US Hawks Hang Gliding Association

Paraglider Crashes Into Cliff
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Author:  majiemae [ Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Paraglider Crashes Into Cliff

Video credit to Greg Overton: Terrifying footage shows a paraglider crashing into the side of a cliff.

Author:  wingspan33 [ Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paraglider Crashes Into Cliff


That video made me feel pain. But this is the kind of video that collapsible canopy "occupants" should see and rationally realize could happen to them as well. Perhaps not as bad as this incident but there are many ways to almost die in a collapsible canopy. You don't have to be flying someplace in the Alps to feel a mountain of hurt.

A collapsible canopy pilot at a local flying site recently told me (after pointing to a spot a several hundred feet behind the launch) "That's where I broke my back." :wtf:

That wouldn't have happened to him were he flying a hang glider - period. Unless he tried to make it happen. Then again, an idiot flying a hang glider, is as bad as a smart person under a collapsible canopy*.

* It could be that "smart person under a collapsible canopy" is an oxymoron. :eh: :idea:

Author:  wingspan33 [ Sun Aug 04, 2019 5:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paraglider Crashes Into Cliff

If you go to the YT video above and look at the comments you may find the following -

From - ... m-comments

midtoad , I think I know the answer to my first question. How many times in your 37 years of flying a hang glider have you suffered a collapse?

Next comment - In the late 1980s and early 1990s I was a HG instructor and my boss wanted me to be able to teach PGing. So, back in 1990 or 1991 I had enough PG flights from our T-Hill to advance to a higher site. I never made the "jump" but not because I had any fear related problems. Still my boss told me he, himself, would never fly a PG in anything but calm stable air (basically before 10 am with little to no wind). He knew very well that PGs could collapse in turbulence and drop you to the ground. So, I was flying a PG before you started (Big deal, right! lol ).

Next, I would agree that it's easier to learn how to PG. The main thing with an HG is the weight and cumbersomeness of the glider. You don't have that with a PG. BUT! even once you have the training, launching a PG involves a proper on ground inflation, a good rise of the canopy into the air, the canopy remaining stable directly over you, turning yourself around to face the wind (hoping the canopy remains stable and directly over head, then running until you (safely) lift off.

What's the process of launching in an HG? Keep an eye on the launch tell tales, wait for a good straight in wind cycle (both pre-launch steps which PGs also need to do) pick up glider, ensure the wings are balanced, then walk, jog, run until you lift off. That's FAR simpler than a PG launch.

During the last 6 PG launches that I have witnessed one nearly clipped a tree, another did clip a tree but came unsnagged and a third launched, went up a few feet, but his canopy collapsed and dropped him a few feet to the ground, then lifted him again then let him down more gently. He did finally launch successfully. Of the other 3 PGers I know that at least 2 of them had more than one unstable inflation while trying to launch. These guys were all very experienced PG pilots. If they were HG pilots instead, and having so much trouble launching, (and they were Novice, Intermediate or Advance rated) I would do my best to have their rating revoked/reduced and have them go back to the T-Hill for more Beginner training.

As to landing, I'll give credit where credit is due. PGs are typically very easy to land. However, close to the ground turbulence or unexpected rotor can collapse a PG and drop the rider to the ground from 20 or 50 or 80 feet. Once again, I personally witnessed one of the very best PGers in the area come into land one day. When he was about 40-50 feet up it looked like he made "big ears" to degrade his glide. Once he landed I described what I thought he had done. He told me very honestly, "No I didn't do that and didn't want it to happen. I just hit some turbulence." A properly trained HG pilot increases his/her air speed up to (at least) 30 mph so that they still have airspeed if they hit rotor or other low level turbulence that may create a following breeze. PGs may be able to fly that fast but turbulence/rotor can still deflate their canopy. HGs just feel a "bump".

I think that your final comment above that "People perceive that paragliders . . ." Is dead on. It's what they are led to "perceive". But I would disagree about them being correct in that perception. PG's are more complex in their launch sequence and more vulnerable in their landing sequence. Hang gliders are more bulky and harder to move around on the ground - before flying and after. And you have to carry them on a car rack and set them up before flying. There's no denying any of that. But does all that mean that HG pilots are stupid (from a PGer's view point) or does it mean that PGers are lazy and stupid (from a HG pilot's viewpoint)?

I'll finish this long comment by saying, very sincerely, that I don't want anyone who loves to soar above a hill or mountain to experience a negative incident. I don't want anyone who flies anything to die doing it. Between HGs and PGs - and having flown both and having witnessed accidents/close calls involving both - I worry much more about my friends who fly PGs. PS - I actually own a PG but will only fly it from small hills in consistent, stable breezes.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

". . . [W]ell, of course, there are more deaths in paragliding. And it has a lot to do with the fact that there are 10 times as many people flying paragliders as hang gliders."

What I think everyone should think about is the kind of fatal accidents that PGs suffer. Like PGs, hang gliders can have a fatal accident while launching (particularly at cliff launches). Like PGs, hang glider pilots can have a fatal accident while landing (although every fatal accident involves hitting the ground too hard - so all PG and HG fatalities actually involve bad landings).

But, unless a hang glider is not set up correctly, breaks during a high G aerobatic maneuver, or tumbles and breaks due to EXTREME turbulence, it is not going to "collapse" and fall from the sky. So, the "collapse" is a very unlikely cause of a hang glider pilot's death (let's say, less than 5% and more likely less than 1%). But, being honest here, how many PG fatalities involve a partial or complete collapse leading to the person's impact with Mother Earth? I don't have figures available, but I would guess that 80-90% of PG fatalities are directly or indirectly connected with their canopy's collapse.

To lend some perspective, consider cars vs motorcycles. How many motorcyclists are killed specifically because they are thrown off their bikes? Now, how many people are killed because they are thrown out of their cars?

Many more bikers are killed this way as compared to people driving cars. And there are MANY countries where there are lots more motorcyclists than people driving cars. So, since there are more motorcycles it's obvious there will be more fatalities among people riding motorcycles. So, motorcycles are really as safe as cars! ? ? ? ?

No! If everyone was driving around in (modern/safe) cars then next to no one would die due to flying out of their car! For people in countries with a majority of motorcycles on the road, it's usually due to economic factors, so it's hard to get everyone driving a (modern/safer) car. But that's not true with PGs. Most people who fly PGs could afford a low end beginner or a good second hand hang glider. And if everyone flew hang gliders then next to no one would die due to a "collapse". The fatality stats for people doing basic soaring (in hang gliders!) would drop significantly! That's guaranteed!

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