the name. For example, in England - delta and hang-glider (from English hang - "to hang", glider - "gliding aircraft") to designate a conventional hang glider and aerial sled (from English. "Air sled") or tactical hang glide for the name aircraft of this type used by the military (for example, for silent flights over the border). In Germany, hang gliders are called Drache (dragon or kite) or Drachenfluggerät (kite-shaped aircraft). There are also special names for rigid wings in different countries (for example, rigid wing (from the English "rigid wing")).
To take off, a hang-glider should climb a high mountain, one of the slopes of which is almost vertical, and jump down. This method of starting is really possible, but it is used very rarely, mainly by climbers who want to speed up the descent from the conquered peak (in this case, they sometimes have to wait several days for a suitable wind speed for the start). Most often hang gliders start "with their feet", i.e. they just run down the mountainside (preferably not very steep and devoid of vegetation) - when the takeoff speed is reached, the glider takes off. You can also accelerate the aircraft to the required speed by using towing (using a winch) or aero-towing (in this case, the hang glider is attached with a cable to the aircraft equipped with a motor, takes off with it, and upon reaching the required height, disconnects the hitch). Hang gliders sometimes use a hot air balloon as a towing vehicle (Dave Kilborn was the first to try this method).
In order to fly, the hang glider needs wind. This is not entirely true. A hang glider launched from a height of 100 meters can fly from 600 m to one and a half km even in completely calm weather. But in order to stay in the air for a long time, flying at the same time considerable distances (calculated in hundreds of kilometers), an athlete needs not so much wind as ascending air currents. Most often hang gliders use dynamic flows ("dynamics") or flow flows (formed at the place of wind collision with any obstacle, for example, a rock), or thermal (heat) flows or "thermals" (occur as a result of heating of some areas on surface of the Earth).
The pilot is only in a horizontal position under the hang glider. Yes, it is for this position of the pilot's body that harness systems of various types are designed (the simplest of them are a system of belts connecting the pilot to the hang glider, the more complex ones look like a sleeping bag equipped with a "zipper" and allow the pilot to stay in flight for several hours, not while experiencing fatigue and discomfort). However, in some cases (immediately after the start and before landing) the hang glider has to take a vertical position, this is not so convenient, but it is still possible and is provided for by the design of all suspension systems.
Hang glider pilots must be able to handle a parachute and, in the event of an emergency, disconnect from the aircraft in time. The rescue system for pilots flying at altitudes exceeding 100 m is indeed developed on the basis of parachutes, which are attached to the harness in a special knapsack. But it is not at all necessary to completely disconnect from the harness in order to use the parachute, since the rescue system is designed to ensure the safety of not only the pilot, but also the aircraft. The main task of the hang glider is to free the container with the parachute from the backpack in time, the moment of opening of which is calculated so as to minimize the possibility of the lines catching on the structure of the aircraft.
Hang gliders fly only during the day. Mostly yes. Moreover, training is carried out in the mornings and evenings - it is at this time of the day that the weather is most stable. During the day, the wind and thermal currents intensify, so this time is used for flights only by experienced hang gliders. But there are also night flights (most often during the shows, arranged at the end of the competition or during the holidays), undertaken by seasoned extreme pilots.
People with suicidal tendencies often come to hang gliding. People with the above inclinations are most often eliminated even at the preliminary stage of selection - during the passage of adequacy tests and test flights with instructors on a two-seat hang glider. In addition, observation of the novice athlete continues throughout the training.
The hang-glider is used only for entertainment or in sports. Yes, but in addition, this aircraft is sometimes used in agriculture in order to treat fields with pesticides (this method is very economical). The aforementioned aircraft is also used for military purposes, most often for reconnaissance flights over enemy territory or for espionage.
The shortest and most spectacular type of hang gliding competition is acrobatics. Indeed, the competition of aerial acrobats on hang gliders (this kind of competition is also called freeride), performing aerobatics ("loop", wingover ("butterfly"), "slide", "corkscrew", etc.) is a very exciting sight ... In addition, it is very convenient to observe what is happening over the slope of the mountain (after all, it is over the cliffs that it is most convenient to make such flights) - without changing your location, you can see the entire flight from start to finish. No less interesting is speedgliding (from the English speed - "speed", gliding - "gliding", "gliding", "gliding"). The main task of the athlete in this type of competition is to overcome the distance marked on the mountainside with special milestones at a relatively low altitude with maximum speed. The performances of athletes in both of the aforementioned disciplines last at most a few minutes, since flying at high speed along a trajectory replete with sharp turns and turns does not allow keeping the aircraft at high altitude for a long time. The organization of such competitions is a troublesome and very expensive business, therefore, on the territory of the CIS countries, speedgliding and aerial acrobatics competitions on hang gliders are almost never held.
