The Beginner's Guide To Hang Gliding
Although hang gliding looks and feels a little dangerous, it is actually a safe sport that can be enjoyed by even the most confirmed couch potato. You don't have to be a top athlete to enjoy the rush and free sensation of swooping through the air overlooking fantastic scenery. As long as you can make wise and safe decisions while in the air, and are able to calmly respond to any surprises you can certainly enjoy this gravity-defying adventure.
When you first step off the ground, the newbie glider will probably not be able to sail for more than a hundred feet or so. But as he or she gains more experience they will be able to stay in the air for several hours at a time. To keep up their energy for these long trips, along with being able to respond effectively and wisely to wind and speed changes, an accomplished hang glider will usually follow a regimen of light aerobics and strength training to get into and stay in shape before a flight.
But a person of average fitness can learn to enjoy hand gliding quite easily. Here is the general rule of thumb of fitness for hang gliding: If you can balance a fifty pound weight on your shoulders, and you are able to jog, you're probably already ready to take to the skies. Although physically it's possible for anyone to master the sport of hang gliding, those who are very small or very large can have difficulty in learning the ropes due to the availability of the gear.
Beginners enrolled in hang gliding schools normally rent their equipment. But a person who is less than five feet tall, or weighs over 250 pounds may run into difficulty when trying to find a rental company which will have harnesses that will fit them correctly. One of the deterrents of hang gliding for these folks is that they may have to invest in their own set of equipment before they can leave the ground. This can be especially discouraging since a full set of gliding gear can be very expensive.
As you'll probably find out, hang gliding in general is not the least expensive of sports. When a newcomer plans on taking lessons, he will need a budget for about 15-20 lessons before achieving the "Full Novice" rank. This rank is the lowest level that a hang glider should achieve before attempting an unsupervised solo flight. The price at this writing of these lessons is normally around fifteen hundred dollars. While not as expensive as pilot lessons it still can be prohibitive for some people.
Usually most gliders will continue taking training lessons to improve their techniques. By doing this they will be able to achieve higher altitudes, take longer flights and complete more graceful landings. If you add up the cost of taking enough classes to become an accomplished, competent glider even with purchasing a set of used gliding equipment it comes to roughly at least two thousand dollars.
But many hang gliders enthusiasts feel that you just can't put a price on the free feeling of gliding through the air brings them. If you try a lesson, you'll probably feel the same and fall in love with the sport of hang gliding.