Tandem Aerotowing is a great way to try out hang gliding for fun, or to see if you are interested in the sport. You will ride with an instructor in a hang glider capable of carrying 2 people. A tow plane will pull the glider to 750 meters (2500 ft) where you will enjoy a 15-minute glide on your way back to earth.
Tandem flights are particularly safe, since you will be with an advanced-rated hang glider pilot with additional instructor training. Tandem flights usually take place in the morning or early evening hours when the air is calm and the wind is smooth. Based on your request, the flight can be a leisurely glide, or a roller-coaster ride. The instructor may allow you to take control of the glider.
The following section describes aerotowing at Highland Aerosports located in Ridgely, Maryland, about 25 minutes east of the bay bridge.
Ridgely Airport is a small untowered airport used by hang gliders, sailplanes, and crop dusters.
The red glider is a Will's Wing Falcon. The blue/yellow glider is my Falcon with the big red training wheels :-). Both are slow, easy-to-fly gliders. The black one, further back, is a faster, more efficient double-surfaced glider.
The hang glider rests in a wheeled cart during takeoff. Once the glider gains enough speed to fly, it will lift off of the cart.
Glider on cart
The glider rests on the cart, and the pilot hangs in a normal prone position.
The tandem hang glider allows for two persons, one above the other. The instructor climbs in first. For your first flight, the instructor will be below the student.
The Dragonfly tow plane is designed to handle a large load and to fly at low speeds without stalling or losing control.
The tow-plane accelerates to about 40kph (25mph). Highland Aerosports Staff ensure that the cart stays straight during the takeoff. At about 25kph (15mph) the glider will lift from the cart and the pilot ensures that the glider remains directly behind the tow plane.
View from the air
At 750 meters (2500 feet) the instructor will release the tow line, and the glider will begin a slow decent. Over the next 10 minutes, you can experience a breathtaking view of the countryside. You can have your picture taken from a camera mounted on the wing. You may have a chance to pilot the glider or experience stalls or wingovers. Stalls are completely safe in a hang glider, and feel like the top of a roller-coaster. Wingovers feel like a loop without actually going over.
The tandem glider lands on its wheels. With a normal glider, the pilot lands on their feet like a bird.
- Video of a tandem glider landing: Site 1, Site 2
- Video of a flare landing ending in a mild whack: Site 1, Site 2
- Video of a running landing: Site 1, Site 2
- Highland Aerosports in Ridgely, Maryland
- Kitty Hawk Kites at Currituck Airport in North Carolina
- Quest Air in Groveland, Florida
- Wallaby Ranch in Davenport, Florida
Here is a glossary of Hang Gliding terminology.
To view the videos on Windows you will need an MPEG-4 video codec. If the videos do not play, download and install the XVID codec. If you are using Linux, you will need a video player like XINE or MPlayer. Macintosh users will need Quicktime.