US Hang Gliding, Inc
Scooter towing is another way for us to train our students how to hang glide. The short two and a half minute video below shows some of the capabilities of scooter towing. The glider used here is a Wills Wing Condor 330 that we nicknamed "Big Bertha." Every pilot in this video is / was a rated HG pilot at the time of filming. Sorry to disappoint you but as a student you will NOT be going this high to start until we know that you can steer the glider and can land safely on each of your flights. As a student we try to keep you at or below 6 ft. when you are new, and we can progress the flight time and altitude from there.
Some of the best parts of scooter towing is that it can be any size training hill that the instructor needs for their student, and as a student you don't need to go carry that 45-60 pound hang glider back up the training hill. As a new student you will be limited on when and where you can fly. As your skills improve your flights will get longer and higher. In the beginning we will try our best to keep you at about 3-5 ft off the ground. Now there are lot of factors that come into play here: wind direction and speed, if the student is gripping the downtubes, or if the student is pulling in or pushing out the control frame, just to name a few. They all play a factor as to how well your flight will go. As you show us that you are capable of steering and landing safely, we will add altitude from 3-5 ft from the first time out until you can keep the glider flying straight and level, then to the 10-15 ft range, 20-30 ft, 50-75 ft, 100+ or until the climb is maxed out by the amount of line reeled out or by wind conditions.
In light winds, the scooter offers us the ability to choose any size training hill for that particular student. Depending on skill level, wind conditions, glider type, and the amount of line reeled out, all these affect just how high we can go. At best, we can achieve about half the height of the total line out. So for example let's say we have 1000 ft to the end or where the pulley is, we can see max altitudes of about 500-700 ft. This is best case scenario of course at maximum climb; most flights are spent well below that. We will bump up the amount of altitude for each student as they progress through steering and foot landings while learning to fly solo. We could provide an intro solo lesson with the scooter towing with weather permitting, but we still highly recommend that you take a few tandem flight lessons, or at least 3 training hill days before we scooter tow you as the student.
With scooter towing it's very difficult for the instructor or instructors to keep up with you as you're getting towed off the flat ground. As a result we use 2 way radios; as a student you will limited to listening only, as your focus needs to be on the flight at hand. The flight plan can be a nice and easy straight flight at a given altitude, or a cone course for turn practice, or or work on a landing approach. Once you have reached the end of the cones the tow will be slowed and come to stop as you keep flying till you are back on the ground. At first you will probably land with the tow line but as you progress you will be using a standard aero tow release to detach from the tow line. A lot of your instruction will be spent here when conditions allow. The best times for solo lessons is the early morning to late morning and again in the late afternoon or early evening when the wind conditions are generally lighter and thus easier for you as the student and us as instructors to handle. Solo lessons start at 9 am and go till 1 pm. after which we usually go to lunch. After lunch we will reassess the current wind conditions for afternoon lessons. Lunch will be at least 45 min to an hour. In most cases though we don't get started back up again until 4 or 5 pm and then we will go till you or the instructor calls it, or we get within 30 minutes of dusk.