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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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By combat.is.hell
#343128
Well, puting up that reply was a project on it's own. My last reply, the long one is the one you should be reading. Sorry for the mess.
User avatar
By dave hopkins
#343167
combat.is.hell wrote:Well, puting up that reply was a project on it's own. My last reply, the long one is the one you should be reading. Sorry for the mess.


SO your a new Instructor. I would say you are a YOUNG AND JADED instructor . :rofl: Sounds like you got a load off your chest.
By filthy
#343213
There are many hurdles to getting someone into this sport. $, time, location, patience, dedication, instruction etc. All are mentioned above. Still people will Hang glide, right.
It appears to me we need to do a better job of selling this 'product' ie, sport.
Advertising is the best way to sell something! Along with backing it up with
internet, grass roots marketing, etc.
The most important job of the USHPA. should be to sell our sport.
How to sell the sport? I'm sorry that I have to be the one to tell you old folks but we need to make HG look sexier, cooler, exciting, vibrant, safer, easier, more fun, and younger. To a large number of people. Large being the key word. (By the way i'm 52 years old, and been flying 20 years.)
This means we need to spend money.

Now re: safer, easier, back in the late 80's I remember seeing a Hang glider pilot doing a loop and thought to my self, maybe these guys are finally getting there s--- together? Odd that aerobatics maid me think that Hang gliding was getting safer, funny how some minds work? (I still don't Loop.) Just my 2 cents.
User avatar
By mark selner
#343218
i don`t understand why you would need to try to sell the sport.every one knows hang gliding exists.if you want it bad enough you will try it.
By filthy
#343221
Everyone knows shoes exist, still you see advertisements?
Do you think HG is the only choice? ie. sport.
Face it advertising works. Period......
User avatar
By Paul H
#343223
Everyone know shoes exist because of them being worn by pretty much anyone who can afford them. The advertisements are not meant to make people aware of them, just to get them to buy that particular advertised brand.
Hang gliding isn't done by everyone and not everyone knows about it.
User avatar
By combat.is.hell
#343236
filthy wrote:There are many hurdles to getting someone into this sport. $, time, location, patience, dedication, instruction etc. All are mentioned above. Still people will Hang glide, right.
It appears to me we need to do a better job of selling this 'product' ie, sport.
Advertising is the best way to sell something! Along with backing it up with internet, grass roots marketing, etc.
Advertising for a unique "product" has very limited results. How many normal people out there are unware of airsports? Not many.
And how many flight enthousiasts are unaweare of hanggliding? Extremely few.

But even if you tried hard with marketing and you advertised and you made it look sexy....... and then you backed it up with great instructors, good weather, lots of available information....... you can still never back it up more than 50%. The other 50% has to come from the person that is taking up the sport.
If he or she cannot afford/prioritise/make/take the time & dedication it takes to become a HG pilot and the time it takes to go out and fly, then you don't get any new people in the sport. You might get a lot of new students that will quit soon after they realise that hanggliding demands TIME. And money & commitment & patience.
But I doubt it that you will actaully notice any increase in the number of new people in the sport that are here to stay. Just my two cents as you say in the US :wink:
User avatar
By Alex
#343254
I flew HGs from 1983 until 2012 and switched over to PGs in 2013 after I got cancer.

I have flown some powered craft (trikes and other ultralights) but soaring flight is my life's passion. My goal is to fly until I can fly no more.

I love to see 'new blood' enter the sport and have gone out of my way to be friends with and to mentor newbies, but I know that most will come and go fairly quickly. That doesn't distract from my joy in flying---why would it? It's not what other people want or need, it's what I need and want.

There are a few like me and most of us share the same basic personality traits, skills, and ambitions. We may not like each other but we try to get along because we don't want to fly alone.

