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#402695
The other day, during my 16th hour in a hang glider, I was parked over
the landing chute. From my high vantage point I observed yet another
wafty wiggly slow landing. Soon after in the chute, the slow leading
edge of a topless clipped a tree and pounded in, after which an
air-ambulance arrived. The take-offs I've seen by experienced pilots
have similarly been slow and haphazard. I've now been sick for days.

It's almost like I'm 10 years old. It's been explained that fresh air
is good and cigarette smoke is bad. Pretty obvious. Then I go to high
school and just about everyone is chain smoking and having asthma
attacks. Did I miss something?

My observations of the tandems contrast markedly. They launch like they
mean it and land at speed. As a passenger I really noticed just how
serious the pilots became before launch and before landing. Their
technique is what I aim to emulate.

I'm really scratching my head here. What's going on? What have other
pilots seen? Is it the case that advanced pilots are terrible at
take-off and landing? Moreover, with a couple of hundred more hours of
experience will I too become as needlessly risky?
#402700
People get complacent. Don't be one of those people. Treat every launch and landing like your life depends on it. Always strive for the best launch and landing you can. Get feedback regularly. Use a camera and review your launches and landings. Don't settle for "good enough".

I've seen far too many pilots (new and experienced), launch nose high and too slow. I've soon far too many come in to land close to stall speed from 200' all the way to flare. The problem is that more often than not, these pilots get away with it so they think they are doing it correctly. And many of these pilots aren't too keen on being given any constructive feedback.

You only become one of these pilots if you choose to. Don't choose to. Talk with your flying buddies. Tell them right now, "if you ever see me launch nose high, tell me. If you ever see me mush in a landing, tell me". And then fix it.

Emulate the good pilots. Strive to be the example everyone points to and says "launch like him, land like him".
#402701
FogWatch wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 6:29 pm
The other day, during my 16th hour in a hang glider, I was parked over the landing chute. From my high vantage point I observed yet another wafty wiggly slow landing. Soon after in the chute, the slow leading edge of a topless clipped a tree and pounded in, after which an air-ambulance arrived. The take-offs I've seen by experienced pilots have similarly been slow and haphazard. I've now been sick for days.
My observations of the tandems contrast markedly. They launch like they mean it and land at speed.
I'm really scratching my head here. What's going on? What have other pilots seen? Is it the case that advanced pilots are terrible at take-off and landing? Moreover, with a couple of hundred more hours of experience will I too become as needlessly risky?
FogWatch,

Some people make poor choices. Complacency is the real and serious enemy, as you gain experience. Good focus is the key, for safe flight.

Launching or landing, two thumbs up on the downtubes will limit your ability to fly fast. Watch the hand positions and footwork of the pilots that worry you, and do not emulate them. In the USA, a lot of people learned to launch "thumbs-up" and they have not improved their launch speeds as they aged. There are alternatives, but please get them from qualified HG pilots, not on the Internet.

For landing, you can retain good pitch authority with one hand on the downtube, and one hand on the basetube. It may feel odd at first, so practice that landing style extensively at altitude, before you try something new on approach. Get comfortable with flying and turning with one hand up, and one hand down. Transition that low hand to the downtubes only after you have descended through the wind gradient, and try diligently to maintain airspeed when you do that, and after.

There is also much to be said about timing, and here is some of it:.

You want to launch when winds are building speed, not dying off. Never force a launch into dying winds! Wait for the next good cycle, or pack it up and go to the bottom, by vehicle or even on foot. You are never required to make a risky launch in real life. Comp pilots may say differently, but you do not need to listen to them. You can not stop them from risking their bodies, but you can stop them from risking yours.

