Pilots fly in a harness which supports their body. Several different types of harnesses exist. Pod harnesses are put on like a jacket and the leg portion is behind the pilot during launch. Once in the air the feet are tucked into the bottom of the harness. They are zipped up in the air with a rope and unzipped before landing with a separate rope. A cocoon harness is slipped over the head and lies in front of the legs during launch. After getting into the air the feet are tucked into it and the back is left open. A knee hanger harness is also slipped over the head but the knee part is wrapped around the knees before launch and just pick up the pilots leg automatically after launch. A supine or suprone harness is a seated harness. The shoulder straps are put on before launch and after take off the pilot slides back into the seat and flies in a seated position.
Pilots carry a parachute enclosed in the harness. In case of serious problems the parachute is manually deployed and carries both pilot and glider down to earth. Pilots also wear helmets and generally carry other safety items such as knives (for cutting their parachute bridle after impact or cutting their harness lines and straps in case of a tree or water landing), light ropes (for lowering from trees to haul up tools or climbing ropes), radios (for communication with other pilots or ground crew), and first aid equipment.
The accident rate from hang glider flying has been dramatically decreased by pilot training. Early hang glider pilots learned their sport through trial and error and gliders were sometimes home built. Training programs have been developed for todays pilot with emphasis on flight within safe limits, as well as the discipline to cease flying when weather conditions are unfavorable, for example excess wind or risk cloud suck.In the UK there is one death per 116,000 flights, a risk comparable to running a marathon or playing football for a year.