Introduction: Ground handling is a crucial aspect of paragliding that focuses on honing your skills and familiarizing yourself with your equipment before taking off for a flight. Mastering ground handling techniques enhances safety on the launch site and instills confidence in pilots.
In this article, we will explore the importance of ground handling, essential tips, and recommended exercises to improve your skills. Importance of Ground Handling: Ground handling plays a vital role in paragliding as it offers several benefits to pilots, such as: 1. Safety: Ground handling allows pilots to practice maneuvers on the ground, reducing the risk of accidents during takeoff and landing. It helps pilots become more familiar with their equipment and build muscle memory for instinctive reactions. 2. Confidence Building: By practicing ground handling techniques, pilots develop a deep understanding of how their wings respond to different inputs, improving their overall control and confidence in the air. Tips for Effective Ground Handling: 1. Ideal Wind Conditions: Look for wind speeds of 10 to 20 kilometers per hour on an open slope. Performing ground handling on a slightly sloping field provides a more realistic experience as compared to a flat field. 2. Practice Away from Crowds: Choose to practice ground handling early in the morning or a less crowded area of the flying site. This allows for a distraction-free environment and ample space to maneuver. 3. Safety Equipment: Always wear a helmet and use back protection when ground handling. Being close to the ground increases the risk of tripping or being lifted and hitting your head. Additionally, gloves and appropriate footwear (avoid sandals) protect from line burns and potential foot injuries. 4. Use Your Normal Equipment: Utilize the same harness, glider, and boots that you would use for regular paragliding flights. This ensures familiarity with your equipment and helps you develop a better understanding of its characteristics.
Recommended Ground Handling Exercises: 1. Reversed Position Practice: Begin by doing a reverse launch while facing the wing. Focus on maintaining wing control and keeping it airborne. Move under the wing to center it whenever it falls on either side. 2. Feeling-Based Flight: Turn around and face forward while focusing on the sensations of the wing's movements. Respond to any side pulling by moving beneath the wing and applying the correct brake input to center it. 3. Loading the Chest Strap: Prioritize loading the chest strap before running. This prevents the harness from sliding up your legs and provides a better connection with the wing. Increase to flying speed while covering the minimum distance for an effective launch. 4. Smooth Transitions: Practice turning from a reverse launch position to forward without bobbing your head. Maintain a low martial arts stance, enabling quick and seamless transitions. Aim for a smooth continuous pull-up and a short launch run. 5. Control Techniques: Experiment with controlling the speed of the wing's ascent, ensuring a slow and controlled rise. Similarly, practice controlling descent speed using the brakes to develop a sense of power and prevent harsh landings. Summary: Mastering ground handling skills is integral to paragliding safety and pilot confidence. With ideal wind conditions and appropriate safety equipment, pilots can practice a range of exercises to improve their control over their wings.
By focusing on reversed positions, smooth transitions, and control techniques, pilots can build a strong foundation for a successful paragliding experience. Remember to prioritize safety at all times and use your normal equipment during ground handling sessions.