You want to land when winds are dying, not when they are building. Watch the landing field, and do not be in a rush to land when winds are stiff or rowdy there, and lift is everywhere. Too many pilots get into a way of thinking "I'm landing NOW, no matter what." (Ironically, these are often the same pilots who know enough to wait for a good cycle, on launch.) Hang out in good lift, if possible, and observe the landing field. When all lift quits near the field, then make your move; approach and land in that mild air. The pilots who did whack in on that day will wonder how you managed that fine landing. 8)

You are the Pilot In Command (PIC) of your aircraft. Take no risks that you would not accept normally, simply because somebody said something that seems risky to you. You have the rest of your life to accept or reject that advice; beyond a safe launch and safe landing, everything else can wait for the next flight, or for further discussions with more and better HG pilots. You can listen to everybody, no problem. Take serious advice only from the pilots that you know and respect, who are aware of your skill levels.
#402704
I'm an average H4 rated pilot with 29 years experience. I make no boasts about my flying skills and history, with one exception: I launch excellently because I had the techniques pounded into my head relentlessly as a beginner, spent far more time than most on training hills, taught for a few years, and it has simply become an automatic process. If you've had some sketchy launches lately, get to a training hill. Pay for the access or a lesson if you must. My landings aren't as consistently pretty, but I fly fast as hell through my approach until I'm in ground effect on final, and switch to the uprights at least 50 feet AGL. So at least until the flare, I'm in control and don't let turbulence or getting upright make things scary.
#402705
Thanks everyone.
Rick M wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:11 pm
Get feedback regularly. Use a camera and review your launches and landings.
I don't have a camera yet, but I am blessed with several terrific instructors.
red wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:44 pm
Good focus is the key, for safe flight.

For landing, you can retain good pitch authority with one hand on the downtube, and one hand on the basetube. It may feel odd at first, so practice that landing style extensively at altitude, before you try something new on approach. Get comfortable with flying and turning with one hand up, and one hand down. Transition that low hand to the downtubes only after you have descended through the wind gradient, and try diligently to maintain airspeed when you do that, and after.

There is also much to be said about timing, and here is some of it:.

You want to launch when winds are building speed, not dying off. Never force a launch into dying winds! Wait for the next good cycle, or pack it up and go to the bottom, by vehicle or even on foot.

You want to land when winds are dying, not when they are building. Watch the landing field, and do not be in a rush to land when winds are stiff or rowdy there, and lift is everywhere. Too many pilots get into a way of thinking "I'm landing NOW, no matter what." (Ironically, these are often the same pilots who know enough to wait for a good cycle, on launch.) Hang out in good lift, if possible, and observe the landing field. When all lift quits near the field, then make your move; approach and land in that mild air. The pilots who did whack in on that day will wonder how you managed that fine landing. 8)
I've seen that one hand up and one down thing. I have to say it does look odd. I'll explore.

Really interesting points. Thanks.
#402707
and "mtpilot" is absolutely and unfortunately correct about the lack of training hills.
and yes, tandem pilots are VERY careful, skilled, and determined when launching---it can be far trickier and less forgiving of poor technique than solo launching and you've got to handle it when the passenger's run is lacking in any way. Tandem launching off a dolly (aerotow) and a rolling landing, on the other hand, is a piece of cake.
#402720
red wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:44 pm
You want to launch when winds are building speed, not dying off. Never force a launch into dying winds!
In general, your comments are spot-on, as usual. This one piece of advice, however, might be a tad too generic. I've experienced conditions where the dying cycle is in fact the best (and maybe the only) time to launch.

I've seen prevailing winds which bring perfectly launchable conditions, but the thermals cycles create strong gusts well beyond the comfort range. After watching these cycles indicating a clear pattern, launching as the strong cycle has just passed is the safest time - you're less likely to launch into the next gust.

I've also seen patterns where cycles consistently come in cross - only the latter part of the cycle straightens out. After carefully watching this pattern, and being ready for the right moments, one can safely take advantage of the condition.

While "never" might be good advice for beginners, "never" is a very long time, and advancing pilots may well grow beyond such restrictions.

