Landing Safely on a Paraglider (no windsock!)


hey it’s Greg from Flybubble here. let’s
talk about landing setups. so I’m flying down here in some new area in the
Pyrenees I’ve never been here before. I’m guessing you haven’t been here
either. we’re gonna pick a landing field do a nice set up and I’ll talk you
through it. tell you what I’m doing so we’re
approaching this village on glide and I’m not really sure what the wind is
doing down on the ground there’s no indication there’s no smoke there’s no
wind socks. how am I gonna work it out? I want to pick a nice field but the
wind direction is critical so first thing that I always do when I come down
to a landing setup is at this sort of height I do a gentle 360. do a 360
turn and look at where you are being drifted in that circle. you do a steady
circle and it’ll become an oblong in one direction and that’ll tell you which
way the wind is pushing you. once I’ve done that I’ll point into wind — what I
think is into wind from that circle — and I’ll come on to a little bit of brakes
and I just just hold it for a little bit and I’ll try and look down and identify
my ground speed. I’m gonna pause it there, you can see my shadow bottom left
of the picture and I’m now pointing into what I think is the wind direction. I’ve
got a little bit of brake on and I try to imagine myself running across
that field and trying to chase my shadow if I think I can run and keep up with
myself then I’m probably pointing into wind because that means it’s about 20
km an hour or something like that if I’m sprinting flat out. if I don’t
think I’ve got any hope of keeping up with that shadow then I must be going
downwind. so that’s a little trick you can use to just set yourself up right. now I’m gonna assume that this wind is the same between my height now and the ground.
that’s why I did it fairly close to the ground. there’s still a possibility that
the wind could be different in a shear layer below and underneath the shear
layer there could be a different wind flow so as well as that I’m looking at
the trees: those are my only other indicators I can see here. and you’re
looking for the sort of silvery backs of the leaves a shiny side of the leaves
where the wind has flipped them over and as you get lower you might be able
to start to identify a little bit of a push on the trees you can even see it
from this height there’s something coming down from the right. so I have a
look at this area. where are you gonna land? what are you gonna pick for your
landing field? things that stand out in this picture that I can see:
you’ve got some livestock across the valley on the field there. I try and
avoid the livestock fields and try and find something that’s nice and green.
a lot of the fields are sloping so on the far side they’re not so easy to land
on them I would prefer to land on something flat ish and down in front of
me I’ve got a nice big green field but if youlook really closely you
can see there’s a power line cutting along just up from the bottom of the
picture, it’s running right to left and it crosses over that field and that’s a
major hazard! ok, electricity cables are just to be avoided completely. probably
your biggest riskiest hazard I mean that’s instant death. so let’s just stay
away from them completely. so I’m gonna try and find something on the other side
of the road and what’s standing out to me is a really nice double field with a
big tree in the middle of it. it’s nice and big and green and there’s enough
space to get in there so I’m gonna look at that one. so now I’m approaching, coming a bit
closer, you can see I’m looking at the field. the camera is attached to my helmet
so where I’m looking [onscreen] is where I’m looking. that side quite big trees and
lots of sloped ground, I don’t even want to look at that for landing. the village
itself is quite compressed and lots of houses so there’s nothing in there and
I’m just lining up for that field, it still looks good. see there’s a car on the road so the road’s probably out, having traffic on it.
and let’s just pause it there you can see down the side of the road which is
pretty normal you’ve got a telephone line so you don’t want to be crossing
low and you don’t want to try and land on the road because you’re gonna hook
into the line with your wing. I’ve got my power line running from where my shadow is at the bottom of the picture there’s one pole there, there’s one pole beside the
little white shed, and there’s another pole by the trees. so that’s a power line
hazard and I’m keeping myself … I’m basically flying down the power line now
with enough height that I know there’s absolutely no question I can glide clear
of this. so I’m using that hazard as my sort of gliding line keeping it pretty
close underneath me so that I can dive over it very easily into the field at
any point. I’m not directly over it I suppose in case some massive
sheer layer that you don’t know about folds my glider up and I descend
straight down. I’m not actually over that hazard I’m close to it so that I can
bail off to the left if I need to. there is an emergency bail out field which I
have spotted to my left, you can see that long brown strip. that’s quite a nice run
out so I could approach just over the red roofed house and glide across the
green strip and try and aim to land on the brown strip but there the risk is that
it is sloped down towards the valley and the
same thing applies to this field on my right. ordinarily you’d expect the wind to be pulling up a valley like this and going
up towards and mountains behind me so normally you’d have a headwind, I’d
now be pointing into light wind in this position and if you were trying to
