XC flying is a dream of most of the Paragliding pilots because of its exhilarating, fulfilling and rewarding nature. Modern Paragliders are evolved piece of machine and in fact, these days many EN A and EN B gliders have achieved more than 100 KMs mark. All the manufacturing companies are trying to create gliders which are offering a good balance between Safety and Performance. Yet the urge to fly EN B gliders especially once you are out of school is well known. But EN B gliders have a wide range to chose from. At a high level, you can consider 3 variations viz. Lower, Intermediate and Higher EN B. If the pilot is sure to fly for around 30 – 50 hours per season then lower EN B is a good choice. One should upgrade to Intermediate and higher EN B wing only after flying lower EN B for at least 100 hours with loads of ground handling. Before starting XC flying on your glider what we strongly recommend is to fly your glider a lot (focus on gaining loads n loads of flying hours) that makes your Active Piloting skill automatic. Secondly, do an SIV course which will burst all your myths and you will be well connected with your glider.
Generally as a beginner pilot, one always thinks about what wing to buy, not much thought goes in to which harness to go for. But with experience pilot understands Harness is equally important as the wing. Especially in longer duration flights, harness defines comfort level of the flight. Also, with more flying, you will realise that glider is giving feedback not only through brake lines but also through the harness. There are very good brands in the market for good harness like Supair, BGD, Woodyvalley, Advance etc.
The commonly asked question by the pilots before progressing to an XC flying is – Should I go for a POD harness?
– I personally think from my own experience, one should go for POD harness only after flying around 100 hours. Because POD harness movement in flight adds an extra level of complexity and now intermediate pilot will have to deal with not only active piloting but also with this added movement.
– Yaw movement in case of POD harnesses is much more than basic harnesses. The Pilot will need to adapt his weight shifting technique to get used to this new movement. This is possible to do relatively easily if the pilot is already comfortable in flight (meaning pilot has done many flying hours and active piloting is a second nature). If the pilot is not really good at active piloting then that means upgrading to the POD harness early has created more stress for him.
– I personally think that one should be an all round pilot. Starting POD flying too early in your flying career may make you feel not to go for supine/chair harnesses in future. Flying the POD too early also may create wrong piloting habits.
– Cost is a big factor while choosing which harness to use. POD harnesses are expensive than normal harnesses. It’s been proven that there is a very slight difference in terms of glide while using POD and chair harnesses. If you are competing in XC and aiming for number 1 spot then surely it will make a difference, otherwise, it wont.
– An advantage of POD harness is, its very comfortable to do long duration flights. Secondly, your legs are covered well inside the cloth and protect from cold breeze when you are high above. Weight shift is very easy.
– If you want to progress into using the POD, then it is a good idea to at least do the Basic SIV to understand glider behavior in collapse.
What do you imagine? How will the glider behave in case of 50% collapse with chair and POD harness?