The Aircraft We Fly

It looks great. You like thrills. You've always wanted to be a bird.
You can go places nobody else can. It looks so serene. The view must be brilliant.

If you think any of these, then you should be flying with us - definite. All the above are true of hang gliding, paragliding and triking. Forget the confines of airports, the narrow aluminium tube of a passenger jet, and ordinary mortal style flying. Think instead about skimming metres above a remote mountain top in the company of a wedge tailed eagle, climbing under a cloud until you are so cold your fingers start to freeze, flying for hours using only your skill and the invisible lift the air can provide, soaring high and cool over beaches packed with hot and sweaty sunbathers. These are what flex wing flying are all about.

You don't have to be a wannabee bird, you don't have to be staggeringly fit, you don't have to be shockingly wealthy. But you do have to have a sense of adventure and be keen to discover new things. The important thing is, what kind of flying to do? Here are some pointers to help you sort out which way to go.

All lightweights (microlight trikes, hang gliders and paragliders) are as safe as the person in control, and it's almost unheard of for design and structural failures to cause accidents. So choosing which to go for depends on you - and only you know how safe you are.

Safety - all forms of lightweight flying (microlight trikes, hang gliders and paragliders) are as safe as the person in control. Today, it is almost unheard of for design and structural failures to cause accidents. Flying is as safe as the pilot - and only you know how safe you are.

Cost - Microlight trikes are most expensive, with hang gliding and paragliding about equal but less than trikes. Trikes also cost more to run, whereas hang gliders and paragliders cost nothing to fly - apart from the cost of getting to a flying site. Paragliders cost least to transport, especially if you intend to travel overseas, but they usually wear out quicker than the other two with an average life of around 3-4 years. Whereas hang gliders and trikes will last for up to twice as long as that.

Ease of Learning - Easiest are paragliders, then hang gliders, then trikes. This also applies to weight, so setting up and initial training is slightly more physically demanding when learning hang gliding. Trikes have wheels so minimal lifting is required. Once past the initial learning phase, paragliders can need more pilot input to get the most from them.

Capability - Trikes are the most capable. They can fly almost anywhere, in much wider weather conditions, farther and consistently higher. But you'll pay more for that capability, use fuel, need better takeoff and landing zones and plenty of set up time. You'll also need a trailer. Hang gliders have the best glide (go further), fly faster and can fly in stronger winds than paragliders, but take longer to set up and are harder to manhandle and transport - you'll need a big roof rack to carry them round. Paragliders have less glide performance than the other two, and cannot fly in winds as strong as hang gliders and trikes. However, they are more manoeuvrable than trikes and hang gliders. They are also light and compact enough to carry in a backpack, and can takeoff and land in very confined spaces.

If this isn't enough to help you decide, call the local school and ask - they are the experts.


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