Set to Soar: Hang Gliding - Page 2

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Given that 90 percent of hang-gliding students never advance past the novice stage, picking the right flight school can make the difference between becoming a skilled pilot and abandoning the sport early.

The school you choose should have experienced, certified instructors and good physical facilities, including gentle training hills that are flyable in a variety of wind conditions. Beginners in particlar will appreciate training programs conducted on sand dunes—the soft sand makes for gentle landings even when your technique is poor.
Unless you're a complete newcomer to the sport, look for a school that offers aerotowing, which will maximize your air time and let you practice more maneuvers on any given flight. Class size is key, too. With more than seven people flying the same bunny hill, you may spend more time waiting than learning.

For most people, price is also a valid consideration. But you should remember this: choosing a flight school with what appears to be a reasonable hourly rate for lessons may be less desirable than one that offers a fixed price guaranteeing all the lessons necessary to reach a particular level of training.

Good equipment is vital, of course. Training gliders should be of recent vintage—ideally with wheels to ease the task of hauling them back up the hill. Some schools have flight simulators that let you get the feel of maneuvering the glider before you leave the ground. The best schools also offer tandem training, although this is more important for intermediate instruction.

Finally, a good training center will provide a thorough ground school curriculum covering flight theory, site discipline (deciding when and where to fly), weather conditions, and equipment assembly and care. Printed flight manuals should be supplied as part of ground school, and the fee for a novice course should include USHGA membership for those new to the sport.

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