Personal Journals about Hang Gliding

Rick Masters: Superiority of Hang Gliders

Postby Rick Masters » Mon Jul 14, 2014 2:18 pm

This blog is about why paragliding is vastly inferior to hang gliding. It offers reasons to choose hang gliding as a safer, a more sensible, a more responsible and a more exhilarating sport. I plan to occasionally post examples from my upcoming reference work on free flight. I invite civil discussion of these examples.
Last edited by Rick Masters on Mon Jul 14, 2014 2:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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A new unofficial free flight altitude gain record?

Postby Rick Masters » Mon Jul 14, 2014 2:20 pm

Verified PG fatality #1243
Paul Antoniassi, 66, of Veneto
July 10, 2014
Monte Bernadia to Platischis, Tarcento, ITALY
Retired Italian Air Force brigadier general (1975-2007) and experienced soaring parachutist Paul Antoniassi launched from Mt. Bernadia just as "a huge storm" was approaching. Four other paragliders were able to land but Antoniassi, although only in the air for 35 minutes, was sucked up into the cloud at 25 m/s and carried to 9300 meters - higher than Mt. Everest - as recorded by his flight instruments where, starved for oxygen, he froze to death in -40° C temperatures. Some local residents claimed to have seen the paraglider fall out of the cloud and crash in a forest near Platischis. Others thought they had heard screams. A search party of twenty men searched into the night. Fifty men and a helicopter set out early the next day, finding Antoniassi 's body suspended in thick foliage near the Slovenian border, over 10 kilometers from takeoff. He had died high within the cloud of frostbite and lack of oxygen. Antoniassi had commanded forces in Kosovo, Macedonia, and Afghanistan.
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Re: Rick Masters: Superiority of Hang Gliders

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Wed Jul 23, 2014 11:10 am

Thanks for your continued publication of paragliding accidents. I hope you'll continue your long tradition of publishing these so we can learn from them.

As a paragliding pilot myself, I appreciate the warning that these accidents give us regarding the limitations of paragliders.
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Re: Rick Masters: Superiority of Hang Gliders

Postby Rick Masters » Fri Jul 25, 2014 5:52 pm

I stopped posting PG fatalities at around 900 in 2012. The current figure of 1243 PG fatalities includes a lot I have found prior to 2012. It was worse than I thought. But there is nothing new to learn. Hang glider pilots hit turbulence and yell "Yahoo!" Paragliders sometimes collapse. PG people simply fall helplessly out of the sky and die, often in horrible, slow agony unseen since the Inquisition.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breaking_wheel
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Re: Rick Masters: Superiority of Hang Gliders

Postby Rick Masters » Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:07 am

Image
One very important aspect of the superiority of hang gliders is survivability in accidents. In a hang gliding crash, the pilot is somewhat protected by the airframe. In a crash into a tree, much of the force of impact is transferred to the airframe. And significantly, hang gliders do not allow sustained vertical dives. This is not the case following a paragliding collapse, where the entire impact force is frequently absorbed only by unprotected flesh and bones. Free-flight participants think that hang gliders fly fast and paragliders fly slow. But in crashes, often the reverse is true. When a paraglider collapses, the unfortunate operator who thought he was flying slow enters freefall at 32.2 feet per second squared (minus atmospheric drag). After one second, he is falling at 22 mph. After two seconds, he is falling at 44 mph - close to the maximum speed a professional baseball player can swing a bat. After three seconds, he attains 66 mph - about the top speed of a conventional hang glider in a dive. After four seconds, he is falling at nearly 90 mph, having traveled just over 250 vertical feet. I do not recall a hang gliding accident where the pilot suffered a compound fracture (broken end of a bone protruding through the skin) and bled to death while hanging from a tree. However, I have run across many similar reports of paraglider pilots dying in this horrible fashion. The most recent was last Tuesday in Brazil. (What kind of "sport" would revive this? http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_APoI4IkOJeg/S ... -wheel.jpg )
Last edited by Rick Masters on Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rick Masters: Superiority of Hang Gliders

