I am always trying to improve my hang gliding skills. Even though I have only bent two weak links in the last two years, I have never been satisfied with the way my glider lands. In talking with numerous other Atos pilots, there was a common thread. Some almost never had trouble landing their gliders and other had trouble most of the time. I think I have come up with a reason and a solution.
It came to me when I looked at a picture of a friend, Bill Vogel landing his Atos VQ. His hands were very high up on the down tubes.
Click on the picture for a higher resolution.
Bill always seems to have a good flare on landing. The next time I flew I paid special attention to where my hands were on the down tubes. I saw that when I placed them as high as I normally did, they were just above the front wires. This was all the higher my harness would let me grip the down tube. I then “walked” each hand up the down tube until they were a least one hand width higher. I found that I was actually pulling my self up. You would think that this would cause the nose to drop, but it did not and the glider continued to fly normally. When I flared, the glider rotated much quicker and the nose stayed up even after I stopped. Normally the nose would start to drop after landing.
I have landed this way now three times and each time I was surprised how quickly and easily the glider flared. I told this information to a pilot who has been having great difficulty with his landings over the past 3 years. On his next landing he walked his hands up the down tubes one hand width higher and had his first great landing in 3 years, in no wind!
Now for my hypothesis on what is happening. I believe the glider has a natural pivot point with respect to the down tubes. Flaring from below this pivot point might be possible, but you are trying to lift the nose of the gliding during the flare. This may or may not be possible. When your hands are above the pivot point, the nose of the glider is behind the pivot point during the flare and it stays behind the pivot during the flare and the glider will drop onto your shoulders with the nose up. Give this a try and let me know if you agree.