Practicing this sport requires bravery, a cool-headed nature and a big dose of patience in order to fly like the birds. The rest entails planning, taking advantage of the natural air currents and enjoying the unparalleled views.
A hand glider is an aircraft built with tubes and fabric. It has no engine and it catches wind on foot, without the need for wheels, either from a mountain or pulled on a cable.
The pilot wears a safety harness, which is attached to a bar that can be located in front or to the sides, and directs the glider by moving the centre of gravity. Flights can be done individually or in pairs, thanks to the two-person models.
Despite its size, the hand glider is easy to handle. When it is folded, it only measures between four and six metres in length and some thirty centimetres in diameter, making it easy to transport.
The best way to get started and obtain a pilot´s licence is to go to one of the many schools that operate in Catalonia. Although this licence is not required by law, one should not fly without accident and liability insurance, in addition to a current federation licence. The school Volager, in Bellpuig (Lleida), is open all year round and organises courses based on demand.
Individuals of all ages can practice hang gliding, although the Spanish Air Sports Federation has set the minimum age at 14. The most important moment is take-off, as this requires running while supporting the weight of the glider, which ranges between 20 and 25 kilos. Nevertheless, the flight is not tiring. Although it can last several hours, at the beginning it does not usually extend past 20 minutes. In the Pyrenees, under favourable weather conditions, one can get as high as 3,000, 3,500, or even 4,000 metres.