Control in Strong Winds
and taught by Mark Leavesley
Good ground control
technique is essential for launching and landing in strong winds. It
can save you from being dragged, 'hoovered' up, or dumped. A few minutes
ground handling with your wing flying but your feet safely on the ground
can give you a feel for the air. How strong is the wind? How gusty?
Does it feel smooth or turbulent and 'gnarly'? Are you convinced that
you will be comfortable and safe flying your wing in these conditions?
Using the rear risers,
rather than the brakes, to control the canopy on the ground in strong
winds, has two major advantages:
- Using the brakes
has the effect of causing lift before stalling and this is what can
pull you off your feet. Pulling on the rear risers immediately induces
a stall so prevents your being lifted off.
- If you are holding
the rear risers while ground handling in the reverse position, then
you can resist the force that will otherwise try to untwist the risers.
Being lifted up and twisted around at the same time can lead to lack
of control as you are jerked around.
To avoid having
the wing blown about while setting up, you need to minimise the time
taken checking the wing and clipping in.
- Carry out major
canopy and line checks before packing your glider at the end of the
day. Pack the glider neatly, especially the lines, so that you recheck
quickly as you open the glider.P
- Put on your helmet
and gloves, check your radio and generally make sure you are ready to
- If you have unclipped
your harness, then put the harness on and make sure it is fastened correctly.
If the harness is already clipped in, lay the harness on its back by
the centre of the wing.
- Lay out the glider
across the wind and unroll the downwind side first. Check the glider
and lines on that side.
- Unroll and check
the upwind side of the glider, then roll back the upwind tip to stop
the air getting into it. Then you can check the lines on that side.
- Lay the lines out
and check they are not tangled or twisted and that the risers are aligned
with the A's on top.
- If the harness
is already clipped in, then stand close to the wing and put the harness
on as quickly as you can whilst still making sure it is fastened correctly.
- If you are not
already clipped in, then face towards the canopy, pick up the risers,
checking that they are not twisted and are still correctly aligned with
the A risers on top. Hold the riser loops together. If you normally
turn to the right on a reverse launch, then turn the risers over to
the right and clip them in. Turn them to the left is you are going to
turn left. Facing towards the wing will allow you to see, and react
to, if the wind picks it up or it starts to inflate. Don't forget to
clip in the speed bar lines as well.
- Stand opposite
the centre of the wing. Hold both A risers in one hand keeping them
level. You may need to turn your body slightly to one side or the other
to get them to come level. Hold the rear risers in the other hand, leaving
the brake handles attached.
- Lean back and lift
the front risers gently to start inflating the glider. Hold the rear
risers down to prevent the glider coming right up. Once the wing is
inflated right across, move both hands to the rear risers.
- The wall is the
right height when you can comfortably hold it with your weight slightly
back to keep the tension on and the rear risers held down by your sides.
Even in strong winds this should not take a great physical effort.
- If you have to
pull hard to keep the wing from dragging you back, then the wall is
too high. Pull the rear risers slightly to bring it down until it is
- If the trailing
edge of the wing starts to lift, then the wall is too low. Lean back
to increase pressure on the A's or else lift them slightly.
- If the tips of
the wing start to lift then bring the rear risers in more towards your
- Bring the canopy
up by lifting the A risers, one in each hand, making sure they start
off parallel. The stronger the wind, the less effort you need to put
- As the wing starts
to come up, the drag on you will increase. Lean right back to counter
this. Once the wing starts to come overhead, the drag will stop.
- As the wing starts
to come overhead, transfer your hands to the rear risers and use these
to steer. Keep leaning back. Only gentle movements are needed.
- If the glider moves
to your right, then move right and pull your left hand down a little
to slow down that side of the wing. (You are doing the same thing as
if you were holding the brakes in cross hands, but with the opposite
hand because the rear risers are not crossed.) Vice versa if it moves
- If the glider starts
to overfly you, then pull both rear risers.
- If the glider starts
to drop back, then lean/move back to apply more pressure to the A's.
You could also transfer your hands back to the A's to steer them up
- If the glider appears
about to lift you off you feet, then apply gentle pressure to the rear
risers to stall it slightly and bring it back under control.
- If you are actually
lifted off your feet, then apply gentle pressure to the rear risers
to reduce the lift until y you are safely back down. The fact the you
are holding the rear risers will enable you to resist the pressure of
the lines trying to untwist so that you remain in control of the glider
the whole time.
on the Ground
- To move to your
right, pull the right rear riser briefly to drop the wing to 45°
on your right. Don't pull too hard or it will go all the way to the
ground. Run right using your left hand to control the speed of the glider
and bring it to a halt when you are in position.
- Vice versa to move
to the left.
- To move back up
the hill, pull both rear risers enough to bring the wing to 45°
in front of you. The wing will immediately start to pull you back up
the hill. Only use enough pressure on the rear risers to allow you to
move at a comfortable speed.
Bring the Wing
This applies whether
you have been ground handling or have landed in strong wind.
- If you are coming
in to land, make sure your feet are firmly on the ground. Control the
canopy using the brakes. When it is under control turn quickly, check
the wing is still under control, then transfer your hands to the rear
- When the glider
is fully under control, pull the rear risers while bracing yourself
to lean back and counter any drag.
- As the canopy approaches
the ground, ease up on the risers to that it lands gently rather than
- Move round to the
side of the canopy to place it sideways on to the wind.
- Hold the rear risers
in one hand and pull them towards your body. Take all the lines in your
other hand. This allows you to make a 'posy' of the wing with extra
tension on the rear risers reducing the tendency to reinflate.
- Pull in as much
line as possible. Give a little tug to the lines on the upwind side
to fold them over and prevent the air getting in. You will now be able
to hold the 'posy' over your arm with the wind tending to hold it closed.
Slop / Top Landing
in Strong Winds
method of top landing is to fly in high and approach the top landing
from behind, gradually losing height. However, if the wind is really
strong, there is a chance this will result in your being blown back
in the venturi effect. Or you may overfly the top landing area and get
back into ridge lift.
The following method
avoids those dangers.
- Approach the front
of the hill on a diagonal line. If the wind is slightly off the hill,
then approach on the slower, more upwind angle. Select a point on the
hill and aim for it.
- As you reach your
spot, apply a little more brake on the side away from the hill to straighten
up the wing.
- Apply gentle break
to slow the wing, allowing it to be gradually blown back as it comes
down. Adjust the amount of brake to control the descent. Don't brake
hard or you will stall the wing. Use the brakes to steer left or right
to keep in a good position.
- Don't worry if
you find yourself hovering above the ground, just stay in position and
gradually work your way down.
- Once close to the
ground adjust the amount of brake to permit a soft touch down. Keep
in control of the wing until your feet are firmly on the ground, then
follow the steps described above to bring the wing down.