What's all this about?

The club was formed in February 1975 by a number of pilots who had been flying the Tinto area since February 1974.

For those who dream of soaring like a bird, hang gliding and paragliding are the cheapest and simplest ways to get into the air.  Both aircraft are foot launched and highly maneuverable to allow the pilots to make the most of the natural rising currents of air which are their only source of lift.  No noise or pollution is involved - these are truly environmentally friendly sports, entirely powered by the sun and the wind.  Expert pilots who know how to exploit these natural phenomena can travel incredible distances.   Current Scottish XC (cross country) record is over 200 km!

What is a paraglider?
A paraglider is a fabric canopy, like a parachute, but designed to fly off hills rather than open up in free fall.  Being designed for soaring flight, it has much better gliding performance than any parachute.

What is a hang glider?

A hang glider is a semi-rigid wing - fabric sail with an airframe made of aluminium tubes and steel cables.

What is better, a paraglider or a hanglider?

It's about the same as skiing and snowboarding - two fairly similar sports sharing a slope.  Paragliders offer quicker initial training, are easier to carry and quicker to get ready to fly.  Hangliders are bulkier and take longer to rig, require more initial training but offer higher speed and better glide.

There are people doing both hangliding and paragliding - they choose the gear depending on weather and flying site - paraglider kit for very light days or for a long carry-up, hanglider for windier or rough days, or when it's easy to drive to take-off and landing.

Looking at another angle, on average paraglider pilots tend to be younger than hanglider pilots, and female percentage is higher in paragliding than in hangliding.

Is it dangerous?

There is some risk, as in any other kind of aviation.  However the old days are over, now it's not nearly as dangerous as in pioneer years.  Hang gliders and paragliders are tested for stability and strength, and certified.  Statistically hangliding and paragliding are about as risky as riding motobikes or skiing, but those risks are less random - a pilot usually knows when he's about to take a risk, and usually has an option to avoid it.

Where is the engine?

It's like skiing, there's no engine.  Gliders (hangliders, paragliders and sailplanes) may need initial boost to get off the ground (most often we use hills for that), and then fly on the natural energy of moving air - wind and sun provide enough to fly for hours and cover more than 100km.  Using this energy requires some intelligence though, and that's what one learns after initial training.  There are foot-launched powered machines - paramotors and motorized hangliders and we have a few pilots in our club who fly them as well as free-flight gliders.

Do you jump off mountains?

Not quite, hanglider and paraglider pilots perform controlled take-off, the wing starts to fly and create lift while pilot's feet are on the ground.

There are other ways to get off the ground - towing by a winch or by a microlight aircraft, or dropping from a hot air balloon.  Still, launching from a hill is the most popular and the other ways are used where there are no hills.

Don't your hands get tired of hanging on, how long can you last?

Pilots don't hang on with their hands, they sit or lie, strapped in a harness which is connected to the wing.  Hands are used for control, as relaxed as when you drive.  And you can let go for a while when there's no traffic around! So we usually fly fairly relaxed, and flying for more than 2 hours is a norm, sometimes a flight can last for 5 hours!

How do you control these gliders?

A paraglider is controlled with the brakes.  You pull the left handle - left hand side of the canopy slows down, and the glider turns left.  Pull the right one - it turns right.  Pull them both - it slows down.  Still, if you don't get proper initial training because you think it's THAT SIMPLE, give it a go and unknowingly do it wrong - you may need a surgeon service or worse.  A paraglider is an aircraft, after all, and deserves respect.

A hanglider is controlled by shifting pilots body, this is called weight shift control.  You move youself to the right in the control frame - it turns right.  Move yourself to the left - it turns left.  Move yourself forwards - it flies faster.  Backwards - it slows down.  Proper initial training is even more essential than with paragliders.

What's that beeping you make in flight and on the hill?

Hanglider and paraglider pilots use instruments called "vario" which is a short form of variometer.  These tell you how fast you're going up or down.  And just in case you're not looking at the screen, they beep when you go up, and burrr when you go down faster than normal.  Most of instruments also tell you how high you are.

Can I learn to fly in your club?

Unfortunately, no.  There are hangliding and paragliding schools for the initial training.  They teach the basics in a very safe environment, and issue Club Pilot rating.  Initial training takes approximately 10 flying days.  The more intensively one attends, the less he/she forgets between the lessons, and requires fewer days in total.  As you master takeoffs, landings, turns and basic soaring - you get your CP (Club Pilot) rating and then join a club.

Every club has a few active experienced pilots called Coaches (see our Coaches page) who are happy to advice novice pilots, wouldn't mind coming out to fly with you, and sometimes give lectures on club nights in winter.  Being a glider pilot is not a destination, it's a path! One never stops learning to be safer and better pilot.

How expensive is it?

Fairly expensive to start, much easier after.  Some rough figures:

School day
90 quid.  

Whole courses cost approximately £500 for EP (elementary pilot, first stage of training) and similar amount for CP (club pilot, the second stage of training).  Some clubs offer deals when you sign up for both stages.   Typically you need 7 days at least if you do very well, usually more than 10.  If you're paying per-day and struggle on financial side but have plenty time, here is a cheat for you: good instructors don't mind if you come along when they teach other students, even if you don't pay.  Hang about, listen, help if needed and you get almost as much knowledge as paying students, and may get a free ride or two for your help.

£1500+ decent second hand kit, or £3000+ all brand new.  That's your wing, harness, instruments and helmet.  Buy it after most of (if not all) initial training in school.

BHPA membership
~£100 a year, includes 3rd party insurance

Club membership
£10 - £40 a year

New toys
Typically from £100 to as much as you can spend - just like with any hobby!  Instruments last you until you break it or lose it.

New glider
£2000 - £4000 and lasts a few years.  New paragliders cost a little less than new hangliders, and live 3-5 years, depends on flying hours and UV(sun) exposure.

Glider checks 
These have to be carried out once every 1 or 2 years - it is specified by the manufacturer.  Usually it costs under £100 including courier for posting your kit to and from the service.

New harness
From £400 to up to a £1000, lasts up to 10 years.  A harness for the first years of your career is likely to be the cheaper one - the most expensive models are typically for serious XC and competition pilots.

It is worth remembering that there is a lot of decent second hand gear available and at the start of your flying career you won't need the most expensive instruments or harness. 

Can I see how you guys fly before I decide to commit my time and money to training?

Of course! Check the message board, club members often discuss where to go for flying.  Get a mobile number for some active pilot if you can, you'll be informed on the day or the day before.  Hanglider and paraglider pilots usually treat anyone who is interested in flying as a friend.

Can I have a ride on a two-seat glider with a qualified pilot?

Yes, there are two seat (tandem) hangliders and paragliders, and some pilots in our club have those and are qualified to fly with a passenger.  Enquire at the message board or ask some club member you have contacts for.  Be prepared to go on a flyable day rather than when you wish!

Alternatively, try a hangliding or paragliding school, many of them do tandem rides commercially as a "lesson" and will normally charge something between £50 and £100.

Your flight will likely be soaring, i.e. a pilot can stay in the air as long as you wish or till he's late for dinner.  Sometimes first-timers will have had enough adrenaline after an hour of flying.

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