The Hang Gliding Committee met at the 2013 Plenary in Lausanne last month to review recent Category 1 competitions, sanction upcoming Category 1 events and work through a few issues of interest to hang glider pilots.
The 15th FAI Hang Gliding World Championships in Forbes finished up at the end of January raising a few issues regarding glider certification and sprog measuring. There has been some concern about pilots flying uncertified gliders and/or prototypes in Category 1 events and the fairness issues there given that these gliders are not allowed in Category 1. The Committee spent some time focusing on how to better enforce this rule by gathering general glider measurements from manufacturers so the information can be used by stewards and meet officials to check against gliders where there is a protest or question about whether a glider is actually uncertified or a prototype. The Committee will also work on determining penalties for violation of this rule. Currently, penalties are set in the local regulations but the Committee would like to set standard penalties.
On the sprog measuring front, generally the system as it has evolved is worked nicely – and worked particuarly well in Forbes. The Committee would like to have more Stewards that are capable of measuring and/or someone in the organization that is capable of measuring. The Committee will also be working toward getting manufactures to include sprog measurements in their glider manuals.
In terms of upcoming Category 1 events, there was only a single timely bid for the 2015 Worlds from Mexico (our picture). After review of the bid and discussion of concerns about goal fields and security in general for foreigners traveling in Mexico, the bid was unanimously approved. The 2015 World will be held in Valle de Bravo, Mexico in March 2015.
After a bit of grumbling and difficulty enforcing the EN966 certified helmet rules, many competition pilots remain unsatisfied with the standard for hang gliding helmets. After meeting with a few pilots at Forbes to discuss the standard, the Committee has decided to form a helmet task force made up of competition pilots with technical knowledge who can research whether there is a standard that is more appropriate or at least as appropriate as EN966.
There was much discussion in the combined hang gliding and paragliding Committees meeting about mandatory live tracking for all Category 1 events. Most of the hang gliding Committee members felt strongly that live tracking should not be mandatory for hang gliding events because there is less of a need in hang gliding and because it would make a World or Continental meet impossible for nations where live tracking technology isn’t yet fully developed and usable (e.g. the US and Australia). The decision of the combined Committees was that live tracking would only be mandatory for paragliding Category 1 events.
The upcoming Category 1 World Championship in the Sport Class raised the issue of the current definition of a Sport Class pilot. There was much discussion about whether any pilot flying a kingposted glider should be allowed to participate or if it should be limited to pilots who have never participated in an Open Class Category 1 event. Some feel the Manfred Ruhmors and Jonny Durands of the world should be allowed to participate on Sport Class gliders in order to encourage participation and to spotlight their manufacturers’ Sport Class models. Others feel Sport Class should be limited to pilots that have not or could not participate in the Open Class World events. No final decision was reached, but Committee members will be informally polling potential participants and manufacturers and a ruling will be made prior to the 2014 Sport Class Worlds in Annecy.
Oyvind Ellefsen (Norway) was again elected to chair the hang gliding committee. Appointed members are Dennis Pagen (USA), Lorezo Labrador (UK), Jamie Shelden (USA), Klaus Taenzler (Germany), Flavio Tebaldi (Italy), Gordon Rigg (UK), Koos de Keizer (Netherlands), Niels Joergen Askirk (Denmark), Raymond Caux (France), Scott Barrett (Australia), Thomas Koller (Switzerland).