Hang gliding is a fun outdoor activity that can really give the feeling of flying. It is an activity that requires a lot of equipment for safety precautions, functionality and to enhance the overall hang gliding experience. Before you take to the air, learn more about various hang gliding equipment in this list below!
Basic hang gliding equipment includes the glider, a harness, and a helmet. Hang gliding pilots will also carry different types of instruments and emergency equipment as well. While hang gliding can be a fun and extraordinary experience, the high altitudes and speeds faced can present a high risk of injury. Having the right equipment will present a safer flight and a better overall hang gliding experience.
The hang glider, also known as the flexible wing, is the main piece of equipment in hang gliding. It consists of different structures that make up the skeleton and structure of the glider.
Aluminum tubes: These are aircraft grade and make up the skeleton of the glider. They provide support for the glider and the pilot as well.
Leading-Edge Tubes: Two of these are needed and are what make up the triangle-type shape of the glider. The tubes are placed on the outside of the glider and help provide support outside the glider.
Keel: While the leading-edge tubes are on the outside and help form the triangular shape, the keel bisects the two tubes and forms the point of the triangle.
Crossbar: The crossbar connects the keel with the leading-edge tubes to provide support for the glider.
Control Bar: Similar to how a steering wheel operates, the small, triangular-shaped tube called the control bar is used to maneuver the glider. The control bar is connected at a right angle beneath the keel and the crossbar.
Sail: The sail is what catches the wind and makes flight possible.
Kingpost: Attached to the keel at the other side of the control bar is the kingpost. The kingpost supports the wires at the top of the glider.
Steel Wires: These are aircraft grade and designed to support the various weights and stresses on the glider. The stainless steel wires are important as they provide a strong support system for the glider. The wires are durable and do not corrode easily. A good set of steel wires on a glider goes a long way.
Nose Wires: Nose wires connect with the nose of the control bar. The nose wires are important to the geometry of the glider. The nose wires create balance for the glider and prevent it from flipping over.
Rear Wires: Located in the back of the glider, the rear wires connect the control bar to the rear of the keel. Even for beginners who have never seen a hang glider before, the rear wires are easy to identify. There are two rear wires connected to the hang glider.
Front Wires: The two front wires on the hang glider connect the control bar with the intersection of the leading-edge tubes and the crossbar. Both the front and rear wires are durable and can last for years at a time before needing to be replaced.
Landing Wires: The landing wires are essential to connecting everything on the glider. They connect the kingpost with the nose of the glider. They also connect to the back of the keel and each leading-edge crossbar intersection.
Plastic Battens: Plastic battens are inserted into the pockets underneath the sail to stiffen certain spots, thus making the glider itself more aerodynamic.
Now that the glider's components has been covered, it is time to discuss the other aspects of hang gliding equipment. This includes safety equipment as well as instruments used on a basic flight. As fun and adventurous as hang gliding can be, it is also a high-risk activity that poses many dangerous threats if not executed correctly. Part of the correct execution to hang gliding is having the proper safety equipment. Read more about the safety equipment essential to hang gliding below.
Goggles: Similar to skiing and skydiving, having goggles when hang gliding protects the eyes from the high speeds, wind and aids in glare reduction. Having goggles on increases visibility by sheltering the eyes from the elements faced. It also helps not to be looking directly into the sun when hang gliding, so having goggles with glare reduction similar to ski goggles or sunglasses is a good idea.
Harness: The harness is a very important piece of equipment for hang gliding's safety and functionality. The harness is attached to the center-of-mass of the glider, which is just behind the control bar. The harness fastens the pilot to the glider while also allowing the pilot to move freely. There are many different types and styles of harnesses. Some are even insulated for hang gliders of high altitudes.
Helmet: The main function of the helmet is to protect the head of the pilot. There are two main types of helmets, open face and full face. Full face helmets offer more protection than open face helmets while also doubling as eye protection. All hang gliders must wear a certified helmet and three main bodies certify hang gliding and paragliding helmets: The European Committee for Standardization, The American Society for Testing Materials and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Reserve Parachute: A reserve parachute is very important when hang gliding as it offers protection just in case anything goes wrong. Reserve parachutes are especially necessary for high altitude flights and are an excellent way to reduce risk when hang gliding. Reserve parachutes should be lightweight, easy to pack, fast-opening, low volume and provide stable descent for the glider. The reserve parachute can be connected to the harness of the hang glider.
In a basic flight, it helps to know characteristics such as speed, temperature and altitude. Some instruments can be used to measure these different characteristics of hang gliding flight. Read below to learn more about the instruments that pilots use when hang gliding.
Altimeter: An altimeter is used to keep track of the glider's altitude. It is important to know altitude so that the pilot knows whether they are too high or too low and need to ascend or descend. There are two main types of altimeters, the pressure altimeter, which measures atmospheric pressure to determine altitude, and the radio altimeter which measures absolute altitude based on the amount of time it takes for a radio wave signal to reflect off of the ground or water and back.
Anemometer: Measures wind speed and direction. This is helpful to those who are either beginners in hang gliding or those who are not comfortable with tracking wind direction. Sailors are often skilled at interpreting which direction the wind is blowing, but an anemometer is a useful tool for those who do not.
Variometer: As it is very difficult for a pilot to determine whether they are ascending or descending once they are high up in the air, the variometer measures air pressure to let the pilot know which direction they are going. There are many different types of variometers but they all operate under the same principle. Variometers work by recording the air pressure, waiting a short period of time and then recording the air pressure again in a repetitive fashion.