Hang gliding 1975 part 1


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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.

Art based on a photo by Hugh Morton at Grandfather Mountain, Georgia

Grandfather Mountain, Georgia. Photo by Hugh Morton.

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.

Art based on a photo of surfing and hang gliding photographer Leroy Grannis

Surfing and hang gliding photographer Leroy Grannis

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

Danny Bostwick lands on the beach in 1974 by Leroy Grannis

Danny Bostwick lands on the beach in 1974. Photo by Leroy Grannis.

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.


Art based on a photo of Kitty Hawk Kites' premises in its early days

Kitty Hawk Kites’ premises in its early days

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.


Art based on a photo by Bettina Gray of the Mount Cranmore ski lift, Easter, 1975

Mount Cranmore ski lift, Easter, 1975. Photo by Bettina Gray.


Art based on a photo by Bettina Gray of Tom Peghiny flying a Sky Sports Kestrel hang glider at Mt. Cranmore, New England, in early 1975

Tom Peghiny flying a Sky Sports Kestrel at Mt. Cranmore, New England, Easter 1975. Photo by Bettina Gray.

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.

Art based on a photo by Jim Otterstrom of a buggy at the Guadalupe Dune in May 1975

Buggy at the Guadalupe Dune in May 1975 (no larger image available). Photo by Jim Otterstrom.

Art based on a photo by Russ Stolling at the Guadalupe Dune in May 1975

Guadalupe Dune in May 1975. Photo by Russ Stolling.

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.

Art based on a photo of the German Alps Festival at Hunter Mountain, New York State, in 1975

German Alps Festival at Hunter Mountain, New York State, in 1975

Curved leading edges

Art based on a photo of the Wasp CB240 semi-cylindrical Rogallo hang glider of 1974-5

Wasp CB240 semi-cylindrical Rogallo hang glider of 1974-5

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.”

Brian continues:

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

Art based on a photo by Malcolm Hawksworth of Colin Joby flying Puff the Magic Dragon

Colin Joby flying Puff the Magic Dragon. Photo by Malcolm Hawksworth.

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.


Art based on a photo of a Hiway standard Rogallo

Hiway standard Rogallo

This one is more advanced in that its nose angle is 90 degrees.


Hang Gliding revised edition by Dan Poynter, 1975

Hang Gliding revised edition by Dan Poynter, 1975

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.

Roly's first flight near Winfrith in Dorset, 1975

Roly’s first flight near Winfrith in Dorset, 1975

Hang glider overhead in 1975

Hang glider overhead. This one has the ‘west country’ sail cut and was likely made by McBroom Sailwings of Bristol.

Snow bound

Chris Price and Dave Muehl on a snow trak (no larger size available). Photo by W.A. Allen.

Art based on a photo in Wings Unlimited, April-May 1975, of snow traks at the 'World Snow Kite Championship', British Columbia, in February 1975

Snow traks at the ‘World Snow Kite Championship’, British Columbia, in February 1975

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.

Art based on a photo by Wings Unlimited of a standard Rogallo at Telluride in July 1975

Standard Rogallo at Telluride in July 1975. Photo by Wings Unlimited.

Art based on a photo by David Stanfield of pilots and gliders at Telluride in 1975

Pilots and gliders at Telluride in 1975. Photo by David Stanfield.

Art based on a photo by David Stanfield at Telluride in 1975

To hell you ride. Photo by David Stanfield, 1975.

See also the related topics menu Telluride, Colorado.


Art based on a photo by Don Hill taken at Cypress Gardens, Florida, in August 1975

Cypress Gardens, Florida, in August 1975. Photo by Don Hill.

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.”


Photo of a hang glider in 1975

Training flight at Monk’s Down in north Dorset, England. Photo by Dave Lewis.

Photo of a man carrying a fully rigged hang glider up a hill

Having landed in the field at the bottom of the hill, you then carried it back to the top. Photo by Dave Lewis.

Which was more dangerous; flying it or carrying it back up like this?

Photo of an early 1970s hang glider launching

A Birdman Grasshopper launches at Monk’s Down. Photo by Dave Lewis.

Art based on a photo by Steve Burns of John Dunham at the Electra Flyer factory in New Mexico

John Dunham at the Electra Flyer factory in New Mexico. Photo by Steve Burns.

Internal links

This topic continues in Hang gliding 1975 part 2.

My flying 1975

External link

Photographer Leroy Grannis: Big Blue Sky, 2008, by Bill Liscomb on YouTube starting at 46 minutes 25 seconds