Utah Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association http://www.uhgpga.org This is freedom Tue, 22 Aug 2017 18:42:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 2015 Spring Safety Briefing http://www.uhgpga.org/2015-spring-safety-briefing/ Wed, 06 May 2015 01:45:23 +0000 http://www.uhgpga.org/?p=993 Happy 2015 flying season! Classic Point conditions are coming into full swing with the lovely weather, and if you haven’t gotten airtime yet you will soon! As the PG safety officer, I would like to offer some reminders to keep you safe. These notes are somewhat PG specific, because that is what I know down to my bones. However, most of the concepts can be translated for HG and SF pilots.

Common causes for accidents can be traced back to a handful of root causes. Understanding and respecting these can set you up for a great flying season. To be very inclusive, this update is lengthy but full of important tidbits .

Lack of currency

If you haven’t flown in more than a few weeks you are not current and your skills aren’t what you remember them to be. The newer of a pilot you are, the more you lose while away. Get your skills honed back in before biting off big goals.

  • Take sled rides and practice turn shapes and spot landings.
  • Kite, KITE, kITE, kite…can’t say it enough ways. Practice ground handling your wing in all conditions.
  • Take a tandem to pick up some fresh insight. There are plenty of T1 pilots looking for passengers, and many instructors will gladly take you for a spin to keep you safe.
  • Sit in on a ground school and weather class with any school/instructor
  • Fly in beginner conditions for a while. Spring conditions can be especially nasty.

Flying with lack of skill

Flying is a constant learning process, don’t neglect continuing education. Considering a higher rating or more challenging conditions? Take training courses such as SIV and thermal clinics, kiting and refresher courses.

Flying in sketchy spots

Most notably, the parking lot/house rotor area on the North Side. Talk with an instructor about the safest approach to benching up and other twitchy areas.

  • There is a pretty nasty rotor area if you cross the bench tight to the East.
  • Watch lots of people bench to see easily where you want to avoid. Think of crossing to the West of the bathrooms only.

Flying/kiting in poor conditions

Don’t fail the IQ test…understand what the wind is doing and why. Join in a weather class to refresh your knowledge base.

  • Check the big and little picture weather
    • Winds aloft
    • Surface winds, current and historical
    • Fronts (cold fronts in the area create powerful and quickly changing conditions)
    • Lapse rate/atmospheric cooling
  • Spend 15 minutes watching what’s happening with wings in the sky and make a smart decision if conditions are appropriate for you.
  • Know appropriate descent techniques and blow back procedures.

Flying slow and scared

If you are super nervous up there, you launched in conditions you aren’t ready for.

  • Clenching the abs, neck and shoulders with nervousness pretty much cancels active flying and leads to more jostling and collapses. Lean back and let your back touch your whole harness, roll the shoulders, relax the neck and let the arms hang heavy.
  • Flying slow and stiff is very dangerous and leads to flying at dangerously low speeds, turning without weight-shift and eventually a spin or stall. Relax and let the glider fly faster, it will manage bumps better that way.
  • This is even more important in thermic conditions. If the glider gets pitched back and your hands are low a stall or spin is primed to happen. Take a tandem and kite a lot to learn how to manage your glider in these conditions.
  • If you are nervous and want to land, fly away from the terrain and don’t force a top landing. Don’t be shy to land on bottom, or even way out front of North Side in a big open field.

Lack of currency

If you haven’t flown in more than a few weeks you are not current and your skills aren’t what you remember them to be. The newer of a pilot you are, the more you lose while away. Get your skills honed back in before biting off big goals.

  • Take sled rides and practice turn shapes and spot landings.
  • Kite, KITE, kITE, kite…can’t say it enough ways. Practice ground handling your wing in all conditions.
  • Take a tandem to pick up some fresh insight. There are plenty of T1 pilots looking for passengers, and many instructors will gladly take you for a spin to keep you safe.
  • Sit in on a ground school and weather class with any school/instructor
  • Fly in beginner conditions for a while. Spring conditions can be especially nasty.

Top Landing

Being able to top land is super cool, but only when done right. Poorly executed top landings are dangerous, so make sure to understand the important points and review/practice with an instructor if unsure.

