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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

Moderator: mods

By Jakeramp
#389819
I feel like I missed the critique? Fly more? Don't fly in turbulent conditions? Atleast you include something constructive like the fact that moyes includes a leash. I'm all about critiques and ideas, but you must have missed the passive aggressive nature in that PM
By noman3
#389825
the downward spiral began with the elimination of the special observer program and the downfall of hangliding was accelerated by all the libtards that seem to gravitate to the sport i loved so much! Mcclure is a prime example of this infiltration by libtards.The best part is that all you dumbfucks dont see it and just keep pushing this sport into the dumpster. Funneling all these students through the few schools who have been chosen to survive is a perfect parallel with what is wrong with this country.The liberal progressive mind set is a cancer that needs to be cut out of our sport or it will die.I raped the f--- out of this sport and got my fix so i could care less if it dies but it is sad to see a free form of aviation dying in the hands of Incompetent fucktard liberals that cry fowl when they are almost always in the wrong.


Want to save your sport? Its simple! Quit shitting on the little guy trying to get his hang 2 or 3 by only having a few outlets for them to learn! I remember when they stopped the special observer program,i remember how stopping it caused all the veterans who had real answers to real problems to say f--- it and the puppy mill schools with a agenda to make money were the only thing left for these poor souls to go to.


I know nobody listens to me because im now the pariah in this sport but what im saying is what i saw through the 20 some odd years i have been doing this s---.At one point i thought this sport was the best thing on this planet but after i got to know the people involved the less i loved it.I did however learn who were real friends and who were back stabbing two faced pricks and after the smoke settled it was a gift to see who was still there for me.


Now that i stepped away from hg and surrounded myself with true friends that wont sell me out or raise the're hand to purge me from the're reality,i have found the peace i had before i started this odyssey.At this point i could care fuk all what any of you think of me but i do care about this sport so i figured i would put in my two cents.Now let the libtards try to cut me to shreds,lol. f--- off i got work to do!
By Jakeramp
#389828
Nicely said noman3. In my short hg venture, I've met some of the Most fascinating people. But ive also met some real tools. You are onto something. When I watch the old movies of pilots carelessly hanging from the downtube by their legs, fearlessly flying bamboo gliders down ski hills, I wonder what happened. Then I turn on the news....and it becomes clear.I got into flying for the freedom. Not to worry about having a ushpa regulated launch and landing. to be a pioneer and fly new sites...recently, while some younger pilots were working logistics on an LZ the oldest club pilot, said "look, let's just land out, if we get a ticket, it's $50." :mosh:
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By mbadley
#389865
Noman - you have a very valid point about the Special Observer program. Back in the day, you could get some ground school and training hill ratings up to H2 and feel confident that with some mentorship you could progress to H4 without an instructor emptying your wallet on weekly trips for sled rides. We 'self governed and supervised' for ratings and it worked out pretty well. We certainly haven't been able to reduce our accident and death rates with the current system.

As to the rest of your vitriolic post, I'm not sure I'm with you. People create problems for themselves our others with their actions and attitudes around the sites we have access to as 'general public'. The 'clubs' that sort of administratively protect, improve, insure, and promote an all around good experience with the various entities that are NOT hang glider pilots, often times seem like noobs and what-not, but rest assured, sky-cowboys that do what they want, when they want, have lost a lot of sites for hang gliding over the years.

My experience with nearly ALL pilots and clubs has been positive - and I've been at it over 30 years. Sure, there are times when I feel the locals seem like they bend rules for themselves or enforce 'extra' BS on visiting pilots - but I get why they do it, and try not to take it too personally. Also, in most cases - when a 'wrong' has been committed by ANY party - I have seen that pouring gas on the fire and rousing all kinds of hell, doesn't solve any problems and typically leads to this Hatfield/McCoy type of feuding. Not good.

Keep posting your insights and good times! Leave the rest of the muck in the pond. :)
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By Jim brindley
#389877
blindrodie wrote:I just don't have much sympathy for the wannabe's that complain about a long drive to learn to fly. I drove 7 hours each way to get a rating and I have to drive 5 hours to get good mountain flying.

The sport is what one makes it. The rewards are high and I like that enough to make the trips to stay safe and enjoy the freeflight community a priority.

