Hang gliding

I'm thinking of trying something exciting and as I am petrified of heights (or rather falling from heights), I've decided this is about as rock 'n' roll as I can consider at the moment.

Has anyone ever tried it? If so, do you have a school that you can recommend or any tips on what to look for in a school?

Once I've done this then maybe my dream of a parachute jump will be a bit closer. image


  • Oh god don't do it - not if you value your life and/or skeleton! I haven't actually hang glided but I did used to paraglide. Until a nasty crash on Lanzarote saw me spending two weeks in hospital, 6 weeks in a wheelchair and 6 months on crutches and a year off training. That was in 1993. I ended up having a back op in 1995 and am still suffering from the damage to this day.

    So - no, wouldn't recommend it. We are earth bound for a reason!

    If you want to get over your fear of heights, go see a hypnotist!!

  • SezzSezz ✭✭✭

    Oooh, I've always wanted to try this ever since I saw gliders gliding off the top of the Hannakam mountain in Austria one summer when I was 14.  

    Where are you Lawro?  I know that Dunstable Hang Gliding club has a good reputation.  Never done it but looked into it a few years back but went up in a towed glider instead.

  • SezzSezz ✭✭✭
    Ouch Min!
  • Min, and there was me thinking you were walking like John Wayne with a sprained ankle because of me?

  • IronMin - wow, poor you! I hope you had no long lasting effects from all the problems it caused.

    I would like to still give it a go though, rather than going to see some creepy Paul McKenna type, as that's not very exciting and to be honest I'm looking for something to help me confront my fears and for an adrenaline kick!

    Sezz - I'm in Kent. I know Dunstable though. 

    Was it good? What was the landing like?  

  • Min - don't put someone off just because you had a crash. If everyone did the same none of us would ride bikes/ski/drive/whatever...

    I've done a days paragliding course but didn't get hooked enough to carry on

    try rock climbing or mixed route climbing - that might help overcome the fear.....
  • A very valid point FB, but I guess its natural for me to react negatively to it since I have been in daily pain since 1993 as a result!!
  • Thanks for the suggestions FB - I've done rock climbing and it was a disaster - I froze half way up - took a heck of a lot cajoling to get me to move.

    Besides as sad as this sounds I want to fly - see what its like to be able to float in the air without being in a plane and/or plummeting to the ground.

  • How about a Hot Air Balloon trip Lawro - as an intro? Would that be too tame tho? I tried rock climbing too (on an outdoor wall) to see if it would shift my fear of falling from height as a result of my accident and I froze about 2 metres from the top. Well, not so much froze as turned to jelly! Fortunately it was when I used to box regularly and had enough arm strength to pull myself up - my legs had just gone completely! Its a shame, cos I just loved abseiling down!
  • SezzSezz ✭✭✭

    Lawro, the plane gliding was excellent, although the landing was a bit bumpy from what I remember.

    Try a tandem skydive - that'll get you over you fear of heights!!   Did that in 1999 and absolutely loved it.

    Or, if you really to try something to help but keep your feet on the ground, try NLP, neurolinguistic programming.  I used NLP on someone who was afraid of heights and after an hour we went to the top of the hotel and looked out and down and he was fine.  There was much more work we could have done but an hour was good for starters.

  • IronMin - I just don't fancy hot air ballooning - as you say it seems a bit tame. 

    Well done on the climb though - you did better than me by the sounds of things - the climb I did was the easiest one they had and it was more of a short climb - then a walk along a ledge. I froze before I reached the ledge, which was about a third of the way up - pathetic and humilating!   

    I will do some more research before I do the hand gliding though.

  • Sezz - tandem skydive would be good, but I don't want to deafen anyone by screaming all the way down. I figured that the hang gliding would be a good start and then move on.

    NLP - my friend was telling me about this - trying to 'cure' me of my fear of needles. (can you spot a pattern?). Can you recommend any books as I definitely want to sort that one out?

  • Thanks Dave - good suggestion to start it all off.

    Plenty to think about...

  • Lurker here...

    I used to hang glide for about 10 years, but stopped a few years ago as my old flying pals all started to have kids and do other things. I have had a few mishaps but nothing major. I'd never dream of paragliding though, as I've seen too many paragliders collapse due to having no rigid structure. The worst was seeing one drop about 2 thousand feet as I was flying near him one time in wales.

