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Hang Gliding Terms

Hang Gliding Terms

Below you will find user submited Terms and How-to information for Hang Gliding. Tips are displayed based on reader popularity, so make sure to vote for your favorite Terms!

AGL
Abbreviation for Above Ground Level

AIRFOIL
shaped wing section, designed to provide lift.

AIRFRAME
metal frame of a hang glider that supports sail. Made up of tubing, cables, plates and bolts.

AIRSPEED
speed at which a glider passes through the air.

ALTIMETER
instrument that measures altitude.

AN
abbreviation for Aircraft Nomenclature. Designation stamped on hardware to specify that it's of aircraft quality.

ANGLE OF ATTACK
pitch angle at which the wing meets the air passing over it.

APEX
area at the top of the glider's triangular control bar.

APPROACH
planned path a glider flies toward landing area. Most common type — Standard Aircraft Approach.

ARSA
abbreviation for Airport Radar Service Area.

ASI
Abbreviation for Airspeed Indicator.

ASPECT RATIO
measure of how long and narrow a wing is. Determined by dividing a wing's span by its average chord.

ATTITUDE
orientation of the glider in the pitch, roll or yaw axes.

BACK UP
hang loop used as precaution in case main loop fails during flight.

BASE LEG
segment of glider's landing approach. Precedes final leg.

BASE TUBE
tube that forms bottom of glider's triangular control bar. Pilot's hands rest on base tube during flight.

BATTEN
formed rib that slips into sail to define airfoil shape.

BEAK IN
bungling landing flare so that nose of glider "beaks" against ground.

BEST GLIDE SPEED
airspeed at which a glider achieves best glide ratio.

BLUE THERMAL
thermal that is not marked by characteristic cumulus cloud.

BOOMER
strong thermal.

BUNGEE
elasticized cord used to fasten battens and other glider parts.

CAMBER
cross sectional curvature of an airfoil.

CARABINER
locking metal link used to attach harness to hang loops.

CG
Abbreviation for Center of Gravity. Point at which the pilot is suspended from the glider.

CHORD
Distance from leading to trailing edge of a wing.

CLOUDBASE
altitude of cloud bottoms.

CLOUDSTREET
cumulus clouds aligned in 11 streets" by wind. Excellent for long crosscountry flights.

COCOON
soaring harness that encloses and supports pilot from shoulders to toes.

CONTROL BAR
Triangular frame the pilot uses to launch, land and control the glider. Made up of down tubes and base tube.

CONTROLLED AIRSPACE
area in which services to pilots are provided by FAA. Marked on air sectional charts.

COORDINATION
blending of pitch and roll inputs to produce smooth turn.

CRABBING
angling glider to counteract the effect of wind drift.

CROSS—CONTROLLING
incorrect weightshift technique that cancels effect of pilots' control inputs.

CROSSBARS
main glider structural members that run between keel and leading edges. Hidden inside sail on double—surface gliders.

CU
abbreviation for Cumulus. Puffy white cloud that often indicates thermal lift.

CU-NIM
short for Cumulo-Nimbus. Dangerous, anvil-shaped thunder cloud.

CZ
abbreviation for Control Zone.

DACRON
trade name. Synthetic material used to make glider sails.

DAMPING
tendency of a glider to resist change in direction or motion.

DIHEDRAL
upward angling of wing tips to make glider more stable in roll.

DIVERGENCE
tendency for glider to increase steepness of dive. Indicates dangerous lack of pitch stability.

DOUBLE SURFACE
glider with upper and lower sail surfaces that enclose airframe to reduce drag and improve performance.

DOWN TUBES
angled vertical tubes that form sides of control bar.

DRAG
aerodynamic resistance force that tries to hold glider back as it flies.

F.A.R.
abbreviation for Federal Aviation Regulation.

FAA
abbreviation for Federal Aviation Administration. Federal agency responsible for regulating aviation in the U.S.

FAIRING
shaped enclosure or covering designed to smooth airflow and reduce drag.

FINAL
final segment of landing approach as glider heads for landing spot.

FLARE
raising the nose sharply to stall the glider for landing.

FRONT
boundary between air masses of different temperature and pressure.

G
short for Gravity. Refers to loading experienced by pilot and aircraft in flight. G-loading increases during sharp maneuvers.

GLIDE RATIO
angle at which glider descends through air. Determined by how much lift and drag a particular wing produces.

GROUND EFFECT
tendency of a glider to glide farther when flying close to the ground.

GROUND SPEED
speed at which the glider passes over the ground.

HAND FAIRINGS
insulated mitts that slip over glider's base tube. Pilot can insert hands for warmth.

HANG CHECK
hanging in harness while attached to glider before launch to check suspension system and ensure that pilot has hooked in.

HANG STRAP
suspension strap the pilot hooks in to before launch. (There are always two hang straps — a main and a back up.)

HGMA
abbreviation for Hang Glider Manufacturers Association.

INVERSION
weather condition i in which warm air is trapped aloft, inhibiting thermal development.

KEEL
main structural tube that runs along sail at center chord of wing.

KINGPOST
vertical strut on top of glider that supports negative rigging and luff line systems.

KNEE HANGERS
supports used to hold up pilot's legs on some harnesses.

LAPSE RATE
rate at which the air cools with altitude change.

LEADING EDGE
front edge of the wing.

LIFT
rising air.

LIFT TO DRAG RATIO
amount of lift and drag produced by a wing. Determines a glider's glide ratio.