RM
#402731
cheesehead wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 8:54 pm
I'm an average H4 rated pilot with 29 years experience. I make no boasts about my flying skills and history, with one exception: I launch excellently because I had the techniques pounded into my head relentlessly as a beginner, spent far more time than most on training hills, taught for a few years, and it has simply become an automatic process. If you've had some sketchy launches lately, get to a training hill. Pay for the access or a lesson if you must. My landings aren't as consistently pretty, but I fly fast as hell through my approach until I'm in ground effect on final, and switch to the uprights at least 50 feet AGL. So at least until the flare, I'm in control and don't let turbulence or getting upright make things scary.
Over lunch today I was thinking about this thread and this post. The take-away for me is to consider take-off and landing technique, and safety in general, as part of my identity. A fast landing is not so much what I do as who I am. I don't think that's over-stating things.
#402733
remmoore wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 11:35 am
red wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:44 pm
You want to launch when winds are building speed, not dying off. Never force a launch into dying winds!
In general, your comments are spot-on, as usual. This one piece of advice, however, might be a tad too generic. I've experienced conditions where the dying cycle is in fact the best (and maybe the only) time to launch.
I've seen prevailing winds which bring perfectly launchable conditions, but the thermals cycles create strong gusts well beyond the comfort range. After watching these cycles indicating a clear pattern, launching as the strong cycle has just passed is the safest time - you're less likely to launch into the next gust.
I've also seen patterns where cycles consistently come in cross - only the latter part of the cycle straightens out. After carefully watching this pattern, and being ready for the right moments, one can safely take advantage of the condition.
While "never" might be good advice for beginners, "never" is a very long time, and advancing pilots may well grow beyond such restrictions.
RM
RM,

There are such times and places, I agree, but a dying cycle usually means big sinking air off launch, and maybe even as you run. I've seen gliders settle back down onto the shoulders of running pilots, and only great skill and determination gave them the launch. You may have the ship to allow launching in very strong conditions, but many do not. At those times, pilots might ignore my advice, but only at their own peril. All are free to make their own choices, and someday they might, but I do not recommend Do-Or-Die launches, at any time.

My $.02 worth.
#402738
One great way to avoid complacency is to be very aware of it and the dangers of it. Make every single launch and landing like your life and body depend on them... because they do. Learn from every flight, yours and others. However, treat every one as its own unique event, because it is. Never let your focus wain before and during a launch or landing. Always mentally go through each one, have a back up, expect bad things to happen and have a plan. Advance slowly, at your own pace and avoid the rabbit hole of thinking, "Well, I got away with it this time and the next and the next... One day that will bite you, hard.

As for the one up one down landing approach. I have been using this since my first year and really like it. As others have said, practice it at altitude first. Study videos of pilots doing it correctly and give it a try. Good luck with the coming season. Oh, a camera can really be a great tool for learning and self evaluation.
#402747
FogWatch wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 6:41 pm
flybop wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 5:56 pm
a camera can really be a great tool for learning and self evaluation.
As it's not my birthday coming up I think I need an Easter present.
A camera does not need to be a $400 go pro. There are plenty of cheap knock offs that will do fine for learning purposes.

By the way, where are you located?
#402782
Rick M wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:11 pm
And many of these pilots aren't too keen on being given any constructive feedback.

I recently witnessed a scary launch by another pilot. A severely popped nose gave rise to a lifted wing and a near blown launch. After I saw him again, I asked him what he thought about his launch. He proceeded to give me a litany of "pilot speak" that made absolutely no sense and basically told me his launch was fine. I could tell right then and there he was not open to any feedback. Be assured, I wasn't offering unsolicited flying lessons; Just observations.

Are you a pilot that won't listen to constructive feedback or observations? Is your ego too fragile? (just asking everyone in general here.) I, personally, will listen to anybody that is observing me from another perspective. I may weigh their observations with their experience level but I won't blow off any feedback. Even a brand new Hang 1 can spot a poor launch technique!
#402788
WhackityWhack wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 6:50 am


Are you a pilot that won't listen to constructive feedback or observations? Is your ego too fragile? (just asking everyone in general here.) I, personally, will listen to anybody that is observing me from another perspective. I may weigh their observations with their experience level but I won't blow off any feedback. Even a brand new Hang 1 can spot a poor launch technique!
:thumbsup: Forget the ego, be open to any/all input, take what you need from it (plenty of bad advice out there) and stay safe. Complacency and "I know it all" attitudes coupled with a way big ego (which is just fiction btw) have killed one too many of us...
I found myself messing up and getting anxious when in same situations...A camera, good outside info and an open mind are invaluable as we continue to enjoy the skies.

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