Collapses aren't the issue.
It's what you do with them that is.
Causes of collapses are AOA issues. Some of it's the air, some of it's the pilot. In the end, it doesn't matter. What matters is what you do when you get one. The difference in what happens next is drastically determined by your actions.
IF you respond correctly, yes, they're generally no big deal.
If you respond incorrectly, then they become a very big deal very quickly.
Responding correctly in most cases is a very easy thing. However, as we all know, people tend to jump into the deep end of flying all too soon. In the PG world, this translates into not yet knowing how to deal with collapses.
So where you see discontinuity... I see lack of understanding due to having an argumentative approach.
I've only flown as a tandem passenger in PG's at a coastal site and otherwise have no direct PG piloting experience. When a friend wants to know what it's like to fly foot launch I recommend a tandem ride in a PG at the coast (smooth air) and I honestly think this is safer than a tandem HG ride at the same site. The PG is easier and safer to launch/land tandem (IMO) and less intimidating for the passenger (i.e. they "walk" into the air). I've had 10 friends of all ages, sizes, men and women, fly tandem in a PG at the coast and all had a great experience.
I went to a mountain site this summer when 25 PG pilots were flying in an XC clinic in fairly rowdy air. I was the only HG flying that day. I was very impressed at the distances the PG's covered and their ability to handle the rough conditions. I would never have guessed that PG's would be so good at XC in those conditions, but they can work small broken thermals better than HG's and they have more landing options than HG's so they often work the lift lower in nasty terrain. On this day I think there was one PG chute deployment (no injury) and many collapses in the rough air, all recoverable except the chute deployment incident. I spoke with some of the PG pilots and they seemed to indicate that chute deployments were fairly common in thermal conditions. I didn't like hearing this but they didn't seem to be concerned over it. After this day of flying I had a new respect for the performance and capabilities of paragliders. I had flown this same site with flex wings for years and most of us rarely flew as far as the PG's flew that day. None of this proves PG's are or aren't safer than HG's, but I mention this story to show that there is a lot to be learned from people who fly these wings.
As far as what I think is safer, all I can say is I fly a 3-axis rigid wing with a steel cage around me and a positive/negative harness system. The rest of you guys are all nuts.
Regarding hang gliding safety I usually ask a twin engine airplane pilot. For learning about paragliding safety I will usually ask a hang pilot that stopped flying twenty years ago. I find this to be the best method for learning how to fly safely and getting the best information.
As for Rick's number I have no idea how he arrives at the total. I have seen sky diving and base jumping accidents with bad reporting end up in Rick's list. I am sure some are counted twice since he seem to be getting things online from various sources. Yes there have been a lot of deaths and accidents and a lot of pilots doing a lot of flying.
What are the figures in the USA where we can verify them. A lot of hang glider fatalities the last few years but I know those are diffferent and have nothing to do with any design flaws since hang pilots accept those flaws therefore they don't exist. Uh just like paraglider pilots accept paragliders design flaws. Of course if paragliders could not collapse you could not safely fly suspended below the wing( well at least at the present level of development)
Saturday I will take two wings to the beach and fly. I know either one can be deadly and either one can be flown safely. The pilot is the biggest part of the safety equation.
I think the useful take-away from Rick Masters' analysis is that when within a few hundred feet of the launch/hill/lz, paragliders are very vulnerable, moreso than hang gliders. I cringe when I'm flying mid-day thermic conditions and it's easy to get up but I see PGs going back and forth, over and over, a couple of hundred feet over the peaks or the ridge.
The difference between pg and hg to me is not safety. Its the fact that when im flying an HG, its almost 100% my fault if I have an accident. In a PG there is a larger random element. Want proof? Compare collapse rates between pg's flying smooth coastal sites and mountain sites. If there is a difference, and there is, its because turbulence causes collapses, and every time that happens its a chance for things to go to s*** if I dont respond correctly and as we have seen, lots of PG pilots dont respond correctly. An hg puts my destiny more deeply into my own hands than a pg. _________________
I like flying my PG in mellow conditions, but I would never give up the choice of an airframe. _________________ 'Spark
fledged in '76
pro-wheels, pro-pg, anti-troll
H4/OBS - WW U2-160 & Falcon 2 195
P3, Skywalk Chili (no wheels)
Last edited by Spark on Sat Feb 26, 2011 5:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
I guess people arguing against PG's feel that flex wings are more safe. I don't have accident statistics to argue this one way or the other, but flex wing hang gliders have design flaws also. Imagine how sailplane or general aviation aircraft pilot's view our equipment and safety record! I've listed a few below but if you compare an HG to a sailplane, there would be many more.
Some flex wing flaws:
1) Pilot is in the prone position for optimal operation. This results in the pilot's head/neck taking the brunt of the impact if he can't get upright before crashing. The pilot is minimally protected in any crash regardless of body orientation.
