A hang glider flying Adventure
Hang gliding across the UK
It all started as a dream, since I was young, I had always had a facination with flying, thought of being a pilot, and even took an entrance examination to join the Nigerian Airforce but never went for the physical selection process, instead optng to study electronic engineering.
This dream of my about flying took a backburner until I came to the UK and there was now an even better chance of me taking flying lessons even if I didn't want to become a commercial pilot of an airline.
I did a lot of research on what it takes to gain a private pilot licence in the UK, the cost of training, how many hours a typical individual actually took and where to take this training as the weather in the UK seemed to be an issue, and could slow things down. I had all the information needed, and began the process by taking an eye test, and this is when I received the first setback to my flying dream! My eye sight was not 20/20 and therefore I would not be able to obtain a PPL.
Not to be detered, I checked what other flying options I had available to me, and it was possible for me to train to fly a microlight aircraft, this lead me to think about learning to fly a hang glider for the simple reason that I didn't need a hangar or large garage to store the aircraft, and the costs were much lower.
A flying Challenge
From the initial research that I did about hang gliding, it didn't seem to be hard to become a hang glider pilot (training could be completed in 2 weeks at a moderate cost), and because I liked going on adventurous journeys, I decided that i was going to make a flying adventure as my goal for this new sport.
So as one of my goals for the beginning of the year 2005, I was going to learn how to fly a hang glider, and then plan to fly one of these aircrafts acoss the UK from south to north.
Hang Glider training in Spain
As mentioned earlier, the weather in the UK was not very good for learning to fly an aircraft, so I decided that it would be better for me to take up hang glider training in Spain with a British approved instructor - Tony Webb.
So off I went to a village called Algodonales for a 2 week intensive course hoping to return a qualified hang glider pilot.
The first day of the week did not provide a good start, as it was raining heavily and all I learnt was how to rig and de-rig a hang glider, with a few running hops while I was strapped to the glider.
The next couple of days were much better and I was excited when I rose from the ground and experience my first flight even though it was only for a second or two. I was able to start grasping the concepts, and made some progress with my training and gradually I was getting higher and higher in the hang glider and having slightly longer flights. Before long I was doing slight turns as well and able to land the glider quite well.
Hang Glider training video
2,000ft mountain flight
We were de-rigging our hang gliders after a full days training towards the end of my first week in Spain, when my instructor mentioned that since I'd been doing so well how did I fancy a flight off the top of the local Lejar mountain the next day? I was shocked, but at the same time excited that I might be achieving a major step in my hang gliding career, a 2,000ft mountain launched flight.
I hardly slept that night, and was constantly praying that the weather and wind direction would be right in the morning so I could have the flight.
First light, I looked out the window, and the sky was clear, so no rain, but I still had to get confirmation from our instructor if the flight was going ahead, and that wouldn't happen until we met at breakfast.
Unfortunately conditions were not too great in the morning for trainee hang glider pilots so we were told to go do so sight seeing and check back in the afternoon.
By the time we met at the bottom of the lejar mountain in the afternoon, our instructor said the flight was on, and we got into the van with our hang gliders and began the 30 minute drive to the top.
Because most of our training up to this point had been via a tow launching system, see video above, we needed to be briefed on how to take off from a mountain. 30 minutes later it was time, my aderalin was flowing, and I took a couple of steps forward and my feet soon were no longer touching the ground. It seemed ike I was suspended in the air over the mountain. I couldn't believe it, I was flying a hang glider 2,000ft above the ground! This was it, just like a bird, I had a panoramic view of the surrounding lake and village, with a gentle flutter of the wind against the fabric of my powerless aircraft, it was as close to nature as you could get.
15 minutes later my instructor was talking me through the landing process and I was soon back on the ground. I was buzzing with excitment the rest of the day.
Unfortunately I didn't complete all tasks required for me to gain a hang glider's pilot licence the next week, but I did on a subsequent visit in december 2005.
I now needed to join a local hang gliding club gain some flying experience before going on to my next step which would be flying a powered hang glider.