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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

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Hang gliding

Don’t hang about, spread your wing and fly as you take in the views below on a hang gliding adventure.

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What to expect

Hang gliding is one of the purest aviation adventures. You can expect to fly high without the noise of an engine to disturb your flight. You fly like a bird looking for the next rising air current to boost you on your way. With experience, a hang glider pilot can fly hundreds of miles along or upwards into the air.

Modern hang gliding uses a light frame attached to a sailcloth that forms the wing. The pilot is suspended from the frame and they control the hang glider by moving their body weight. Modern hang gliders can launch in a number of ways, including from a hill, off a platform or tow launching. The glider is always gently descending, so a pilot has to seek rising air currents to lift them up if they want to fly long distances. This is known as cross-country flying.

What you’ll learn

Most of the group will be new to the experience of flying and reading the land from this perspective. It’s literally a bird’s-eye view! You’ll likely meet new people who have a lot of experience in flying who can share ideas.

Hang gliders fly over natural spaces in one of the quietest and least-disruptive ways. Hang gliding is one of the most beautiful and bird-like flying experiences where people navigate with the wind rather than against it. You’ll gain a whole new appreciation of the elements and our planet.

Fun facts

  • The story of hang gliding began before the 20th century and early hang gliders influenced the first plane designs.
  • The longest straight distance flown by a hang glider was 764 km (475 mi) in a flight from Zapata, Texas by Dustin Martin in 2012. Texas is warm and dry, a climate that provides lots of thermals and has lots of wind, and many hang gliding record attempts are made there. The highest hang gliding flight was 12,390m (41,300 ft), launching from Wadi Rum, or ‘Valley of the Moon’. Wadi Rum is a sandstone and granite valley in Jordan and the record was set by Judy Leden, who was launched from a high altitude balloon. This is according to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.

Handy hints

  • Dress for success. Some people wear one-piece flight suits when paragliding but anything comfy is fine. You should dress warm and might want to take some sunglasses.
  • Eye in the sky. Many people also take cameras, but make sure you keep it on a string if you do.
  • Last on the list. It might be a good idea to take some water with you in case you get thirsty.
  • Best foot forward. A sturdy and supportive pair of walking shoes would likely be the best choice of footwear. These are best for running starts on uneven ground and to help with landing.


You must always:
Be safe outdoors:
  • Check the weather forecast
Preparing for your flying activities:
This activity can be led by you or someone else in Scouts:
  • Acceptable instructor qualifications
    • Pilot or flying instructor - as outlined in POR rule 9.10.5
You can go to a centre or use an activity leader who is not part of Scouting:
You must find a suitable provider who meets the following requirements:
  • The centre/instructor should hold one of these:
    • Pilot or flying instructor - as outlined in POR rule 9.10.5
  • The provider must have public liability insurance.


Access to airfields

Air Activities Safeguarding Guidance

Air Activities FAQ's


If this was your first time hang gliding, hopefully there’s more you want to explore up in the heavens. Was being up in the air different from what you expected? Even on a warm day, it can be cold at high altitudes, and when you get further up things might seem more peaceful too. It may also be harder to get an idea of what speed you’re going, as everything is so far away.

This activity was an opportunity to experience the outdoors in a way that you might not have before. Think about some of the other activities that you’ve done with your group that’ve taken you outdoors or maybe even up into the sky. How does a day hang gliding compare to a day hiking or camping? What did you enjoy most about hang gliding? There’s lots to love about hang gliding, as it provides the thrill and joy of flight with next to no environmental cost. Get together with the group and discuss what you enjoyed most about the experience.

  • Hang gliding can often be adapted so more people can give it a go. Many centres have facilities that cater for people with additional needs and experienced instructors to help everyone achieve their goals. Get in touch with your local provider to chat through the needs of people in your group. Make sure you give them plenty of notice.
  • The British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (BHPA) has an initiative called Flyability that aims to provide education and flying opportunities to people with disabilities. They support people who want to fly in different ways, so get in touch to see what help or advice they can offer.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

Hang gliding has grown as a sport over the past few decades and clubs have developed ways to help new people get into the sport. Hang gliding and paragliding require specific experience, knowledge and equipment, so the best way to take it further for the group may be for keen leaders to train themselves to become ‘air experience’ instructors (AEIs). AEIs have to gain experience of hang gliding and hold a BHPA rating of ‘Club Pilot’. This would be a long-term pursuit and will not only provide experience, but also help your group learn what opportunities there are to go gliding locally.

Otherwise, making contact with a local club and building a relationship is the best way to get access to hang gliding experience in the future.

This adventure is heavy on instruction, especially at first, but to encourage participation you might ask your group to look at some information about hang gliding. Popular video sites contain lots of recordings of hang gliding trips and recommendations of great places to hang glide. As your group becomes more competent, they may be able to use the benefit of their experience and lead others to try and learn more about hang gliding.