Something new: Fly a Hang ‘Copter

I readily admit to being a hang glider pilot at heart. After flying several hundred airplanes, I still consider flying a hang glider to be perhaps THE purest way to fly. I’ve always said that if I could just snap my fingers and be in the air — oh, that it was so simple and quick! — I would always choose a hang glider to experience the magic of flight.

But how about “hang ‘copter” flying? Huh!?! I’ve got almost no time in rotary aircraft but I was caught by a YouTube video showing a fellow flying a hang glider with a rotor blade doing the lifting instead of Dacron wings. It struck me as kind of crazy…yes, even a hang glider pilot who loves flying off a mountain. But there it is, looking pretty sane, actually. Near the end of the video, the pilot waves comfortably to the camera before executing a very normal looking landing (well, normal to a hang glider pilot if not a jet jockey).

Though an Internet search will uncover plenty of reports about a gyroglider (an unpowered gyrocopter), this is the first I’ve seen of weight-shift control for a rotary-winged hang glider. It was reportedly built by a Russian named Shumeyko in the early 1990s.

I love to think about how the FAA or NTSB would regard this. Though I lack detail, it appears the whole rig might qualify as a Part 103 ultralight vehicle, meaning no pilot license is required nor is vehicle registration or any of those other trappings of government control. Go freedom of flight! Let’s see more of this unabashed experimentation when it can be done safely.

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