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Ground Handling

Here is one of the best and easiest ways to improve your flying:

Ground handling. It is fair to say that most of the top pilots in the world have very good ground handling skills; this is not because they are gifted or super humans, it is down to practice. By practicing you improve your reactions and your understanding of the wing. Find a nice open space or the landing field and spend an hour or two just kiting and practicing both the forward and reverse launch techniques. Once you’ve cracked the basics don’t be shy, experiment, play and learn how to recover your wing from all kinds of situations.

Mike Kung is probably the best ground handler in the word, he has taken control to another realm and I can tell you it is amazing to watch Mike as he buzzes around the launch area touching down where he chooses. His understanding of what to pull, how much and when is impeccable. This was all mastered with continual practicing.

There is lots of advice I could try to give but I think the best and most important is to be SMOOTH. It is very simple to understand, if your inputs (risers, brakes and harness) to the glider are smooth and progressive the wing will react in the same way, smooth and predictably. If however you are rough with your inputs, the wing will be much more difficult to control and react unpredictably. Think of the wing purely as an extension of your body, don’t be afraid to move around, forward and back, side to side to continually centre yourself under the centre of the wing. Kiting your wing on the ground is much harder than flying it through the air! So therefore it makes sense to practice, as it will help all aspects of your flying. By doing this regularly you will soon be arriving on take off confident you are in full control and will pull off a perfect launch. A feeling of confidence is the best way to start every flight as it means the rest of the flight is going to be good. In the air your new learnt skills will help you be more sensitive with the controls and more aware of the wings movements. This will make it easier to relax, when you are relaxed and confident the right decisions usually follow, which all adds up to more enjoyment and a better safer pilot. This does mean that you should practice and practice regularly until it becomes second nature, once will help a little but you will be amazed what ten times will do, transformation.

I personally enjoy kiting wings and being involved with design and testing we do quite a lot of it, I certainly know it helps my flying a lot.

So give it a go and don’t get frustrated if you are struggling, just keep going at it until it clicks.

Good luck and successful ground handling.
(Don’t forget to wear your helmet!)