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 Nicos
Dear HG pilots,

It seems that:

  • Many older HG pilots have stopped flying due to pain and injury issues.
  • HG seems to be dying a slow fizzling death
  • Some PG pilots have expressed interest in flying hang gliders in a seated position (I really don't know why... perhaps its a familiarity thing?)

Over the last 12 months I've been engaged with transitioning to a seated flying setup (neck injury), and have been left wanting in terms of control authority and available proven flight systems — no HG manufacturers seem to want to know... except perhaps Avian who also make custom suprone (seated above the bar) gliders, rigged with shorter downtubes that are raked back and different length side/front/rear wires — but I don't want a custom glider which is limited to seated flying. Nor do I have the coin or space for something like a Swift or whatever.

So against much everyone's advice, I made some handles, got a spreader bar and a PG harness. It worked, but only with some big compromises.

And when I think of our fading demographic, I wonder if seated flying might give HG a reprieve from a fizzling death... it could allow many pilots to keep flying (think: keep buying gliders) for another 10 or 20 years, and might even bring some PG pilots over to the dark side.

Visibility (therefore safety) is greatly improved. You can comfortably look in any direction.

Injuries could be somewhat minimised with a seated position too (if flying dangerously close to terrain is your thing).

I didn't want to lose much performance, but that's just not realistic when flying in a PG seated position (given I don't want to spend 5k on a PG harness). And all that bum padding doesn't help either. Though, maybe if you were flying in a flat-on-your-back, toes-first position pointing into the airflow...?

But primarily, I didn't I want to lose ANY control authority in the transition — now I believe that aim is little more than a pipe dream. If you fly seated, your authority IS somehow limited (ie. you can't flick your legs/thighs out for full roll, full pitch is problematic, and there can be flare rotation issues).

So all of this led me to realize that I want/need to be able to fly both seated AND prone, depending on conditions/mood/painLevels/etc — but there is no proven existing prone/seated harness system that's commercially available. Lately I have been working on something that provides a good a solution, which will be available very soon.

Can you help?

As part of the development process, we now need input from the wider HG community (prone, seated, prospective & retired) — would you mind doing this 2 minute survey? Your input could help a historic innovation in the free flying world — https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2JH28XQ

Exciting times!!

Here's a vid with my bars and bulky PG harness (flight #3). Checkout the first baby flare at the end.. far from anywhere near good enough —
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By Nicos
Two extra threads to reference the main thread, yes — and thanks a ton for your helpful, friendly constructive input as always Bubbleboy. What a guy!

This was my first post in some years here on the ORG, and it seems like things here haven't changed that much.

This kind of thing was *the* reason I stopped coming here... would have thought the antagonists would have found a better distraction by now. Seems not.
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By Nicos
Thanks Windlird!

It's an amazing site to have 20 from my door :mosh:

This new harness idea should be the ticket, first production versions are being made now and I'll post details soon.
Frank Colver has been working on two inventive ideas: a swing seat harness/adapter bars and the Hang Glider Basic Trainer.

On June 12, 2018 Bob, Joe, Frank, and I all flew Frank’s swing seat at Dockweiller. This was the first time I have flown with a swing seat since the early standard days, forty something years ago. The swing seat is definitely easier to land than prone. In taking off, it is a little harder to lean into the run with the swing seat. With the aft down tubes there is a tendency to hold a little higher angle of attack than necessary, requiring retraining of a familiar feel of the down tubes from the prone position. Can you teach old dogs new tricks?

One lesson learned is when flying prone getting vertical will help in fair authority which is natural with the swing seat.

Frank’s extension bars take less than a minute to remove and reinstall.

It was nice to compare Bob’s Falcon 195, Joe’s Alpha 210, and Frank’s Condor 330. I just have to say at Dockweiller the Condor 330 is the most fun to fly. I really like Frank’s ideas on a Basic Hang Glider Trainer which is like the Condor but lower aspect ratio, less span. I think a certified glider like that would appeal to the paraglider group with low takeoff/landing speeds and maneuverability. Frank is working on a scaled down flying model at this stage.

It was a great day with Bob, Joe, and Frank sharing their flying and ideas with me at the beach.

By the way, on Memorial Day weekend (May 27) at the Otto Lilienthal Meet, John Heiney, Joe Greblo, and Erika Klein all flew Frank’s swing seat.

User avatar
By Nicos
Ah yes, I saw this video and it looks good — the bars are a little like the ones I designed (they continue up high for flaring). But if I'm hanging upright and not too low (ie. same as the normal setup), I can flare in a familiar way without bars and without any learning curve.

I also very much like the development work Jim Fenison has been doing with his suprone handle systems and the development of a seated harness. But for me, seated-only is too much of a compromise in a number of ways. I want to have my cake and eat it... this new production harness allows me to point my toes and go flat into the airflow if desired, sit upright, or go head-down in prone. The angles of both seated and prone can be adjusted inflight. Launching/landing procedures remain the same.

I've enjoyed flying seated in a PG harness (surprisingly it's a very different feeling), but figure it's a bit limiting for the times that flying prone might be a better plan (scratching, strong turbulent lift, trying to jump that gap, racing etc)... I think this new harness idea could be the best of both worlds. It should be a reasonably inexpensive, and a pilot will be able to buy a proven solution off-the-shelf (harness with integrated spreader bar + control frame extensions/bars).

Thanks to everyone who has already completed the survey! Its really great info :)

With about 100 survey results so far, the data looks very interesting in terms of pilot perceptions about seated flying (control, comfort, safety, performance), reasons for flying seated (or not), age demographics etc. It's quite the affirmation so far.
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I noticed in your video, you were launching holding the forward down tubes and then would transition to the aft extenders. I think that is a good technique in keeping the nose down on launch and accelerating to flying speed. I only used the forward down tubes with the prone harness. Now, I wish we would have tried it with the swing seat.

Back in the 1980s Bob Thompson would fly supine and suprone. Bob Thompson flew x-c in Arizona and the Owens Valley. That should dispel any question of lack of control authority in the supine position. That is Big Air.
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User avatar
By Nicos
Ya, I now launch from the uprights but from behind the risers, this makes the transition to seated easier. I've landed with the extension bars and they are OK for flaring but transitioning from a fast landing approach is problematic.

Bob is legendary! What a guy :) I've only driven through Owens, but the sky looked massive!! What intense geography round that part of the world.

I've found that sitting below the bar gives great control (a bit like power steering) but lacks travel, especially for full flare rotation. And for mine, there just ain't nothin' like flinging your legs to the side in those I-need-full-control moments on rough days...
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Saving hang gliding is such a multi faceted approach. Seated position could be just another way to broaden the sport for all people interested.

I think the people that fly HG want to save it because of perceived superiority to PG. But honestly, I've been flying kites since I was 12, quite regularly, until I actually strapped one to my back and took off. So for me, as long as kites are in the sky, I think people who choose to fly delta wings, instead of parafoils is not as important.

We are a generation of convenience. It's obvious why people choose parafoils instead of a 200" piece of tubing they have to retrofit their vehicle for.

I'm a kite pilot now. I hope I can champion HG for years to come. Perhaps this seated flying position can UNITE us a bit more instead of this stupid riff between baggers and hangers.
User avatar
By Nicos
So, the new harness is real. You can get one at https://www.cloud9morph.com
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