Hang Gliding Informational Video
United States Hang Gliding Rating Program
Why Fly with Bay Area Hang Gliding in Northern California?
- Foot Launch
We specialize in teaching foot launch techniques that you'll need at all the beautiful mountain and coastal sites that you'll be flying. We are also certified by USHPA to teach and sign off aerotow ratings. We prefer teaching these skills to more experienced pilots because towing is more complicated, and we also want your foundation to be with strong foot launching skills.† † † †
- Personal Attention
With three lesson instructors - two of them full time, and two tandem instructors, we're the right size school to make sure you get flying safely, and as quickly as possible. We can also accomodate large groups with advance notice.† † † †
- Video Lessons
Watching what we do is fun... and educational. We record some of your lessons and a lot is learned by the student and the instructor by seeing your flights up close. Included in lesson packages at no extra cost!† † † †
- Advancing as a Pilot
We're not only instructors, we're pilots! After you reach novice rating you'll really start spreading your wings by flying with us at different sites. We schedule trips often that introduce you to new mountain and coastal sites allowing you to get airtime and experience for your intermediate and advanced ratings. There's no charge for these adventures when you learn to fly with us!† † † †
- Experience = Safety
Our instructors teach more and fly more. We're local and have been for decades. We can help you get to know the hang gliding sites and community like no others can.† † † †
- Hang Glider Shop
With our convenient location in Fremont we're able to offer you the best service, and we have a large supply of parts and accessories in stock. To really make sure you can get what you need when you need it, we're usually able to meet you at the local flying sites. 4432 Enterprise St. Unit H Fremont, CA 94538 (707)373-0964
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is a hillside lesson, what is a tandem flight?
Hillside hang gliding lessons are where you learn the skills necessary to fly a hang glider by doing it yourself, starting by ground skimming and learning your way up to the top of the mountain. A tandem hang gliding flight is when you accompany an experienced pilot at higher altitudes and he does all or most of the controlling during the flight. All equipment is provided and included for both.
- What is hang gliding, what is a hang glider?
Hang gliding is one of the simplest forms of human flight. A hang glider is a non-motorized, foot-launched wing. A hang glider has a frame maintaining the shape of the wing, with the pilot usually flying in a prone position. The hang glider wing is constructed of rip-stop nylon or mylar over an aluminum or carbon frame. Hang gliders are controlled by shifting the pilot's weight with respect to the glider. Pilots are suspended from a strap connected to the glider's frame (hence the name "hang" glider). By moving forward and backward and side to side at the end of this strap, the pilot alters the center of gravity of the glider. This then causes the glider to pitch or roll in the direction of the pilot's motion and thus allows both speed control and turning. With a hang glider, you can fly like a bird, soaring upwards on currents of air. Hang gliders routinely stay aloft for 2 hours or more, can climb to elevations of over 20,000', and go cross-country for hundreds of miles.
- Is hang gliding the same as parasailing or skydiving?
No, it is not the same as parasailing. Parasailing is what you do at a beach. You are in a modified parachute tied to a boat. You get dragged around the harbor by the boat. You do not "pilot" a parasail.No, it is not the same as skydiving. Parachutes are designed to be deployed during free-fall from an airplane and to then descend to the ground. By contrast, the hang glider is designed to be foot-launched from a gentle hillside. Hang gliders are much more aerodynamic and are designed to be able to go up rather than always down.
- How is hang gliding different from paragliding?
A Hang glider has a rigid frame maintaining the shape of the wing, with the pilot usually flying in a prone position. The paraglider canopy shape is maintained by air pressure and the pilot is suspended in a sitting or supine position. The hang glider has a "cleaner" aerodynamic profile and is capable of flying at much higher speeds, in higher winds, and longer distances than a paraglider.The paraglider folds up into a backpack so is transported easier. The hang glider, due to its rigid frame, is usually transported on a vehicle with a roof rack and requires about 20 minutes to set up and again to take down.
- What can you do with a hang glider?
Hang gliders are designed to soar. The duration record is over 24 hours and the distance record is over 470 miles. In training you will start out just skimming the ground, but as you progress and become more skilled and confident you're able to go higher and use the wing for its designed purpose -- soaring! Average recreational pilots, utilizing thermal and ridge lift, routinely stay aloft for hours, soar to altitudes of over 10,000' and can fly cross-country for extra adventure.
- Is hang gliding safe?
You can make hang gliding, like most adventure sports, as safe or dangerous as you want. Ways you can make it safe are to receive instruction from a certified professional and use safe equipment -- professional schools will create as controlled a learning environment as possible. Hang gliding is an outdoor sport and Mother Nature is unpredictable -- weather is always a big consideration. The primary safety factors are personal judgment and attitude. You must be willing to learn gradually and use good judgment and have an appropriate attitude. If you donít, then you can get injured or killed; if you do, then you can hang glide until youíre 90.
