Aqua Air Adventure

Aqua Air Adventure
Aqua Air Adventure

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hang gliding

Hang-gliding Introductory day

Leap Skywards in a hang-glider and fulfil man’s ultimate dream of flying like a bird - In one of the most picturesque locations on the planet.

Challenge yourself and experience the ultimate high.

  • Where : usually on the incredibly scenic west coast, an hour out of Auckland.
  • When : every day, weather permitting
  • Who : Anyone who likes physical action
  • How:
    1. Put glider together
    2. Run the glider up to take off speed and learn directional control
    3. Get towed into the air or glide down a slope
  • How safe is it: We have developed unique training techniques over 40 years which allow you to experience lift off safely
  • How long; Usually 3 to 6 hours depending on numbers.
  • How do I get there. Either catch our shuttle from central Auckland or drive yourself
  • How much : $250/ person ( discounts available for group bookings )
  • Do I need to book:. Yes. We have limited places and are weather dependent.

hang-gliding lessons/courses

We take students through to the internationally recognised Novice qualification.

The student will be able to leap off cliffs and stay up for hours with complete confidence with this rating.

1) Introductory Session

Learn how to assemble a glider, run the glider up to take-off speed and moon-walk.

Then learn to fly solo off low slopes or be towed up to altitude. By the conclusion of this course, students will be able to take off solo from a high point (cliff!), perform controlled turns, and land.

They will gain an internationally recognised novice rating qualification.


Theory sessions also prepare students for gaining their NZHGPA beginner and novice ratings.


hang gliding tandems

A spectacular way to get airborne... towed behind a jeep, you get catapulted into the sky, high above the breath-taking West Coast scenery.

The instructor releases and we can then fly however you wish, from a nice relaxing float to adrenaline surging aerobatic swoops.


Hang Glider Flight Theory

  • Hang-gliders are twice as strong as passenger jets.
  • Modern Gliders are very easy to fly and weigh as little as 19 kg.
  • Accidents are very rare with modern gliders and tandem training techniques.
  • Very little physical in-flight effort is required. Once airborne, you can either totally relax and float, or do aerobatics.
  • You can stay up for hours and fly up to the clouds.

Hang gliding is now a mature sport. In the early days there were many accidents due to insufficient training , badly designed gliders and badly maintained gliders. These are pretty minimal now but there are still a few incidents. What I have done here is list some of the more common scenarios...The pilot has to identify the risk areas , the causes, the choices the pilot has, and what he feels the solutions are:

The student is expected by the end of our training courses to understand completely each scenario and be able to explain it in their own words. We have given the explanations in the form of a general discussion at the end of the situation statements. Have a go at matching up the explanations with the situations.

1. Glider is coming in to land into wind. At a height of 6 metres the right wing starts to turn. The pilot corrects the turn by shifting his body weight but the glider does not respond.

2.Pilot is on first soaring flight at Kariotahi. He is incredibly exuberant as he flies above the ridge and stays up. He comes towards the end of the ridge and does his first turn. It is a wide turn and takes him out of the lift band. As he flies back towards the ridge he notices he is below the ridge. He has plenty of ground speed and does not want to go down.

3.Pilot has 10 hours soaring under his belt and is flying at Kario. He sees a dark cloud approaching. The wind is about 20 knots.

4.Pilot is crossing a gap in the cliffs in strong winds.

5. Pilot is flying at Muriwai at high tide. He tries to fly down the coast to Bethells but cannot get around the point and loses a lot more height than anticipated. He turns ,flies down wind across the sea towards the cliffs at Muriwai but there is no way he is going to be able to link up with lift on the cliffs. He might just make the large boulders at the bottom of the cliff.

6.Pilot is flying along the ridge with the wind behind him. There is not a lot of lift so he is flying at minimum sink trying to make the most of the lift that is there.

7.Pilot is on his first high flight at the Kaimais taking off at 2500 ft. He has to land in a small field.He has only flown at the coast before , landing on the beach.

8. Pilot is soaring the 10m sand dunes at Muriwai and the wind is coming in at a 45 degree angle.

9. Pilot is preparing to take off at Kario but there are a lot of gliders hogging the air around the take off.

10.Pilot has been blown back behind the ridge and he knows he is going to hit severe rotor and probably crash.

11. Pilot is flying high on a site with many other pilots.. Suddenly he notices that the lift is reducing and the pilots lowest down are landing and are all nosing in on landing.

12. Pilot is landing at Kario for the first time. It is half tide and there is a raging surf. Pilot turns into wind to land and suddenly realises he is too high to get down if he continues on his glide path.

13. Pilot is starting to be blown back over the ridge at Kariotahi. He has a couple of choices in order to make a relatively safe landing behind the ridge. What are his options.

