Welcome to the Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding Spectacular and Air Games novice tips section. Here you will have access to tips on how to improve and do well in these competitions. These tip are written by experienced Spectacular competitors so you can be sure there is some great wisdom here! If you are an advance competitor and have a great tip for the novice competitors contact Bruce Weaver.
“sucker cones are called sucker cones for a reason, but the sucker who can actually make them is the winning sucker. The spot landing is where everything comes together, so focus more on the spot and be prepared to bail on a cone if it looks like you wont have enough energy to make it to the middle. If you have too much speed, deal with it as early as possible by increasing your parasitic drag (go upright), and be prepared to drop it into the spot from a stall. You can also extend your flight after rounding the last cone to allow the glider to bleed off some airspeed. It’s more important to not let the basetube hit, since that nets you a goose egg for the landing points, so don’t allow the glider to stall if you are higher than 10 feet or so. Instead, forget the spot and go for the easy 5 points for landing on your feet. If it looks like you are going to come up short, concentrate on streamlining your body as much as possible and pull upwards on the bottom of the basetube as if you were trying to pull it closer to your chin (not just in or out, but actually pull it up toward the sky)”
“In a spot landing contest it is better to land safely than crash on or near
“Do like the 2003 winner (Bo Hagewood) did and get some sleep the night before and forget the Pre-spectacular party. It’s a trick! Learn to pump the downtubes in order to manage final energy and speed for the spot landing. If the spot is close, look down at your toes to place them in the center! Also avoid using a bulky harness to fly in during the dune competition. During the Air Games I recommend using on of G.W.’s demo gliders so you don’t have to set up or break down. Make sure you understand the rules completely!”
How to compete from the novice point of view
“It’s all in the launch run. There you are standing on the top of a sand dune. The wind is blowing over and around your glider and it is lifting off the ground like a horse fighting the rope and wanting to run. You think to yourself ” this is going to be easy. All i have to do is push my glider into the air and I will be flying!” Well I am here to tell you that it’s not quite that easy.
A strong launch run, especially in windy conditions on a flat slope, is the best way of getting your wing into the air with plenty of airspeed. Sure you can get the wing lifting you with a simple push but that speed will not sustain you to the spot.
Here is the drill. Practice this every time you launch from a slope. Do not use this technique on windy cliff launch.
Pick up the glider until you feel the mains of your harness go tight. Start leaning your shoulders through the control frame and accelerate your run with two or three steps. Do not jerk start running as this has a tendency to pop the nose up. Feel the glider starting to lift your legs off the ground and gently pull the bar in to lower the nose and keep your feet on the ground and keep running. At the start line lift your feet and fly through the course with speed and authority. Fly safe with practice, Kenny Brown”
Kenny Brown / Moyes America
Editors note: Each year Kenny travels all the way from California to the Outer Banks for this great event. He always brings lots of demo gliders from Moyes and wants you to try these products! Kenny has won 4 Spectacular events and many other side events. It’s a pleasure to have him here and quite a treat to watch him fly.
“1.Launch aggressively 2. Don’t be afraid to fly close to the ground.
Most of the flights during the Spectacular are close to the ground. Do not be intimidated. A common mistake is to try to get up and away from the ground. Many times this is done by pushing out during or just after launch and the result is a short, slow and often times barely controlled flight. Ground effect is a great thing and you should use it to your advantage on the dune. Run hard with good form on launch then keep up your speed while flying down the course. You will be rewarded with a long flight down to the end of the course. You will also have more control allowing you to adjust your flight in order to have a better chance at the bulls eye. It’s a good idea to fly with wheels no matter where you are flying, but certainly if you are going to be doing some dune skimming. So, bring your wheels, run hard, fly fast and have fun.”
Editors note: I remember Bruce telling me those very same words when I first learned in 1994. I decided not to listen to him and specked out on Jockey’s Ridge because I pushed out so much. We still joke about it today but it scared the heck out of me! I should have listened to him but at least I was able to get my first soaring flight! (uncontrolled!)
“There are 3 tips to flying in high winds on a flat slope: Speed, speed and speed. When it comes to soaring the big dune on a task, well, the spectacular is not the time to learn it – all your friends will get to see you eat sand. Come early and practice. Whatever you do – Just Fly”