Paragliding Safety: the ins and outs of BIG EARS

morning. let’s talk about big ears. big
ears yes it’s entirely politically correct to
call them big ears. it’s when you fold the tips of your wings in to induce more
of a descent. it’s a rapid descent technique. all right so why would you do big ears
cuz you want to show off? no at all! all right it’s something that’s very
useful I use it pretty regularly in my flying it has the advantage out of all the
descent techniques in that you maintain your forward speed so most of the time
if you’re soaring and you’re near a mountain that’s giving you lift if you
want to try and come down you can’t do a maneuver like a spiral or a B-line
stall that’s gonna get rid of your forward speed because then your forward speed is
zero so then you’re drifting with the wind and you get blown over the mountain
pretty quickly. big-ears keeps pretty much all of your speed.
now some wings are slightly faster some wings are slightly slower when you do
your big ears it depends on the rigging on the tips of the wings if you’ve got a
fairly low class wing where the tips are often trimmed
to be washed out so that they are actually producing more tension on the leading
edge and they reinflate really easily but when you do that you’ve got slightly
slowing tips and when you knock them out in big ears you can actually get an
increase in speed. sometimes the drag from the big ear itself slows you down
so it depends on your wing. either way it’s pretty close it doesn’t make a big
difference in your speed. what it does make a difference in, is your descent
rate. so if you were gliding along let’s say one meter a second
sink rate you’re putting your big ears you maybe get two and a half it’s not
dramatic but it does give you a bit more of a descent so when we do the big ears
you’ll see I’ll reach out for the outside A line now if you’ve got three A
lines on that left-hand side you want to be pulling the outer one you may be
pulling the outer two if you’re doing really big big ears. you don’t want
to be pulling this guy the inner A line. if you do that you’re going to have a
front collapse in the center of the front and your wing will probably
horseshoe forwards it might stall and it might produce an interesting cascade so
don’t do that. make sure it’s outer A lines reaching
from the outside. when you reach up for the line if you hold like this you’ve
got very little pulling force if you put your hand that way you can grab hold of
the line turn and pull down that gives you a very good strong pull so that’s
the way to do it … hands that way. get the line pull it just your hand pull
it down usually you have to stay holding on the big ears most gliders like to
re-inflate some gliders you can just let them go and they will stay stable like
that and to get them out some gliders need a pump. let’s talk about that pump.
okay if you’ve got a big ears or an asymmetric collapse in and you want to
clear it, if you do that … all you’re doing is shaking the air in the glider and it
doesn’t help. it’ll take you a long time to re-inflate. if you go down and back up
at that sort of speed. one … one … deep pump like that will bend the trailing edge
down and push the air to the leading edge so it helps clear the collapse out
and it also helps the trailing edge cup the wind, it actually comes down and scoops some of the wind and you get a flow on the under surface of your glider so make
sure you think nice deep pumps if you’re trying to clear them. some pilots
recommend doing one big ear and then the other big ear I think this is out of a
concern that they’re worried that you might stall the glider by doing both at
the same time. I disagree I think doing that induces yaw in the glider
because you knock one tip out, that tip either moves forward or back usually back
and then you do the other tip and you accelerate that if your timing is just
wrong you’re getting more of a yaw which can upset your balance particularly as
quite a lot of gliders now if you’re in a pod harness when you
knock out your big ears you find you lose yaw stability in your harness, you
can actually drift around like this a lot because you’ve lost that outer line
that’s stabilizing you. so I recommend reaching up making sure that your nice
trim speed reaching up and doing both of them perfectly symmetrically and your
glider will keep straight there isn’t a big effect on stalling the
wing as you’re going into big ears and you
can keep it nice and stable. same on the re-inflation. I re-inflate symmetrically on
my glider I like to keep things really straight if the ears stick in clear them
