Notes for new hang glider pilots-- on "slips", "sideslips", and "slipping turns"

Last updated July 1, 2014

Q: What does a new hang glider pilot need to know about "slips", "sideslips", or "slipping turns"?

A: Absolutely nothing.

Hang gliders are designed with enough "weathervane stability" to point more or less directly into the airflow or "relative wind" all by themselves.

Certain maneuvers will generate enough "adverse yaw" torque to make the nose point something on the order of ten to fifteen degrees away from the actual direction of the flight path and airflow. See elsewhere on this website for more on this. This incurs very little penalty in terms of drag or loss of turn rate. And as soon as the maneuver is completed, the nose will again point nearly directly into the airflow or "relative wind".

Some authors have presented detailed descriptions of the dynamics of "sideslips" or "slipping turns" in hang gliders. These descriptions have very significant errors. For the most part, if you substitute the phrase "diving turn" for "slipping turn" or "sideslip", the same descriptions will then become more or less accurate.

With a little practice, it soon becomes very intuitive to give the correct pitch control inputs to prevent a hang glider from excessively diving and accelerating while turning. Don't confuse yourself by thinking that you also need to be concerned with preventing the hang glider from "slipping" sideways through the air. And don't confuse yourself by thinking that the glider will fail to turn at all if you don't give a strong enough pitch "coordination" input. These ideas are not accurate.

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