If not, maybe the sport is not for you! :twisted:

8)
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AMEN!.... I drive 6 hours, and it's worth it....the sites on the east coast are far apart, most of my fellow pilots drive 1-3 hours.....we do what we need to fly!...it's a commitment, but very rewarding.....too much negativity on this thread!
:ditto:
Jim
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By cold wombat
#391268
Interesting thread. I'd agree with the observations that many sports are having participation issues. The common factor that I see: The time commitment required. Here in Perth as an example, the ocean sailing community has been hit hard over a number of years. Why? Very few can afford to take the time off for multi-day ocean racing. River sailing that can be done on a Saturday afternoon is doing relatively fine (but still suffering from "time" issues). Those sports doing well are the ones you can drop everything and play for an hour or two then get back to "regular life".

I suspect the fall in participation is simply a factor of the "time pressures" of "modern" life. The sport imho will survive on "post kids", mortgage paid off type older participants joining up.
By Clark_SR
#391272
Hello everyone,
All this communication is truly interesting to me, an individual wanting to fly but with few easily recognizable resources as a senior of 65yrs. When I was young I was poor by most standards in the U.S. My income level never improved much. When I hear about conflicts between personalities I cringe. There have been a number of interests I abandoned because of hard headed competitive and angry participants. I have always hated competitive sports unless they had a spirit of positive cooperation that over shadowed the competitive aspects. Access to good launch and landing sites is truly a factor and being affordable is worth consideration. Employment is currently in a slump and I do not see any great improvements leading to some brighter future due to current corporate trends. (Possibly reflected in the growing number of homless people in the U.S?) When it becomes more difficult to survive many pleasures must be released. Many simply do not have enough time as some have stated. This may reflect how in the United States people are worked more and paid less with dwindling benefits compared to much of the rest of the worlds countries similar to our own in prosperity, technology and advancements.

Convenience has always been an issue; some can overcome such difficulties easily, but many find easy launch and landings a most attractive draw. For me the risks of low altitude PG collapse are not appealing but I can understand how the ease of launch and landing sites may over rule that concern for many.
By Comet
#391296
noman3 wrote: Want to save your sport? Its simple! Quit shitting on the little guy trying to get his hang 2 or 3 by only having a few outlets for them to learn!
USHPA management is ENTIRELY RESPONSIBLE for the demise of hang gliding, beginning in the 1990's when the BOD (dominated by reps from the major HG schools) made it impossible to become and instructor without going through THEM first. Eliminating the competition - the ultimate conflict of interest.

And you fools keep sending $$$ to USHPA :roll:
User avatar
By cold wombat
#391297
Comet wrote:
USHPA management is ENTIRELY RESPONSIBLE for the demise of hang gliding, beginning in the 1990's when the BOD (dominated by reps from the major HG schools) made it impossible to become and instructor without going through THEM first. Eliminating the competition - the ultimate conflict of interest.

And you fools keep sending $$$ to USHPA :roll:
If that were true, then wouldn't the "demise of hang gliding" be a USA specific phenomenon?
By Comet
#391301
cold wombat wrote:
Comet wrote:
USHPA management is ENTIRELY RESPONSIBLE for the demise of hang gliding, beginning in the 1990's when the BOD (dominated by reps from the major HG schools) made it impossible to become and instructor without going through THEM first. Eliminating the competition - the ultimate conflict of interest.

And you fools keep sending $$$ to USHPA :roll:
If that were true, then wouldn't the "demise of hang gliding" be a USA specific phenomenon?
The HGFA proves that the USHPA has no monopoly on parasitic organizations leeching their namesake sports to death.


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User avatar
By cold wombat
#391303
Comet wrote: The HGFA proves that the USHPA has no monopoly on parasitic organizations leeching their namesake sports to death.


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I'm going to have to call you on that one.

First up, a qualification: I'm just starting out. I've been lurking on and off here and on my local AU list for a very long time. This summer I'll finally be getting in the air (for reasons I'll go into). Maybe that means my opinion won't hold much weight with you- if so, fine, but for what it's worth, as a "newbie" to the sport, I don't agree with what you're saying about HGFA. As far as USHPA is concerned, I've no comment, positive or negative. I've not taken any notice of them.

Sure, we all probably don't like the overhead of "governing bodies" or "management committees" and the like in any walk of life. They often seem to act as a drag when we just want to "get things done". Petty politics, personality clashes, skewed priorities, jobs not done (or worse, not done properly) and so it goes. Comes with the territory of human organisations. Occasionally we get get it right and "club management" or whatever does a brilliant job. Even then though, many of us find a way to complain. Nature of humanity. None of that however causes the death of sport except in very rare cases.

