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Kingposted vs. Topless Hang Gliders

Let's look at some factors that constitute performance in hang gliding. In engineering terms an externally guy-wire braced structure is either lighter or stronger than the equivalent cantilevered system. Since foot launching, confines us to relatively slow speeds, parasitic drag as compared to induced drag can be somewhat low. Since higher gross weight increases span loading, it in turn increases induced drag. It is possible to argue that lighter weight king post hang gliders could equal the L / D and minimum sink performance of heaver topless hang gliders but at slightly slower speeds. Higher levels of performance will come from reducing our span loading while raising our wing loading.


A king post glider is inherently lighter than a topless gliders internal structures i.e. the crossbar, its center section, its washout and leading edge tubing systems. The lighter weight king post glider combined with lower cost and greater simplicity makes an advanced king post hang glider an unrecognized performance value. High performance king post gliders are lightest in weight, lowest cost and greater simplicity for generally slower speeds vs. topless hang gliders that are higher weight, higher cost and greater complexity, but are designed to perform at higher speeds.

If you enjoy flying in lighter and more enjoyable conditions and not to speed along bucking a headwind and if you're out for local flying or to enjoy a smaller environment, the king post glider may possibly be the best answer. If you're trying to set a personal cross-country record and your fastest average cross-country speed is the most important, especially into a headwind, then a topless hang glider or rigid wing or something else is what you want to be flying.