Ever Been Confronted By A Rude Hang Glider Pilot? - RC Groups
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Jul 21, 2002, 03:09 AM
Int'l Slope Observer
webguyjv's Avatar

Ever Been Confronted By A Rude Hang Glider Pilot?

Today a buddy and I flew in some SUPERB lift at a Pacifica, CA slope site atop some ocean cliffs, on public property -- only RC folks out there. We had a nice time for four hours and decided to head north to Daly City's Fort Funston site (also on ocean cliffs) and see if we could fly there.

I've been to this site before and found it very active with hang glider pilots, and they usually politely asked me to stay on the ground while they were in the air (they told me it's an official rule at that site -- established and enforced by the local authorities). Fine -- no problem.

Well, this evening we made it to Fort Funston, and I was delighted to see that there were two RC pilots in the air and no hang gliders anywhere in sight. We flew in the most delightul (and powerful) lift for at least 45 minutes, until a hangl glider pilot showed up on the scene.

While building his glider, he would periodically walk over to the launch area and talk with us, asking about the lift, etc... I told my buddies about the site rules and we all agreed to land as soon as we heard this guy was ready to launch.

OK -- we get the word. We all landed, and he walks out with his glider. My buddy steps about a foot over the line (there are cones set up to mark the boundary where the non-hang glider pilots must stay outside of during a hang glider launch) to pick up his radio to get it out of the way, and the pilot is yelling at my buddy. We were totally out of his way, but he was acting like we were smoking cigarettes in a gasoline refinery or something!

He takes of and yells "thank you" and flies off for thirty minutes or so, while we all decide to pack up and leave - not wanting to break the rules.

The hangl glider pilot lands and packs up whiel I'm chatting with my buddy in my car. The guy is parked right next to me and I couldn't resist asking him about his flight (the lift was superb, right?). We complimented him on his glider, and he told us about the cool features it has AND THEN he gives us a stern lecture about how we endangered his life. GEEZ!

I immeditely stopped talking to him and said goodbye to my buddy, and we both drove home in our separate cars, leaving this guy to complete his packing.

On the drive home I recalled the other sites where I've dealt with hang glider pilots...

Marina State Beach has many hang glider pilots and they have a peaceful co-existence with the RC pilots. Torrey Pines has hang glider AND paraglider pilots, and they BOTH have a mutual understanding with the RC pilots -- when they blow their whistles, clear the area and give them clearance. All of this works perfectly.

Why do the guys and girls that fly hang gliders at Fort Funston act so rude? I'm sure someone in this thread will set me straight. You see, I'm confused in that I just want to be able to fly there, and I think we go out of our way to be as courteous and considerate tothe hangl glider pilots as possible, AND STILL you get the odd one that gives you a hard time.

Any thoughts?

Happy Flying ;-)

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Jul 21, 2002, 05:27 AM
Registered User
Tony Oliver's Avatar

Hang glider pilots

Sounds to me as if he's one of those people so unsure of himself that he's stressed out to the point of failure before he sets out!

Either that or he doesn't want to share the same air (as in breathing it) with lesser mortals like model flyers.

You get 'em in all walks of life. Other hg pilots try to avoid that type too, in my experience - maybe that's why he flew alone.

Thinking about it, don't hg pilots have a rule never to fly alone?

Jul 21, 2002, 06:54 PM
Registered User
Sounds like a funny rule;
doesn't the person using the site first take precedence?
Jul 21, 2002, 11:51 PM
Int'l Slope Observer
webguyjv's Avatar

My Faith In Hang Glider Pilots Is Renewed ;-)

Hi Guys

Today, I took the kids to Marina State Beach under the pretense of letting them play at the ocean. Since my yesterday was mostly RC flying fun, I promised to take them out for some non-RC fun. Marina was my choice, so naturally I loaded two planes in the car before leaving

There were at least 6 hang glider pilots when I got there, and I know this site to be friendly to RC pilots. Since I was curious on this topic, I asked one of the guys about my experience at Fort Funston. He told me that EVEN HE (a hang glider pilot) has experienced snobbiness from some of the Fort Funston pilots. He said it was his opinion that some of the Fort Funston crowd think they're sort of an elite bunch and that everybody else (even other hang glider and paraglider pilots) are lower on the food chain.