It's all good as far as I can see, and those born to soar will do everything in their power to soar, that's just the way we were born.
By filthy
#343284
I'm not saying we should try to sell out sport to people who have never heard of Hang gliding. I'm saying we should try harder to sell to the people out there who want to fly some thing, or parachute, or etc.
Our sport doesn't look sexy, and it should. We have all seen the cool vids. that Ryan, Zippy, and Jonny put on the web but the wofo's only see Greblo's commercials of flying into power lines and the like. thats about 4 cents.
User avatar
By gregkp1
#343319
IMSHO we HG/PG have never overcome the "Drug crazed Hippie with death wish image". Are most viewed free flight videos on the net,, safe successful fun flights??
One huge issue is fun,, challenging safe free soaring flights are about as fun to view as watching bumpers rust. Even with some of the best editing we see here.
The TIWTIWGTD get all the play,, yes redundant.
We all know that free soaring flight requires the desire to overcome fears/bad image and a bunch of time and some $$. The addictions appears to be a free bonus!!?? The pilots coming here,,Dunlap CA, are the most diverse group of folks one can find.
Suggestion,, any military installation. Young enthused folks with $$, in good physical conditions and can pretty much follow instructions.
Most installations have MoraleWelfareRecreation(MWR name may very). They have always assisted with contact to ready made students. They look for organized trips to almost anything. They have access to Buses. A day trip for tandems with fee put towards lesson package. Yep,, you will be required to overcome issue in 1st sentence.
Many mahalos to all who have come out and kept me company!!
User avatar
By Erik Boehm
#343347
"In the "olden days", instruction and equipment were terrible, but far more accessible. Wills Wing used to take the "shop glider" out to a training hill and let people try it for free. There would be twenty or twenty-five people sometimes, standing around waiting their turn to give it a shot. It was, in a way, a social occasion"

^This^

From a central European point of view: driving is less practical, more expensive, and most cars are rather small. Most of the public transport won't take hanggliders (there are some exceptions in and around Zürich at least) Living spaces are also generally smaller. This contributes to PG being heavily favored, and it is doing quite well.

In the US, its much easier to find an affordable place that is large enough to store a glider in. The roads are bigger, the autos are bigger, and there's no real public transport. So it makes sense that the HG:PG disparity is much smaller.

However, even the PG+ HG participation rate in the US is much smaller than in Europe.

I know I could have had several people in high school try out HGing, if I was simply allowed to take them to the 50' training hill at Ed Levin.

I think in the desire to shed the image of the sport being reckless and dangerous, we may have killed it.

Even with ratings, I often see many minor training hill accidents (broken arms and the like). I'm not sure how much safer it makes the H0-H1 transition (I have no problem with the H1-H2 transition requiring certified instructors).

I would propose allowing any H4/P4 rated pilot to "instruct" H0s to pre-H1 levels. Lets say no launches from hills >50' /15 meters.
Although, I don't think the USHPA prohibits this, nor does the FAA.
However, I know the WOR club does.

Imagine if every club with a suitable training hill had some old falcon 190/225, and allowed any advanced rated member to use it to instruct curious wuffos...

It would get a lot more people seriously interested in the sport, but would probably stop very soon after the first person without insurance breaks an arm sues.
*Maybe* Obamacare will lessen that, but I would still expect various clubs to be so afraid of lawsuits that they wouldn't be willing to supply a communal "beater trainer", nor would they even allow their members to instruct without "proper" certification.

I really think it is the fear of lawsuits - Otherwise one could simply buy some old single surface glider for $500, and try to hook their friends.

But- at least where I'm from, there was no place to do that.



Economic conditions are worse than ever, and I think its condescending to say that people who don't try it due to the cost just weren't cut out to fly.

The cost of lessons, just to try it out, will deter many people from even trying.
Why spend so much on something you may not be able to achieve (learning to fly, getting a glider, transport for the glider, etc, looks daunting at first) or even particularly like (maybe they're worried that powerless flying is too limiting, even if they like the idea of soaring, they don't want to spend so much money if 99% of the time the flights are glorified sled rides).

I think the entry barrier, in the economic sense, prevents many people from trying.
User avatar
By Sky_Walker
#343349
I think the biggest barrier to entering the sport is simple fear. 95% of the people I talk to about hanggliding think I'm insane and their first response when I tell them they could fly is NO WAY !
User avatar
By combat.is.hell
#350900
combat.is.hell wrote:
It is an intresting topic and I have had many discussions with fellow pilots about the ever decreasing numbers of new people in the sport.

It is definatelly a good idea to send people for a tandem flight, even for a 1 or 2 day trial course. Just make sure you send them to a proffessional instructor that makes a living out of it. Even if only one of 30 or 40 decide to get into the sport, you are at least providing an income for a valuable resource in our sport (the instructor that is).
If, on the other hand, the instructor is not a proffessional and is not making any real money out of it (me for example) then it might be better to let the curious find out themselves what kind of a sport this is, the level of commitment it requires, the time it takes to start flying "like those cool guys up there" and let them come in contact with the poor soul that is the instructor themselves. Although I am a new instructor, I am already tired of people taking up my limited instruction time only to discover in grave dissapointment that after one week on the training hill they are still not allowed to fly cloudbase on a badass topless.

