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This forum is dedicated to discussions on how to grow the sport of hang gliding. We will take a methodical approach to collect data and come up with implementable ideas on how to increase our numbers. This includes effective marketing, lead generation, site access issues, improving regulations, lack of instructors, lack of sites, etc

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User avatar
By AndRand
#351423
Xpanse wrote:combat.is.hell - I share your thoughts.
to share you got to have it :rofl:
User avatar
By combat.is.hell
#351426
Xpanse wrote:combat.is.hell - I share your thoughts.
Hi Xpanse,

I don't know if you share my thoughts on "scaring away" potential new students or my thoughts on average people being unable to register what they are seeing over their heads but it is nice to know that I have your support. Because my thoughts and conclusions are pretty gloomy!!!
By Xpanse
#351456
I think, that if one will fall in love with this kind of flying, he or she will do whatever is needed with disregard to the cost.

It would be best to teach hg those who are really into the sport and not to show off. How to select them is a question that needs to be answered.

Exposition to hang gliding is a must! I am 34 years old and seen HG for the first time on youtube about 4 years ago (and I was hooked immediately!) I was not aware that such airsport exist! Thanks to nadercouri and his great films I am hang gliding. Without powered harness - and I live in flatlands.

Flying is major part of my life now, life that I say is complete. How many people in the world need to hang glide to fullfil their life?
User avatar
By littlepilot
#351476
Xpanse wrote:I think, that if one will fall in love with this kind of flying, he or she will do whatever is needed with disregard to the cost.

How many people in the world need to hang glide to fullfil their life?

PREACH!!! But seriously....you're spot on IMHO.

:thumbsup:
User avatar
By combat.is.hell
#351516
Xpanse wrote: Exposition to hang gliding is a must! I am 34 years old and seen HG for the first time on youtube about 4 years ago (and I was hooked immediately!) I was not aware that such airsport exist!
Well, since we are still on the subject I can give you a quick description of how visible airsports are on the Swedish internet and how we promote HG here.

Anybody with a computer can google the words airsport & sweden or just the swedish word flygsport and your first hit is the Swedish Airsports Association. On that page you can find links to all individual flying disciplines, including of course hanggliding. If you click on the link to the website of the Swedish Hanggliding Association you will come to a fantastic page with loads of info, pics and videos. There is a lot of info & material for the ones already flying and even more for the ones that have never seen this sport before.

The information for potential future flyers is in two parts: one part explaining the sport in simple terms and describing what an amazing feeling it is to fly a hangglider and how rewarding this sport is. The second part takes you back to earth by reminding you that all these great moments that you can potentially experience don't come free. On our FAQ we make clear that hanggliding is as demanding and difficult as any other form of aviation. Or more. And the level of commitment needed is beyond what you thought it was. And that's where most people stop reading further I guess.

The website of the Swedish HG Association can also be found through youtube. If you happen to come across a hanggliding video, chances are that it says somewhere on your screen what this sport is called in English. Typing in google Hangglide & Sweden will bring you to our website. So once again, anybody with a computer and an intrest in flying will discover us sooner or later. Won't even have to go to an airshow to see us.

The big advantage of course is that all relevant information is found on an official website. There are many pilots out there that have private websites with very helpful and relevant info but there is of course a different "gravity" to the information provided officially from the country's own association. Plus the fact that all the serious clubs and instructors are listed and linked there.

Having such an informative and rich website means that the amount of mails asking questions that are not covered there can be counted in one hand. But other than that, the people entering the sport is very low.

So to sum it up: a lot of relevant information about the sport (that can be easily found online) means fewer mails asking questions, from people who will probably not continue flying after the first 3 days of the basic training.

The Swedish HG Association's webpage is www.hangflyg.org in case anybody wants to test how s--- Google Translate is.
User avatar
By littlepilot
#351576
combat.is.hell wrote:. So to sum it up: a lot of relevant information about the sport (that can be easily found online) means fewer mails asking questions, from people who will probably not continue flying after the first 3 days of the basic training.

