Glider  
 

Hang Glider in the Snow

 The latest in our game of finding differences in photographic images, takes as its subject the exhilerating sport of hang gliding. When you look carefully you will notice that the pilot is wearing skis, indicating that he took off on snow, and indeed the picture was taken on the slopes above St Moritz in Switzerland.

Learning to fly a plane is extremely expensive, but hang gliding is a much cheaper way to get airborne, and since the 1980s excellent equipment has been available at a reasonable cost, allowing would-be pilots to learn to fly relatively safely. The lightness of modern materials means that climbing to high altitudes on thermal air currents is perfectly possible. Present day hang gliders are essentially a single wing from which the pilot hangs in a harness. The frame is light-weight aluminium, and the covering is made of light but strong man-made fabric. Launch techniques vary from the simple (jumping off a hill – in this case, wearing skis on snow) to the exotic (launching from a hot air balloon). Some launch techniques involve the use of a winch towing system on the ground to get the hang glider airborne.

Hang gliding records are staggering : the current altitude record for a balloon-launched hang glider is 38,800 feet (11,800 metres). The record height-gain during flight is 13,025 feet (3,970m). The present long distance record is 475 miles (764km) without landing.
     
 
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