approach into this field with that situation you’d have to be very careful
because it is sloping downhill and what looks like a big field could actually be
a bit of a trap because you’re gonna glide down this field get slight lift
with a headwind coming up the field and you might end up gliding over and over
and over all the way down the field and getting stuck with the trees at the far
end. so that’s something to bear in mind and if you do approach a sloping field like that you want to make sure you’ve lost all of your height really really far back so
that you know you can get into it but in this situation the way that I’ve judged
the wind I’ve now got the wind in my back and I’ve got this field on the
right I want to get into so let’s go downwind. now I’m looking at my speed
over the ground and thinking mm it’s not particularly fast this way either …
so I’m guessing there’s actually very little wind at all and I might find that
I’ve got a slight downward component as I come into this field from this side. but
that’s okay, a good flare will get rid of that. so I’m now coming over the end of
my downwind leg, I’m going to do a base leg across here across the back of the field
and the whole time I’m looking for signs of wind, any indication that there’s
low-level wind. I have a quick look over to the left to see the other trees … nothing
there. back into the field. let’s have a quick squizz at the wind. right let’s
stop it there. we’re looking at this as our set up now you can see our main
field that I’ve lined up with the big tree on the left I’ve
got a really nice long green approach that I can land there but you’ve got
that singular hazard in the middle of the field — the big tree. when you’ve got
something like that you’ve got to be careful of target fixation. if you’re
looking at the tree and you’re trying to avoid the tree you’re gonna land in the
tree. so let’s look at that strip of grass to the right of the tree, pick a
spot there and aim for that spot. I now ignore the tree altogether. it’s not an
option I’m not flying there I’m landing on the grass. off to the right you can
see another green field which would have been a very good option to land in with
the given wind direction — I’m pointing pretty much into wind now and that would have
also been a very good option if it wasn’t for the power line that crosses
directly across the middle. I would stay away from power lines if I’ve got
any options other than the power line field I’m gonna use them but it’s there
it’s nice to know just to place it you’ve got that emergency there. if I
came in with deep brakes from this back right corner I could easily land there
as well so I’ve got a little bit too much height I don’t want to end up
gliding past this field and into the tall trees at the far end so I’m gonna
be make absolutely sure because the wind is so light and I might be going a
little bit downwind I might have got it wrong so let’s get rid of that last bit
of height. I do a nice gentle turn and I’m gonna do another nice gentle turn
here leaning in keeping the speed nice and high so I’m not doing any slow speed
turns through the turbulence. and now go hands up and I’m gliding into the field.
remember to watch the grass not the tree keep your eyes on the grass where you
want to land and now go full hands up, get nice speed, keep the glider fast and I’m
touching brakes now! plop plop, touchdown. cool another successful landing! I hope
that’s helped you identify how to get into this sort of field where you
haven’t got any wind indication remember to do your 360 nice and nice and high
but not too high so that you’re getting relevant wind information for your
landing. point into wind with a little bit of brake just to double confirm that your
ground speed is reduced, then you approach your field looking for any
hazards. pick the field that you’ve got the nice clear approach and remember
that you can land uphill it’ll help you, it stops your overshooting the field and
don’t forget to get your legs down and about treetop height so you avoid any
risk of landing on your bum. come in with good speed, hands up and right at the
last minute give it a good deep flare and hold it in. I wish you many safe
landings wherever you are flying. Glider in the shade. Very disappointing … just a big glide. with no thermals, all the way from up there down to here. Oof, that’s a lot of effort for a top-to-bottom. I’ll go and get some food and drink .. and be merry!

22 thoughts on “Landing Safely on a Paraglider (no windsock!)

  1. Nice one! Now its possible to fly with People how can not walk!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t516Pv6VkMs we also have to make a good landing, very good explained.

  2. Excellent video! You could do one about when to accelerate the glider and when not! 😉

  3. Thanks Greg another top quality video. Could you do one on using speedbar when flying xc. I know this is not a straight forward subject and has many veriables but I'm sure if you did a vid on this it would be a good one. Cheers

  4. How do you deal with the potential(non) consent of farmers or the “moral” of crushing non harvested grass of farmers who make a few 000’ (not 0000’) a month?
    First ballooners were traveling with a bottle of champagne to smooth such potential discussions 🙂

  5. Hey ! thanks for the video it's very informative ! 🙂 I loved the drawings especially the smiling face on the tree 🙂

  6. You should use the trick of keeping a constant gliding angle on the downwind leg by matching a spot on your wing (wire) with your target landing stripe (as the plane pilots do in emergency landing). This will give you the optimal constant angle transposed to any altitude.

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