Your safety can be greatly enhanced by instructors advice, and a few simple rules.
Never fly alone. Use the buddy system, consisting of buddy pair and a buddy team with some pilots that have more experience and local knowledge. Competitions have teams and world records flights occur in buddy pairs with support teams. Fly with your buddy maintaining visual range, otherwise your flying alone. Always fly with a radio and other communication devices. Actively communicate with all your team members for sharing information to enhance safety. And finally, check everyone's ok. Your job as buddy is early intervention if someone is in trouble, be ready to help and possible have to send for help. And your buddy will do the same for you. "One hand washes the other." Ensuring that proceedings conclude with your team in circumstances everyone is able to get home safe. Safety is everyone's responsibility.
Cinderella - does the shoe fit? Are you flying the right wing for you now? There are inherent problems with ill fitting flying equipment which must be appropriate for your attributes and pilot skill level. The limiting factor is the pilot. With experience and skills, good Pilots on appropriate wings make early detection of the situation leading to the right decisions and responses at the right time with with the correct amount of input. You can buy performance but not results. Anyone can fly more advanced equipment, until you cannot. The easy parts are easy. But when things get out of shape, you get there quicker with more energy, AND unforgiving consequences. Less experience pilots thinking beginner equipment is holding them back, want more advanced equipment which may have skill requirements and unfamiliar responses not apparent to less experienced. But less experienced pilots risk too slow to respond developing into things get out of shape, then respond too much, with secondary effects. Pilots skills are best developed without fear, on gear suits your skills now, and that fits you. To be the best pilot you can be; Progress each stage; beginner, intermediate, advanced, and racing. Everyone that skips a step, is lacking or suffers as a result. As John Heiney says "Doctors cost more than Hang Gliding Instructors." And your gear needs to fit you. If your pilot weight does not suit the equipment, too light or too heavy and you will always have problems. And develop undesireable techniques, that you will have to unlearn to avoid future incidents. Try running in shoes that don't fit. Pain or fall over. You have got to get a shoe that fits YOU.
Only change one thing at a time. There are new risks arising when there is something changed or new, such as a new site or different equipment. Changes can occur without you realising. Sometimes the state of your equipment has changed with time or requirements change or equipment deteriorate in storage or transport damage. Or you have changed, such as how recent is your current skills proficiency, or life events cloud your focus having your head in the game. Ensure the aviation equipment your using is currently airworthy, with safety maintenance done and independently checked to be serviceable, And refresh your skills with an instructor, polish your fine talents and techniques. Diamond in the rough.
Only fly in suitable weather conditions at suitable locations. Get advice from instructors and more experienced, to ensure the weather is appropriate to fly for the location, and the equipment you intend to fly with, and most importantly for your skill level and experience. The energy force of the wind is proportional to the square of velocity. Stronger conditions multiply your problems. Reassess conditions constantly as they change like the weather! What is the Wind direction now, where I am now. And what is the predicted changes, where I plan to be, when will that occur and what is the benefit and risks affecting me.
Always have a safe landing option. Locations may have hidden dangers that increase risk of a deviation from normal flight. For example: In certain weather conditions and locations it may be locally known to avoid unsuitable location such as turbulent air flow rotor region or tumble tuck zone. Local instructors advice can be priceless. Continue to assess the current weather conditions which constantly change. What is the updated risk assessment and what can you do to mitigate risk. Such as local wind direction to land into the wind and fly faster to compensate for wind gradient, landing in valley. Be careful to always be able to get to a safe landing. When thermaling, scratching for a low save: your circle in wind drift scratching for climb be mindful of wind drift away from landing. Drifting out of glide slope more than climbing to compensate for drift and you risk sliding into a position of longer within glide slope able to get back to safe landing? What is the cut off point to abandon scratching. Especially in strong or changing conditions. Do you still have glide slope to a safe landing option? Position your flight path so you always have glide to a safe landing option.
Safe airspeed near the ground. A safe landing requires safe airspeed near the ground; Sailplane Glider pilots Rule is "Anytime we are within (landing circuit) [sailplane glider=1000ft Above Ground Level] especially critical on final approach, we must fly at the required safe air speed near the ground = 1.5 Vs (1.5 times stall speed) plus half the wind additive." Especially for hang gliding, speed up for wind gradient on landing. The point is safe airspeed near the ground; are you flying too slow on circuit and final approach to landing. Too slow = Lack control, turbulence throws you around; Where are you going? Common mistake: Mush in too slow at trim speed as if hands free. Arrival (cannot call it a landing) like a falling leaf at trim or slower with no energy left for effective flare. Get ready to break something or someone. Or worse: Stall / drop a wing - spin. LOW AND SLOW AND IN YOU GO. Speed is life. Try one and half times stall speed plus half the wind, for safe airspeed near the ground (circuit to landing) Get upright away from the ground. Ultimately faster safer flying speed in final, round out and bleed off speed with control as approach trim speed where a landing flare can be initiated effectively only with the required energy from airspeed. Too slow and nothing left to flare with... Consult Instructor for training and professional tuition..
Situational awareness. There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots. Only fly when it's safe for you to do so. Exercising a healthy respect and awareness according to your skills, and of the capabilities using airworthy aircraft & serviceable equipment, with the appropriate Safety Officer, Duty Pilot attending. And ensure you have met all approval requirements for the flying site and club you visit. Fly within your skill level with safety margins and the safety requirements of your HGFA pilot rating. With safety, you can have fun.
Hope these examples of general suggestions presented here, help you or someone you know improve safety for everyone. Composed by Damian. There are many highly experienced pilots willing to generously share advice and well intended tips based on their experience, offered in good faith with the intention to compliment proper training. Casual advice and "hot tips for new players", are no substitute for professional instruction. For professional instruction, and if you go somewhere new, you need to Contact Local Instructors for invaluable advice to fly safe.