I live in Sweden where all the instructors are taking time out of their proffessional and family lives to go out and teach. None of us makes any real profit out of instructing, we are happy if we break even. The students we want to have are the ones that will continue flying. If this means just a couple of students then that is just perfect. Why have ten students take up your time only to be left with one or two by the end of the season? It is a waste of my precious time as far as am concerned. It is a waste of the commited students time also.

Promotion? There are hundreds of films on the net - just from Sweden, not talking about the thousands upon thousands from other countries. We take part in fly-ins. We fly mosquito along crowded beaches. We have been featured on TV and newspapers.

Reach us? Anybody within a 10 km range of a working computer can easily find our national association website with listing of all local clubs and their websites, our videos and our contact details. Full details of all available courses in the whole coutry are also available on the association homepage. Does that wealth of information lead to more interest? No, it just means that we don't get contacted with questions about the sport very often - almost everything in answered on the website.

This year we have a particularly discouraging FAQ describing the sport as it is: expensive, time consuming, hard to get into, does not combined nicely with other expensive & time consuming hobbies. In that way we hope to reduce even more the amount of students who enroll for training only to leave after the end of the basic training.

I don't think that young people today are couch potatoes whereas young people thirty years ago were tough and commited and more willing to jump off mountains. In my opinion the good times that our sport experienced back then were a bubble.
Paragliding has also had it's days of glory and is now seeing the number of active pilots dwindle - the paragliding bubble is leaking air. Paragliding is easier, more accessible and more practical than HG but people in the sport stop flying and complain about lack of free time, expenses, distance to flying sites etc etc. Sounds familiar?

I also don't think distance to flying sites is much of an issue. I have invested in a mosquito so that I can fly locally when time doesn't allow for longer drives to free flying sites. An easy solution for increasing your flying hours. You fly with the motor and keep yourself current, then when the opportunity arises you make that full-day trip and free-fly to your heart's content.

Finally I don't think money is much of an issue either. If somebody is complaining about the cost of HG then you can be sure that their money is needed somewhere else: their ill-afforded big house, their pimped car, their consumption of stuff/s***, their social lives, other expensive hobbies and so on. And it is probably a good sign that this person is going to quit HG pretty soon. From people with low income I have heard that as soon as they get some money they'll be getting into the sport but I have not really heard them complaining about the cost of HG.

I think we just have to accept the fact that most people are just not ready to put so much effort into a hard sport that requires a lot of commitment, a crazy desire to want to be a hangglider pilot (not just any pilot) and an appreciation of flying in this way, with no control sticks, no windshields and no mechanical landing gear. I reckon the amount of new people getting into & staying in the sport is not going to increase, despite the fact that training is better and safer, wings are easier to fly and information plentiful and readily available.
I am personally planning to make sure that I only come out and instruct those few students that I could not be discouraged in any possible way.

Hello,

I thought I would update this conversation with the latest from the Swedish HG scene. As I had explained in my previous reply, the instructors in Sweden (all of us are non-proffessional instructors) have decided to adopt a strategy of discouraging new people into the sport and accepting new students ONLY if we have been unable to scare them away.

How do we scare them away? Easy: we explain how much money, time and commitment this sport requires. I dare say we have one of the most anti-promotional FAQ ever made in sports on our website.

Well, I can report that in my club we now have a grand total of 3 wannabees that are starting with basic training in a couple of weeks. By then maybe only 2 or 1 show up. The total number of peolpe that contacted the club with course enquiries this season was 6.
By comparison last year in April we had more than 10 wanabees having put their names down for basic training and up to 25 enquiries.

The 3 wannabees of this season have been screened carefully: one had to give reasons why he should be allowed to come to training and the other two are amateur aviators that are coming into the sport through another HG-pilot that could assure us that they know what they are getting into. He even said that they have arranged their holidays to fit the training program.
So instead of a big group of wannabees that takes up our time and disappears after the basic training we now have a small group that have a very good understaning of just how hard it is to become a HG pilot and how much time it takes to just come out and have a routine flight. Let's see how it goes. I will keep you informed.
User avatar
By Alan
#350921
filthy wrote:Our sport doesn't look sexy, and it should.
I cannot comprehend where a comment like this comes from. When in view, the general public always watches us. Always. That's a better attention response than you would get than having Miley Cyrus dry-hump a wrecking ball naked. What do you mean it doesn't look sexy?

