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Launching - Things that can go wrong.

Postby Bill Cummings » Fri Sep 20, 2013 9:23 am

Launching - Things that can go wrong.
People that want to learn to hang glide can check out instructors that are current with the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA) by going online to: http://www.ushpa.aero

You may also watch informative hang gliding introductory information, on Youtube, narrated by long time pilot and instructor, Paul Voight at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VW8qZESnFvQ
(Pre Flight Safety for Hang Gliding - Revision)

The purpose of the post that you are now reading is to inform a new pilot to be mindful that there are different teaching styles but all with the intent to turn out a safe pilot as they progress through the different levels of the proficiency rating system.

I was witness to a conflict of teaching styles that had a new pilot looking quite nervous and confused for this pilots first cliff launch down a concrete ramp.

The local, experienced, nose wireman was doing what our club usually does. When the left wing tip started to rise the nose man would move the nose to the pilots left toward the high wing so that the wing tip would stop rising and level out. This will keep pilots from wearing themselves out trying to force the unbalanced wing level while waiting for the wind to come in straight.
The instructor on the right wing wire would see the right wing moving forward and pull it back. The instructor was waiting for the wind to come straight in.
The instructor was pulling the nose right while the nose man was pulling the nose left. The student pilot was understandably just about to freak out.
Seeing that there were too many cooks in the kitchen already I was reluctant pipe up and add my two cents worth.
There was not a meeting of the minds between the on site, experienced, nose wireman and the right side wireman (the instructor) and for sure the student pilot.

Either way would work but not at the same time.
The nose wireman’s action of pulling the nose in the direction of the rising wingtip would help the pilot in his effort to level the wing. It would also allow the student to feel how his hang glider was responding to slight wind direction variances.
Waiting on the ramp for the wind to be perfectly straight in then picking up the glider and finding out that it is level doesn’t make for a good ground handling lesson like you learned on the training hill.

A good ground handling lesson is to stand on the flat, or a training hill, with 5-10 mph wind.
With someone ready to grab the nose wires, the pilot should move the nose of the glider left and right to keep it balanced and level. Do this until you are able to also have a conversation with your nose wireman and making adjustments automatically without thinking about it. When the wind comes straight in the glider will be balanced and level and that is the moment that you can say to yourself, “There!” “That would have been a good time to launch!” (Assuming all other considerations are okay.) Just like you learned on the training hill.

A side wireman can be of great disservice to a pilot if the wireman is holding the glider level making the pilot think the wind direction is good to launch into when it is not.

A side wireman’s job to keep the wing level is when the glider is being moved to the launching spot on the ramp. Then the side wireman should be ready to grab when needed but trying his very best to keep his hands free of the side wires. This is the only way a pilot can know when the wind is right for launching while looking straight ahead.
In the link below notice that the right wing wireman is holding the right wire and the amount of deflection in the wire. This right wing is experiencing more lift than the left wing. When the pilot commits to launching the flight path that he took was already indicated at the right hand of the launch assistant.
Never mind that it may also have been too windy and too gusty.
Bill Cummings
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