LOG BOOK
book that records a pilot's flights. Documents experience and accomplishments.

LUFF LINES
lines running from kingpost to trailing edge. Aid to dive recovery.

MINIMUM SINK SPEED
speed at which glider descends most slowly through the air. Often abbreviated as "min. sink."

MSL
abbreviation for Mean Sea Level. Height above sea level.

MYLAR
Trade name. Smooth plastic material used as stiffener in hang glider sails.

NICOPRESS
oval metal slug used to clamp cables.

NOSE ANGLE
angle of leading edges to each other when viewed from above or below.

NOSE PLATE
metal plate at junction of keel and leading edges.

NYLOC
nut with elastic nylon insert that prevents it from unthreading by accident.

PITCH
Nose up or down attitude. Controlled by shifting of pilot's weight to front or rear.

POD
fully-enclosed soaring harness.

QUICK PIN
quick-release aircraft pin used to attach parts of a glider.

RATING
official certificate attesting to a pilot's skill level. Issued by hang gliding organizations such as the United States Hang Gliding Association.

RELATIVE WIND
air that flows over glider and pilot in flight. Relative wind is created by movement through the air.

RIB
alternate term for batten. Shaped aluminum tube that slips into sail to produce airfoil shape.

RIDGE LIFT
lift created by upward deflection of wind striking a ridge.

ROLL
banking or unbanking movement. Controlled by shifting of pilot's weight from side to side.

ROOT
center section of wing.

ROTOR
swirling air downwind of an obstacle.

SAFETY PIN
pin fastened through end of bolt to prevent nut from falling off.

SCRATCHING
working lift close to terrain.

SINK
descending air.

SKYING OUT
slang term for soaring very high.

SLED RUN
flight in which not enough lift is encountered to extend flight.

SLIP
uncoordinated turn that results in high airspeed and sink rate.

SOARING
staying aloft by finding and maneuvering within rising air.

SPAN
as in "wingspan." Distance from wing tip to wing tip.

SPECKING OUT
climbing so high that glider appears as a small speck overhead.

SPEEDBAR
specially-curved base tube that allows pilot to pull in farther than with a straight tube. Also improves comfort.

SPIRAL DIVE
high speed slip that causes glider to descend extremely rapidly. Used by experienced pilots to escape from powerful lift

SPIRAL STABILITY (OR INSTABILITY)
tendency of a glider to hold or depart from a given bank angle during a turn.

STALL
loss of lift created by excessive angle of attack.

SWEEP
angling of wings so that tips are behind nose when seen from above or below. Aids pitch and yaw stability.

TANDEM
flying dual — pilot and passenger are suspended side by side in separate harnesses.

TANG
drilled metal plate used to attach cable to a tube.

TELL—TALE
streamer or ribbon used to check wind direction and speed.

THERMAL
rising column or bubble of warm air.

THIMBLE
stainless—steel, oval—shaped guide used to route cable around a fitting without kinking.

TIP
End of wing

TOTAL ENERGY
special type of variometer that compensates for pilot's pitch inputs when gauging lift.

TRAILING EDGE
rear edge of wing.

TRILAM
trade name. Special plastic-coated sailcloth often used as leading edge material.

TWIST
change in wing's angle of incidence from root to tip. Also known as washout. Helps stall behaviour by allowing wing to stall progressively instead of all at once.

UNDERSURFACE
bottom surface of a glider's sail.

UPRIGHT
alternate term for downtube. May also be referred to as Leg.

USHPA
abbreviation for United States Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association.

VARIOMETER
instrument that measures vertical speed of sink or climb. Commonly abbreviated as vario.

VG
Abbreviation for Variable Geometry. System that allows pilot to vary tension of sail in flight to alter glider's performance and handling.

VNE
short for Velocity Never Exceed. Maximum allowable airspeed specified by a glider's designer.

VORTEX
contrail of swirling air created at wingtip by differential pressure above and below wing as an aircraft flies. Source of wake turbulence.

WAKE TURBULENCE
turbulence created by an aircraft's passage through the air.

WANG
aerobatic maneuver in which the glider rolls past vertical.

WASHOUT
same as twist.

WASHOUT TUBES
struts attached to leading edges near wingtips. Part of gliders' diverecovery system.

WEAK LINK
section of line used in hang glider towing systems. Breaks at specified load to protect glider from gusts and overloading.

WIND DUMMY
pilot who takes off before others so they can gauge conditions based on his flight.

WIND GRADIENT
slowing of air next to ground caused by surface friction. May cause rapid loss of airspeed when flying low.

WIND SHADOW
zone of still air behind obstacles such as trees, buildings or other obstructions.

WIND SOCK
tubular wind indicator made of fabric and mounted on pole.

WING LOADING
ratio of wing area to weight carried in flight. Determined by dividing glider's total wing area by the combined weight of pilot, glider and all gear that will be carried in flight.

WINGNUT
nut with arms that allow it to be threaded and unthreaded without using a wrench or other tools.

WINGOVER
same as wang.

WIRE LAUNCH
launch in which assistants stabilize glider by holding wires. Necessary in higher winds.

WONDERWIND
pleasant type of ridge lift that provides unexpectedly good altitude gains. Created when warm air is released from a valley as upper air cools.

XC
abbreviation for "cross country." Refers to extended soaring flight to a distant point.

YAW
movement of a glider or other aircraft in the vertical axis — i.e. — flat, "swinging" motion of wings from side to side.




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