A hang gliding harness is a set of straps used for protecting the pilot. They are the bracket that is latched to pilot with a snap hook located under the hang glider. In hang gliding, the harness is suspended from the airframe.
Hang gliding was an unsafe sport before harnessing came into existence. The advancements led to improved safety methods and the evolution of harness in hang gliding.
Presently, there are different types of harnesses.
Pod harnesses - A jacket-like harness where the leg portion is tucked to ease the floating position. Once launched, the pod gets zipped up and unzips before landing.
Cocoon harness - A cocoon harness is slid over the head and is placed in front of the legs while launching. After the launch, the feet are tucked in, but the back is left open. Also, while taking off, a knee hanger harness is wrapped around the knees that automatically pick up the pilot’s leg.
Suprone harness - A suprone or supine harness is a seating harness. Before launch, the shoulder straps are put on, and after take-off, the pilot sits and flies in a seating position.
The harnesses usually attach with a parachute. In case of accident occurring situations, the parachute can be manually deployed in order to provide safety to the pilot.
The standard prescribed by the World Air sports federation (FAI) for harness must be tested to LTF09 or EN1651:2018 E. CIVL. Also, all pilots must fly with a harness. The rule is referred to FAI Category 1 competitions. Harnesses that are certified as per 2018 editions of EN 1651 or earlier aren’t compliant.
The harness attaches the pilot to the hang glider with the help of a snap hook. Before taking off, the pilot must be latched with the harness. The harness used in hand gliding is often like an apron suitable to hold the pilot’s body with textile straps and leg loops. The harness is designed for securing the pilot from slipping while he is in flight. However, the wind protection and comfort depends on the model. The apron-like harness surrounding the pilot and gives a fish-like impression is known as a ‘carp belt’.
The harnesses are often common, but they can be customised with minimum features. These features include storage space for the parachute, variable position adjustment, foot protection, towing loops, pockets with zippers, and a multi-point suspension.
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