How Dangerous Is Hang Gliding (and Is It Safer Than Skydiving)?

Hang gliding is a high-risk sport that, if pursued carelessly, may either lead to minor injuries or death. Statistically speaking, hang gliding is safer than skydiving. However, both sports can be extremely dangerous especially if performed without proper knowledge and safety gear.
How Dangerous Is Hang Gliding

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Any sport, whether low-risk or otherwise, has risks. Often, the fine line between safe and dangerous is being drawn by the person doing the sport. Hang gliding is high-risk in nature, but it doesn’t mean that it would always lead to injuries. After all, hang gliding is as safe as the pilot makes it to be.

Is Hang Gliding Dangerous?

Hang gliding is considered to be inherently dangerous. In a nutshell, this sport involves you flying above the ground held by aluminum frames and suspended by wires and fabric. While this may be a poor description of the sport, it doesn’t make it any less true.

This is why hang gliding has to be taken seriously not only by students but all hang gliding enthusiasts. Your safety really depends on how you treat the sport and how prepared you are when problems arise.

Why Is Hang Gliding So Dangerous?

There are several reasons why hang gliding can be dangerous.

  • Weather: This is one example of a hazard that we, as humans, do not have control over. The weather should be one of the first aspects to look into if you are deciding whether it’s good to fly or not. Weather conditions change quickly, and you have to be quick to react to these changes.
  • Equipment: Some hazards arise from equipment failure. Before you even begin thinking of flying, you have to ensure that your equipment is assembled correctly and that there is no chance for a mechanical failure while you are in the air.
  • Pilot error: Some hazards can be purely caused by human error. Two of the most critical skills that a pilot needs to learn are judgment and decision-making. When you are up in the air, you will be the only one to decide on things so developing good judgment and being able to quickly come up with a decision can ultimately save you from accidents.
  • Other flyers: If you happen to fly during the peak season where there are a lot of other flyers, this may cause you problems as well. Accidents can arise when you fly too close to other flyers, or they move too close to you. Remember to always be vigilant of your surroundings.

Sure, you may not have control over some of these hazards, but there are things that you can do to ensure your safety and the safety of others. Like what professionals say about the sport, hang gliding is as safe as you make it to be.

What Are the Risks of Hang Gliding?

If you ever decided that you want to get serious about the sport but are curious to know the risks that you are getting yourself into then read on.

Even professional hang gliders can get into accidents, some small while others can be extremely catastrophic. Minor injuries can include lacerations, broken bones, dislocation, and strained or sprained muscles, and minor accidents may cause damage to property.

Major accidents, on the other hand, may cause:

  • Death
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Head injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Damage to internal organs
  • Mental trauma
  • Internal bleeding
  • Ripped or torn tendons, muscles, and ligaments
  • Back injuries
  • Amputated limbs

Whether minor or major injuries, these may occur while launching and landing the hand glider, and even while in the air. If you are ever part of a hang gliding incident, no matter if you think you are injured or not, make sure to quickly get medical attention.

How Common Are Hang Gliding Accidents?

Sadly, hang gliding accidents are not properly documented which makes it hard to tell how common hang gliding accidents occur. The sport is highly unregulated which makes it difficult to properly determine the accident rate all over the world.

It has been reported, however, that the accident rate has significantly decreased over the last decade. This is mainly due to better equipment and more rigorous pilot training.

Most common hang gliding accidents include crashes that are caused by suddenly losing altitude, ground collision, or impact with a fixed object such as buildings, trees, or a hillside.

How Many Hang Gliders Die Each Year?

According to the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA), there was an average of about 3 deaths a year between 2000 to 2016 as the population of hang gliders increased from 3000 to 6000.

The real number may be higher according to the USHPA. As the accident rate, the number of fatalities in hang gliding is hard to accurately determine due to the sport being widely unregulated.

Do Hang Gliders Wear Parachutes?

Hang gliders carry emergency parachutes enclosed to the harness. This way, when a problem occurs, the parachutes can be manually deployed, and it will carry both the pilot and the glider back down.

Hang gliding emergency parachutes are different from that of the parachutes used in skydiving They are designed differently and since the hang gliding emergency parachute carries both the pilot and the glider, the descent is much slower.

Is Hang Gliding Safer Than Skydiving?

The answer to this question is not completely cut and dried. If we are going with statistics alone, then hang gliding is safer than skydiving.

However, compared to hang gliding, skydiving is more regulated which means the rate of accidents and fatalities are pretty well documented while that of hang gliding isn’t. What we can be sure of is that both sports are inherently dangerous and whether you are doing one or the other, your safety should be your top priority.

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