I've seen a few complaints about the way HGFA has handled things over the last few years. Mostly (as far as I could see from lurking) they've been resolved reasonably one way or another. Non of the issues have been existential for the sport of hang gliding in Australia. Not even close. Plenty of it has been whinging about the costs involved (and the supposed return on those costs). The reality (as far as I can see) is a lot of that is driven by insurance requirements and local government site restrictions. That's not something the HGFA has much control over except perhaps to negotiate premiums or conditions with any insurance company that is willing to quote on it (assuming they can find more than one).

To put this on a more personal level, I have to say there is *nothing* HGFA has done that has made it harder for me to get into the sport. There is no shortage of instructors; or more precisely, no shortage of places in courses- a lack of students has ensured there is not an over abundance of instructors, but there are enough here in Australia as far as I can see. The cost of training is not particularly onerous (given the hours required). I can get two weeks of solid training (broken up if required) for about the same cost as a decent second hand entry level glider. Yes, it would be nice if it was cheaper, but realistically, the cost of training and glider is not out of whack with the level of commitment needed to become a competent pilot. The annual HGFA & club fees are a hell of a lot less than belonging to even a second tier golf club. Cheaper than crew membership at my local sailing club. It's not really a cost thing (as much as we all like to moan and groan about having to put our hand in our pockets all the time).

So what has stopped me before this? Short answer, time. And family. Mortgage, kids education, kids sport, family holidays, work commitments and so on. They all take precedence over my own desire to disappear for a couple of weeks for training then ongoing trips to (mostly) distant flying sites. I'd love to be able to slip away for a day or two at a time and do my training piecemeal, but the reality is, there are no suitable training locations close to home to make that possible. The "local" training site is a good couple of hours away. It's a case of staying on site for a week or so at a time to make the most it. Either that or travel interstate for training.

Now my kids are old enough that I can take some of my time back. I'm financially secure enough that I can splash some cash around on myself occasionally. I can take a bit of time out without the family suffering. Result: Game on!

So what impact has the the HGFA had on my ability to take up HG this coming summer? In short, I'd not even be considering it without them. It's a training thing. I'm not interested in "flying by the seat of my pants" so to speak. I want to know that my instructor is qualified to instruct. Just because you can fly doesn't mean you can teach. And it certainly doesn't mean you do everything properly. Just reading some of the incident reports here make that patently clear. I'm not interested in picking up bad habits from someone that thinks they know how to fly just because they haven't yet killed themselves. Sure, being a certified trainer doesn't make you perfect; not by a long shot. And it doesn't mean you won't make mistakes. Even the best can royally screw up. That's part of being human. But I'd rather lay the odds as much in my favour as I can, and that means certified instructors. I'm happy to pay a little extra for that. The minor cost imposition is not a barrier. I'm also unwilling to be trained by someone that doesn't have insurance. Sorry, but my risk appetite doesn't go there.

There is a big difference between being able to do something and being able to teach. A professional trainer has willingly taken on that role of a teacher. A "mate" who offers to teach you is something else again. I've seen it plenty in my main sporting activity; snow skiing. Mates take mates to the snow, offer to teach them, then quickly run out of patience when baby sitting their first time mate. It means they miss out on the good stuff they went to the snow for. Rarely does that make for a good result in my experience. Palm your mate off to professional lessons for the morning and meet them up afterwards. Everyone has a better time of it. I'm taking the same attitude to HG. I'll take the professional trainer every time thanks.

I get that some people prefer a "wild west", go your own way and do your own thing approach to life. That's great if that works for you. But from what I can see hang gliding is no longer that sport. The Bill Moyes and Wills brothers (and many others) were pioneers in that "write your own rules" spirit of hang gliding development. Many of them seem to still contribute here today thankfully. So why did things change? From all the reading I've done here and elsewhere, it became pretty clear that those early pioneers got sick of burying their mates. They learned a lot, and wanted to pass those lessons on to those coming fresh to the sport so there would be less funerals and more success in the air. That's how we end up with regulations, insurance cover, site ratings and all the stuff that goes with it such as HGFA and USHPA. If they seem like a drag, I view them as a more like the "drag" of a keel on a boat. They add extra weight, and require more energy to get moving, but imho they add a certain stability and predictability.

So where are the current generation equivalent of the Moyes' and Wills' who fly by the seat of their pants and write their own rules? They're BASE jumping and wing suiting. Hang gliding is old hat and isn't pushing new frontiers. But they're starting to have the same sort of discussions that were happening in the hang gliding community in the 70's and 80's. They're getting sick of burying their mates. They're starting to ask themselves the same sorts of questions about how to manage risk. I wonder how long before they introduce the sorts of regulations that HG & PG have? The "wild west" never stays wild forever. The frontier always keeps moving.
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By combat.is.hell
#391316
cold wombat wrote:Interesting thread. I'd agree with the observations that many sports are having participation issues. The common factor that I see: The time commitment required. Here in Perth as an example, the ocean sailing community has been hit hard over a number of years. Why? Very few can afford to take the time off for multi-day ocean racing. River sailing that can be done on a Saturday afternoon is doing relatively fine (but still suffering from "time" issues). Those sports doing well are the ones you can drop everything and play for an hour or two then get back to "regular life".