At that point it's the instructors job to keep them excited and interested and positive about the sport.
By Uncle Mike
#357489
syncnsarc wrote: I see the younger generations desiring constant social contact; the need for instant gratification, and an aversion for spending the many years necessary to become a proficient, mountain pilot. Why would they when there is no glory or recognition in a lonely vigil, which requires undaunted dedication not to mention a serious element of risk?
My guess is that there's less and less desire to "soar with the eagles".....simply because there are so few "eagles" up there.

Youngsters, these days, only desire to be with "the pack".....and the pack is down on earth playing video games!
User avatar
By TjW
#357613
Uncle Mike wrote:
syncnsarc wrote: I see the younger generations desiring constant social contact; the need for instant gratification, and an aversion for spending the many years necessary to become a proficient, mountain pilot. Why would they when there is no glory or recognition in a lonely vigil, which requires undaunted dedication not to mention a serious element of risk?
My guess is that there's less and less desire to "soar with the eagles".....simply because there are so few "eagles" up there.

Youngsters, these days, only desire to be with "the pack".....and the pack is down on earth playing video games!
Nah. I don't think kids have changed that much. I started flying at 17, in 1973, and there were lots of friends and acquaintances from school that liked the idea of flying -- in theory.
A couple of them came out for a day on the training hill. None of them ever got strapped in, though.

Hang gliding is a self-selected group. It always has been. I don't think it requires "undaunted dedication". You just have to enjoy doing it.
I enjoyed learning to fly. I enjoyed my time in the air, and the time on the ground with my friends.
I associate "dedication" with taking bad tasting medicine so you can feel better later. I enjoyed all of it -- no dedication required -- it was all fun.
User avatar
By combat.is.hell
#357877
TjW wrote: I enjoyed all of it -- no dedication required -- it was all fun.
I have to admit I didn't enjoy the begining quite as much, bombing out when everybody else was staying up and flying for hours. But I was determined to become better at it. And I did.
User avatar
By combat.is.hell
#357879
For anyone still remembering what this thread is about: I wrote about the amount of people coming into the sport, the amount of people dropping out of the sport and the difficulties of training in Sweden. Here's a little summary and then comes the preliminary results of the "experiment".

Problems is Sweden:

-no proffesional HG schools in the country
-not many active instructors, none of them instructing for a living, none of them making any real money out of instructing
-most new students dropping out of the sport after a while
-very small amount of new students staying in the sport
-clubs make no real money before new pilots start aerotowing on a regular basis



Experiment:

-provide plentiful information on the internet about how hard, expensive and time-consuming this sport is
-interview new students that want to get a place in the basic training and explain that this is a sport that they will probably drop out of
-try to scare them away with facts (95% percent drop-out rate, commitment levels etc)


In other words, this year we have tried to scare away everybody, the aim being that we would be left only with those few that were determined to go ahead no matter how much time and effort they would have to put into this sport for as long as they fly.

Preliminary results:

In my club we had only three students, two of which are continuing fanatically and one that is less fanatic but has definatelly not dropped out yet.

There are some practical gains and some disadvantages with this setup.

Practical gains are that the instructors waist less time on the hill and achieve the same results - instead of 10 students doing training, consuming teaching capital and then just one stays in the sport and continues, there are now only 3 students doing training and one continuing (I assume a worst case scenario here). The instructors then have more time to fly themselves and also teach that one and only student that stays in the sport. Less time wasted on the basic training means more time for everything else (in this case the training this one person left in the sport requires).

A clear disadvantage is that some peolpe might be discouraged and never start at all although they would end up staying in the sport. However the small amount of instructors and their limited time does not allow us to open our arms and welcome every man and his dog in the basic training in case we miss out on a few individuals (this is of course totally possible in places where proffesional schools operate but we don't have any over here).

