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By flybop
What do you remember being the driving force that compelled you to get into hang gliding?

With a few debates going on in other threads about how to grow, and why our numbers are declining I became curious about how those who do fly ended up here. Who knows, maybe we can rediscover some answers to what to do now?

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By flybop
I had an deep interest in and passion for flying as long as I can remember. Even though I was into airplanes and working towards very noisy planes from an early age I had an interest in hang gliding since high school. I saw my first hang gliders high in the Utah sky right out of high school (in 82). After my aviation career ended from injuries I finally got off my ass and got back in the sky via hang gliding.

So, for me, hang gliding is my way to continue flying and the fulfillment of a dream of a wide eyed teenager. My only regret is that I waited way too long to start.
I actually saw a photo in a magazine ad that I added to a few others that inspired me. Years later, I saw a class on the dunes at Kitty Hawk Kites and signed up for 3 lessons in a weekend. Done deal, it became my life for more than a decade. Pilot, instructor, builder, test pilot, etc.

And a funny thing: the pilot of the glider in the ad ended up working for me as a sailmaker at PacAir. Small flying world it is...
I always liked being high in the air. Buildings, bridges, mountains, you name it. I can look down from on high for hours enjoying the view.

I saw people doing it at Kitty Hawk Kites and decided to give it a go almost 3 years ago and haven’t looked back.
Hang gliding started to appear in mind as something that I might actually do when I repeatedly encountered hang glider pilots in action at a local hill that was also well known as a good place to fly r.c. gliders-- (that's what I was doing there.) I had already learned to fly full-scale sailplanes but didn't really have a nearby, affordable way to do that at my current location and thought why not invest money into learning something new rather than just continuing with something I had already done before. I assumed that there must be somebody local who instructing, and it turned out there was-- or precisely there was someone who was thinking about starting to instruct his first crop of his own students, after recently doing some apprenticing with another instructor. I don't think I would have ever gotten involved if I had had to travel hundreds of miles to learn somewhere-- but kudos to those who are willing to do that. Of course now that I'm addicted, it's a different story-- I don't want to even start to think about how many miles I've travelled chasing the wind--

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By flybop
It is amazing the reach that Kitty Hawk has. I was in that area years ago doing my instrument training. I managed to stop by to see the monuments, but had no time to go to KHK. Several years later I was once again in Kitty Hawk and went to look into lessons. As badly as I wanted to I could not justify the cost for just a few runs down the dune. Damn, I really wish I would have done it back then! Also, one of my flying buddies spent a summer teaching there.
Well, I had looked at flying Hang Gliders for a long time with a sort of interest. I saw flying a Hang-Glider as something that other People Did. But nevertheless I was very interested. Then it was our Winter of 1991. I took a Month Long Vacation. Well when I was down in New Zealand I found a group of guys who were willing to give a Rookie Guy like me in truction. YES I had a desire to fly that was burning a whole in my essence to fly. Well, I soon Found myself on the Beaches outside of Auckland. I was strapped in and hooked into a Moys Mars that I got my very first of my experiencing "HEAVY THAN AIR FLIGHT" Well want to say that: "I WAS HOOKED FROM MY FIRST FLIGHT." Well at first they had me getting into the Air via the Sand Dunes. It was so much FUN! AS THE MY fLYING WENT ON. I found myself in a Knee Hanger Harness standing up on where they Launched Hang-Gliders at Karioitahi Beach. I did a Han-Check, to insure that I was indeed hooked into my Glider. I then called "CLEAR" I felt how my Glide was flying through the Down-Tubes and then i ran off into the air! Man it was Great! This Flight I found my self unlike my proceeding flights, I was able to Stay-Up. Man, for the first time I was really able to experience a Soaring Flight!

I look back at my first soaring flights down at Karioitahi with profound kindness. When i got back here to Northern California where i live. I contacted a Dealer down in Fresno, Dan Fleming. Well Dan made Contact with Wills-Wing so I was able to purchase an Wills Wing 225 Falcon. Masn I had fun flying that Big old Falcon. Flying of the that Falcon went on for a couple of years. I then proceeded onto purcg=hassing my second Glider. The second Glider that I would buy is was a Predator 158, that I bought from John Heiney.

I flew that Predator 158 right up till i experienced the worst pound of my Life 8 years ago March 28th. The Predator was and is truly an awesome King-Posted Glider. My predator was a terror at the fly-ins that I attended. Yes it would dominate the Speed-Gliding competitions that I entered. I know not now. But when I was in a competition, a Speed Gliding Competition . There was not a King-Posted glider that would beat my 158 Predator. I've been so blessed to have: Having A Predator!
I flew in the 80’s for 7-8 years and stopped (can’t remember that long ago why I started) but returned 8 months ago after a 30 year break. Why? 1. Equipment is so much improved. My Sport 2c is light, easy to fly, and has much more performance than the older HPII I used to fly 2. Challenging and competitive are two words that come to mind. Nothing compares to scratching around below launch and finally hitting that magic, invisible elevator air that takes you thousands of feet above launch. 3. Fun, just downright fun. No other words for that
There was a period of time when I was around eight or so that I was flying regularly as a passenger on commercial airlines. I always insisted on a window seat and my eyes were permanently glued out that window for every flight. Watching cities shrink down until everything looked as if they were toys while cars scurried around like little ants on the highways never ceased to amaze me. Flying among wispy clouds or breaking through heavy cloud cover only to discover a new world where the sun was shining brightly above and a slowly undulating sea of fluff laid below was equally memorizing.

