1.1Qualities of an instructor

An instructor of any subject should be aware of certain fundamentals of teaching as outlined below, and in addition to this he should cultivate and practice the following personal qualities. First he should hold a professional attitude, being aware of the serious responsibility he has undertaken. Professionalism relates to the instructor's approach to his teaching as well as his "off-duty" demeanor and practices. Professionalism means reviewing one's techniques, improving one's ability and maintaining the utmost concern for all factors affecting his chosen career - safety, updated equipment, new developments, government regulations, etc. Secondly, the instructor should possess ability and expertise in his field. Re should develop his skill to the point of being able to demonstrate all techniques precisely and with flawless form. All situations should be covered by his experience and he should be able to answer all student inquiries, or have access to the necessary information. Thirdly the instructor should be sincere in his desire to impart the knowledge he has striven to gain and maintain this sincerity throughout the student-teacher relationship. He should project confidence, calmness, thoughtfulness and discipline, to the extent that the student can rely on these qualities until they develop in the student himself. A hang gliding instructor in particular, must be first and foremost concerned with safety. In truth, the main "raison d’etre" of an instructor is to prevent accidents and promote safe flying at all levels. If no dangers whatsoever were involved, most pilots could learn on their own. An instructor should, possess considerable knowledge of hang gliding and the appropriate requirements, as well as to be able to quickly find any rule information needed. It is essential that you understand the purpose and meaning of the rules so that you will know the reason for them and be able to interpret them correctly. The most important qualities in a instructor are integrity and attention to detail. Each instructor is a member of a team of great value to hang gliding and you will help it best by always applying the rules properly and with consistency and impartiality, so that the same standards are applied regard- less of your personal feelings. All hang gliding instructors should be proficient at first aid and know precisely what dangers are involved and how to avoid them. There is no substitute for knowledge, and since we are dealing with stochastic natural phenomena, knowledge should be he instructor's greatest quest.

Being an instructor is rewarding because you are working with pilots who are trying to become better fliers. It does not mean that you have to stay on the ground and miss out on your own flying if you arrange to share the work with two or three other Observers.

1.2 Learning

The effective instructor must be aware of certain principles of learning. Learning takes place at different rates and at different times in different individuals. There are many factors affecting learning and each student has his own unique balance of these factors (both emotional and physical) that affects the outcome of the learning experience. Some of the factors an instructor should be aware of and attempt to overcome or eliminate are: fear, anxiety, shyness, fatigue, adverse physical traits, impatience, in-attentive attitudes or personal emotional upset. All of these are obstacles that will be encountered by the instructor and will retard learning if not dealt with.

Motivation is one of the big factors in learning and this too can take on many forms. People are motivated to learn that which can be used for pleasure and a relaxing pastime. The desire for excitement, adventure and new experiences all are motivating factors in hang gliding. Group approval is also a strong motivating force. All to the above and any other motivating factors should be exploited by the instructor to facilitate the learning process.

One of the greatest satisfactions is the acquisition of knowledge, and if the input is properly administered, the learning process can be greatly enhanced. As a skill which was previously learned becomes a matter of habit, more input can be received and retained. This is the basic for one of the most important processes that takes place in learning: the progression of learning units on a building-block basis. What this means is that each skill to be learned will be learned quicker and more thoroughly if based on something that has gone before. If unrelated skills are progressively taught, learning will be much slower than if the total subject is organized so as to build one skill from another. It is up to the instructor to present his lessons in a manner to utilize this element of the learning process. Learning can and should be- fun. Hang gliding is a sport that can provide hours of enjoyment to the proficient practitioner. The road to proficiency should be equally enjoyable, and if the instructor does his job he will facilitate the learning process by keeping it pleasurable.


The teaching process should be established according to two elements the principles relating to the human learning process and the factors relating to human differences. The former is outlined in the preceding section, while the latter involves tailoring the subject matter, rate of presentation, and method of delivery to the individual. As individual backgrounds vary, so too do abilities to absorb certain material. The student with a technical background can absorb a much more detailed discussion of hang gliding aerodynamics, but on the other hand may have a harder time learning the physical skills involved. Learning rates vary greatly among students and the slow learner may in the long run be the better pilot due to more thorough learning or better retention. The instructor must be able to tell when he is exceeding the learning rate of his student and slow up, or learning will cease. The method of delivery is one of the most important teaching aspects. The instructor should be aware and able to use any number of teaching aids: slides, movies, chalk-talks, printed diagrams, hand motion examples, actual demonstrations, flight simulators, etc. It is up to the instructor to briefly investigate the background of each student and direct his program accordingly. It is the duty of the instructor to continuously evaluate the progress of the lesson in view of all these factors, and alter it accordingly.