Postby Rick Masters » Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:43 am

Rich Landers, Outdoors Blog, Spokesman-Review, July 18, 2014:
Members of the close-knit paragliding community are mourning the loss of David Norwood, one of their highly regarded flyers, who crashed to his death at Chelan Butte on Wednesday. Like all tragedies, the incident is causing some flyers to step back and re-evaluate.
I just received the following commentary from Rick Masters of Owens Valley, California, who suggests that frank discussions are hindered on chat rooms because paragliding sites often are controlled by people in the industry who don't want too much frank talk. Masters contends that when choosing to fly paragliders or hang-gliders, one is a safer choice in iffy weather because of the frame that helps prevent canopy collapse.
Says Masters: David Norwood was the 1244th soaring parachutist to die since the first paragliding fatality in the Alps in 1987 by my incomplete verified tally. Paragliding Forum does not allow me to post on the site. If you notice the second post by pecoflea, he has received eight negative “karmas” from forum members for questioning the death rate and problematic design of paragliders. When he accumulates enough negative karmas, he will not be allowed to post. This keeps newbies from too much negative exposure so they keep buying paragliders. Many forum members are paragliding equipment dealers.
Says Masters: If I could respond to pecoflea, it would be like this:
"This is getting crazy."
NO. IT'S BEEN LIKE THIS SINCE THE BEGINNING.
"Another highly experienced pilot is killed in our sport."
LIKE PAUL ANTONIASSI IN ITALY ON JULY 10? LIKE JUDD FELDMAN IN PEMBERTON ON JULY 8? LIKE THE 2 SOARING PARACHUTISTS IN THE FRENCH ALPS ON JULY 3 AND 5?
"My thoughts again are why did this happen?"
PARACHUTES COLLAPSE IN TURBULENCE.
"How do we avoid this from happening to us?"
USE AN AIRFRAME TO KEEP THE SAIL FROM DEFORMING.
"I've been flying hang gliders since 1974 and paragliders since 2010. In hang gliding I remember many very scary days, but I never worried that my wing would fall apart. In paragliding, I remember these scary days and just don't even bother to fly on strong days 'period.' Yes, I have definitely become the chicken in my flying group. Is there no way to make our PG wings more collapse resistant?"
NO.
"How about one way valves like what is in our airbags incorporated into our cells to help resist complete blowouts?"
NOPE.
"Probably a dumb idea , but surely we can find a way to cut the collapses down that seems to be inherent in this sport?"
SORRY. IF IT WERE POSSIBLE, SURELY IT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED BY NOW.
"Well, probably a better place to post this , but I find this news very distressing and think that manufacturers need to forget about the bottom line for a while and focus all energies into creating a safer wing 'Period'."
PARAGLIDERS COLLAPSE AND KILL THEIR PILOTS. YET YOU CHOOSE THEM OVER HANG GLIDERS. THAT'S THE PROBLEM.
http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/outdoors ... -fatality/
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Re: Rick Masters: Superiority of Hang Gliders

