People have been dreaming about flying since ancient times. Back in the 15th century, Leonardo da Vinci tried to realize the idea of human flights. Later, in the 18th century Mongolfie brothers invented a balloon that took a man into the air for the first time in history. Nowadays, in the era of jet aircrafts overcoming the speed of sound, balloon flights remain pretty popular. Besides there are many other ways to find yourself alone with the sky. Among them are paragliding, hang gliding and sky-diving.
Hot air ballooning. Balloon is an aircraft which is rising due gas of lower weight than air and that fills the envelope of the balloon with the help of a special burner. Balloons belong to the class of the unmanageable aircrafts. The record altitude of the flight is 21 km, but the optimal heights for a flight in Ukraine vary from 200 to 1000 m. In addition there are some other requirements for such flights.
A flight is possible throughout the whole calendar year in case of an absence of adverse weather conditions. A flight is prohibited when the storm front is approaching or wind speed exceeds 4 m/s.
Also a pilot in the balloon has to carefully choose the site for the start with enough space to spread out and raise a balloon. There should be no trees, power lines, tall buildings and residential areas around the starting site. The speed and wind direction should be determined not only in the surface layer of air, but at the height of the future flight as well. In warm season ballooning is allowed only in the morning (in 1-2 hours after the sunrise) and evening (2-3 hours before the sunset). Such requirements are determined by the fact that there are strong upward air flows during the daytime that can lift the balloon to the dangerous height and move over the long distance. In winter though flying is allowed throughout the daylight hours.
Hang gliding. A hang-glider (deltaplane) is a light and non-motorized aircraft based on the jib wing which has a frame made of light alloys, a pilot suspension system and a trapeze. Control is achieved due to shifting pilot’s body weight in opposition to a frame. A hang-glider is a foot-launchable aircraft. Training gliders often have small wheels on the trapeze to make the landing easier. Like most non-motorized aircrafts, a hang-glider uses the power of warm rising air flows. Flight speed varies from 30 up to 130 km/h. The record range of flight exceeds 700 km. In Ukraine a flight range can exceed 100 km.
Long-distance flights demand a good physical training of a pilot as controlling a glider requires some skills and efforts. Among the factors influencing the safety of hang gliding flights the natural and human ones can be distinguished. The main natural factor is weather conditions. The flights can’t be made in storm, with the gusty wind, heavy precipitations or in the fog. The human factor is the experience of a pilot, that’s why one shouldn’t try to learn the skills of controlling the glider on his own. It is better to take a course at school or hang gliding club, where the qualified instructors teach not only techniques of a flight, but also the peculiarities of choosing the starting site, assessing the weather conditions, characteristics of the glider’s construction and safety techniques.
Paragliding. Paraglider is a lightweight aircraft with no rigid structure. It consists of a hollow fabric wing, slings system and a pilot suspension system. A wing obtains a required shape and profile due to air pressure getting into it. Movement of a paraglider is possible thanks to gravity and depends on the profile of the wing. Rising is made in the upward air flows. Dismantled paraglider is quite compact and light, allowing almost unlimited reaching to any convenient starting site. A low speed and easy control allow landing on any small area free of vegetation and power lines. Among all the outdoor air activities paragliding is the most affordable in price, time, place of flights and pilot’s age. In addition, paragliding training course is quite short. Under favorable circumstances, one might even make a flight on his own on the first day of training.