The personality of the instructor is another topic deserving attention. Personal traits of the instructor can greatly aid or detract from his teaching ability. Patience is perhaps the most important quality, since very soon the lessons repeat themselves and a slow learner will demand extra repetitions. Impatience or boredom detected in the instructor by the student will quickly alienate the student and ruin the lesson. Any distracting habits on the part of the instructor can disturb a class.

Visible nervousness will also engender the same reactions in a student. Many beginning hang glider students are indeed nervous and it is up to the instructor to allay the fears that come from facing the unexpected with little preparedness. It is typical for a student previously unexposed to the sport to be very nervous and overly excited his first day out and giving him a chance to prepare is a valuable asset. This can take the form of handouts, movies or any other type of media transfer in a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. If the student can take home some study material he can be better prepared and more able to absorb additional material during the lesson.

Ground school should be the basis for this preparation, but a word of caution is in order. It is important not to overload the student with data, as his ability to absorb information is greatly reduced by the fore-mentioned excited state. Indeed, on the hill many-students cannot even accept, then apply, simple instructions but must learn a skill through the gradual formation of physical habits. Only after a student learns to relax will learning take place verbally, and this may be well beyond the point of the first lesson. A good teacher of any subject will relate to his class on a one-to-one basis, and thus advance each student at his best possible speed. The slowest student should not impede the progress of the fastest and vice- versa. A hang gliding class should not be so large as to demand more than the instructor can handle. A reasonable maximum number of students per instructor is six, with each three students sharing two gliders. The more gliders present, the more flights per unit time and the greater is the demand on the instructor. A good amount of learning can come from the correcting of mistakes and there must be ample time between flights to discuss and illuminate the last attempt. The instructor must be a keen eyed observer to detect what is being done right as well as wrong. All students start out by relying on the ability of the instructor - it is of paramount importance not to-betray that trust, and keep the teaching process on a high level throughout the entire lesson. Throughout every lesson.

1.4Important principles for teaching the sport of Hang Gliding.

  • People learn by doing, not by listening: "Telling is not teaching".
  • There is an improved degree of retention following an interval of break from learning. This can be applied both during a class and by encouraging students not to take full-day lessons.
  • Always emphasize the proper procedure for doing something. Don't dwell on possible errors or describe all crash situations. Make positive corrections rather than negative ones.
  • Let the student experiment with different alternatives and find the procedure that works best for the individual.
  • If a student demonstrates a correct response, reinforce his actions with verbal reward.
  • Learning can take place most efficiently if the learner develops a healthy self-concept. Make the teaching process a student-oriented atmosphere, offering praise and setting attainable goals.
  • The curve of remembering is more pronounced when over-learning takes place. Example: Always comment on the nose attitude as each student begins his run and ask for an evaluation from the class.
  • Learning to be retained must be used. Have students assist setting up and taking down of the sail. Have them do as much as possible.
  • If your student is having difficulty or a poor experience with a particular skill, modify the skill or place it into a physical setting that is more pleasurable. Never hesitate to change approach or location if the situation warrants it.
  • Always try to establish a clear mental picture of the skill to be learned. Demonstrations, models, or a description in familiar terms may be utilized. Always use terms that will be understood by the Individual students you are talking to, in the fewest number of words.
  • Don't push your students past the point where they are capable of successfully mastering a learning activity. Making a student fly from too high or in poor conditions can be a critical mistake.
  • Motivate your students by providing knowledge of result and de- fining statements completely.
  • Learning will be retained longer when it is perceived by the student as being significant. Fit the experience into flight picture as a whole and be sure he understands why he is learning a particular skill.
  • To correct poor, performance, make feedback as immediate as possible and concentrate on major problems areas. Have the student correct one mistake at a time and don't overwhelm him with a complex explanation.
  • Make the class period an enjoyable experience with full participation of all students. Watch for lulls in learning. Keep the class activity high and provide input whenever possible.


