sweetie13 wrote:Hi everybody, good to see your responses. You're all great. Today I went and got myself measured and weighed, and I weigh 140 lbs and am 4'11 and 3/4 inches, so I'm almost 60 inches exactly. Is this more hopeful in terms of being able to lift the glider and run with it, since it's VERY close to 64 inches?
Sweetie, below is an excerpt from an article about female HG pilots I wrote some time ago, with my bolding added. Just Do It!
"If you're fit enough to ride a pushbike, you'll be fine. Although I'm tall, I know three female pilots (four if you include ‘MrsPoser’ on the hanggliding.org list) who are below 157.5 cm (5'2"). They're all excellent pilots, because a good pilot is equally about attitude as physical skills. In California, there’s an advanced rated woman hang glider pilot who is 150cm (4’11") and 43kg (97 lbs)!
Don't worry about Physical Strength - Learn on the Right-Sized Glider !
In the air, where we use our body weight to control the glider, women have no disadvantage; in fact, even in competitive XC flying, which is largely about attitude, confidence and strategic thinking, top female pilots (even tiny ones like Corinna Schwiegershausen) can outperform men double their weight and triple their strength!
While learning, small women may be disadvantaged not for any difference in upper body strength, but because glider control frames are designed for men, who for any particular height are usually heavier, with wider shoulders, and longer arms and torsos. This means that the glider sits lower on our shoulders when ground-handling and launching, making both trickier if the glider is even slightly too big. Down tube padding helps, but doesn’t entirely solve the issue. In Australia, the smallest commonly available glider is a Fun 160, when most small women really need a Falcon 145. Our lower body weight (proportionally more fat, lighter than muscle) also reduces effective leverage if the wing area is too big, making it more difficult to influence the glider and learn control inputs.
It’s MUCH harder to learn on a glider that’s too big for you – imagine learning to ride a pushbike with the seat too high! – so, if you're below 157.5cm (5'2") or 55 kg (121 lbs), it’s especially important for you to find a school that has a 160 sq feet glider or smaller.
In fact, although accepted practice is to learn on the school's gliders and to buy your own when training finishes, if you're small, partway through training, and sure you want to continue, consider buying a glider the right size if the school doesn’t have one. You may put a few scuffs on it during training, but you’ll learn more, with much less work. The aforementioned 150cm pilot almost gave up until she got hold of the right glider for training (Falcon 145), after which things went well.
‘MrsPoser’ showed excellent technique on her first high glide and that's no coincidence, just silver lining. Tall men may get away with sloppy technique but short, light women who learn on gliders slightly too big for them are practically required to develop perfect control inputs!
A new pilot, weighing just 40 kg (88 lbs), after learning and flying on a Fun 160, said to me after her first flight on a Falcon 145, "Wow, it turns when I want it to!" You bet it does! The best remedy always lies in appropriate equipment, not in compensations by the pilot for poor fit.
Upper body strength does modestly affect ground-handling, when we're not using our body weight to manipulate the glider, but instead leveraging with arm, chest, shoulder and back muscles. Weight training helps, but isn’t essential: good technique overcomes all