  • Keep your body leaning into the wind while using hand inputs to maneuver behind the ridge. Do not let your face, shoulders or hips face downwind as ground speed will pick up quickly and it will be challenging to get back into the wind in time.
  • Land into the wind, but not at the expense of potentially spinning the glider.
  • Resist the urge to slow the glider down, you need that energy to execute the final turn. Rely mainly on weight shift and releasing the downwind brake to make that final turn into the wind.

Flying the Pattern

This is a gigantic subject, and has been cause of many incidents over the years. It’s time to take your ego out of the equation and remember that we all get equal share of the sky. There are two major culprits: tandem/experienced pilots who think their flight is more important than another’s and newer pilots who are timid, unaware, or lack good maneuvering skills.

  • Loudly communicate intention to launch before accelerating into air.
  • Know the right of way rules, and let that be the basis of decisions made under the see-and-avoid philosophy.
  • BE OBVIOUS and CLEAR YOUR TURNS - not while initiating, but well before. You should always have an idea of where everyone in the sky is and plan ahead. This is not hard, you just have to try.
  • People with the ridge on the right have the right of way. This means that pilots with ridge on left need to fly out and around the other pilots, not squeeze them uncomfortably to the terrain. Inside track pilots get to decide how close they want to be to the ridge.
  • That being said, if you have the ridge on the right don’t fly so far away from it that those coming at you feel the need or opportunity to cut to your inside. If you aren’t comfortable flying close to the ridge then you need to move way out front, obviously out of the pattern.
  • Learn to fly more efficiently so you don’t sink out when on the outside path.
  • Learn to fly more smoothly so that you can fly closer to the terrain comfortably.
  • A safe rule is at least a glider span between the wingtips of passing gliders.
  • If you are on launch, be very aware of approaching traffic and the speed they are traveling.
  • If you are flying, be aware of what is happening on launch so you aren’t caught off guard by someone launching into you.
  • Understand the characteristics of different aircraft (HG’s are fast, PG’s have a wide speed range and speed wings hug the terrain).
  • Loudly communicate landing approach.

Flying speed wings outside of their intended purpose

Designed for a fast and fun descent, speed wings are not designed with soaring in mind. Nor are they designed for thermic conditions and are not certified with recovery characteristics from deflations. Fly-ing in these conditions puts you at great risk of incident, even though the last 100 times you did it all went fine. There have been a significant number of injuries due to this, and that’s only the ones that have been reported. Also, understand your trim tabs and use wisely.

Aerobatics, especially low to the terrain

It’s fun, and a very useful tool to have experience with but there are smart ways to play around.

  • Don’t self-teach. Plenty of us have already figured out what doesn’t work, you don’t need to figure it out too. Get with your instructor to learn and progress safely.
  • Have plenty of altitude to bleed off energy, recover or deploy a reserve.
  • There is a ton of traffic out in front of the North Bench these days, watch your airspace very carefully before and during trick sessions

Feel free to approach me or any instructor for advice, pointers or help with a safety issue. We all teach ground school regularly and are available for refresher classes.

Please report all incidents, accidents and injuries.


Michele McCullough
#74892/Advanced Instructor
UHGPGA PG Safety Officer

Emergency Procedures with Chris Santacroce http://www.uhgpga.org/emergency-procedures-with-chris-santacroce/ Fri, 24 Apr 2015 19:21:54 +0000 http://www.uhgpga.org/?p=973 Chris Santacroce shares with the club his insights on safety and free flight. Learn from Chris's years of experience and wisdom that can benefit new and experienced pilots.

 Slides Download ]]>
Spring 2014 Safety Newsletter http://www.uhgpga.org/spring-2014-safety-newsletter/ Tue, 01 Apr 2014 00:52:00 +0000 http://www.uhgpga.org/?p=875 Happy Spring UHGPGA!

Shane Denherder here, safety officer for the paragliding side of UHGPGA. Dave Chapman (Hang gliding safety officer) and I wanted to drop a quick safety newsletter on you to get your minds back in gear for the season!

As we all know, spring can be excellent for flying - as well as unpredictable and inconsistent. The biggest thing that gets people in the early season is that it's difficult to predict what kind of day you're going to get. Some days may be flyable all day, whereas some may be just like a mid summer day where you want to be down by 10:30. You might start out flying in ski clothing (or your European onesie) in the AM but the day quickly turns to shorts weather. Be sure to watch the signs of changing weather, be especially diligent about watching developing conditions, and tune into the decisions of others whom you respect.