Our overall philosophy of teaching should incorporate the above principles into a meaningful and professional method of learning. The instructor should think of himself as a guide through the learning process rather than a teacher who is there to answer all questions. It is the instructor's job to make his students think for themselves and make their own decisions as well as to teach them the physical and mechanical aspects of hang gliding. The instructor should constantly stress safety, good judgment and control in his lessons. If we can start students in the right direction in these respects, then we have a good chance of having a predominantly self-regulated sport.


2.1 Beginner site selection

(1)Things to look for:

a)Steady, continuous winds.

b)Soft ground sand or grass.

c)Clear landing area.

d)Stay far enough away from traffic -don't let the landing area become a parking lot.

(2)Things to avoid:

a)Rocky ground.

b)Trees, boulders, fences.

c)Houses, cliffs.

d)Telephone lines, power poles.

If there was available a gentle, wide open sandy slope with a grassy walk-up, facing 360º the ideal condition for beginners would be met. Unfortunately, most available hills are not so propitious, so the instructor's judgment comes into the picture. The following guidelines are meant to aid this judgment and are dictated by the demands of two criteria: safety and ease for learning.

Slope angle should be from 15º to 30º.

Any smaller angle approaches the best glide ratio of a standard rogallo. Any steeper angle allows the student to gain more altitude than he may be able to handle. The slope angle must be greater than your glide angle. This is about 14° for a "standard" and less for all other designs. The slope should be clear of large rocks and stumps. A trip or a slide into one of these monsters is dreadly. A path for running on take-off is necessary. Ruts or debris can reach out and grab a foot. A wide swath (at least four glider widths for beginners) should be clear of large trees.

The landing area should be clear of buildings, ditches, trees, and power lines. Also, keep the cars of spectators and friends well away from the area. You will not be able to run an obstacle course when you first learn. If other pilots are using the particular hill, a sound traffic pattern must be set up so that potential landing areas are clear and students have ample flying space. Obstacles up-wind cause turbulence, and a site should be clear in front well beyond the landing point.


Conditions generally mean the velocity, direction, and stability of the wind. The velocity proper for teaching is a function of its gustiness. Gustiness can be affected by wind path, lapse rate of the air, passage of fronts or a number of other factors. A beginner student should face fairly calm 15 kph winds with no associated turbulence. As lie gains more experience, he can safely handle stronger winds and gusts, flying stronger winds on smoother days, until he has reached the point where he can negotiate soaring conditions - winds of 20-30 kph. Obviously, the direction of the wind must be generally up-hill, and if training sites are limited, a wind switch will probably warrant cancellation of the lesson. The instructor must make a careful evaluation of all these factors combined with the student's demonstrated ability before he allows any actual kite handling to take place. As an example, a better student may be able to take off in a slight crosswind by dropping the up-wind, wing turning the nose towards the wind and running crabbed or at an angle down the hill. Thus, it is up to the instructor to know the conditions and their con- sequences thoroughly and make a judgment from there. This is one of the most important responsibilities of the instructor.


It is common practice for the instructor or flight school to provide flying equipment for the student. This includes the following: glider, harness, and helmet. The glider used must be of the proper size for the student's weight (consult the manufacturer's recommendations), and in addition should be in sufficient shape to fly well and safe. Kites no longer valued for personal use often get relegated to the "student kite" status and through gradual deterioration fly quite poorly. Beginners have a hard enough job learning to fly without having to learn on inferior equipment. Certainly student kites should be safety checked as assiduously as one’s own personal glider, and since learning these procedures should be part of instruction, the training kite should get constant attention. Naturally, replacement of damaged parts is in order. In general, the trainer glider should be as airworthy as any kite flying.

Harness used in school most likely are adjustable, so proper adjustment for each student must be insured. The harness, like the glider, should be thoroughly inspected and repaired or replaced when necessary. Students experiencing falls and other mishaps are very hard on equipment and the lifetime of any unit will be reduced. There are arguments for and against teaching either prone or seated and the instructor should be thoroughly conversant and at ease with both methods. Whichever method he chooses to teach, he should make sure the glider is set up properly. This is a common error among pilots, especially with certain gliders that are easily convertible.