During hang-gliding competitions, pilots set records for flight speed and duration of the aircraft's stay in the air. Nowadays, competitions for the maximum duration of the hang-glider's stay in the air are no longer held (the maximum duration of this aircraft's stay in the sky over the sea is 32 hours, over the mainland - 11 hours and 47 minutes). But the records of flight speed are really set, and not in any place convenient for flying, but when passing certain standard distances (a record figure - 208.19 km / h, it was with such an average speed that Jean-Marie Clement (France) covered a distance of 1000 km). There are competitions in which pilots try to reach the maximum possible height (the difference in height between the start level and the maximum height that the hang glider can climb is taken into account). In this case, the pilots are equipped with special masks that allow them not to suffer from hypoxia, which is inevitable in rarefied air at high altitudes, and special devices that record their achievements. The most popular area of hang gliding competition is the competition in flight range (record - 700.6 km - this is the distance that Manfred Rumer from Austria covered in a straight line on July 17, 2001). In order to fly the maximum possible distance, hang gliders go to certain places (most often in the zones of Australia and Africa with a subtropical and equatorial climate), where strong thermal currents often appear. Competitions of this kind require considerable investment and the involvement of a large number of service personnel.
According to the rules of some hang gliding competitions, the pilot determines his own route. Yes, competitions in this format are indeed held. A certain independence is given to the pilot by such flight tasks as "open range" (the pilot chooses the start time during the day, as well as the direction and length of the flight) and "flight along an arbitrary route" (in this case, the hang glider also chooses the points through which his route will pass , but the choice is not made randomly, but from the list of possible turning points provided by the organizers of the competition). It should be noted that the "open range" task is played out not so often, since it takes a lot of time and money to collect hang gliders that have finished at different points, sometimes separated from each other by hundreds of kilometers, to the starting point.
The latest equipment is the key to winning the competition. Like a new aircraft, any equipment (variometer, GPS navigator, camera, etc.) should be tested first, and over a fairly long time (some pilots spend up to 50 hours of flight time on this). Only in this case, you can not be afraid of the failure of any important part of the equipment. Experienced hang gliders believe that before the competition it is better not to buy new equipment, even the most expensive ones, preferring, perhaps, older, but reliable ammunition.
During a fast dive, the glider may lose control. This feature was inherent in the models of the first generation hang-gliders, but on modern vehicles the problem of loss of controllability during a flutter dive (i.e. diving at high speed) is solved.
Communication on the radio during the flight helps novice hang gliders to master flying skills. Experienced athletes believe that in the learning process it is much more important to see their instructor and try to repeat this or that maneuver after him. If visual contact takes place, there is no need for additional exchange of information by radio. If the student does not see the instructor, communication on the radio will not help much, since he will have to make decisions on his own, drawing conclusions from the prevailing circumstances. Therefore, while mastering the skill of flight, novice glider pilots should make minimal use of the possibility of radio communications with the instructor, in return developing observation, sensitivity and the ability to concentrate exclusively on the flight.
The best way to gain experience is to fly on your own. For the novice hang glider, it is really best to fly in as much free space as possible - to minimize the possibility of collisions. But more experienced athletes try to attend competitions of various kinds as often as possible, since they believe that any experience (both positive and negative) gained during the competition helps in improving their flying skills. After all, it is at such moments that a person shows maximum composure and concentration.In addition, there are many aircraft in the air, by the example of which you can easily check the correctness and expediency of several options for solving the problem at once - and draw appropriate conclusions for the future.
To demonstrate the highest possible performance, you just need to follow the leader, repeating his route as accurately as possible. This is not the best way. After all, the weather conditions are unstable. For example, thermal flows are not at all constant, and at some point they begin to lose their lifting force ("die"). And the wind at any moment can increase or become much weaker than required. Therefore, experienced athletes do not strive to exactly repeat the leader's route, but make their own, choosing the most favorable moment for the start and the most powerful thermal cycles.