    Typically hang gliding clubs don't teach, you have to go to a school for that. I presume they'll be listed on http://www.bhpa.co.uk/ . Don't really have any tips on choosing a good school as it's been a long long time since I did my training course.

    I would recommend hang gliding to anyone though. Flying in spain at 13000 feet being able to see the curvature of the earth was mind blowing.
  • Thanks Hg - especially for the description of Spain - that's what I want to be able to see - everything from a bird's eye view. How cool will that be?

    Thanks for the link too - I will start there.

  • if you want to see views from high up - try mountaineering. the view from the top of Mt Blanc on a clear day is just mind blowing - see over a 100 miles. and it's not a technical climb and no need to worry about heights as you are on solid snow/rock the whole way so there is very little chance of falling - if you do it's only a couple of feet

    and what about standard glider?? plenty of clubs about and you're in a pretty sound plane with excellent safety records
  • Sounds lovely FB. How long does it take to climb up and back down?

    Never thought about standard gliding, but I'd like to feel the rush of running full tilt off the edge of a hill and gliding down - just for starters.

  • I tried a sailplane flight once and it was pretty nice. The glide angle is superb so you have a massive flight range. The furthest I ever flew on a hang glider was about 60 miles but you can go hundreds of miles with the carbon fibre super ships. Trouble is they can cost more than a house. Once you've got the basic hang gliding equipment the cost is minimal. Flying sailplanes is a rich person's sport.

    I actually knew someone who was afraid of heights but didn't have a problem in a hang glider. You feel like you're actually part of something rather than perched on top of something.

    Would love to try mountaineering too, that trip up Mt Blanc sounds pretty cool.
  • Lawro: stick "hang gliding" in youtube and you'll get a good feel for it.
  • so standard gliders are now called sailplanes?? never knew that

    you can climb Mt Blanc in a day - overnight in a refuge, early start (2am or so), on top by 9am, back in Chamonix for a beer by mid-afternoon. there are a number of routes - some very technical - but the 2 main ones are no great difficulty. you need to spend some time before getting acclimatised and learning how to walk with crampons and roped to others - loads of week courses available that will cover this.....

    it's the weather that's the intangible factor - we were lucky on our 1st ascent; 2nd time high winds curtailed it at 4000m so we turned back without summiting
  • Since gliders also encompasses hang gliders and paragliders, it's easier to use sailplanes to distinguish them. I'm not sure who uses which term, but people who fly hang gliders definitely refer to "standard gliders" as sailplanes.
  • FB: out of interest, how much would you have to budget for to do an ascent of Mt. Blanc?
  • Quite like the idea of that too FB!
  • Thanks Hg - its amazing


    I soooo want to do this.

  • cost of Mt B - depends on how you go about doing it.

    we knew a guide so booked him direct and he arranged everything including refuge booking (we had our own accomodation in Chamonix). there's a number of companies that will arrange an all-inclusive package (accomodation, guide, training etc) - about £500 for a week?? getting to Chamonix is easy by car or plane and loads of places to stay. just don't go in late July/August as the place is stacked and very little in the way of places to stay - even the campsites will be full

    the other cost is equipment - suitable clothing, high mountain boots, crampons, ice axe etc but you can hire most of this (bar clothing) in Chamonix.

    mail me if you need any more help
  • Did Mt Blanc twice as a student, on consecutive years. First year solo - you don't need to hire a guide - it's just a high altitude walk in crampons. However it's not risk free. There are a couple of risk factors: altitude at 16000 ft the air is a bit thin, and you can get altitude headaches, snow blindness, nausea etc. The second is that you have to cross a water-ice glacial flow on the way up and down the Trog's route. Not difficult, but it's a stonefall missile run. Every year a few people die on it, basically because they get shot by a stone. But then, all life has risk factors. I would compare the risk as being similar to walking across a motorway. Done carefully and the risks are minimised. Or you can be stupid.

    For the second ascent I had a mate and we took a challenging route.

    In climbing terms I got my biggest buzzes from rock climbing in Tremadoc, North Wales. Now we are talking low cost.

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