Hang Gliding 101

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Hang gliding above the mountains of North Carolina is about as close as you can get to being a bird. It might surprise you to learn that getting into hang gliding is relatively easy. If you've ever wanted to give this sport a try, here's what you need to know.

How Does Hang Gliding Work?

Hang gliding works by launching off an incline, then capturing the air with the glider's wings. An experienced hang glider can coast at altitudes over 17,000 feet and for distances of up to 300 miles. Weather and wind condition affect how far you can coast.

Hang gliders, who are referred to as pilots, move their bodies back and forth or side to side on the hang strap attached to the glider to change their direction and their speed.

When the wind stops, your hang glider will gradually lose speed. You'll enjoy a controlled descent, though whether the landing is clean is up to you!

Where to Start Hang Gliding

Hang gliding schools teach you everything you need to know to start hang gliding. Currently, you can learn to hang glide in Lenoir and Nags Head, NC.

Typically, you'll take a series of classes to learn the basics. In a novice class, roughly one week long, you'll learn how to use the hang glider and take off from a short hill. Your first solo flights will be 5-10 feet in altitude.

After you graduate the novice class, you'll have a Hang 2 rating. Most launch sites require a Hang 3 or intermediate rating to launch independently. If you're aching to get out there on your own, you'll need more advanced instruction.

While used equipment cuts the cost of getting started in the sport, you'll enjoy peace of mind that your equipment is safe if you buy new.

Hang Gliding Safety

Hang gliders are as safe as their pilot. By taking classes, you'll learn from certified instructions and get the basic training you'll need to be safe while gliding. Of course, if you make a judgment error while in the air, you could crash and get hurt.

Hang gliders are certified for safety by the Hang Glider Manufacturers Association. When you purchase a new hang glider, you'll know it's safe. Regular inspections of your equipment will help you reduce risks.

To stay safe in the air, take along a radio, rescue laser, and pair of sunglasses. A rescue laser help you signal for help in the event of an emergency. A radio lets you communicate your position with people on the ground, as well as with other hang gliders. Since in-air collisions have increased, this is a must. Sunglasses reduce the sun's glare and help you see clearly so you can avoid obstacles.

As you grow more experience and comfortable with the spot, you can take longer flights. Even when you're no longer a newbie, take along your emergency kit including your rescue laser to increase the odds of getting rescued in an emergency.

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