How can I estimate the minimum runway needed to take off with a hang glider?

New Alexandria
  • How can I estimate the minimum runway needed to take off with a hang glider? New Alexandria

    I'm interested in short, or trick, take-offs - such as from platforms, tall trees, etc.

    I think that I should have

    This will let me add to my intuition from regular launches (from sites with known-good launch conditions), and estimate how much velocity I need to add via a run / push.


    The methodology to count the wind measure seem a bit more grey, right now.

    I can have a sense of the wind where I am, but it may quickly change beyond my launch site. Since I'm considering how to launch from a stationary position, it would be good to feed my senses / calculations more data like this.

  • What you need is enough lift to remain in the air. For that, the maximum lift of your hang glider needs to exceed the total weight.

    When you know the total weight of the glider (you included), you can derive the theoretical minimum airspeed from the lift formula:

    $$L_{max}=\frac12{\rho}V^2C_{max}S$$ $$V_{min}=\sqrt{\frac{2W}{{\rho}C_{max}S}}$$

    Where:

    • $L$ = lift
    • $\rho$ = air density
    • $V$ = air speed
    • $C_{max}$ = maximum lift coefficient
    • $S$ = wing surface
    • $W$ = weight

    Now you have to know your maximum lift coefficient. Suppose this is 1.2, and for safety and initial manoeuvring, let's add a margin of 40% to the weight.

    Let's say your mass is 85 kg, and the glider has a mass of 35 kg. The total weight would be 120 kg — that is about 1,177N weight, which for the sake of safety margin is increased to 1,650N.

    I'll estimate the surface of the wing to be $16m^2$. Assume a normal day, the air density will be about $1.225kg/m^3$.

    Filling in the numbers is the formula:

    $$V_{min}=\sqrt{\frac{2\times1,650}{1.225\times1.2\times16}}$$

    Any wind speed you get you can subtract from this figure: what is left you have to achieve by pushing, running or diving.

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