one at a time to avoid slowing the wing down too much and creating the stall.
keep that a speed up. what I will say is you have to be very sure that your wing
is above you when you do your big ears if you are in really turbulent air and your
wing is going like this forward and back if your glider is
forward and you do the big ears you can run the risk of doing a whole front nose
collapse because your wing is really already close to collapsing then you
pull on the big ears and you can get the whole nose going in. if your wing is back
behind you then your airspeed can be very low on the wing and if you pull in
big ears at that point you could induce a stall and your wing will drop and then
try and recover from the big ears. so that’s just that caveat with doing the
big ears and symmetrically: make sure that it’s symmetric on both sides and
symmetric it’s above you, vertically above you and you’re not in some kind of
pitch movement. that’ll help you stay away from the stall. somebody having fun… alright so assuming you’ve got the big
ears in and you just want to get out of that problem area, use half speed bar
on any glider in any conditions. half speed bar I’m comfortable with the
feeling on the wing and I’m confident that any wing on half speed bar isn’t
critical. so why are you doing speed bar and big ears? when you’ve got the big ears
in your glide angle has changed you were gliding like that
now you’re going like that. if you think about the airflow over the wing, the
airflow isn’t due to the wind it’s due to you moving through the air. so if
you’re moving through the air like that the wind, the relative wind is coming
straight on the nose. if you’re moving through the air like this
the air is coming from underneath the glider which is much closer to stall
point if you think of the stall is when that air can’t go smoothly over the wing
anymore and it separates so it’s due to your angle of attack. now you’ve
increased your angle of attack by doing that so if you push speed bar you tip
the nose down and you decrease your angle of attack, you put it back in it’s
safe range. so it’s very good to go Half speed bar. okay so should we do it
first or after the big ears? I would recommend do your big ears first
get your wing nice and settled and then push your bar and then when you finished
you come off the bar first, wait a few seconds and then clear the ears the
reason for that is that if you are on full speed bar and then you try to do big
ears your wing is already pretty close to collapsing on the low angle of attack
and then you disturb the leading edge so by doing your big ears at trim speed
you’ve got the best chance of it not destabilizing the wing and not having a
big collapse and then push out half bar now you’ve got a nice maybe two and a
half meters a second descent and you’ve still got good speed higher
than trim speed and you can still maneuver just by leaning your body left
and right don’t use the brakes just weight shift to do a turn. all right, some
variations: sometimes you might see pilots doing big ears and these gentle Waga these turns left and right now that can help you
if you’re just trying to get down like out of a cloud you’ve got up to
cloud base and you don’t wanna go any higher so it doesn’t really matter where
you go you can do these sort of wing overs but doing that you’re losing a lot
of forward speed through the air because you’re doing turns so it’s no good if you’re near a mountain and the other problem with that is as I mentioned before
sometimes when you do the big ears and you’re in a pod harness you lose that
yaw stability so if you’re doing these big wing overs it’s quite
difficult to keep that yaw perfectly straight. You’ll find you might start
swinging like this so it’s not entirely comfortable to do that. I’d recommend do
your big ears, go on a bar if you need more pull a little bit more down on your
big ear lines to make it bigger big ears and then
off you go. another variation which I like to do only for really extreme
conditions let’s say you’re going you’ve hit some sort of convergence line and
it’s stuffing you up into the cloud and you really want a big descent rate you
can do big-ears speed bar and spiral dive. now there I would say don’t follow
my instructions go and do it on an SIV course first! it’s an extreme manoeuvre
but it is actually surprisingly low g-force it’s a less g-force than the
same spiral dive so it’s loading your lines less because the g-force is
lower I have heard cautions from manufacturers
about you mustn’t do this because it overloads your lines your centre lines
but I think if you calculate the g-force with your weight those lines are well