After that flying like a bird became a reoccurring dream that still continues to this day. By the time I had the means to pursue some form of flight, gas prices were sky high and owning a plane just seemed impractical. I also looked into sail planes and trikes which eventually lead me discover hang-gliders and para-gliders. After doing quite a bit of research it was clear to me that hang gliding is what I was really after this whole time. This was how I was finally going to fly like a bird and be able to take in the views from thousands of feet up like I did in my youth.
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By Rick M
As a kid I always had flying dreams. I was big into airplanes. My grandfather was a private pilot. By middle school (in the mid 70s) I was building lots of model airplanes (mostly WW II era) and model rockets. In a book store I came across the book "Hang Gliding, The Basic Handbook of Skysurfing" by Dan Poynter. I spent countless hours reading that book and reviewing the plans and parts for building your own glider. Some years later I saw Sky Riders on TV.

While in college in Maryland in the mid 80s I took a road trip with a few friends to Nags Head, NC and we did a day lesson at Kitty Hawk Kites.

But it was in '93 just a few months after moving to Colorado that I got serious about HG. I was driving through Golden, CO one day and saw a few HG flying. That was it. When I got home I grabbed the yellow pages (pre Internet), found a local school and store in Golden and signed up. Had my H2 by the end of the summer.
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By flybop
It's great to hear from you guys. One thing that every pilot I have known have in common, both airplanes and HG, is that flying has been a life long dream. It is often said that that flying is one of Mankind's oldest dreams. I do believe that, but if it really is as common as it seems to be, why is there such a disconnect with so many people?

I know that cost is often cited. But, I know from personal experience that if the dream and drive is there you will find a way to make it happen. I cut grass, cleaned toilets, washed airplanes and everything else at a small airport to get my pilot's license. I did this while going to college full time. I scrimped and saved, put off almost everything else to get into hang gliding. Although I live in the middle of the Rockies I had to drive hundreds of miles for lessons. I was determined and nothing was going to keep me on the ground!

Along the way I made friends, got connected and found some great deals on a wing and harness. This can be done without spending a fortune. However, it can not be done without investing a hell of a lot of time. When it comes down to it I believe that more than money it is the time involved that keeps people from getting into hang gliding.

In a way I get it. Family, work, other interest... they all demand time. A good fishing buddy who expressed some interest spent some time on the hill with me. It was a beautiful day. Not too windy, sunny, the birds were flying but I was not. The wind was cross. After a few hours my friend decided to go fishing. Half an hour later I launched. He stopped by while I was breaking down and said basically this. "If I have time to go fishing I am going to fish. If I plan on golfing I will golf. If I was into bowling I'd go bowling. But, you go "flying" and just sit on a mountain all day and often don't fly." His interest was gone.

But, his was just a passing interest. It was brought on by knowing me and my passion. What about all of those who really, truly have the passion? How do we get to them? Recently there have been some really high quality videos out there getting thousands of views. Hang gliding has been featured in a few nationally broadcast commercials. I wonder if anyone was motivated to make a phone call from the TV commercials? Anyone?

I know that future pilots are out there. I was one all my life. It took me ten years to make it happen even with the desire and drive. One thing that we all need to do is to be great promoters. How many of us take the time to talk to those who ask what that thing is when we are pumping gas? How many take the time to talk to wufos on launch? Who has a phone number handy of a local instructor to pass on to anyone who shows some interest?

No video, commercial, movie or wing development is going to grow hang gliding. There is simply only one answer to this. It is up to each and every one of US to do our part to reach out, to actively promote hang gliding and to be good ambassadors of this. This season make a conscious effort talk to anyone who shows an interest. Make sure you can give out phone numbersof instructors. Invite them to come out to the launch or LZ.

They are out there!
flybop wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:57 pm
What do you remember being the driving force that compelled you to get into hang gliding?

With a few debates going on in other threads about how to grow, and why our numbers are declining I became curious about how those who do fly ended up here. Who knows, maybe we can rediscover some answers to what to do now?
Sitting on launch for what seemed an entire year blown out ..... with my paraglider :ahh:
(still do para but only on "those" days :-)
Completely amazed when first saw it on TV as a kid in the 70s/80s. Knew I HAD to do it someday. Shocked in 1988 to find out my college (UW) had a club that made it cheap and that it was possible to do in Midwest, even without towing. Immediately borrowed lesson $$$ from folks. More amazing than I had even imagined. Been hooked now for 30 years this fall. And PGing too for 18 years. Still get damn squirrely if it's flying season & I don't fly at least once every two weeks. Told wife to be that there was already another woman to share me with--flying.
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