I suspect the fall in participation is simply a factor of the "time pressures" of "modern" life. The sport imho will survive on "post kids", mortgage paid off type older participants joining up.
I totally agree. Not only do I agree but I am a living example of "time pressured" flyer. I have however managed to make flying an everyday activity. Out of topic but here goes: I have a wing in a nearby private hangar (less than 10 mins by car) and I can just drive there with my mosquito and fly whenever the weather is "mosquito-friendly" which is quite often. It takes as little as 2 hours to drive out, fly, and come home - same as going to the gym or having a coffee with a friend. Then I can return to my "regulrar life" with work, kids, wife, cooking, cleaning, shoveling the s**t out of my bunny's little house etc etc.

The traditional form of free-flight HG like aerotow or ridge soaring, with sites lying a bit over an hours drive from my house takes me half a day at least (if I skip the social bit and just fly) or a whole day if it is done properly with post-flight sociallising and slow-mo removal of battens from the sail. There are not many guys and girls out there who have a whole day available in order to do one activity. You REALLY have to love HG in order to priororitise it in your life. Most people just don't find the feeling of flying HG to be worth all this time and bother.

Here in Sweden we have managed to get the lever of schooling up to very high standards. The "new" batch of pilots are flying really well, are safety conscious and haven't been involved in any accidents othere than bending some downtubes. Most of them fly modern wings, all of them fly wings that correspond to their abilities, each and every one of them is a perfect example of HG as a fun, safe sport. So when happens when there is no negative publicity or accidents? Why so few new people entering the sport? When everything else works OK and there are no more excuses, you simply admit to yourself and to others that you just "don't have the time for this sport" which is nowadays the main reason people give when they quit HG, often after one or two days on the training hill.
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By danmoser
#391317
It's tempting to blame the falling HG participation numbers on a single culprit .. some regulatory boogie man we can point to and say "that's the bad guy who caused all our troubles."
But the truth is far less compelling and exciting; there are many causes.

By the way, General Aviation and Sailplane pilot numbers have also been dwindling, and for far longer than hang gliding, and for many of the same reasons.

Yes, increasing regulation and insurance requirements have sucked a lot of the fun out of the sport.. blame whoever you want to for that .. it's just a fact.
And suppressing small HG schools and observers is yet another cause of decreasing HG student numbers.

But unrelated to HG regulation & insurance headaches is cultural shift in our society towards more sedentary, comfortable, safe, and convenient activities.
Interacting with digital devices is cheap, easy, comfortable, convenient, safe, and novel.
Getting into hang gliding is time-consuming, expensive, uncomfortable, dangerous, occasionally frustrating and painful .. but can be very rewarding too. :)

And let's face it: In the 21st century, hang gliding is no longer a novel thing to do.
Most of the real pioneering of hang gliding was done in the 70s & early 80s.
So prospective HG students today are the grandchildren of the hang gliding pioneer generation.
And if grandpa did it, how could it possibly be a cool thing to do anymore? :rofl:

Personally, I seem to go in spurts of loving to go hang gliding, then getting bored and weary of it.
Yes, hang gliding is a marvelous experience, but when you do the same thing over and over again, it's only natural that it becomes a little less marvelous each time.
And all of the recent drama with insurance, law suits, dues increases, and small school suppression only erodes my motivation to go flying even more.
But I will fly again !! ;)

Just my 2 cents worth. :lol:
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By dbotos
#392470
Lack of public exposure could also be a factor. I think the only time I've seen any advertising for learning to hang glide was while on vacation at the Outer Banks as a kid. And I'm assuming that for a large percentage of the people that do those introductory dune lessons, that's as far as they ever go in the sport.

When I decided try / take up hang gliding this summer (I'm currently in my mid-30s), my searching didn't come up with a lot of options as far as learning. I'm currently driving 3.5 hours each way to go to a four-hour class. But, I'm really enjoying it (the class, not the drive), so I've been trying to get out there at least once a month.

