A study of excellence - flying- LEISURE AVIATION - DIRECTORY [ hang gliders] A study of excellence The hang glider practically reinvented the idea of flying for fun and it remains a

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    [ h a n g g l i d e r s ]

    A study of excellenceThe hang glider practically reinvented the idea of flyingfor fun and it remains a hugely satisfying machine tofly. This applies whether you just want to feel like abird or are determined to break a world record, for thisclass of machine includes examples which can fly asslow as 25km/h and high-speed variants with a Vne of120 km/h, capable of flying an ambitious closed circuitof several hundred kilometres.

    n the years between its invention in the mid-60s and theappearance of the paraglider, the hang glider was the onlyoption for those seeking unpowered flight from unregulated

    launch sites. The classic delta shape originated by Rogallo, with a tubu-lar frame covered in fabric, has always dominated the genre, but rightfrom the start there have been fixed-wing alternatives. Some, like theFledge, used the same materials but added moveable control surfaces,while others like the Mitchell wing dispensed with tube-and-fabric alto-gether in favour of a rigid wing, which could be folded to simplify trans-port.Nevertheless, the main advances were achieved with the Rogallo: easierto rig, lighter, simpler, more easily available, less expensive and bit bybit offering a performance equal to that of a fixed-wing.

    The biggest single leap came in 1980 with the famous Comet, the first Rogallo to use a double-surface.Enclosing the cross-tube made for less drag, and allowed designers to hone the wing section with morebattens, a development process which has seen glide ratios rise from 8/1 to 14-15/1 over the last twodecades.But the dream of a truly high-performance hang glider had not gone away. The desire to foot-launch ahigh-performance rigid wing led directly to the creation of the extraordinary Swift, whose sink ratio of 27at 75km/h is equal to that of 1960s wooden sailplanes and is still without a genuine challenger.This was followed by the fabric-covered rigid-wing with integral leading-edge main spar, such as theAtos VR, which has a sink rate of 20. However, although takeoff is by foot-launch, aero-tow or winch,from flatland or mountain, just like any other hang glider, these performance improvements were asso-ciated with a number of constraints. These proved unappealing to some older pilots, who switched toultralights or even paragliders.Today, the hang glider remains an extraordinary compromise between performance, simplicity and safe-ty; in sensible hands, these machines are virtually indestructible. In 2001 Manfred Ruhmer establisheda current distance record of an astonishing 700.4km, saying much about the potential of the flexwing inthe hands of a skilled pilot. Aerobatic pilots push these machines into extremes of the flight envelope, tothe amazement of onlookers.In 2008 guise, the rigid-wing hang glider is more user-friendly than before, but with virtually no loss inperformance, as typified by Flix Ruehles Atos VQ. It is much simpler and faster to rig and derig thanits competition big brother, the standard class glider.In recent years there has been another development in the shape of three-axis ultra-light sailplanessuch as the Archoptryx and XXtherm. However, like all rigid-wing designs, they require a containeror trailer for ground transport.Whatever their design, all these gliders have one thing in common: the prone flying position. We shouldnot be surprised that there are no supine hang gliders in current production, for the bird-like flying posi-tion is the hang gliders special magic, the thing that keeps the passionate pilot coming back for more.

    Nol Bertrand


    Hang glider aerobatics: modernwings are remarkably strong.

    Model Model of aircraftWA Wing area, square metres

    (1m = 10.8ft)Cert CertificationPW Min/max pilot weight range,

    kilograms (1kg = 2.20 lb)WS Wing span, metres (1m = 3.28ft)NA Nose angle, degreesAR Aspect ratioPrice Assembled price

    A B B R E V I A T I O N S

    > Remember! This is an internationalpublication, so all prices excludelocal and national taxes, eg VAT andsales tax.> For a full list of abbreviations andmetric / imperial conversions, seepage 6.> Manufacturers, importers andadvertisers are indexed at the back ofthis publication.

    09hangglider-AN.qxp 30/05/2008 11:51 Page 102


    Model WA Cert PW WS NA AR Price

    A-I-RIntroduced in 2007, the Atos VQ Q for Quick is much quicker to assemble than its predeces-sors and has also been on a strict diet, such that it now only weighs 40kg. It splits into two partsfor transport. None of these changes are detrimental to performance, as was demonstrated in2008 in Namibia, when the aircraft set a world record in the expert hands of Carlos Pugnet. Itshigh-performance brother, the VR, remains very much available: it is faster and more efficient andremains the competition pilots mount of choice. Most Atos models can be equipped with aluminumA-frames instead of the more expensive carbon.

    Atos VN 14.1 DHV 90/150 12.8 - 12.1 8 823 Atos VQ - - -/- 13.35 - - 11 331 Atos VR 14.7 DHV 90/150 13.74 - 13,3 11 584 Atos VS 11.8 DHV 83/122 11.4 - 11.8 9 773 Atos VX Bi 16 DHV 110/222 14 - 12.6 11 109

    Atos VQ

    A-I-RBorsigstr.17 71277 Rutesheim GERMANYTel: +49 (0)7152 351251 Fax: +49 (0)7152 351252info@a-i-r.de www.a-i-r.de

    w w w . w i d o l a . c o m

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    A l l t h a t f l i e s . . . F i n d i t h e r e !

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