I think a lot of what makes a good hang glider pilot is a connection to your gut feelings, the ethereal sense you feel inside guiding you one way or another way. So often we confound these feelings with rationality with a layer of thinking and internalised discussion muddying the waters and confounding the original insight.
Do you want to fly? Why arn’t you flying!
This question came at me a few times, and if I am honest the answer was always no, I did not like the light switchy wind and the fact that there was no indication that the air was working even a little. The day started blue looked blue and stable with only high cirrus clouds coming over to paint some meaningless patterns. All the cumulus activity was off to the west and far to the north.
I was however also conflicted with not flying Dan Balla had almost burst a blood vesal perturbed with my apathetic laying about in the grass. I was feeling like I should fly and then when it was said the last tows would go then we would pack up.
oh.. ok then
When I beat the last time along that bubbly and buoyant back field the wind sock was a different way each time I looked. Having decided to come in from the west upslope my mind questioned this as the clouds were all coming from the west the breeze had always been from the west yet the wind sock showed east – this time.
Too high between decisions I found I made the same approach as last time, over flew the others and turned down the runway thinking that would be ok, especially after last weekends nice landing. Bollox…
You feel a tailwind in a weird but unmistakable way at this same time you are locked into what is obviously the wrong outcome. However I was calm enough to get ready felt my feet graze through the long grass and waited for a sign that it was time to flare.
My tip stalled, I guess that although my ground speed was still very high my airspeed was not, as soon as I felt the asymmetry I reflexively pushed hard out to flare. I felt the wing take air well but not square my feet had no idea what to do and the next feeling was disorienting.
Having confidence in choosing not to fly and not letting and sense of self-conscious externalized expectation push you into a decision is important – there is no shame in making this choice. For me at this time with my state of currency and my history of landings this would have been a sensible if maybe a demoralising choice. Having a clear non conflicted less surrealistic head space would also help.
Getting out a big flare I think removed a lot of the energy from the situation I was in but I did destroy both uprights so if it does not hurt me it hurt my wallet.
Trust your instincts, rationalise for them not against them and be confident to say no, but then once you to make a choice take full responsibility for it and make it happen, poncing about wondering this or that is a waste of everyones time.
Practicing landing has to be my 100% focus now all the way to August and my this years adventure to Monte Cucco.
[Question and Answer OZReport:]
Q: Perfect approach into light wind on a strong thermic day; I’m slowing to trim in ground effect in a topless glider, almost at trim speed with my hands moved to the uprights and me fully out of prone when something unexpected causes one wing tip to rise. Suddenly I’m no longer straight and level. My (Oh no!) flare resulted in a nasty whack, bloody nose, banged up shoulder and a broken upright. This during a comp and landing at goal for maximum embarrassment and pain
Hope I’ve painted the picture well enough for your advice, as trying to land/ flare when wings are not level at the critical moment has probably happened to most pilots at some time or other.
There are several reasons for a wing tip rising, some pilot error, others not. Or would you say that they are all pilot error?
Obviously I’d like to know how to avoid the occasional rising wingtip, but I’d also like to know what is the best way to handle it once you’ve encumbered yourself with one?
Or do you just have to pay the ferryman?
A. Awesome question Jerry!
I’ll answer what I know… but bear in mind that I’m just an other idiot out there… I don’t have “the” answers, I just have “my” answers
Yup, this ain’t a perfect world and sh*t happens… and we’ve got to deal with it.
So, what do you do when _____?
I’ll start with the big one… it’s the cardinal rule of landing (and taking off for that matter)… WINGS LEVEL.
Wings level is above all else.
Keeping your nose down on takeoff is at the end of the day, all about keeping your wings level. If you don’t, you drop a wingtip.
So… what to do when they’re not?
Get them level, at nearly any cost. Do nothing else until they are.
We’re not trying to save a graceful landing at this point… we’re trying not to get hurt.
If you touch the ground with your wings level, it will almost certainly be better, and heaps better, than if they are not.
If they’re not, when you touch, you’re going for a cartwheel ride. It’s going to suck.
If they’re level, you might just pancake in. You might break some uprights. Who cares? Break them. Grab one and plow through it. Don’t grab both as you’ll break your arms. All the usual “crashing” advice. Hopefully it doesn’t even get that far.
I’ve landed my talon downwind on my belly with no wheels and everything just skidded in… the nose never even came down. Level level level.
A good shove on the basetube right at the end helped. You can’t flare prone, but you sure as hell can try… and it does matter.
(thankfully faired basetubes slide well on semi-wet grass, especially if you get them going slow enough)
#1 Goal, get the wings level.
If you can’t in time, DO NOT flare!
Flaring in a turn will always go bad… and it’ll go bad fast.
Don’t even semi-flare.
Don’t even continue to slow down.
Your goal is still to get your wings level… if that means speeding up… guess what? You do it. Get those wings level… then, once they are, you can huck that puppy over your head and save yourself from pounding in… but only once you get them level.
Now, this is where those other landing techniques come in very handy.
This is why I teach my students to stop themselves with the glider before I even let them leave the ground.
That “moonwalk” landing can save your butt.
You’re all setup for a perfect landing when ole mama nature decides to bitchslap you.
Ok… panicroom time.
We’ve just shifted gears from a nice “showstopper” landing to “not pounding in”.
We’ve maybe even had to nudge the bars in a touch to get them level again. We’re still in a non-advantageous position.
We’re faster than we can run and things are happening too fast to pull out a good flare. Hell, we probably don’t have the wings level yet and it’s “touch the earth” time.
So moonwalk-run. Finish leveling the wings as you do it, then you’re just doing a moonwalk landing from that point on.
If you know the moonwalk, this is extremely easy.
I highly recommend learning it if you don’t already know it.
Start on an easy glider first btw… learn the technique… then apply it to your glider.
I learned the moonwalk on a Falcon. Then a Sport 2… then I moved on to my gliders.
I’m a stingy bastard.
I only pay the piper when I absolutely have to.
I’ve paid the man, don’t get me wrong… but I avoid it as long as I can.