within spec, you won’t have a problem. but yeah take it with a pinch of salt: you do
your own research and definitely do that for your first time on the SIV course
ask your instructor. by doing something like that it’s pretty
effective. so when do I use big ears? well top landing
in lift is one situation. I am often top landing swapping gliders or reviewing gliders I
want to take off again. when you are top landing with big ears you do have to be
a little bit careful that you don’t stall as you drop into the sheltered
area near the launch site and as you dropping into the
lower wind speed your airspeed of your glider is momentarily going to be dropped
and if you are on big ears at that point you run a bigger risk of stalling so I’d
recommend if you can get the big ears out before you land
or we’ll just be careful and don’t do big turns. other times when I’d use
big ears? well if I’m up near cloud base and I don’t want to go into the cloud
big ears and bar — very easy to keep your direction, just keep straight
if you do whiteout you can stay in that position it’s very
stable very easy to control, just follow your compass heading and
you’ll come out nicely. so very gentle very easy. the other situation that we
have a lot here: UK airspace. we have to stay out of the airspace so we don’t
conflict with the big metal fish in the sky. so often if you want to fly
distance you’ve got a ceiling above you so the same thing again: big ears
speed bar and that just helps me manage that situation. okay let’s take to the
air and I’ll show you how to do this Big Ears thang. So I’m going to go for my big ears now, I’m going to reach up for the outside lines that’s the split A’s that go out to the outer tip. I keep my hands through my brakes when I do this.
alternatively there’s a grip I like very much is like that. that leaves your hands-free to go for the big ears lines. I like to pull them symmetrically and slide your hands down that line until
you find a nice balance point where the glider is nice and settled. you might need to pull a bit more to keep it balanced and then you can apply a bit of your speed bar
probably find you have to adjust again on the amount you are pulling
on the big ears. to let them out you just ease your hands up they’ll come out on their own. another situation where you could be using big ears let’s say you’ve got some
really bad weather on its way, a big gust front or rain coming and you wanted to
get down. you can keep the big ears in all the way to the ground and it depends
on your landing situation: if you’re landing in some little pocket inside of
a forest and you’ve got a big wind shear that you’re gonna expect I’d get the big
ears out at 50 metres above the ground at least and then just come in on
normal Trim speed. if I’m landing in a big open field and the wind is strong and I just wanted to get down I’ll keep the big ears in all
the way to the ground, you can as you would normally flare, give yourself
another meter on top of that because your descent rate is higher so flare a little
bit higher, just let go of the big ears and just do your normal flare and you’ll be fine.
do it nice and low and you just clear the ears as you are flaring basically and
that gives you a nice fast landing. mistakes I’ve seen pilots doing with big
ears? a big one is reaching up and grabbing
the center lines (the center A’s) instead of the big ears lines. so make sure
you’re on the outer A line, nothing in the middle.
other mistakes I’ve seen pilots do is trying to put in the big ears really low
in the turbulence area and that can be bad, the glider is already destabilized and
then they’re doing big ears and it throws em off. and another one is going onto
full bar and then yanking on the big ears lines and that can induce quite a
big collapse so make sure you first get your big ears in and then do your
accelerator. hey I hope you enjoyed that roundup of big ears. I hope it makes it
easy for you to use. remember to practice in nice conditions, over and over. every
flight that I do, I do some maneuvers be it wing overs spirals big
ears whatever. keep those skills fresh because when you are actually
needing big ears and when it’s really extreme you want it to be something that
you can’t get wrong! so don’t just practice it to get it right, practice it
so you don’t get it wrong, ever. it’s a very simple technique it should be
second nature and if you’ve got it in your bag of tools that will keep you
safe for a long time. cool! I hope that helps you.
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50 thoughts on “Paragliding Safety: the ins and outs of BIG EARS

