An Aerotow Hang Gliding Club in Ontario,
Hang gliding fulfils one of mankind's oldest desires ... to fly ... high
in the sky ... free as a bird.
If YOU have ever had the flying dreams ... and longed to be up there with
the eagles ... you've come to the right place.
Some people think of hang gliding as
a sport. Some pilots consider it to be a discipline or a lifestyle. SOGA
pilots see hang gliding as a passion .... a thing spiritual. When you
are at 3000 feet and the sun is going down and the sky is clear and the air
is silky-smooth and buoyant and the earth appears bright and peaceful, believe
me, you will understand. You will not be able to describe it. But you will
understand. And then, you too will pity the earth-bound.
Classic hang gliding is lifting the wing
on your shoulders and running off a mountain into the air high above the
valley floor. From there you catch updrafts on the windward faces or by riding
columns of warm air called thermals. Unfortunately there are no suitable
mountains in southern Ontario. So the hang gliding community has developed
many other methods of launching into the air; like static line towing, or
truck towing, or winch towing. At SOGA we prefer aerotowing ---- towing up
behind a powered ultralight plane. It is the most flexible of all the towing
methods and the tow plane can drop you off right there in your elevator in
On a more practical note, hang gliding is the least expensive
form of personal aviation. This makes it open to everyone.
Hang Gliding is a silent sport in which the pilots of
these brightly coloured and agile craft can seemingly soar endlessly over
the terrain from which most people spend all of their lives staring
Like sailplane pilots, hang glider pilots look for sources
of rising air to keep themselves airborne, be it the wind blowing up a slope
or currents (columns) of rising hot air called thermals.
Today's hang glider is the most maneuverable of any fixed
wing aircraft. Hang gliding allows pilots to comfortably fly wing tip to
wing tip, soar next to a sheer rock cliff-face, skim over tree tops or to
soar with majestic hawks, whose flying abilities has helped many a hang glider
pilot find elusive lift.
When you fly a hang glider, all your support structure
is above you, so there is nothing to encumber your view. And that view is
History: Long before
the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk, there were gliders in the air.
Individuals like George Cayley and Otto Lilienthal were involved in the birth
of unpowered flight.
When the Wright brothers put an engine on one of their
gliders they altered the thrust of aviation for a very long time.
No further major development in hang gliding occurred
until the 1960's when NASA became interested in a wing developed by Francis
Rogallo. NASA envisioned using this wing for spacecraft recovery and after
spending a great deal of time and money on research decided to use more
NASA's efforts brought the idea of Mr. Rogallo's to many
people however. In the late sixties flight enthusiasts in California and
Australia discovered the "Rogallo wing" and the old sport of hang gliding
Today's Hang Glider
The original Rogallo wing was very simple and inexpensive
but it also had a very poor performance. The craft was nothing more than
a kite with very questionable aerodynamic characteristics. In the early days
the sport of hang gliding had a very poor safety record. Over the years it
was very natural for designers to continually improve on the original design.
The hang gliders of today handle and perform far beyond
the wildest dreams of the earliest participants. The efforts of designers
throughout the eighties have also resulted in gliders with very impressive
performance and built-in safety factors.
The current hang gliding distance record is 700 km, which
was set in 2001 and took 10 Â½ hours. With the quality of student
instruction and the quality of glider construction available today, the sport
of hang gliding today enjoys a safety record envied by all other aviation
Top quality gliders are manufactured in many parts of
the world. Currently none are made in Canada. Prices range from around $5,000
Cdn to over $10,000 for the latest high performance competition class models.
Club gliders are available for training purposes and immediate purchases
are not required to learn the sport. The top of the line gliders have speed
ranges between 30 and 125km/hr, a minimum decent rate of less than one meter
per second and a glide ratio of more than 10:1. Because of a hang glider's
superior flat turning capabilities together with its phenomenal sink rate,
today's hang gliders can out climb many modern sailplanes!
Getting Airborne: At
SOGA we use an airplane to get towed up into the sky much like the Sailplanes
do. The difference is we use an ultralight airplane 'The Dragonfly' which
was designed in Australia specifically for towing hang gliders. This ultralight
tug tows you up at a very comfortable 25-30 mph., and the ride up is almost
as much fun as the ride down!