Why I Do It and Will Always Do It…

I try to keep my own hang gliding videos to 3 minutes max or so, and I’m only about a week off my last flight. …Some clips of launch, a bit of scrappage, then the landing. This one is 22 minutes. I was, like: ‘no way am I going to watch that longz.’ Try just a coupla minutes, and especially the first minute or so, demonstrating the famed and renowned “Makapuu Launch” off Oahu’s windward side from the trade winds. You need assistance on the front wires, because the onshore flow is coming in about 40, almost straight up as it hits the nearly vertical cliff. See how that gets handled.

The HD video is pretty amazing. GoPro was really a huge step in the ease of average guys making videos. I still recall a huge VCR camcorder hose-clamped to my keel years ago.

If you stay for 7 minutes, you get to see some wanging and buzzing of the Makapuu Lighthouse. Stay for 16 minutes, and watch a coupla guys head out and soar Kaohikaipu Island about a mile or so offshore, then make it back and land in the park on the beach.

It’s all spliced up with about two camera angles from each of 3-4 gliders. Very awesome. And turn it up.

Hang Gliding Oahu from Bob Thornburg on Vimeo.

And now, perhaps, you know why I’ll never stop “minimalist flying,” and why I’ll never stop blogging about it. I always find it remarkable how, over 18 years of flying, so many people are gobsmacked when seeing the whole workingz live, but infinitesimal few ever get over irrational fear to give it a go themselves—yet they think nothing of walking into a tube where someone else is in total control, like an Asiana airline pilot. Hang gliders are actually tested to stress failure above that of modern airliners. And there’s no hydraulics or engines to fail. You simply have to learn to launch competently, and you only get one shot at a good landing.

Statistically, over hours flown, it’s far safer than skiing, or driving in a car.

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  1. CatherineAKAcate on August 26, 2013 at 13:41

    Enjoyed that! We have been flying a taildragger SuperDecathlon (lessons) over the Colorado River, very addictive. I spent nine years living a few miles from Makapuu lighthouse, so I really enjoyed that posting.
    We flew with a maniac this weekend doing touch and go’s in 20 knot winds, crabbing, all that joy.
    My mom got her pilot’s license when she was seven months pregnant and I was eight riding in the back (not even a seat) My dream is to have a SuperCub and fly all over Utah, land on ridges and river beds.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 26, 2013 at 14:08


      I’m a Citabria pilot (seems we have a few things in common–RV and airplane wise…and taildraggers are the only way to really learn good at the start) a very close relative of the Decathalon.

      Ask him to do a spin next time and to teach you to do one yourself (hold the stick back until recovery, please).

  2. Mark on August 27, 2013 at 23:24

    Awesome….getting me thinking….:)

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