I thanked him for this bit of wisdom and I truly felt better about the way this guy treated me yesterday -- knowing that I wasn't the only one being looked down upon. The guy I met today was a genuinely nice guy, and we traded several stories (just like we do with other RC fliers) before we said our goodbyes.

This definitely renews my faith in our larger-scale brethren

Happy Flying ;-)

Last edited by webguyjv; Jul 21, 2002 at 11:54 PM.
Jul 22, 2002, 08:15 PM
Registered User
peter_jensen's Avatar
I'm going to have to chime in here and second the statement about that particular pilot.

Normally I'd write a page or two here, but I just found out that I'm moving back to Atlanta in 2.5 weeks and need to get a lot of stuff together before then, so so much for free time.

There were two hang glider pilots flying at Funston that evening, both with rigid or semi-rigid swept-back flying wings. The first one had a SWIFT (rigid), and landed as we drove up. He was amicable, friendly, and even managed to politely manage the amount of spectactor questions while still trying to safely and quickly disassemble his rather large glider. (He mentioned wifely duties, so I guess that was the hurry).

The other guy wasn't terrible, but he seemed to be having quite a bad day. I don't mind judging people on first impressions, but I'll refrain from publically blasting them until the second time

He seemed to be having trouble deciding whether to fly in that heavy of a wind, and certainly wasn't as friendly as the other guy, although he softened up a bit when I was talking to him over at the setup area. I witnessed the incident described by the original poster, and can confirm that the hang glider was every bit as rude as mentioned. I bet it's annoying to have people constantly pestering you about what you're doing, but his actions don't really reflect well on hang gliders as a whole. Maybe it was just a bad day for him, although I hope not.

The Torrey Pines folks seem to have a good balance going, but there's definitely tension. I witnessed several hang gliders that didn't use whistles at all, and several more that violated the "only one or so person in the RC window at a time" rule. All that said, the safety record there is impressive.

One of the "Happiness is a Big Ass Glider" folks (http://www.diff.net/media/2002_07_06...03-medium.html) made some amusing but good-hearted comments about the relative safety records of the two sports which I can't remember well enough to relate, although it was quite scary to watch the parallel approaches of a tandem hang glider and a "big ass glider":

Both pilots did a good job, though.

On another note -- thanks to all the folks out there for the fun flying. Both John (my roommate with the 2x4 floater) and I had a great time and appreciate the help.

Jul 23, 2002, 12:22 AM
Registered User

Big-ass glider...

When I started gliding, we had a Chanute lookalike (no balloon cloth available) and the National Newsletter for the Self Soar Ass was a comment on "butt-skimming", before the hi efficiency gliders showed up. This group has yet to lose its Harley-style Rebel attitude, and it is not surprisinig that there is some guy on site that is challenged by any intervention in his "freedom". Ignore the idiot, or better yet call the cops on the cellphone giving his license number; they will find SOMETHING wrong with his attitude...
Jul 23, 2002, 01:10 AM
Int'l Slope Observer
webguyjv's Avatar

Thanks For the Support, Guys :)

Peter, I'll miss both you AND John. What a concidence to see you both on our way to Parker Mountain three weeks ago, then to hear that you both went to Parker Mountain, and then to see you both again at Pacifica AND Fort Funston.

I hope you guys will both keep in touch after you return to Atlanta. Personally I would love to check out the slope sites in your fair state

I can be reached by e-mail at "webguyjv@yahoo.com"

Terry, thanks for your support. I think we agree that there are a LOT of great guys and gals out there that fly hang glides --all of them really nice. I think on the day that Peter and I related (as Peter mentioned), that particular pilot must have been a bit stressed out and I think he took it out on my buddy and I.

Happy Flying ;-)

Jul 23, 2002, 05:31 PM
Registered User

I fly at Fort Funston quite often, and while the hang glider guys aren't shy about asking the r/c guys to land when they're about to launch, I've never had any major problems and/or lectures.