Outside factors like this will affect us regardless of our experience level, so both novice and seasoned pilots need to respect springtime weather. When coupled with our lack of currency in the air, these factors can lead to surprising situations that can end our season quickly; or just cause an occasional "scary moment."

Our active members are looking forward to the season being fully "on," and hopefully taking steps to ensure they are ready for it. A handful of folks are dusting their gear off after a few years and making an effort to get current this year. We welcome everyone back, and hope that you will consider the following -

Practical tips to start the season out:

1. If you haven't flown in while, go grab a couple Southside sessions before before sending it big.

2. Volunteer to be a driver on the first couple mountain missions. Everyone can use the karma points, and it can help to soak up energy from those who have been flying all winter long.

3. If you haven't flown in a few seasons, touch bases with an instructor for a refresher.

4. If you're not sure about the weather, call your instructor/buddy to see what they think. Don't assume because others are flying that it's safe for you to do so.

5. Never be afraid to stick a fork in it if it doesn't look perfect. A session should always end with a good decision - and that decision can be made up front to not fly today. Remember this phrase, in case you need to save face - "I'm not that desperate."

Paragliding / Speedflying common blunders:

Making a top landing approach and not aiming into the wind. (hint - look towards Salt Lake City on the Northside, Provo on the Southside)

Not knowing your brake range on your new glider, and finding out where the stall point is the first time you encounter traffic/turbulence. Spin - deep stall - broken back. Know your equipment!

Approaching a Northside top landing from the East, over the houses - a hairpin turn (low) is then needed to execute the landing into the wind.

Attempting to bench up and being stubborn about the fail - if you're not going up, turn out and land into the wind. Don't hang onto the ridge until you're forced to land downwind. As you drift west on the bench, wind gets stronger and lift gets weaker.

Paying attention to bystanders in a crowded LZ during landing - our club hasn't hit a bystander in the past, and we're not going there anytime soon. If it looks crowded, go land in the weeds!

Hang Gliding safety tips from Dave:

1. Do an annual inspection of your wing and harness. Hang gliders tend to have a much longer lifespan than PGs and as such things wear out.. Most glider manuals include a section on doing inspections and that is a great place to start. Areas I have found to have problems are wear points, such as VG strings on pulleys, and zippers and sliders on harnesses. As you open your glider bag take a good look at where metal parts touch sail areas as wear from transport can cause undue wear and occasionally a hole in your sail. Also a new set of side wires are cheap insurance.

2. Repack your chute! nuff said.....

3. Go to the south side and practice some takeoffs and landings before attempting big air on the north side. On a nice day you can make several dozen flights on the south side and be fully tuned for spring flying.

4. Pick your spring flying days carefully. It is easy to find yourself trying to bench up while 20+ paragliders are on the bench doing the same thing! Get dialed in before entering heavy traffic, our fall gaggle flying skills are much better than our rusty spring skills… It is better to wait on launch until the traffic thins out than find yourself spending all your time avoiding collisions in the air!

5. Share the air, PGs can be great thermal markers! Remember, the same rules apply when entering a thermal with a HG, PG, or a sailplane. Low glider has the right of way, first glider sets the turn direction, and if you lose sight remain predictable.

6. Find a mentor (or become one!), someone you can go to the mountains with and improve your skills or pass on some of your knowledge. It's great to fly XC with another pilot or two!


The safety team wants each member to have the season of their life this year. Set new personal bests, break down old barriers, and fly our butts off! Always remember that flying is a perpetual learning experience, and everyone gets humbled periodically. Let's make it our goal for the 2014 season to only have the "slightly embarrassing" and "constructive" learning experiences vs. those that generate hospital visits.


Shane Denherder
Dave Chapman
UHGPGA Safety Officers

2013 US Paragliding Team Support http://www.uhgpga.org/2013-us-paragliding-team-support/ Sat, 25 May 2013 14:33:52 +0000 http://www.uhgpga.org/?p=568 The Utah Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association has sent a donation to supported the US Paragliding Team. Please help our friends represent the US in an international competition. Below is a letter of thanks from the team:


On behalf of the 2013 U. S. Paragliding Teams, which will be attending the World Paragliding Championships and the Red Bull X-Alps, we would like to thank you very much for your most generous donation and support. It is an honor to have you on “OUR” Team!

Again, thank you for your continued support and for being an important part of OUR Team - the 2013 U. S. Paragliding Team!!!