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Hang Gliding 101

You don't need an airplane to experience the thrill of flying. Kidzworld checks out the the high-adrenaline sport of hang gliding.

Hang Gliding - History

  • In the late 19th century, a German named Otto Lilienthal designed an early hang glider made from wood and fabric. For his first flight, he ran onto a spring board and leaped off. Once he was in the air, he shifted his body back and forth to steer. More advanced hang glider models were developed in the 1960s and 1970s and hang gliding pilots began launching from hills and cliffs.

    Hang Gliding - We Have Lift Off

    Hang gliding pilots rise into the air by taking off from cliffs, mountains, ridges or other high up spots and making use of thermals. Thermals are bubbles or columns of warm air. Thermal lift occurs when the sun heats up the air and causes it to rise. A pilot catches a thermal by circling the warm air, which pushes him or her upward. Thermals can send a hang gliding pilot up to 20,000 feet above the ground!

    Hang Gliding - Getting Started

    So, you think you're interested in taking to the skies in a hang glider? To begin hang gliding lessons, you have to be at least 12 years old and weigh at least 85 pounds. It's also best to take your lesssons from a certified instructor. When you're just starting out, it's recommended that you only fly from hills that are under 100 feet in height and only fly in mild winds. Hang gliding can be dangerous, so it's important you try the sport with proper supervision using proper equipment. Hang gliding can also be an expensive sport so you're best off taking some lessons and renting gear before asking your parents for a brand new hang glider for your birthday. For more info on hang gliding school in your area, click here.

    Hang Gliding - Fun Facts

  • Manfred Ruhmer holds the world record for longest distance traveled in a hang glider. He traveled 700.6 kms (437 miles) during a flight over Texas in July, 2001.
  • Experts believe that hang gliders were used as the first spy planes. Over 3,000 years ago, Chinese soldiers were tied to gigantic kites. As they flew into the sky, these soldiers would look out for enemies.
  • A group of hang gliding pilots who fly together are called a gaggle.

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