Christmas Break Weekend Package
When our sons were in middle school we first discovered Lookout Mountain Hang Gliding, combining safe, simple instruction on level ground and bunny slopes with a tandem flight with an instructor. The freedom and fun of flight under the watchful guidance of the masters of hang gliding was the perfect adventure (with boundaries) for our family. Eight years later we brought our college-age sons and a fiancée back to LMHG for a long weekend beginner training package during Christmas break. We were 100% delighted with the staff, training program, safety consciousness and the equipment.
Starting with flat ground jogging while holding the wing to learn the dynamics of lift, to the simple run down the bunny hill, letting the wing lift your feet to the gentle 8-12 seconds of airtime a few feet off the ground, the instructors never pushed us. To keep it safe they did not train except in virtually calm winds so we spread the experience over five days. Plan to have other activities (i.e. Hiking, visiting Chattanooga, or the battlefield) during your down time.
We each had two tandem flights towed by the ultralight airplane to 2,000 feet. The instructor pilots kept control, but gave us the opportunity to actually fly the glider for several minutes of the descent. The tandem flights had plenty of excitement, but the team was very safety conscious and watched the weather and the student with tremendous care.
I recommend Lookout Mountain Hang Gliding School for families or individuals from middle school age up if you want fun and adventure within a safety-conscious and encouraging environment. It is good to get some hill or stair conditioning beforehand to maximize your enjoyment. The prices were an exceptional value when considering all the experiences you get to enjoy.
Father’s Day Tandem
My Wonderful Wife took me to Lookout Mountain Hang Gliding for Father’s Day. This is something that I’ve talked about for a long time but just never took the time to do. I had no idea what I was missing! This is the most fun I’ve ever had. The staff from checking in at the office to the guys and gals that get you ready down on the landing strip, everyone was courteous and engaging and help to put any uneasiness to rest. Ted, my pilot, was great. Very knowledgeable and professional. Never had a seconds doubt in his ability to keep us safe. The flight was amazing. Words really can’t describe how awesome it was gliding above lookout mountain. It’s just something you have to experience.
If you have ever considered flying a hang glider, then the Lookout Mountain Flight Park near Rising Fawn up on Lookout Mountain is the place to go. Not only is this a wonderful and very pretty location for flying, the school has an impeccable reputation and is staffed with professional pilots who are passionate about hang gliding and care about safety as well as teaching and providing visitors with an unforgettable experience.
For years I have passed by and stopped to watch others flying and participating in hang gliding and thought I must try this. Well, finally I took the step and wish I had done this long ago. What an incredible and amazing experience and feeling this is to soar among the eagles and actually fly. I highly recommend this to anyone. I took my wife and kids to fly and all of us had a great time and cannot wait to go fly again.
Our tandem flights were also our first lessons and the experienced pilots are there to teach you the basics and give you hands on instruction. Yes, you do get to control the hang glider during the flight. Just go and do this, you won’t regret it, take that step and experience the freedom of hang gliding and see the Lookout Mountain valley and region from a birds eye view.
Drive by Tandem
We were driving through the area and frankly getting a little tired of the overly commercial tourist attractions. We were looking for something adventurous that allowed us to see how beautiful the region is. So, when we passed a road sign that said hang gliding, we thought, “Why not”?! It was off-season so we lucked out without having a reservation as they took us as a walk in. The experience was amazing!!!! We did the 3000ft to get more time which was totally worth the extra money. The scenery is stunning and the feeling of flying is out-of-this-world. The whole operation was totally professional and the guide was extremely generous with his time and explanations. The only problem is that it made me want to quit my job and enroll in their pilot program! haha!
(Re)Learning to Fly
This review is aimed toward a returning or aspiring hang glider pilot, so bear with me. I earned my H1 and H2 at Lookout back in 1997, flew actively to the H3 level, but due to non-hang gliding-related back issues, was forced to leave the sport in 2004. To make a short story long… I went thru their H1, and H2 program a second time recently, and found that the program had been honed to even finer levels of demand.
The flat slope launch training on the 60′ hill is done in ideally no-wind conditions. The slope is such that your glider WILL fly, IF you do everything correctly. Pop the nose or drop the nose and the glider will roll down the hill, safely. You will NOT leave this hill until you do it right. It took this 62 year old man 3 sessions and 19 flights to get it right. But flat slope launch had always been my weakest skill, so in selecting Lookout, I had this in mind.
After the flat slope launch and foot landings are mastered, you will go up to the 130′ H2 hill to learn turning skills needed for flying and landing the glider down at the huge LZ at the base of Lookout Mt. They will teach you to be aware of the various cardinal airspeeds thru different cues, when to use what airspeed… everything… you will be quizzed again and again on the vital points to make sure you have no misunderstandings. It took me 12 flights from the H2 hill to get the tasks done to their liking. BTW… launching in dead air from the H2 hill is a piece of cake compared to the horrible 60′ flat slope hill 🙂 After your first launch from the H2 hill, you will see the value of the suffering on the small hill.
After the hill work is done, you will take your H1, H2, and Mountain written tests. They all have study guides, and if you pass the rather detailed Mountain Written, you will know everything you need to safely do your first launch from the Radial Ramp atop Lookout Mountain. The instructors will talk over all of the incorrect answers on the test to make absolutely sure you grasp the info. But they are not done with you yet…. before you are able to proceed to the mountain launch, you will have a 1-on-1 “Chalk Talk” session with your instructor on every aspect of your upcoming mountain flight. I would also recommend that even an old salt who has had been out of the sport for awhile, take at least one Tandem Aerotow to shoot the “Box Pattern” approach with your instructor. I’m glad I did… It all culminated in a stress-free flight off the mountain.
These guys and girls have their instructional act together, and I promise you you will be glad you met them. I want to personally thank my first instructor CJ for politely watching and nodding as I demonstrated I didn’t remember jack about assembling my Falcon 🙂 I want to thank my H1 instructor Scott, who was very supportive during day 2 and 3, when I struggled with a minor hamstring sprain. And I want to thank Ted, my H2, tandem, and mountain instructor for the expertise in picking out the little things that made my flying better. Then once again, CJ, who gave me a very thorough “Chalk Talk” just before the final flight.
However, it takes other folks to make the machine work, and I want to thank them also. Becka, for the nice harness you built for me, and Jerry, who literally “under the gun” put the final touches on the harness because he wanted to make sure it fit properly before leaving for home. Becka, Jerry, it fits just fine. Thank you both. I want to thank Jen for not evicting me when I moved into the WRONG cabin on day one. And then I have to thank Tasha and Clifton for the great way they helped my wife enjoy her tandem flight. Lastly, I want to thank Matt, the owner, for taking on the gargantuan task of keeping this great asset to our sport available. You are all great, and I hope readers of this somewhat lengthy review will catch some of the enthusiasm I have for Lookout Mt.
Ronald M. Waclawik DDS