Being an instructor myself I find my motivation levels attaining new heights when I teach dedicated students and need less time on the training hill doing that!!!

As I have already written on this thread, i don't think there is any way to make more new people stay in the sport. There is a way to make more people join a beginers training course (and dropp out with a positive impression of HG) but the ones that stay and become long-time flyers will always be a few individuals here and there.

I see no signs that this trend might change in the near future, I reckon we have to accept the fact that HG will be a niche sport for the few fanatics that want to fly in that particular way.
User avatar
By Cloudhopper
#357890
An anecdote:

I started flying in 74 at 13 years of age. Started teaching professionally around 79, earned my Master rating in 82, and taught perhaps 1000 or more students before getting a "real job" in 1984.

When I started working at a high-tech Silicon Valley research lab, I found myself among a dozen or so guys in their mid-twenties expressing an interest in this activity that I was obviously very passionate about. I talked the school I had worked at into lending me three gliders, training harnesses and helmets. for the weekend. I took around 7 folks from the Lab, ranging in age from 24 to 60, to Dillon Beach for a day or two of introductory lessons.

From that group, Roy and Eric both decided to continue with lessons. Later, Jeff, from a different Lab joined in. All three bought gliders. After taking a tandem flight, Eric's wife joined in and bought a wing. My wife (girlfriend at the time), already an intermediate rated pilot, and the four of my friends from work would travel each weekend to northern California sites to camp, fly, and hang out. When at work, we would spend our breaks talking about the great flying last week, and make plans for upcoming weekend trips. We would get together an evening at te start of each season to repack our chutes and inspect each other's gear. All five eventually earned their Advanced ratings. We traveled together to Telluride, Yosemite, Hull, Dunlap and other flying sites in the western US. Jeff left the company and gave up flying for ballroom dancing (more girls). John joined our company around the time that Jeff left, joined our flying group and eventually earned his Advanced rating.

Over the years, personal situations changed, Some of us had kids, some had non-life threatening injuries. Of the group, only I continue to fly, 30 years later.

I believe six Advanced rated pilots was the result of infectious enthusiasm and a socially well connected group that encouraged and supported each other. Recently, I was approached by two more folks from my Company interested in learning, One is now taking lessons with his two daughters. Eric and his wife have passed along their gliders to this next generation of pilots, and the cycle continues.

Herein lies the secret to grow our sport. It isn't rational to expect pilots to stay with the sport forever. The responsibilities of parenthood, jobs, relocation, etc. will eventually force all but the most dedicated from our ranks. It is enough to get people to their intermediate or advanced level. From there, it is out of our hands.

I'm ready to take another group to the beach.... got a bunch of gliders in my basement. I just need to reopen DIllon.
User avatar
By combat.is.hell
#357898
Hi Cloudhopper,

I think you are refering to the good old times of HG during the 80's and 90's when "everybody" was hanggliding. I was not part of the flying scene back, I was still a young boy that wanted to grow up to be an aviator.

However I have memories of another sport that was much bigger than HG during the same period and has also gone to become a niche sport these days. I am talking about windsurfing, the once popular watersport that had the masses riding a board on any given day with wind blowing from a slight breeze up to hurricane-strength. Whatever happened to them?
I recall most families in my community being involved in windsurfing, and they were out practicing in all weather conditions. These days you are lucky if you see one lonely soul windsurfing on a good day. These days it is only the fanatics left. The masses enjoyed the novelty and stopped long ago. And I am guessing that the amount of new people coming into windsurfing and staying in the sport is pretty small (despite the easy training, easy access, good safety statistics etc).

This is IMO what happened with HG, the masses got into the sport (partly because of the novelty factor) in big numbers, got their dose and left. Now it is only the fanatics left and very few new people enter the sport and stay. I may well be wrong but I see so many similarities between HG and other sports that "have done their popularity cycle" that this is the only conclusion that I can come to. There are, in any case, many other air sports out there to choose from, as well as a range of other activities for all interests.

