When choosing an LZ:
- Prefer uncultivated (no rows) to cultivated fields (with rows).
- Prefer fields with no livestock.
- Where livestock are present, prefer landing with cows rather than horses.
- Where landing in fields with cows present, prefer landing as far from the herd as possible.
Goats will eat your gear. Horses are easily spooked by hang gliders and will gallop in a panic, risking injury. Cows are less easily spooked, but if they run, will lose precious weight as a result of the exercise, which the farmers hate (lbs.=$). If this happens on hot days in the summer, they risk developing pneumonia. Farmers really hate that.
- Move your glider to the closest, least visible, most discrete part of the field available.
- If convenient, move glider and gear out of the private field into adjacent road right-of- way or similar public access property for breakdown.
- Break down quickly and quietly, touching as little as possible, as if you’re being watched, which you may very well be.
Exiting the field:
- Touch nothing (gates, wires, fence posts, etc.).
- If possible, slide glider and gear under the fence and crawl under yourself.
If necessary, wait for assistance to pass glider and gear over the fence, touching nothing. Fencing is expensive hard work farmers don’t want to repeat often. Climbing on fences is destructive and is the best way to get a field declared DNL. One of our largest DNLs is just so because some dingbat XC Tree Topper climbed a fence back in 1988. That kind of grudge lasts a long time. Please don’t touch anything and stay off the fences!
The farmer has an entry/exit point that doesn’t require climbing under or over a fence. The gate should be considered only if above options aren’t available.
- Do not open gates.
- Do not drive vehicle into fields to retrieve glider and gear, even if it’s easy and there’s a road.
- If gate climbing is required, climb as close to the hinge and supporting post as possible, not at the closure point. If a property owner is visible/available, ask permission before climbing the gate or if there is a preferable exit point.
- Make sure it’s all the property owner’s and none of yours. Breathe deeply. Smile.
- Say “sir” and “ma’am”. Use your best manners.
- Do not argue. Do not quote FAA regs regarding “emergency landings.” Regard the property as sovereign territory. The property owner does.
- Only apologize, explaining that you lost the lift, had to land, and this very field likely saved your life.
- In the interest of diplomacy, a compliment or two on the field’s immaculate condition, which attracted you to it as an XC LZ, never hurts.
- Describe our DNL policy and assure the property owner that this property will be added to the list, then mark it with your GPS and report it so that it may be added. WE DO NOT WANT THIS TO HAPPEN!
- Although it may be tempting if you have more dollars than sense, please do not volunteer monetary compensation. This could easily start a precedent we could find unmanageable.
- If you’ve not mastered the art of southern dialect, talk less and listen more.
On more than one occasion in the Sequatchie Valley, a hostile encounter between a Tree Topper and a property owner has been turned around through subsequent conversation into a positive experience for the member and/or the club in general. Remember, when you’re being chastised in the grass, you may have an opportunity to win this person over with respect, a concerned and sympathetic ear, and the assurance we don’t want to violate the property owner’s wishes.
Continued successful Cross-Country flying in The Hang Gliding Capital of the East depends on our unanimous and consistently delicate treatment of XC LZs. Alienation of property owners will result in a valley so dotted with DNLs as to make XC unfeasible. Even if we do only go to the LZ most of the time, let’s keep our neighbors happy and their fields friendly, so we can still dream the dream of going somewhere while setting up on launch, so that when we do get high and are ready to go far, we’ll have some places to go.
Dan Shell September 2, 2012