In comparison to other outdoor sports (such as mountain biking), hang gliding definitely has some uphill battles that probably scare some people off. Time and money spent training (as well as getting to and from training), fairly expensive equipment, heavy dependence on weather, yearly membership$ (USHPA, clubs, sites), proximity to flying sites, transportation of equipment, availability of others to fly with (and/or pick you up at the LZ), and time and money spent getting to and from flying sites (imagine how many hours of driving, camping, and sitting around time you could record in your log book). There may also be a public perception that hang gliding (at least the high-altitude stuff beyond the training hill) is a risky / daredevil activity. Most people probably aren't aware of the pilot rating system and the approach to hang gliding as a form of aviation (with corresponding safety emphasis and training).

Back to my mountain biking comparison: I could go to the local sporting goods store and pick up a bike, helmet, and gloves and be out the door for a couple hundred bucks and riding on local trails the same day. Even if I had never ridden a bike before, it'd probably feasible that some friend / family / co-worker could teach me to ride halfway decently in an hour or two for free. I could go riding in nearly any weather, by myself (or with others), and most likely at a number of fairly local sites that cost nothing to use. Trunk / roof / hitch racks are cheap and easy to throw on for a weekend trip or vacation. There are probably many other sports that fit a similar bill when compared to hang gliding and probably why they win a lot of participants.
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By Dave Jacob
#392598
I wonder if one of the bigger pulls of hang gliding in it's infancy was the ability to build your own glider. I was going to write that older pilots like most of us might not see the value in that as we can buy better than we build. But I think I would also love the experience of launching in something I built even the L/D was 8:1. But I think a self built wing would have a special appeal to young people. The act of building a wing in the old days both made the sport less expensive to get into and added a degree of personalizing that is attractive. Of course it came with the down side that many of those gliders were death traps.

Would it be possible to create open source instructions to a glider which would emphasize handling, safety, and ease of construction. Being light weight and easily transportable would be good as well. Kits could be sold for various components that are safety critical or tricky to make in a garage. And of course videos could be posted on how to do each step.

Call it a gateway glider. Like a gateway drug, the purpose would be to introduce people who might not otherwise be interested to give it a try and then hopefully become hooked and move to better wings. If the HGMA members believe there is a chance of this working, they would be more likely to contribute ideas on how to best design the glider.
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By Rvanvoris
#392650
to Dave Jacob,
I do not think that DIY gliders are a good idea unless like other forms of DIY aviation they would need to comply with regulations that certified them as safe and airworthy. Nobody wants to fly around a glider that can fall apart.
I feel the reason HG is not as popular lies in computers, smart phones and other technologies. I have taught in a secondary school for 25 years. most of the kids I know would rather fly a drone than a hang glider or take a "virtual reality" flight than a real one. I am not saying that is good it is just what is.
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By red
#392653
Rvanvoris wrote:to Dave Jacob,
I do not think that DIY gliders are a good idea unless like other forms of DIY aviation they would need to comply with regulations that certified them as safe and airworthy. Nobody wants to fly around a glider that can fall apart.
Rvanvoris,
Not all would agree, about those needs. 8) You just need to know what you are doing, when building an ultralight glider.
Free (download-able) technical drawings, no pilot license, no pilot physical, no inspections, no certifications,
and fully FAA FAR103 legal; we call them AirChairs (as in, flying lawnchairs).

http://m-sandlin.info/

I help to moderate the Yahoo Airchairs forum. All here are welcome.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Airchairgroup/

:mrgreen:
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By waltspoint
#392655
Maybe the way to grow the sport is to bring some new flyers in? Sacrifice some flying days, or most of a season if needed, to help get somebody going. Take some practiced H2's to an unregulated site for some soaring. Give some intro lessons to an adventurous friend or the neighborhood teenager, to give them a taste and realize that they could fly.

I haven't read all the posts and rants in this thread, so I apologize if this has already been said.
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By dayhead
#392661
Dave Jacob is right. If Hg, like general aviation, had an element that was actively building from a kit or plans, or even designing and building, we'd attract even more folks, and I mean the lower paid but very mechanically inclined individuals.

I heard the other day that a new topless glider with all options will set you back $11K. Add another $5K for the streamlined harness, and then by the time you're set up to go racing you've got $20K+ involved. It will likely depreciate to half that in 5 years.

Just as the homebuilt airplane movement has added vitality to general aviation, it can reinvigorate our hobby as well.

Mike Sandlin's designs are a start, but what would be best for us is an "airchair" type that is foldable, has very low stall speed and a good sink rate, and can easily be controlled by anyone.

But the homebuilt crowd doesn't mind hauling it on a boat trailer, so maybe a simplified Marske Monarch, built for comfort not for speed, would be a good place to start.

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