You anecdote is very uplifting and optimistic, my experience with work collegues on the other hand is quite discouraging. But here is my version of your anecdote:

In my work I have a number of collegues that regularly express their desire to come and fly with me. One girl in particular went as far as to actually come to the local airfield one evening and do it. She got a ride on the back seat of a friend's trike, I flew alongside with my mosquito FLPHG harness. We flew for an hour and after landing my collegue was exstatic. My friend didn't want any money for the trike so it was a free ride. I had my GoPro on the trike and made a neat little film of it with music and all. My collegue couldn't stop ranting about this flight for weeks. She showed the film to everybody at work, told them how great it was etc etc. The result was that more collegues have strongly expressed their desire to come and fly with me (coupled with the fact that it would probably be a free ride on the trike). So I told them to contact me on any given evening with nice weather, chances are that we are planning to fly. Well, I am still waiting. Admitedly my ex-boss is still mailling me about it but every time I mailled back with time and date he had some other arrangements to attend to (BBQ, gardening, helping a friend move some s--- etc).

I wish I was the only sour lemon in the gang, posting sour stories about the lack of interest in HG and feeling sour. But unfortunatelly my little sour story is not unique. Almost all my flying buddies have experienced similar situations at work or in their social circles. Most of their collegues/friends think it's a great sport and want to give it a go, but none actually do.

I personally think that anybody not involved in air sports needs medical attention. But I am pretty sure that the same thought goes through the minds of people about me when they hear that I don't watch football or ice hockey or some other s--- that they themselves find fascinating.
User avatar
By Cloudhopper
#357900
Funny... One of the two new pilots at work is a fanatic windsurfer!
By JohnH
#357928
Greetings from South Africa. We're also facing the issue of how to keep some new guys coming into sport and keeping the new guys flying. I stopped flying in 1990 and only recently returned when my mate suggested it at his 50th birthday.
We live in a coastal city of Cape Town and have some spectacular flying sites in the city and within a few hours drive. We created a facebook page which is pretty simple to do and we post a few photo's and videos every time we go and fly. This has done wonders increasing the awareness of he sport. It also gives new guys the reassurance that there is a fair bit of flying happening so they won't end up on the hill alone when they want to fly.

Take a look and give us a like on facebook - search 'Cape Albatross Hang Gliding Club' since i can't post the link.

Oh, and come visit us sometime - beers are very cheap and the wine is world class.

Cheers
John
By Zoomie
#379585
I think Dave Hopkins nailed it. It's a wonderful activity for those of us who need to fly, but it's still a lot of money to anyone but the techno-riche.

It's also less convenient than powered flight or even paragliding. With those two alternates spanning the spectrum, HG has some serious competition even among the dedicated aviators (let alone among the aero-tourists).
By Fletcher
#379597
littlepilot
It's pilots like you, young and enthusiastic, that can help to grow free flight.
Live your dream and encourage others to follow so you have others to share the sky with.
My life was totally changed for the better once I started flying and I wouldn't trade those experiences for all the money in the world.
If you can spend 4 years on the training hill you can do ANYTHING!!!
Go after whatever you want in life and it's yours.
Fly High Be Free
Fletcher
User avatar
By Dave Gills
#379737
combat.is.hell wrote: I see so many similarities between HG and other sports that "have done their popularity cycle".
I believe this is part of it.

Back in the late 70's we were a club oriented country.
Name one that hasn't suffered huge losses in membership.

Fraternal organizations like Moose, Elks, Eagles, Legion, VFW ect.
We had 5 active SCUBA clubs in a 100 mile radius.
The SCCA fielded 200+ cars on every race weekend.
Small airports were building hangers left & right to keep up with demand.
Country clubs were popping up in small towns.

These are only the 5 examples I personally know about.
Who were these people and what happened to them?

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