News

Tuesday Tip: Wing loading and ballast

Tuesday 7 January, 2014

This tip comes from 50 Ways to Fly Better by Bruce Goldsmith and friends, and is about wing loading

Wing Loading

People often ask how heavy they should be relative to the weight range on their wing.

The aerodynamic effects of wing loading are fairly simple, but the choice of loading depends on where you fly, how you fly, and what you want to get out of your flying.

Wing-loading doesn’t affect glide (unless the wing is distorted by the weight): you just go down the same glide angle at a higher speed if you are heavier.

Increasing wing loading increases speed by only the square root of the weight change. On any particular glider if you can double your weight without distorting the wing then your speed will go up by a factor of 1.41.

Carrying ballast to increase speed is almost always a waste of time in recreational flying. Even if you carry 10kg of ballast, your speed only goes up by about 3%.

A 3% increase in speed means going from a trim speed of 36km/h to 37.08km/h: not very dramatic – and certainly not enough to stop you being blown over the back of the hill if the wind picks up.

However, in competition small differences matter, and the topguns burning down final glide at 65km/h, block-to-block on speed bar, might give anything for a 3% increase in speed.

More about Fifty ways to Fly Better

Tuesday Tips are sent directly to our readers’ mailboxes every week. If you want to receive them sign up to our newsletter in the sidebar.

 

Never miss an issue

Our subscribers receive 10 issues a year, the annual Travel Guide and exclusive access to competitions and offers

Subscribe today
Back to News
Back to News

Got a story?

If you have news, great images or a story, let us know

Get in touch

Join the family

By subscribing, you support the only worldwide paragliding, paramotoring and hang gliding magazine and you get:

  • Ten issues delivered to your door through the year
  • A 100+ page Travel Guide to the world’s best flying sites delivered with the Feb/March issue each year
  • Plus: Win a paraglider in our annual subscribers’ draw each January
  • Pay annually or monthly with paypal or credit card
Subscribe today

Subscribe and never miss an issue

Print edition

  • Published since 1988
  • The highest production values
  • Gorgeous photography
  • Perfect-bound, collectors’ issues
  • Ten times a year each issue is airmailed to you

Digital edition

  • Read offline on your iPad, tablet, laptop or phone
  • The same content as the printed magazine
  • Delivered through award-winning Zinio software

Print and digital

  • Read the digital issues on your iPad, tablet, laptop or phone
  • Keep the print magazines on your coffee table!
  • Ten times a year, each issue is airmailed to you and sent via Zinio
News and special offers. No spam ever