2) The aircraft has low control authority in certain flight regimes because it is weight shift controlled. Weight shift does not directly increase control authority with airspeed (like a sailplane's controls do) and if the VG is set tight there may be minimal roll control power.
3) The aircraft has non-recoverable unstable modes that can lead to structural failure (i.e. tumble or inversion and negative 'g' flight)
4) The aircraft has a higher stall speed than a paraglider and therefore the pilot is moving faster w.r.t the ground during launch and landing maneuvers, increasing the risk of injury if impact occurs during this phase of flight.
5) Most flex wings do not have inherently stable spiral or phugoid dynamics (i.e. can not safely fly hands-off for extended periods of time).
Actually, if you look at the number of pilot deaths per 1000 pilots per year, HG and PG are very similar to general aviation. It's harder to get a reliable read on HG and PG because the sample set is so small, but over the last five years the fatality rates on a per pilot basis are very similar.
By far the most dangerous type of aviation is the flying of homebuilts.
By far the most dangerous type of aviation is the flying of homebuilts.
I was a member of the Popular Flying Association. The local groups were called "Struts"
Attending one strut meeting, I found I was the only person there (out of about 12) who had NOT crashed a light aircraft.
The head of the strut had crashed his Isaac's Fury every time he had landed it and it was in the hangar having its fourth prop and engine rebuild.
One fellow had a hole in his forehead caused by crashing a Tiger Moth. He had head-butted the E2B compass and removed part of his brain. Clearly, he didn't need it, because he was still allowed to fly.
Pilot magazine did an analysis of why flying insurance is so expensive. They concluded that General Aviation in single piston aircraft, not just experimental or home-builts, was more dangerous on a deaths per participant hour basis than motorcycle racing. _________________ "We should all have our heads examined"
"That's Rule Number 4"
CP Hill, CP Tow.
Moyes Malibu 188. Airborne Sting3 XC168
I agree with Jim. I'm also inclined to support SG.
My issue with the safety of PG's is that in order to be as safe as possible on a collapsible wing you need A LOT OF EXPERIENCE. It takes many hours of airtime and very dedicated flying to keep the risk level of surviving a collapse to a minimum.
Too many...you can't start as an expert.
On top of that it's easy to get into the sport (PG), and then get into trouble. I believe HGing is a lot more safe in that regard. _________________ "Tow me up. I'll find my way down"
Kansas City Hang Glider Supplies
WW U2 145
WW F1 195
Torrey Hawk #212
I had thoughts of trying PG so can fly easier when away on holidays, but after seeing those vids on the first link, forget it!
Maybe 25% of the time I fly there are PGs around but have seen more injuries including a broken back, broken pelvis and a pair of shattered ankles + compared to one broken ankle and fractured arm in HG. The last time I flew with them four PGs had collapses in a thermal with one spiralling down 1000ft and popped his reserve late with no room to spare. The guys still flying talked me in to find him by radio and 4X4 and were amazed to find him OK though he was pretty wired.
From what I've seen HGs seem to hit at a shallow angle to the ground where PGs have been more square on that could make for some of the difference,
If I want to travel and fly I'll get a short pack glider. _________________ You only live twice
Sonic 190, Sting 154, Combat 2 14, Explorer, Mosquito NRG and a Falcon 3 195
It's not that dramatic Jim.
To fly PG in big air, you do need lots of experience. But to fly them in lesser air requires lesser experience. In normal thermic conditions, you need "regular" skills (P3). It's the big stuff that'll smack ya hard if you don't have the experience to fly it.
It's a bit of a mental shift for HG pilots because they're used to just white knuckling it and plowing through head first. How many haven't had a "wire slapper" flight? Tell me that didn't get your attention ;)
The consequences for diving in over your head in PG are greater than doing the same in HG. Ballsy PG pilots get b**** slapped harder than ballsy HG pilots.
So, basically, you dial down your ego.
The air doesn't go from smooth straight to OMG!!!!
There's a lot of shades in between.
You don't need "lots of experience" just to fly PG.
Hell, I prefer teaching PG because you actually need less on the lower end of the scales. HG students scare me far more than PG students. It reverses at the other end (big air flying).
I hadn't seen Rick M's website before. Tried looking through the multitudes of deaths in PG for given years but got overwhelmed quick.
How real is this list and how many are PG's are named incorrectly (base jumper, parachuter, etc). My complacency is hoping someone can go through and tell me... but even with a 50% error rate, these numbers freak me out for my PG bro's (although most of them are way past proficient).
My own experience definitely sees more PG accidents on the Ozreport search engine results on the bottom although that's not a way to draw a conclusion. If people are dying at any rate close to Rick's summaries, then the secret needs to get out more...