What’s involved in taking hang gliding lessons, and how much does it cost?
In order for you to buy equipment you need a rating. Hang 1 is basic takeoff and landing as well as ground handling and glider assembly. In order to get a Hang 1, you must be able to set up the hang glider, ground handle, and launch and land the hang glider.
After you can assemble, ground handle, and launch and land the glider yourself , you get a Hang 1 (usually 4 to 6 hang gliding lessons).
Then you can fly from higher hills, from 500 to 1000 feet high, where you can practice turning the hang glider and setting up a landing approach, which gets you ready for a hang 2!
Once you have a rating you can buy equipment. The hang 1 is the bunny hill stuff (usually 4 to 6 hang gliding lessons), and once you can launch and land the glider, we can practice flying off of bigger hills and practice setting up a landing approach which gets you a hang 2. All mountain footlaunch hang gliding sites are rated hang 2 or higher.
So, if you want to fly and have never done so, your best bet would to read Dennis Pagan’s Hang Gliding Training Manual, and come out to the Point of the Mountain. There you can meet up with Birdman Academy. Get your training and your gear, and leave (or stay!) with the equipment and knowledge to let you fly and keep you safe.
Then you need a harness, parachute, glider, and a vario if you want to fly on your own
There is also used equipment, please email for information.
7 step training process
Through an already proven 7-step process, students can move from first lesson to sustained soaring flight in a safe easily explained fashion. In order to move on to the next step, both the instructor and student must feel confident with the students ability to perform the appointed task, or else the student will not move higher on the hill which would expose them to unnecessary risk.
- Flying down low at running height above the ground, practicing basic controls, which happens in the first lesson.
- Flying a few feet higher off of the ground, from a foot or tow high to 5 or 10 feet high, practicing takeoff and landing. This also typically happens in the first lesson, as long as the student is behaving themselves and showing they can respond to basic control instructions.
- Flying from a bit higher, practicing basic small turns, between 30 or 50 feet above the ground. This would typically in the next few lessons.
- Flying a bit higher, about 80 or 100 feet high, practicing more turns would typically happen a few lessons after that.
- Flying off of the top, about 275 feet high, practicing lore turns as well as landing approaches (making it to where you are supposed to go). Typically around this step the student is H2 or P2 qualified.
- Flying off the top, flying in stronger wind, kiting the glider in wind, and soaring
- Ground school: learn about wind and weather, how the air interacts with terrain, how to know if it is good to fly or not, preflight, glider inspection, soaring and high mountain flying concerns
Here is a video showing a student practicing launching and landing the hang glider (hang 1 skills).
Here is a video showing a student flying off of the higher hill, practicing turning, and setting up a landing approach.
Here is a video of a student getting his first soaring flight.
Here is a rated pilot (former student) that is launching off of his first mountain site without his instructor!
Here at the Point of the Mountain (Point), we have an outstanding environment in which to safely and quickly learn and master the art of flying modern hang gliders and paragliders!
With Birdman Academy, you have a chance to learn Hang gliding at one of the best places in the world, by some very experienced instructors. We use small steps : first starting out low, and then working higher, all the time with the instructor telling you exactly what to do on the radio which makes learning to fly faster and easier!
Birdman Academy specializes in foot launch solo hang gliding and paragliding instruction and ratings certification, as well as helping you get the gear that you need to fly on your own.
For your first lesson, after a beginners ground school and flight demonstration, students will first run on flat ground with the glider. They must understand the basic radio instructions (pull in, push out, left, and right) before they are allowed to move up to the training hill. Then, the student tries a few runs, running down the shallow slope of the hill. Here, they practice basic controls while running. Usually a student will have a few flights, probably flying 3 feet high for about 50 or 75 feet by the end of the first lesson, all depending on weather conditions and student progress. The first lesson gets most students ready to come back, flying approximately 15 feet high for about 150 feet or so by the end of the second lesson, depending once again on both the student progress and the wind conditions.
After about 6 lessons, the student is typically at a hang 1 skill level. This means they can set up and inspect the wing, hook in and check their attachment to the glider, launch, fly level, and land smoothly on their feet. This prepares them for hang 2 training.
For hang 2 training, students fly from higher hills, practice turns, and practice their landing approaches. This training is made much easier by taking high mountain tandem flights.
These flights are from much higher mountains (typically between 3,000 and 5,000 feet vertical). This extra airtime gives the student time to fly the glider and practice turns, with the instructor right there.
This mountain flying training helps prepare the student to fly off the mountain by themselves.
Birdman Academy also offers advanced hang gliding instruction on soaring, thermalling, XC (cross country) and mountain flying.
Birdman Academy Instructor experience
We take your flight training seriously at Birdman Academy. Our founder, Kevin Koonce, had taught thousands of beginner Hang Gliding lessons while working for a few years as an instructor at Kitty Hawk Kites. Over thousands of lessons, he has seen many different people make the same beginner mistakes while learning how to Hang Glide, and has many helpfull techniques to help beginning students that have been learned from spending many years travelling around the U.S. and talking to many different Hang Gliding instructors.
While working at Kitty Hawk Kites, “the dude” oversaw the first Hang Gliding lessons of approximately 8,000 first time Hang Gliding students.
As well as teaching Hang Gliding, “the dude” was not only privlidged to fly a 1902 Wright Brothers Glider replica, but was key in the “figuring out” of how to fly, launch and land the glider replica; not only with the fellow Hang Gliding instructors, but also in working with the team of hot shots (an F-18 test pilot, a, astronaut, an Apache attack helicopter instructor, and others) that were trying to learn how to fly the glider replica in order to help them learn how the 1902 powered Wright Brothers glider will fly!
After moving to the Point of the Mountain, the people started calling “the dude” “Birdman” once he started Birdman Academy. After years of hang gliding and hangliding tandems, the Birdman started paragliding, and started offering lessons and tandems for paragliding as well as hang gliding.
The Birdman also traveled extensively internationally, flying and competing in Australia, as well as tandem hang gliding and paragliding in New Zealand.
After returning to America, a few years later God showed me he was real and let me know that he thinks that I am Michael the Archangel. Since he wants me to go by that, that is what I go by now.
The local weather conditions at the Point are legendary for producing consistent smooth training winds, which provide maximum potential for flying a hang glider or a paraglider during the lesson. Many different training locations will familiarize students with the act of ‘hang waiting’, which is defined as waiting on launch until the wind blows in a favorable, sustained cycle.
Hang gliding and Paragliding lessons at the Point do sometimes involve hang waiting, but the amount of time spent waiting for wind at the Point is much less than anywhere else. The wind at the Point really loves to blow in at the south side almost every morning, which makes your job of learning to fly much easier and faster!