Hang gliding 1975 part 1
I moved my hang gliding history pages to a new web site: History of hang gliding. This page will be deleted eventually.
This page continues from Hang gliding 1974 part 3.
The counter-culture rejected ties with traditional society, and felt that suburban living in tract houses was the epitome of everything it despised. This was, of course, because most of the pilots had grown up in the suburbs.
— Richard Seymour writing in Hang Gliding & Paragliding, July, 2004
Most of the images on this page are my artistic derivations of contemporary photos. See Copyright of early hang gliding photos.
Hugh Morton of Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina, through his photography and sponsorship of hang gliding, helped advance the cause.
Another photographer of early hang gliding was Leroy Grannis, a major in the U.S. Air Force reserve. He was famous as a photographer of the 1960s surfing scene. He then turned his camera to the new phenomenon of hang gliding.
We got to Torrance Beach and saw all these kites in the air and I had a camera with me and got out and shot a few of them, and decided, well, I’d better get some more film. Sent the wife home to get it, and then I went down on the beach and started shooting landings and half the guys that landed on the beach were surfers that I knew.
— Leroy Grannis interviewed for the 2008 documentary film Big Blue Sky by Bill Liscomb
Early 1970s coastal flying sites such as Torrance Beach lent hang gliding a surfing aura. Indeed, Dan Poynter’s 1974 book Hang Gliding is subtitled The Basic Handbook of Sky Surfing.
See the Big Blue Sky video link farther on for more about Leroy Grannis. See also the related topics menu Photographers of early hang gliding.
Kitty Hawk Kites, founded by John Harris, is situated on the Outer Banks, North Carolina. It is still (in 2019) the world’s largest hang gliding school. See also my Kitty Hawk Kites page.
See Flying squad for a short history of the east coast U.S. hang glider manufacturer Sky Sports.
A hang gliding event was held on an almost windless day at the the 450 ft Guadalupe Dune on the California coast in May 1975.
A World War 2 vintage DUKW ferried hang gliders and their pilots the mile from the car park to the top of the dune. If you are interested in plastic models, see Duck à l’orange; my Airfix 1/76th (OO) scale DUKW with scratch built hang gliders, based on photos of this event.
The Wasp CB240 was almost certainly copied from the Seagull 3, with leading edge tubes permanently formed into parabolic curves. See Semi cylindrical Rogallo in Rogallo wing definitions and diagrams.
Top British pilot Brian Wood flew a Wasp CB240 in the World Championship competition at Kössen, Austria, in 1975…
…in those days the sails weren’t fixed as securely as now and the sail on my [Wasp CB240] had become detached from the end of the leading edge after being knocked about on the chair lift. I didn’t think it would have any effect but while I was flying a tight 360 the sail rode up the boom. Suddenly I found myself flying on one half of the kite. The kite went into a spiral dive Fortunately the kites were built like tanks in those days — the CB had two inch leading edges — and it survived the pounding of the G forces. I was then lucky enough to ditch it in a bank of snow.
— Brian Wood quoted in an interview in Wings (BHGA magazine) August 1977
The interviewer, David Worth of the Southern Hang Gliding Club, added “That flight can be seen on a hang gliding film which is currently touring the cinemas.”
Competitions are for me a must, because I can’t afford to buy hang gliders especially at the price they are today. If you do well in competitions there is always someone willing to sponsor you.
See also the related topics menu Waspair of Surrey, England.
Puff the Magic Dragon was made by Hiway Hang Gliders of Brighton, Sussex, England, headed by John Ievers and Australian Steve Hunt. Its nose angle appears to be the usual 80 degrees of the early standard Rogallos. For more about this manufacturer, see the related topics menu Hiway of Sussex, England, and Abergavenny, Wales.
This one is more advanced in that its nose angle is 90 degrees.
On a low hill near the atomic research establishment at Winfrith in the heathlands of Dorset, England, a 17-year old sailmaker took to the air in a Skyhook IIIA that he made from plans. John J, who is pictured flying on an earlier page in his all-green self-made standard Rogallo, supervised.
That is Bob Wills on the right. He won the competition in a Wills Wing Swallowtail, which I was to obtain a close look at and ask him about it later in the year. The Wills Wing range of Rogallo flex-wing hang gliders was manufactured by Sport Kites Inc., of Santa Ana, California. (It was subsequently renamed Wills Wing Inc.) For more about Wills Wing and the remarkable Wills family, see the related topics menu Sport Kites/Wills Wing of California.
See also the related topics menu Telluride, Colorado.
When I was at Rhossili, a coastal hill in Wales on a hot summer weekend in 1978, a ‘middle aged’ couple in the same camp site said they had attended a hang gliding event at Cypress Gardens a year or two before. The guy attempted to persuade his wife that we were doing essentially the same thing; flying hang gliders, but starting from a hill instead of being hauled into the air behind a boat. She seemed to focus into the distance, as if recalling the pizzazz and glamour of the event in Florida, and said, “Oh, but that was fantastic.”
Which was more dangerous; flying it or carrying it back up like this?
This topic continues in Hang gliding 1975 part 2.
Photographer Leroy Grannis: Big Blue Sky, 2008, by Bill Liscomb on YouTube starting at 46 minutes 25 seconds