Postby Rick Masters » Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:46 am

Rich Landers, Outdoors Blog, Spokesman-Review, July 19, 2014:
I've received a sharp response to my previous post regarding paragliding safety prompted by the death of David Norwood, a highly-regarded flyer who crashed to his death at Chelan Butte on Wednesday. Like all tragedies, the incident is causing some flyers to step back and re-evaluate. The discussion can only be healthy. But my previous post, in which I simply printed the personal perspective of Rick Masters of Owens Valley, California, was not well received by some paragliders.
Masters contends that when choosing to fly paragliders or hang-gliders, one is a safer choice in iffy weather because of the frame that helps prevent canopy collapse. Masters suggests that frank discussions are hindered on chat rooms because paragliding sites often are controlled by people in the industry who don't want too much frank talk. But James Bradley of New York, the U.S. moderator on the worldwide online forum paraglidingforum.com, sharply disagrees. Here's his message:
"Your acceptance of Rick Masters as an authority on paragliding, apparently without taking the time to learn anything about him, or talk to any people who are actually involved with the sport—we are all concerned about safety—is pretty disappointing.
"I am one of a handful of US pilots who race on the Paragliding World Cup circuit. I am also the only US moderator on the worldwide online forum paraglidingforum.com (a volunteer position). Rick Masters was allowed to join there and post like anyone else. We learned that he is on an enduring anti-paragliding crusade. Like a religious zealot, he is not interested in facts or discussion unless they support his rigidly defined position. He behaved badly for some time on the forum and then we banned him, as we have a handful of other people over time.
Masters' disregard for facts is evident in his facile characterization of Paragliding Forum as populated mainly by people with a commercial interest in the sport. There are some of those of course but we have 30,000 registered members worldwide and an untold number who read without registering. The vast majority are simply enthusiasts in the sport.
"All light aircraft are dangerous. The accident and fatality statistics for hang gliding and paragliding over time are about the same. The most common accident types are different. Accidents come in clumps in all sports, probability predicts that. We are sadly in a clump of paragliding accidents in North America at the moment, much more than average. The last couple of years have been the other way, lighter than the average."
http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/outdoors ... riticized/
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Re: Rick Masters: Superiority of Hang Gliders

Postby Bill Cummings » Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:19 am

Rich Landers, Outdoors Blog, Spokesman-Review, July 19, 2014:
Rich's alleged Quote of James Bradley of New York, the U.S. moderator on the worldwide online forum paraglidingforum.com
states:
QUOTE: James "---- The accident and fatality statistics for hang gliding and paragliding over time are about the same.---"

QUESTION: HOW CAN THAT QUOTE BE FACT CHECKED?
What is the comparison per/1,000 or per/100,000 of deaths differentiating PG and HG?
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Re: Rick Masters: Superiority of Hang Gliders

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Fri Aug 01, 2014 11:02 am

I have to agree with the comments about paraglidingforum.com and their intolerance for getting at the facts.

I began a discussion about a paragliding death at Torrey and started discussing the poor training at that site which may have been a contributing factor:

    http://www.paraglidingforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=47773

The moderator split the discussion without my consent (which was fine), but when I continued to discuss the other problems at Torrey - in the new topic he created for that purpose - the topic was locked and I was banned. Here's the link to that second topic:

    http://www.paraglidingforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=48216

The evidence is pretty strong that the paragliding community at that site cannot tolerate objective discussions. If you read my posts, you'll see that I was simply pressing Steve Rohrbaugh for the facts, and he didn't want to provide them. So they shut down the discussion and banned me.
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Re: Rick Masters: Superiority of Hang Gliders

Postby Rick Masters » Fri Aug 01, 2014 12:49 pm

they shut down the discussion and banned me.


You. Me. Paragliding pioneer (!) Joe Faust. When they get tired of you "behaving badly," they shut you up.

QUOTE: James "---- The accident and fatality statistics for hang gliding and paragliding over time are about the same.---"
QUESTION: HOW CAN THAT QUOTE BE FACT CHECKED?


I have determined there have been at the very least 783 hang gliding fatalities since 1972 vs. 1247 paragliding fatalities since 1986. The numbers on both sides are probably a lot higher -- these are only my verified free-flight numbers. But in 1986, when the first paraglider pilot was killed in the Alps, there had already been at least 547 hang gliding deaths. This means there have been at least 246 hang glider pilots vs. 1247 paragliders killed since paragliders have been in existence. Note that this is a list, not a statistic. So far, in my experience, neither hang glider pilots nor paraglider pilots seem to know either the difference between statistics and a list, or seem to be aware that a list must first be compiled to develop a statistic.
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