There are a few ways that you can learn to hang glide, including learning from a hill, on a tow, and on a winch. In this post I am going to explain how I learnt to hang glide, which was on a winch
Before any flying starts, you have to go through general safety points, such as what hazards are in the field, listen to your instructor etc. After that, you have a go at setting up the glider (with help, of course!) and learning about the glider you are about to fly. Then begins a very important aspect of flying – ground handling. Running up and down a field carrying the glider allows you to get a feel for how it will respond in the air, and is an important part of developing your control.
The great thing about winching, is that you can winch someone up in pretty much any direction, providing you have a big square field. So once you have done some ground handling and have got the hang of it, you begin to fly across the field. You are attached to the winch by a long wire, and the wings are also attached to ropes running down the side of you, which act almost as a guide to help you stay flying straight. This starts off with ‘moon jumps’ where the winch man pulls you gently, allowing you to only come a few feet off of the ground.
As you improve you are pulled higher and higher by the winch, ‘S-ing’ off your height before landing. As you get towards the maximum height that the winch will allow, you can practice getting into the prone position whilst flying in a large circle, then coming into land. general feel for the glider, for the speed at which you take off, and how to steer.
When you are competent in all the tasks set by the instructor you complete a short test in order to get your ‘club pilot’ licence (the next stage up from the ‘elementary pilot’ license). Completing a hill conversion course is then recommended, which you transfer your learnt skills to taking off from a hill and then ridge souring to stay airborne- this opens up lots more flying opportunities!
Completing this training means you can then fly under the supervision of a club coach at your local flying sites.