- Is hang gliding scary?
Hang gliding is an exciting way to fulfill your dream of free flight! You jog down a slope and glide away from the mountain. You do not free-fall or jump off of a cliff. Your launches and landings are deliberate and, once in the air, you will probably be surprised by how peaceful the experience is. Even if you have a fear of heights, it will rarely be a factor, since there is no sensation of falling. Your solo lesson will require more effort (physical and mental) than your tandem lesson, but it lays the basic groundwork necessary to becoming your own pilot. If you would like to watch the sunset from the air, supported by the buoyant evening air, with perhaps an eagle or hawk joining you off your wing tip, then hang gliding is for you.
- Who can do hang gliding?
Almost anyone can fly a hang glider. If you can jog while balancing a 50 lb. weight on your shoulders you can learn to fly. While flying does not require great strength (since the straps not the pilot's arms - hold the pilot up) long duration flights in turbulent conditions require a moderate degree of upper body endurance. This typically develops as the pilot progresses through training to these longer flights. Since flying depends more on balance and endurance than on brute strength, woman and men make equally good pilots. While the fraction varies regionally, about 10 - 15 % of the hang glider pilots in the US are women. More important than physical conditioning, is being physically and mentally alert and prepared. To be a successful hang gliding student and pilot, you need to be able to think clearly and to pay attention.
- How much does a hang glider cost? How long does a hang glider last?
A brand new hang glider, harness, helmet, and reserve will cost somewhere between $5,000 - $6,000. After 8 - 10 years of fairly active usage and exposure to UV light from the sun, a hang glider is generally in need of replacement. This of course varies with how you care for your wing. Itís easy to test your sailcloth for strength and thus determine your need to replace your hang glider long before it becomes unsafe. Harnesses and parachute reserves should last indefinitely with good care. Most pilots who get into the sport also purchase a two-way radio and a variometer (which tells you if you are going up or down and how fast.) Good used equipment is sometimes available for about half as much, though it will have a shorter life-span. In addition, because the sport is evolving, newer hang gliders can have significantly better performance and behavior than older ones.
- What do you need to know when purchasing your first hang glider?
First, you need to know how to fly. No would-be pilot should purchase a wing before learning at least the basics of hang gliding. It is your instructorís job to help you select your first wing. Different hang gliders have different characteristics and require different skill levels; your instructor will match the glider to your particular interests, strengths, weaknesses, and skill level. Develop a solid relationship with an instructor you trust before purchasing equipment. "Good deals" generally end up costing the naive new pilot a great deal of money. Most instructors rely on referrals and repeat business so they are very determined to help you make the right decisions. When purchasing equipment, a responsible dealer will always require some proof of certified rating.
- How do you get started?
The best way to start is with a hillside lesson, this teaches you the basics and gives you a taste of flying. You will fly solo from the training hill and progress to higher flights. The basic techniques of hang gliding -- launching, turning, landing -- are fairly easy to learn. If after your introductory flights, you want to continue with hang gliding, the next step is to enroll in a Novice Certification Course which will teach you different launch and flying techniques, safety procedures, etc. It is best to complete the Novice Course in a concentrated period of time. A Tandem Discovery Flight can help you to learn more and to experience higher altitudes faster than if you just learn solo.
- Do you need a license to fly?
Hang gliders are regulated under the Federal Aviation Regulations Section 103 and therefore a license is not required to hang glide. So, in essence, hang gliding is a self-regulated sport under the auspices of the United States Hang Gliding Association (USHGA). To keep it self-regulated, pilots and instructors alike adhere to the policies and guidelines of the USHGA. This program consists of a specific set of flying skills corresponding to a series of pilot proficiency ratings (Beginner through Master) each of which carries a set of recommended operating limitations. Local flying regulations may require the pilot to have certain USHGA certified ratings in order to fly a particular site.
Typically, a student will spend 5 - 10 lessons to obtain each of the first two USHGA pilot ratings (Beginner and Novice) - a process which generally takes from 3 to 6 months. At the end of this primary training process, the student is usually flying from moderate altitudes (several hundred to a few thousand ft.) in relative mild conditions. Progression to more difficult flying conditions continues from then on under the guidance of more experienced pilots or Observers/Advanced Instructors.
When selecting a school for hang gliding instruction, first make sure that the instructors are certified by the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA). Things to look for include: What USHPA ratings do the instructors have, how much do they teach and fly themselves? How many different instructors will you have lessons with, what is the student to instructor ratio? Are the flights radio supervised? Will the training proceed gradually up progressively higher hills? What is the safety record of the school and of the instructors? How many students has the school taught, how many of its students receive certification each year? How will they help you advance as a pilot once your training is complete? Does the school operate full-time to fit your schedule? You may call the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association at 719-632-8300 for the names of instructors you may want to interview. You may also visit their web site at www.ushpa.org.