Hang gliding 1975 part 1
This page continues from Hang gliding 1974 part 2.
From some time in early 1975, instead of carrying the de-rigged glider on my shoulders from home the whole way to the slope (about a half hour) I added some padding to my bike and wheeled it there.
My local flying site was a public walking, biking, and radio control glider flying area. Crowds accumulated on warm spring flying days. Despite the simplicity of the standard Rogallo, I used a written check list when rigging it. One gent with a walking stick insisted that, “If you were in the army, you would have to remember all that.” Another chimed in, “If you join the RAF, you can do this for free.” (One difference between then and now is that I bought the kit-form Skyhook with money left over from my student grant.) Still another earnest fellow: “Why don’t you join the navy?”
One navy helicopter pilot, not much older than I was and full of enthusiastic questions, helped me carry the wing back up the waist-high heather covered slope one hot day while his less enthusiastic wife trudged along behind. The wind was rarely strong enough to soar, so extended top-to-bottom flights were the norm. After I landed, I found the easiest way to carry it back up was to undo the bolts that connected the leading edges to the cross-tube ends, fold the leading edges to meet the keel tube, and tie them together along with the sail. I then carried it with the cross-tube, control frame, king post and cables still rigged, like a giant aluminium cross.
Immediately after my first awakening as to the reality of flight, I called up the chief pilot of my company and told him I quit. That was the last time I flew a jet for a living.
— Larry Newman of New Mexico hang glider manufacturer Electra Flyer writing in Ground Skimmer, June 1976
Meanwhile, on a low hill near the atomic research establishment at Winfrith in the heathlands of Dorset, a 17-year old sailmaker took to the air in a Skyhook IIIA that he made from plans. John Jenkins, who is pictured flying on an earlier page in his all-green self-made standard Rogallo, supervised.
I did not have a car (or a snow trak) but I met two men at my local hill taking it in turns to fly a hang glider made by Kestrel Kites of Poole, of whom I had never heard. They introduced me to the local hang gliding club and they gave me lifts to new flying sites. I no longer always flew alone.
For an anecdote about flying there in the company of others and usage of language, both there and, ten years later in the USA, see Little parrots.
Although no scenery is in view, this was taken at Monk’s Down in 1975, which I still fly 40 years later (2015).
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.
— Quoted from an article by Richard Seymour in Hang Gliding & Paragliding, July, 2004, about the Sylmar/Kagel Mountain flying site in California
Hugh Morton, 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 and the results have, arguably, never been equalled.
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.
The Wasp CB240 was almost certainly copied from the Seagull 3, with leading edge tubes permanently formed into parabolic curves. 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.
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.
This one is more advanced in that its nose angle is 90 degrees.
Kestrel Kites was based in Poole, on Dorset’s coast, in a building subsequently demolished during construction of, ironically, a highway flyover.
Which was more dangerous; flying it or carrying it back up like this?
Duck à l’orange — my Airfix 1/76th (OO) scale DUKW with scratch built hang gliders
Skyhook Sailwings, a short history of the early hang glider and powered ultralight manufacturer based in the north of England