14. Pilot is attempting his first ever takeoff from a cliff or steep takeoff in winds of 25 knots.

15. Pilot is attempting his first takeoff from a 3000ft mountain in light winds from a shallow slope.

16. Pilot is on his first cross country flight ( about 30 hours experience). It was blowing 20 knots on takeoff. He has flown about 20 km and has dropped out of a thermal and has to land.

17. Pilot is about to try his first top landing on the Kaimais in strong winds.

18. Pilot is desperate for a flight and has plenty of experience. He is standing ready for takeoff in 25 knot winds.The wind is not square in and he is finding hard to keep the wings level.

Situation Explanations

What the student has to do is match up the explanations below ( lettered a to o ) with the situations above ( numbered 1 to 18 ). Note that a situation may have more than one explanation. For example for situation 6 explanation b and also d possibly applies.

Stalling in one situation or another has caused many an incident over the years. Gliders fly themselves quite happily in smooth air. You can take your hands completely off the controls and it will not stall. You have to push out quite hard to get it to stall. The stall in a hang-glider is very gentle and is one of the first things you practise during training. However there are a couple of situations where the stall can creep up on the pilot.

a) One is on landing approach when there is a wind blowing. There is always less wind on the surface due to ground friction and this wind increases with altitude to reach its maximum at over a few hundred metres. We call this the wind gradient. The wind gradient is most pronounced near the surface.It is sometimes severe enough to rob the glider of airspeed as it approaches the landing causing the glider to approach the stall. If this happens the pilot might notice the controls as sluggish or unresponsive.

The solution is easy.

The pilot should always come in with extra speed and he will never have a problem.

b) Another situation is if the pilot is flying down wind close to the ridge. If there is a gust this gust can overtake the glider and rob it of air speed and this will cause the glider to approach the stall. Because the pilot is flying with the wind his ground speed is very fast and the ridge can hit him with reasonable velocity.

Again the solution is simple.

If the pilot is flying downwind close to a ridge he should fly with a little extra speed.

c) Of course the pilot has to get the glider to well over the stall speed in order to takeoff effectively. He has to run it up to take off speed keeping it under control while he does so. The speed required increases with height due to the air density decreasing with altitude.

d) Mixing up ground speed and airspeed can catch the beginner pilot out. If the pilot is flying with the wind his speed over the ground ( ground speed ) can be high. The pilot knows he is travelling fast and thinks he can easily push the control bar out to gain more altitude,not realising that his speed through the air (air speed ) is slow and he is about to enter a stall.

e) Hang gliders should only be flown in smooth air. Pilots are taught to visualize air as coloured water and only fly in the smooth stuff. A lot of flying sites are impossible to land back on top because of the turbulence behind the ridge but might have one small zone where the air is smooth and it is safe to top land.

f) Pilots have to be careful about the wind speed they fly in. If it is strong not only is any turbulence rougher but there is plenty of variation in its speed as it flows through gaps valleys or over ridges. Four dimensional visualization is required. An approaching squall might increase the wind speed enough for the glider to start flying backwards over the ridge into the rotor zones. A pilot has to be very out of it to get himself into this situation but it has happened and unfortunately it will happen again. If the pilot is being blown back it might be possible to get down relatively safely

g) The pilot has to quickly scan the terrain. He might be directly behind some vertical cliffs but off to his right he might see a more rounded part of the ridge. By drifting off to the right and landing behind the rounded part. there would be less chance of the severe rotors that he would definitely find behind the vertical cliffs

h) Alternatively he might spy some farmers paddocks 2 km away that he judges that he can reach by immediately flying downwind and thereby over fly the rotor zone and still have enough height to turn into wind for landing.

i) However lets assume the pilot has hit rotor and is going to crash. All he can do is hold the bar in to maintain airspeed and throw it out just as before he hits the ground for a cushioning affect

j) Flying small sand dunes is a lot of fun but the glider is always close to the ground and the pilot has to make some very quick decisions especially if the wind is not square into the dune and the downwind leg is very fast. The dunes can rush up very fast.

k) The pilot must always, always, always, always, always, always have total control over his wing before he starts his takeoff run.

l) Flying along long stretches of coastline is perfectly safe if the tide is out and there is plenty of landing beaches.. If there is limited landing you have to be very careful. Being forced to land at the base of cliffs with only large boulders is head breaking material. You might be required to lose your glider and take your chances with a water landing.

m) With experience comes confidence and with some pilots overconfidence. Overconfidence has probably created more accidents than any other cause.

n) If pilot is used to landing on wide open beaches only he has to be very good at spot landings before he can consider flying at any inland site which might have small landing paddocks.

o) Sometimes it can be frustrating waiting for pilots to fly away from the takeoff site. They are hogging the airspace. It is best to remember crowded skies have caused many mid air collisions over the years.

0508 GET HIGH