Hang Gliding The Hat Creek Rim August 2012, Day 2 and Flying Video

Great flying day yesterday. Overcast and hence, light—perfect conditions for buzzing launch a bit. Very smooth.

This was a fun video to toss together this morning, from 4 different cameras. There’s a bit during the drive up to launch from the iPhone, then the launch from my dad’s video camera, the landing from my video camera…and then the onboard GoPro in-between. iMovie made it such a cinch to gather that all together, slice, dice & mash it into about 11 minutes, all in an hour’s time. Longer hang gliding video than I usually like for entertainment purposes, but this one’s for introductory and instructional purposes—especially for those interested in the sport and have asked me numerous questions over the years in comments and email.

Here’s the time sequence for those who just want to see certain parts:

  • Start to 1:30 is clips of the (fast) drive up through the various wonderful volcanic scenery.
  • 1:30 Flight begins from the vantage of the spectator at launch.
  • 2:37 My onboard perspective begins from launch and through various sequences of “buzzing” the launch area.
  • 4:10 I notice my “VG” (variable geometry control) isn’t threaded through the cleat, so I fix it in flight and set to 2/3 for a “cleaner” wing.
  • 6:00 I head to the “LZ” (landing zone), which you can see right between the right tube and side wire.
  • 7:15 I release the VG to “dirty” up the wing a bit.
  • 9:35 I unzip the harness and begin my “DBF” (downwind, base & final) approach.
  • 10:00 I go to the fully upright position in the harness (as does my tray table and seat back).
  • 10:20 My landing from the ground spectator perspective.
  • 10:40 Landing from my onboard perspective.

A few things to take note of:

  • As soon as I launch, my feet and legs go into the boot of the harness. The string I then pull with my right hand is rigged through eyelets to the zipper and that zips it up. On the next pass by the launch, I then close the flaps on each side which are affixed with Velcro—second only to duct tape in its usefulness. At 9:35, just before landing, you’ll see me unzip the harness using the string on the opposite side. I’ll leave it to you to wonder how long before that (left zip-up / right unzip) becomes instinctive.
  • The references to “VG” are for variable geometry. Imagine an “A”, but wider and where the “A” is split vertically down the middle. So, the two sides of the “A” represent the glider’s leading edges, the imagined vertical member is the keel, and the cross member is actually split in two at the keel (with each segment being longer) and where’s there’s an attachment and pulley system in order to tension those leading edges against the sail. The pully system gives me a range of motion from maximum loose to maximum tight, adjustable in flight on higher performance wings. The tradeoff is ease of control (loose) vs. glide and sink performance (tight). You may notice in the video is that as I go to 2 of 3 pulls on the VG, I begin climbing a few hundred feet over launch for the first time.
  • It’s always of utmost importance to ensure that you have the LZ made in glide (no do-overs). Now this one’s a cinch if you’re 300 feet below launch level or higher, and I was well above launch level when I set out. The way to do that is with angles. Roughly, a 30 deg glide, but the way to make sure is to pick a spot on the LZ, glide towards it and if the angle is increasing, you’re good. If it’s decreasing (getting higher in your field of view), you’re in the shit and you look for alternatives fast—while at the same time, you adjust speed to “max glide” (VG tight, best glide speed) and make sure you’re as aerodynamic as possible. I get there, this time as always, with plenty of altitude and not much wind in the LZ; so I set up downwind (otherwise, in higher wind, set up upwind), do a few 360s as I watch the windsock to see how it behaves over time, and then—and this is where just seat of pants practice comes in—make my approach and landing. It’s all by angles and how fast those angles change. It’s never about how high you think you are—unless you’ve fucked up.

And so here you go. Hope you watch, enjoy, and learn a thing or two you never knew before today.

Looks like thunderstorms are in the forecast for tonight, this this may have been it for this year. Head back tomorrow morning (Monday). Departure for #AHS12 on Wednesday.

If you’re there, please do come say hi.


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  1. Jay Jay on August 5, 2012 at 20:01

    Wow, awesome video. Not something you see every day.

    It’s not something I’ll be doing any time soon, but thanks for taking the time to share!

  2. EatLessMoveMoore on August 6, 2012 at 00:07

    Most of Richard’s critics couldn’t even get on a hang glider – much less off the ground. (Along these lines, CarbSane has – of course – backed out of #AHS12 [http://carbsanity.blogspot.com/2012/08/ahs-2012.html]. That chick’s jumped the shark, if you ask me. And the number of her comments seem to reflect that.)

    Not diet-related, but I’d be interested in your thoughts on paragliding (vs. hang gliding for a newbie).

  3. Elenor on August 6, 2012 at 08:03

    Amazing. Thank you Richard. Your vid makes me think wistfully… ah, in my next life! (Graceful landing! Quite impressive.)

    The geology of the place looks odd — is it sand dunes creeping over a pine forest?

  4. Ian m on August 6, 2012 at 22:56

    Great video. Thank u for putting it together. Looks like a blast!

  5. Pauline on August 7, 2012 at 08:57

    Wonder what it feels like when you are out there, do you feel weightless? is it like the wind is carrying you?

    • Richard Nikoley on August 7, 2012 at 09:02


      No, you don’t feel weightless at all. You’re flying, hanging by a strap and feeling that strap is a comfortable feeling. In general, when in those tighter turns after pulling in for speed, I’m actually pulling a light G factor, even more than normal weight.

  6. Pauline on August 7, 2012 at 09:01

    For anyone interested in fasting, BBC had a programme on intermittent fasting and longevity last night, here’s a link to an overview of it:


  7. rob on August 7, 2012 at 16:07

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