A hang glider who hesitates at the start has no chance of catching up with the main group. Not always. Much depends on the strength of the streams, as well as on the skill and observation of the pilot. If the thermal flows are weak, there are very few chances of winning. But in the presence of strong flows, the outsider has the opportunity not only to catch up, but also to overtake his rivals. After all, the main group, not knowing where the strongest thermals are located, flies slower than the athlete who moves in the rearguard, and along the trajectories and speed of the aircraft in front of him can draw conclusions about the location of the strongest ascending currents and, accordingly, lay the most advantageous course.
First, you should purchase a hang glider, preferably newer and more expensive - the future athlete will actually learn to fly on it. This is not true. After all, in order to learn to fly, you need not the newest and most sophisticated hang glider, which requires remarkable skill of the pilot, speed of reaction, precision and refinement of movements, etc. You can, of course, purchase your own training hang-glider, but it should be borne in mind that as skill grows, both the amateur and the athlete have a desire to master the control of an apparatus with the best aerodynamic qualities, capable of developing high speed. Consequently, the acquired training hang-glider will no longer meet the pilot's requirements, and a considerable sum will have to be spent to purchase another aircraft with better characteristics. Therefore, it is best to start training on special training aircraft provided by clubs and hang gliding schools, which, in fact, train future pilots. And only after mastering all the necessary skills and abilities to buy a personal hang glider.
Hang gliding is extremely expensive. Yes, if you get knowledge in commercial training centers (you will have to pay about $ 10 per lesson). In addition, the purchase of the latest hang gliders from well-known manufacturers will require considerable costs (prices for branded aircraft "start" from $ 1000). But the cost of training and equipment can be significantly reduced if you master flying skills in one of the hang gliding clubs (most often the future pilot does not pay anything for training, limiting himself to membership fees of about $ 60 for six months, and participation in the activities of the club) and purchase used hang gliders (training apparatus costs about $ 200, sports apparatus - about $ 400).
It takes quite a lot of time and effort to assemble a hang glider. It depends on what kind of the above-mentioned aircraft we are talking about. A conventional hang glider can be assembled in 15 minutes, or even faster if, before transportation to the launch site, it is not completely disassembled (up to 2x0.3 m), but divided only into main parts, packed in a cover about 6 m long. it will take at least 40 minutes to get your rigid wing ready for flight.
For flights hang gliders use old aircraft, they fly low, slowly and clumsily. Most often, such an opinion can be formed by an outside observer who has had the opportunity to contemplate training hang-gliders, on which novice athletes learn the basics of pilot skill. The flight of experienced athletes using more modern aircraft is not so easy to trace, since they very quickly take off to such a height where they simply cannot be seen from the ground.
The hang-glider is more dynamic in the air, and also simpler and more accessible than the glider. Yes, a hang glider is cheaper than a glider, and learning to fly on this lighter and easier aircraft to fly is faster, and the requirements for the pilot are not so great. However, in terms of aerodynamic characteristics, the glider is superior to the hang glider. The weight of the glider is about 30 kg. The weight of a hang glider varies from 25 kg to 40 kg, and the devices used during training are somewhat lighter than sports models and rigid wings.
The design features and aerodynamic characteristics are the same for all hang gliders, there are only slight differences in design and material from which these devices are made. No, hang gliders are divided into several types, which have rather significant differences:
- training (designed specifically for training beginners), characterized by low speed and not the best aerodynamic qualities. At the same time, these machines are inexpensive, easy to maintain, lightweight, and very stable in flight;
- transitional - used both by athletes who want to subsequently improve their flying skills on sports models, and by amateurs ("free flyers") who master hang gliding for their own pleasure;
- sports - have the best flight characteristics, are able to develop the highest speed. At the same time, these aircraft require a fairly high level of skill from the pilot.
The best aerodynamic qualities (more than 19 units versus 17 for conventional hang gliders) are possessed by rigid wings - aircraft equipped with aerodynamic controls (flaps, ailerons, flaperons) designed to minimize the physical efforts of the pilot while flying the aircraft. Instead of the standard tube structure, the rigid wing frame is a composite material caisson. However, it should be taken into account that such devices are not only the most difficult to manufacture (and, as a consequence, are very expensive), but also have a very low maintainability.
In addition, hang gliders are subdivided into single and double gliders (the so-called tandems, which are used to train beginners in flying skills, as well as for introductory flights (so-called "pokatushek")), mast and mastless (these include the latest models of sports aircraft , the design of which allows you to minimize aerodynamic drag).