In my entire life I have never been photographed by strangers until I started flying at Funston where there are a lot of tourists mixed in with the pilots. Yet I have had their cute little daughters line up in front of me in the control frame for a memorable snapshot. Rarely do you fly over the deck and someone is taking snaps from 40 feet below. I'm in a number of family albums now of people I'll never know. Me. WTF. Oh. It's the Hang Glider.

Anyway, 99% of those that watch will never actually try it themselves, and of those remaining 99% will not do more than take a single tandem or manage more than a couple of lessons. 1% of 1% out of 300M U.S. population that leaves 30,000 real pilots. That would be enough to sustain the sport.

So forget advertising -- what you need is to have good pilots flying where people can see them. Trainees too. I'll bet if you set up a static winch tow for your intermediate-to-advanced pilots next to a heavily travelled freeway and just do to operations where the stop-and-go traffic can see it you would get automatic steady recruitment. The 1% of the 1% thing would still apply but at least you would get an influx by doing nothing more than fly.

That's just my 2.
User avatar
By littlepilot
#350946
stephmet wrote:syncnsarc,

To answer your question regarding the lack of younger people (20s-40s); poor marketing aside - it has to do with time. Most of my peers are mired in jobs working in excess of 50 hours weekly. After work, those with spouses and/or children simply don't have the time to do much of anything. I was fortunate in that I had flight park 40 minutes from my home, my then girlfriend - now wife, knew that hang gliding came with the package. Not so for others. The work / life balance is a hard walk in the 21st century and most simply can't commit the time to learn, let alone fly regularly enough to maintain currency.
I know this is an older thread but I wanted to add something to it. I am 17 y.o., an H3, and I love this sport more than life itself. I know that on the whole my generation is not that impressive, most of my peers like to play video games and sit inside while I run around doing stupid things like falling off trees in the woods. This being said, I don't think it is a generational thing that makes us a less motivated group.

I was brought into the sport by my father, a H4 and a super pilot. He also teaches regular aviation. I grew up flying with him and my grandfather, who owns a Bonanza, and watching him hang glide, until one day I said, "Screw it. I wanna do this." I spent nearly 4 years on the training hill with literally hundreds of flights because nobody wanted to sign off on the kid going off the mountain, which I understand (doesn't mean I or my father were happy about it). Finally, after training with many different instructors (which was, in hindsight, a great opportunity because I gained exposure to many different flying styles and techniques and added to the knowledge I already had from drilling my father with questions in the car whenever we drove anywhere), I got to launch off the mountain. Since then I have put in a lot of time flying and did a lot of aerotowing as well.

I guess what I am trying to say here is twofold, the first being that I agree with many of you, people will only stick to what they are devoted to accomplishing, but to disagree with you that the reason younger people aren't getting involved is because we are a weaker or less motivated generation. Many of my friends are going to try hang gliding this summer, but only because I took the time to explain to them what hang gliding was in an interesting way.

Also, in all of my very short 17 years of experience, I have not met many people who knew what hang gliding was. Most said, "its the thing like the parachute right?" The advertising for the sport of hang gliding is going to be crucial to its expansion and development, and the core of the advertising is each and every one of us.

As a young person, I will note that there is, on most websites regarding hang gliding (not all), a very obvious lack of effort. There is also very little presence on social media. One of the few manufacturers who consistently posts new pictures and news is WillsWIng.

In response to the quote at the top: I am in boarding school and I found a way to continue flying. I can only imagine how hard it would be to find time especially with a family, but maybe bringing them along is a great way to get more people interested in the sport. It worked like that for me!

In conclusion, I must reiterate how much I love this sport. It has been both the cause of frustration in parts of my life, and the sweet release from stress in others. I think that to get younger people involved in the sport, we need to make it more accessible to them through technology and advertising. We need to reawaken the dream of flight in people. And the best advertising comes from a hang glider pilot who can talk about the sport in a way that makes sense to those who haven't participated and with a vigor which captivates.

