The modern sport of hang gliding was born more than
30 years ago of a generation of young men and women
whose passion for flight often overwhelmed any reasonable
concern for their own safety. The lessons of personal
soaring flight in light-weight wings were extracted
from an unforgiving nature at a price that was often
painful, and sometimes fatal.
Nature has not grown more forgiving
in those 30 years, and all the potential for danger
is still inherent in this, or in any form of flight.
The difference today is that we now understand the
requirements for safe flight in hang gliders and paragliders
as well and in as much detail as those requirements
are understood in other forms of aviation. Thanks
to the hard work and sacrifices of the founding members
of our sport, we now know what it takes to be safe.
All that remains is for each individual pilot to choose
safety, and to act consistently on that choice.
Safety is indeed a choice, and
one that each pilot is given the opportunity to make.
As a pilot, your safety is determined by the quality
of the decisions you make. It is not determined
by your skill, or your experience, or your knowledge,
but by how well you understand the limitations those
three things place on you, and by how well, and how
consistently you conduct your flying so as to stay
comfortably within those limitations.
When you first begin to fly,
your instructor will make most of those critical decisions
for you, and in so doing, assume the primary responsibility
for your safety. (Of course, at the same time, you
should be sure that you feel comfortable with what
youre doing - and, if you dont, talk it
through with your instructor until you do.) As you
progress, youll learn how to make decisions
for yourself, such as, Do I fly today? Can I handle
these wind conditions? etc. Ultimately your
goal is to develop a complete, and very accurate understanding
of exactly what you are capable of as a pilot, and
then to never make a decision that puts you into a
situation that you cant handle.