Models "Sport" and "Ghost" belong to sports. In fact, the Sport model belongs to the transitional hang-gliders, like some of the Ghost models (although the newest aircraft of this type can really be classified as sports).
Sports hang gliders are used only in sports or in preparation for them. This is most often the case, since aircraft of this kind, originally designed to achieve the best possible results, are quite difficult to fly and very expensive. However, in some cases, it is on sports hang gliders that simply inveterate fans of high speeds fly, who spare no time and money for their hobby.
Sports hang gliders are often mastless. Yes, when it comes to the latest sports models. However, it should be borne in mind that a few years ago, both training, and transitional, and sports hang gliders were mast.
Hang gliding flights are not regulated by the rules, the main thing is following the route. It may seem so only at first glance. In fact, in the sky, as well as on earth, there are certain rules of movement. For example, you need to overtake the opponent on the right. Hang gliders following a group do not fly one after another, but are arranged in the form of a fan - this way it is much easier for athletes to observe the dynamics of air flows. And just like motorists, experienced hang-gliders closely follow the actions of beginners in order to step aside in time, making way for an inexperienced pilot.
Hang-gliding flights can be hampered by precipitation, fog, frost, strong wind. According to experienced athletes, frost is not a hindrance to flying (if you have the appropriate equipment), and the fog does not interfere too much. Light rain or snow will also not stop those who want to fly, but heavy precipitation accompanied by gusts of wind is really an insurmountable obstacle. The most favorable weather for flights is considered to be either complete calm or a light wind (moreover, blowing preferably with a constant force in the direction perpendicular to the slope from which hang gliders are going to start, because a strong air flow, for example, from the side or from the rear, can create a lot of problems at the start), coupled with a clear sky, decorated with white cumulus clouds with a dark bottom (one of the indicators of the presence of thermals).
The larger the cloud, the more powerful the thermal flux underneath. No, the presence of thermal currents is indicated only by small cumulus clouds with a dark bottom. If the cloud is too large and casts a very large shadow on the ground ("overdeveloped") - most likely the stream that led to its formation and development has dried up. Therefore, hang glider pilots necessarily devote a lot of time to a careful examination of the surroundings within a radius of 5 km, and try to avoid "overdeveloped" clouds, forests, swampy and shaded soil, water spaces and areas of the sky devoid of clouds, since it is in such places (so-called. athermal zones), most often there are strong downward air currents.
In places where there are no clouds, there are no thermal flows. More often than not, this is true - in the so-called "blue holes" (this is how hang gliders call cloudless areas of the sky), instead of ascending thermal flows, descending ones are formed. However, there are exceptions - if the air is too dry, clouds will not form even with updrafts (called "blue thermals").
Thermals can move due to mechanical stress on them. For example, a rabbit running on the ground or a paraglider flying through the air can "tear off" the thermal flow from the place of its origin. No, according to studies, neither people, nor animals, nor any machines (cars, aircraft), as well as power lines, fences and ditches, have no effect on the displacement of thermal flows.
Hang gliders often fly over tractors that are processing fields, as thermal currents appear during operation of these machines. Tractor activity by itself does not generate thermals. Hang gliders fly over them for a different reason: during operation, the tractor raises dust, the swirls of which serve as a clear guideline for the presence of a thermal in one place or another. This feature is very useful on days when cumulus clouds, signaling the presence of thermal currents, are not formed due to low levels of humidity. However, there are many other factors that the pilot must take into account (for example, if there is a choice between a shaded field on which the tractor is working, and an empty land, well-lit by the sun, experienced hang gliders will opt for the second option, since there is a high probability of finding thermal flow).
Hills are thermal generators, so an experienced pilot prefers to fly over the ridge line. Yes it is. But there are times when you should take a route that goes over the plateau rather than over the ridges (for example, in the evening, when the east-west-oriented ridge cools faster under the influence of wind than the plateau with a more stable temperature regime).
