- So you have passed you H2 written test. Your instructor has signed you off, and sent you out into the world with your trusty steed. What now?
It is important to realize a H2 rating, and the training involved to obtain it, has not given you all of the skills you will ever need in your flying adventures. Continue your training for as long as you continue flying.
- Find a mentor, or a group of pilots who will share what they know.
- Listen and learn from the seasoned pilots in your club.
- You can often find clinics available, many hosted by world-class pilots.
- Put as much effort into learning after your H2, as you did obtaining your H2!
Training should not stop after you leave your instructor and the training hill behind. At this point you know, or understand the basic elements of hang gliding. There are many important skills you have yet to develop.
For those familiar with the steps in obtaining a Private Pilot license from the FAA consider this analogy: The Novice (H2) rating is not the equivalent of a pilot's license. The HG counterpart to an FAA license is the Intermediate (H3) rating. The H2 is more closely aligned to the solo sign-off by an instructor. You are skilled enough to fly on your own under controlled conditions, but still need to learn more to be fully safe across the spectrum of sites and weather conditions.
- You may have thermaled at your training site, or maybe you haven't. You will soon begin to find out thermals are like snow flakes. No two thermals are alike. Some have sharp well defined edges and tops. Others are just kind of fade off into nothing. Your flying technique in each may need to differ.
- Finding a thermal is often luck, but you can improve your luck if you understand where to look.
- Once you find the thermal, can you stay in it? Talking with experienced pilots can lead to understanding where you lost the thermal, and why you lost it.
- New sites.
- You are familiar with your local site. How it operates, caution areas, ridge rules and flight line protocol. Where the house thermals tend to form, and where the house rotors set up. When traveling to a new site, always remember to seek the advice of a local pilot or advanced pilot.
- Learning a new LZ, with unfamiliar approaches, and obstacles can be daunting. Using local resources or veteran pilots can be key to ending a flight safely. Walk the LZ and visualize your approach. Look for those obstacles
- Cross Country
- Some pilots live for it, others are happy to boat around the site. Either way, at some point you may find yourself in the need to land somewhere other than the LZ. Do you know what to look for?
- Is there a fencerow cutting across the field?
- Are there power lines along your approach?
- Are there drainage ditches running across a seemingly flat field?
- Are you setting up on a downhill slope?
- Weather Forecasting
- Don't rely on someone else to decide if you should go to launch. Learn to collect and interpret data for yourself. Learn about the hazards and dangers the weather can cause.
- Is there a chance of thunderstorms forming that day?
- Is the wind forecast to switch or increase, placing you in danger of being stranded with no place to land?
This is just a partial list of skills and knowledge you may need to learn.
These topics may or may not be covered in detail during you flight training.
Don't be afraid to ask another pilot any questions you may have.