  1. I never post comments on youtube but I've been following your videos since I started paragliding in 2014. These are THE BEST videos online on the topic of paragliding! Full of good advices, you helped me a lot with my progression as a pilot. You are doing an amazing job! Thanks for the effort you're putting into those high quality videos. Keep up the good work!

  2. Another bloody fantastic video. I've learned and implemented so much from these. THANK YOU!

  3. THE best description and video on this subject on youtube to date, love it, well done, Quality stuff like this is a testament to flybubbles commitment to the future of this sport and ill support you all day long, I get the same experience shopping at flybubble. ive not seen anything on par with this, a league of there own where others follow.

  4. This one really talked to me, thanks Greg. Big fan of big ears, but your comment about not using them when the glider is forward or backward really taught me something (just wanted to get down in real bad air the other day and used big ears close to the ground without taking that in account and guess I was lucky not pulling them at the wrong time otherwise would have bliksemed in to a croc farm)

  5. Flybubble rocks! Another great description video. You explained the Big ears really well and clear. Simple but very important maneuver. Keep it up….
    Wish to see your video about Speed System soon.

  6. I have a question for the release of the big ears.

    YOu said that when we do big ears the AOA will increase so that we push the speedbar to let the glider head down to decrease AOA. So when we release the speedbar the risk of big AOA comes back. So why dont we just release the big ears than release the speed bar?


  7. I think it would be nice to have a vídeo regarding the use of accelerator, especially un terms of safety and sink rate. Thanks for your channel.

  8. Very good and clear explanation! And a good training for Greg, walking up the hill and talking at the same time!

  9. Weeeeeee. In My last video I showed myself using big ears to escape a fast developing weather front cloud and orographic cloud. On looking back I find I have automatically been doing my ears symmetrically, its what I have found comfortable as it maintains my heading with no yaw. Even though I was taught to do one at a time by my school.
    And now here you are, a week after my video telling me I've been doing it right. 😎
    Cheers dude. Love the videos. Keep it up.

  10. Things that where taught to me in flight school (Germany):
    Big ears are very safe and easy to do. But

    Never ever brake while doing big ears. You need to let go of your brakes first, then do big ears.
    (If you grab the brakes you pull the brakes down automatically while pulling the A-lines.)

    Step 1: let go of your brakes
    Step 2: half speed bar (a functional glider does not do a frontal collapse because of big ears)
    Step 3: pull the outer as
    Step 4: full speed bar
    Step 5: pull bigger ears if needed
    Step 6: you can do wingovers with weight shifting (very easy and effective)

    While doing a big ears spiral the middle lines can easily tear apart. There is much more tension with big ears, because you "disengage" 50% of your lines and still have 80% of the g-force. Most gliders have this warning in the handbook.

  11. Interesting stuff Greg, funny you should be discussing this now as I’ve been a little confused about the correct procedure for initiating Big Ears. Many publications recommend one ear at a time and I was trained to do it that way, but, my Wing manual recommends both together. Many thanks for the insight will now bring both ears in together.

  12. Might be a stupid question but is there a difference between big ears and regular ears or are they both the same ?

  13. Hi, Love your vids 🙂 There is also Big Ears using the outer 'C' lines. Recommended for Ozone Mantra7 (not sure if this method can be done with other wings?)

  14. Some people explain but you can't make out what they mean. You explain and we really can see and feel what results in complete visualization of the topic… Teaching talent 👍👏

  15. As can be read below by Instrumentenfreak, there are differences in method for big ears between Germany and the UK. No idea how the French do it. I'm in training to become an instructor, and I'm being taught the way Instrumentfreak describes, and I'm aware there's a bit of controversy… Our method for students: Brakes up. Half bar. pull "small" ears. Full bar. Enlarge the ears. Release ears. Come off the bar slowly. What do you think guys and gals?

  16. Nicely done and comprehensive! I'm glad you addressed the use of big ears during top landings. That has been a huge point of controversy amongst the instructors at my site. Show us a full spiral dive with big ears and speed bar! You can't talk about it and not show us! That's just teasing! 🙂

  17. On 12:30 you mention big ears + speedbar + spiral. But how exactly would you pull one handle to induce a spiral if your both hands are keeping the outer A-lines down from recovering the big ears? Thanks!

  18. Hi Greg, thanks for the great video. I've seen two different uses of Big Ears. One with the brake handles around the wrists while grabbing the outer A's and the other without grabbing the brake handles at all, just the outer A's . I've tried both of them, didn't notice any major diference in the end but wondering if having the handles around the wrists doesn't make the wing more prone to a stall, or in the last case (without grabbing the handles), making the wind more prone to a frontal collapse. What's your opinion?

  19. Hi Greg, I’ve been flying for over two years now and it always good to review and refresh your big ear skills. Great video, keep them coming.

  20. Internal pressure in the glider also aids in big ear re-inflation as well as what you said on the drag that is created by the under carriage on the tips themselves. Excellent watch bud.

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