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John Melfi Kites his glider

Student kiting a paraglider at Elings Park 

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Kiting and Ground Handling

If the wind doubles in velocity, it will have four times as much force or power on the glider. This is a good thing to remember when you are practicing your ground handling and conditions get strong. It may soon be time to do a pick up and take a break before being over powered by the wind.

Ground handling (also called kiting) is the art of being in touch with your glider. Once in the air, things are pretty simple due the fact that you are suspended directly underneath the glider and keeping it fully loaded with your weight. Being on the ground is a different story. Now you have to move with the glider in order to stay centered, or directly underneath it. If you are behind the curve in moving with your glider it can fall in front or behind you or off to one side or the other. Practice in this area gives you the ability to feel where the glider is over your head without having to look at it. This in turn teaches you to move intuitively with your glider. When you have the "feel" of your glider you can anticipate what it is going to do, and make an input before the glider gets too far out of center. This skill helps tremendously when launching, and will make you a better all around pilot. It is easy to only want to fly once you get your rating, but try to get out and do some kiting in the park when you can. Your ability to control your glider in a variety of different conditions and situations will allow you to be confident and focus on your launch.

In my opinion, ground handling is what separates a good novice pilot from an advanced pilot. By practicing kiting, you become a better pilot. The feeling and muscle memory you get by practicing forward kiting carries over directly to your active piloting and pressure management while you are flying. When you are a skilled ground handler you can focus on your launch confidently, knowing you have the skills to react to whatever Mother Nature sends your way.


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