That's my piece. I recognize that I am only 17, but I feel that all people have wisdom to share and it would be worth hearing a younger perspective.

Littlepilot
User avatar
By Dave Jacob
#350947
H3 at 17? That impresses the heck out of me Littlepilot. I have 3 teenage sons and I agree with you on just about everything. One downside to attracting younger pilots that I don't think you mentioned is the fact that our population has aged. When I picked up the sport, I was 19 and most of the guys were in their late 20's or early 30's. And while it seems funny now I felt out of place. I was barely out of highschool, living at home and working entry level while these guys had careers, wives, sometimes kids. Now they have grand kids. I think pilots like you are exactly what is needed to bring more young people into the sport. Seeing other people who share your station in life flying hang gliders makes it seem both more appealing and more accessible. I hope you are bombing the social media sites with pictures of yourself flying. I also hope you can interest lots of your friends. You guys really are our greatest asset.
User avatar
By waltspoint
#350948
>>I spent nearly 4 years on the training hill with literally hundreds of flights because nobody wanted to sign off on the kid going off the mountain

You did it all wrong! The way us old-timers would have done it would have been to borrow Dad's truck without his knowledge some night when he leaves his glider on top, steal his beer, and do a moonlit flight off the mountain launch.

Anyways, good on you for your enthusiasm! Come on out and fly with my son sometime. He claims he's a H2, but is probably doing nighttime flightsof of Yosemite with my truck and gear without me knowing. Now, where's my beer, and why's my gas tank empty?!? /jd
User avatar
By littlepilot
#350955
waltspoint wrote:>>I spent nearly 4 years on the training hill with literally hundreds of flights because nobody wanted to sign off on the kid going off the mountain

You did it all wrong! The way us old-timers would have done it would have been to borrow Dad's truck without his knowledge some night when he leaves his glider on top, steal his beer, and do a moonlit flight off the mountain launch.

Anyways, good on you for your enthusiasm! Come on out and fly with my son sometime. He claims he's a H2, but is probably doing nighttime flightsof of Yosemite with my truck and gear without me knowing. Now, where's my beer, and why's my gas tank empty?!? /jd
Believe me, I wanted to at many points.
Dave Jacob wrote:H3 at 17? That impresses the heck out of me Littlepilot. I have 3 teenage sons and I agree with you on just about everything. One downside to attracting younger pilots that I don't think you mentioned is the fact that our population has aged. When I picked up the sport, I was 19 and most of the guys were in their late 20's or early 30's. And while it seems funny now I felt out of place. I was barely out of highschool, living at home and working entry level while these guys had careers, wives, sometimes kids. Now they have grand kids. I think pilots like you are exactly what is needed to bring more young people into the sport. Seeing other people who share your station in life flying hang gliders makes it seem both more appealing and more accessible. I hope you are bombing the social media sites with pictures of yourself flying. I also hope you can interest lots of your friends. You guys really are our greatest asset.
Thank you! I appreciate it. I most definitely am bombing the sites, at school I'm know as the kid who flies. I'm looking to go for my H4 this summer. I truly want to develop this sport into a much more popular one. I think it would be amazing to make it a televised sport, especially with today's live tracking technologies and graphic animations.

Also, I noticed before someone was talking about making the sport more "sexy." IMHO, these new topless gliders and high per harnesses are sleek and sexy as ever.

8)
User avatar
By TomGalvin
#350958
littlepilot wrote:I truly want to develop this sport into a much more popular one. I think it would be amazing to make it a televised sport, especially with today's live tracking technologies and graphic animations.

Also, I noticed before someone was talking about making the sport more "sexy." IMHO, these new topless gliders and high per harnesses are sleek and sexy as ever.
You are going to be teaching at one of the few places where the sport is actually growing. Students who feel part of the community early on, are more likely to stay with it. Focus on the fun.
User avatar
By littlepilot
#350959
TomGalvin wrote:
littlepilot wrote:I truly want to develop this sport into a much more popular one. I think it would be amazing to make it a televised sport, especially with today's live tracking technologies and graphic animations.

Also, I noticed before someone was talking about making the sport more "sexy." IMHO, these new topless gliders and high per harnesses are sleek and sexy as ever.
You are going to be teaching at one of the few places where the sport is actually growing. Students who feel part of the community early on, are more likely to stay with it. Focus on the fun.
It's always fun Tom! I'm really excited, and I really pumped to teach!!

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