Hang-gliding - 1997


Myself and a friend, Steve Butler learn to fly hang-gliders with LEJAIR, a tow school run by Tony and Rona Webb at East Derham in Norfolk

The advantage of winch towing is that it is carried out on a flat field and after the flight, the glider is pushed back on its wheels to the launch point. Also if the wind direction changes the winch can be relocated in matter of minutes

When learning on the hill, the glider has to be carried back up after each flight and if the wind shifts the whole caboodle has to relocate to another site

On launching, the winchman takes up the slack and on the order "all out" the winchman begins the tow. As tension comes onto the line, the pilot runs forward until the glider begins to lift and as the speed increases, both the glider and pilot lift into the air. The first flights start at around six feet above the ground with the winchman controlling the flight by varying the pull on the line

As the students confidence and ability increases so does the height and the tasks set, culminating in tows up to 1000ft before releasing, circuiting the airfield and landing, usually on a a designated spot

Tow launching is by far the quickest, easiest and most consistent method of learning this sport

Steve is given a hang check prior
to the launch

Tony gives Steve preflight instructions
as slack is taken up on the tow line

The winchman begins the tow
and the glider picks up speed

As can be seen from the photo's, Steves launches and landings had to be carried out in the prone position due to having suffered the loss of his left leg and part of his hip in a serious motorcycle accident some years ago. Using the towing method, Lejair were able to accommodate his disability and Steve obtained his Club Pilots licence in a very short time




Still on the line and gaining height

Towline released and free flying

Slight turn to the right before landing

Although I achieved my Elementary Pilots licence, due to poor weather conditions setting I was unable to qualify for the Club Pilots licence and the following year got side tracked into restoring Hula Kai

I did hope to resume training when I retired but it never happened as I moved to Thailand where I amongst other things, I learnt to fly micro-lights instead ... #;0)

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