The best trajectory for thermal ascent is the spiral. Of course, however, it should be taken into account that ascent along a too gentle spiral will lead to the fact that the glider will often fall into the leeward part of the thermal and, as a result, slow down the ascent rate. At the same time, a too steep spiral trajectory leads to a loss of the ascent rate, and it is quite difficult to feel the flow during a flight built in this way. In the opinion of professionals, the most effective trajectory is a sufficiently steep spiral, in which the aircraft is able to maintain not too high speed. At the same time, the pilot should be extremely careful in order to sense in time the direction of movement of the constantly moving core of the thermal flow and to correct the direction of flight in time. It is also very useful to make visual observations, for example, of other hang gliders or bird behavior. This will avoid a collision and select the most efficient flight route.
The hang-glider, reaching the maximum height, should pay attention to the forming clouds - invariable companions of good thermals. Yes, a cloud that forms is most often an indication of the location of the thermal flow. However, one should pay attention to these formations even during the ascent in the already found stream - it is rather difficult to see them from a great height.
Fear of flying is experienced only by inexperienced hang gliders. Professional athletes claim that they sometimes had a strong fear after several years of hang gliding, when hundreds of hours of successful flights and many victories in various competitions were already behind. In their opinion, overcoming this sudden attack of horror, the pilot rises to a new level of skill, activates the body's hidden reserves and uses all the skills and abilities accumulated in the process of many years of training.
You can learn to fly a hang glider yourself. This is not worth doing - as a result of any mistake, an inexperienced pilot can be injured, or even lose his life altogether. After all, a hang glider flies at a fairly high speed (from 28 to 130 km / h), therefore, this aircraft should be controlled with maximum speed and accuracy. Yes, and the way of thinking will have to be changed - if in ordinary life it is enough for a person to take into account only 2 dimensions (length and width), then in the sky, assessing his location in space, one must also remember about the third (height), and not just theoretically - the hang glider pilot exists in three dimensions at every moment of flight. The art of hang-gliding should be mastered under the guidance of an experienced instructor, and if the classes are held at least 1-2 times a week, after a few months the beginner will be able to make independent flights at an altitude of about 200 meters.
If there is no money for a new hang glider, you can purchase a used device. Yes, indeed, used hang gliders can be purchased at a much lower price than new models. However, some nuances should be taken into account. Firstly, hang gliders made before 1979 are better not to buy, since flights on them often end in injuries. And it won't be easy to find spare parts for the frame for older models. Therefore, if the frame of the device is bent, it is better to refuse the purchase. Secondly, it is imperative to check the metal parts of the structure for corrosion (the ends of the bushings and rivets with the adjacent areas should be inspected with special care).It should be borne in mind that on different metals, traces of corrosion look different. If on iron it looks like brown or brown spots with an uneven surface, then on aluminum it looks like a white powder adhering to the surface. Corrosion can also lead to refusal to further inspect the glider. Third, take a close look at the skin. If it is made from a material produced in limited quantities, it should be borne in mind that in case of damage it will be rather difficult to find the fabric for the patches. Do not stop your choice on a hang glider, the skin of which is damaged by ultraviolet rays. Defects of this kind can be detected by pressing on the wing with an eraser or just with your finger (of course, such actions should be performed only with the consent of the seller). If the tissue lends itself or is completely pierced, its structure is changed as a result of exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Fourth, pay attention to the stretch cables. Remember that their bends and twists can lead to breakage of the threads, therefore it is advisable to replace the side and lower cables (especially if their twist exceeds 45%) on any used hang glider, even if it was made just a couple of years ago. And finally, it is imperative to test the acquired hang glider by making a test flight on it.
When buying a new hang glider, you should definitely make a test flight on it. This tip is more about used fenders. It is not necessary to test new gliders before purchasing, since manufacturers are obligatory to test and adjust their devices in flight, and only after that they send hang gliders on sale.
Certain illnesses and physical disabilities can interfere with hang gliding. Indeed, heart disease, scoliosis, vision problems and disabilities can be a serious and sometimes insurmountable obstacle to practicing this sport. But there are also exceptions. For example, people with poor eyesight can use lenses - in this case, they have the opportunity to fly, and most importantly - to land correctly (after all, it is good vision that helps the pilot to correctly determine the height at which he is at one time or another, and land without injuries ). In some cases, disability is also not an obstacle for those wishing to fly. Sometimes even people, deprived of both legs, master hang gliding (however, they need outside help to start, and motor gliders equipped with a special seat will be the best choice for them - in this case, a disabled athlete will not have problems with landing). It is quite difficult to master this sport for people of short stature with an asthenic physique. However, even here there is a way out: if a person actively goes in for sports and increases muscle strength, after a while all problems will be left behind.