I think if you took a poll of r/c slopers out at Funston you'd be surprised to find out that many of these guys are actually hang glider pilots! In fact, they frequently fly models when its too windy for the hang gliders or if the lift is marginal.

I think you did run across the oddball quite frankly. Sounds like he knew you weren't regulars so that entitled him to bust your chops for some reason. I've seen folks take off many times with the takeoff area not being completely cleared. The fact of the matter is that he holds his life in his own hands - if the area wasn't cleared to his satisfaction he could've waited for another minute or two.

That being said it is aggravating to be grounded constantly by the hang gliders. Fort Funston is a great site with ample landing area but there are many sites near there where you can slope without this aggravation.

Jul 23, 2002, 06:36 PM
Registered User
peter_jensen's Avatar
Good comments all -- I'd also like to point out that one of the reasons I enjoy Fort Funston near the end of the day is that the hang gliders are typically landing and packing up, and oftentimes they're interesting to watch. In any case, I feel that good relationships between all aspects of unpowered flight are important to continued access and happiness; what's good for them is probaby also good for us (and vv).

Jul 23, 2002, 11:27 PM
Registered User
schoey's Avatar
I do both (hangglide and slope), and I've never heard rules like that, over here we just fly together, very rarely do you want to occupy the others airspace, as when I'm sloping I stay low playing around close to the ground, when I'm hanggliding I head off to find different lift anyway. You have to understand but that he was jumping of the cliff, while you were staying firmly on the ground, and if you made him feel unsafe then there is no telling what the reaction might be. I know many HG pilots, that are all nice, but if something happens when they are flying it is a different story, it gets very serious very quickly.
Jul 24, 2002, 12:38 AM
Registered User
that is sort of the point i was making above...
we fly alongside the "big gliders" (BG) here all the time, us low them high usually and when a BG comes along you just fly out of the way - i've never had any probs
however if you come along to a cliff and are about to throw yourself into the air, and there is people already flying rc gliders up and down surely the question is "who is going to hurt in a accident" so abruptly claiming precedence is a bit rude (or silly).
I dont think that would fly around here
Jul 24, 2002, 03:04 AM
Registered User
schoey's Avatar
Its not precedence HG's are looking for normally they just want some clear airspace at take off. When I was on my first flight after I had done the course, I went along to my favorite sloping site, there were a few RCers there, which was fine, but right at takeoff one of them buzzed me which was very un-nerving for a novice pilot, it didn't really bother me, but it would have been nice to have less distractions at takeoff.
Jul 24, 2002, 04:16 AM
iankraus's Avatar
I used to, when i still lived in Aussi, fly a lot of slope at Long Reef. We often shared the same airpace. never heard of or saw any problems, just mutual respect and interest in similar hobbies. It's a very similar interest and we would often have long friendy chats.
sounds like a bad case of I'm better than you are mentality there in Cali.
I probably would have started laughing and making jokes at him, but hey, I'm a new yorker now:-) fugetuboutit:-) actually calling the police on him if he was really offensive is probably the best and safest way to give him a bad headache, police really love people with a stank attitude
Jul 24, 2002, 07:04 PM
Registered User
Ian -
really got that new york lingo down - no worries...
Jul 30, 2002, 01:04 AM
Registered User


Well, I have been flying rc for about 10 years. I have been hanggliding for 2.I learned RC flying thremals with hanggliders, often with me on the ground and my father in the air. While I did thermal with him we would arrange this before hand, and i mantained a large distance from any other wing in the air. I would appreaciate it if others would do the same for me, even other hanggliders. I have flown both Funtson and Marina- rc and hanggliders. While I do not mind seeing rcs flying around. I would like them to give me space. I have not had a problem at Funston(because some people are pricks and don't let any rc in the air) but at marina I have seen foamies doing aerobatics fly into HGs and When im in the same air, this is very uncomfortable. Don't get me wrong, I love foamie combat, just not when im the target. If a rc hits a pilot head on, this can be fatal. This is serious. However if you maintain a reasonable distance there should be no problems. I think the most important thing when flying around any piloted craft is to yeild. Even if you have right of way according to the ridge "rules". Just remember, while your/my RC may cost a couple hundred bucks. A hangglider runs 6k, plus there is a life in it.