Hang gliding 1976 part 2
This page follows Hang gliding 1976 part 1.
The images on this page are my artistic derivations of contemporary photos. See Copyright of early hang gliding photos.
Pliable Moose of Wichita, Kansas, was founded by Gary Osoba, who still flies (in 2019).
See also Semi cylindrical Rogallo in Rogallo wing definitions and diagrams.
Former stage actress Bettina Gray was one of the most prolific photographers of early hang gliding. Twenty years before, she was a bridesmaid at Grace Kelly’s wedding to Prince Rainier III of Monaco. (1)
See also the related topics menu Photographers of early hang gliding.
The ASG-21, designed by sailmaker and former McDonnell-Douglas aeronautical engineer Tom Price, and in this picture being flown by Bettina Gray’s son Bill Liscomb, was an advanced hang glider — by the standards of 1976.
See also the related topics menu Telluride, Colorado.
According to W.A. Allen in Ground Skimmer, October 1974, aeronautical engineer turned sailmaker Tom Price of Albatross teamed up with US Navy F-4 Phantom pilot and hang glider designer Rich Finley, who has a masters degree in aeronautical engineering.
Technical: Like the Sun IV (see under More developments in Hang gliding 1975 part 2) the tip struts of the ASG-21 were supported by short diagonal struts rather than by extensions of either the leading edge tubes or the tip tubes and attendant cables and attachments. Notice also the method by which the airfoil section is defined at the root. Instead of a curved keel tube, the ASG-21 used a stand-up keel pocket.
Here is an update on former New York schoolteacher Mike Meier in April 1976, who was last mentioned in these pages on his motorcycle at Palos Verdes, California, in 1973…
Bob Wills had his next creation on the market, the Super Swallowtail, or SST. It was being billed as “the high performance kite you already know how to fly,” and that appealed to me. I went down to Sport Kites to order one, and Chris Wills mentioned that they were gearing up to increase production. I suggested he hire me, and two weeks later I had given up a $1000 a month job in the motorcycle business to go to work for $700 a month at Wills Wing.
— Mike Meier (2)
See the related topics menu Testing for stability and structural strength.
The pilot here is likely instructor Ken de Russy. The original photo from which this image is derived was on the cover of Santa Barbara Wind & Water, December 1976. (3)
Here is a snippet from instructor, author, and humorist Erik Fair’s 1983 interview of Mike Meier:
Mike: “I was the production manager and purchasing agent, but the job only lasted three months. Chris Wills left for medical school, and hired John Lake to replace him as general manager. John Lake and I worked together for two days before he decided it couldn’t go on and he fired me.”
Erik: “Far out! What did you do next?”
— Erik Fair, Hang Gliding, December 1983
In the early years of hang gliding, John Lake invented the sailfeather device for preventing luffing dives. (See Luff in the time of cholera.) After John also left Wills Wing, Mike returned and he stayed when tragedy struck Wills Wing the following year.
See the related topics menu Sport Kites/Wills Wing of California.
The Sky Sports Merlin featured chord-wise battens and a large amount of double surface. However, the cross-tubes were still outside and exposed to the air flow, creating drag. For a short history of the east coast U.S. hang glider manufacturer Sky Sports, see Flying squad.
The Phoenix 6B was designed by Dick Boone.
Like the Phoenix 6B, the Cirrus II and Cirrus III embodied the improvement of roached wing-tips supported by radial battens. The Cirrus III was a successful and popular hang glider.
It was manufactured by Scotkites under licence from Electra Flyer of Albuquerque, New Mexico, founded by Learjet captain Larry Newman. The Cirrus series originated with the Windlord development of the standard Rogallo by Rich Finley in 1974. His short keel, low billow, spiky looking Windlord 4 was manufactured by Electra Flyer as the Cirrus. It soon acquired a full set of chord-wise battens, taking on the basic appearance that culminated in the popular Cirrus 3.
We no longer launch from the cliff top at Ringstead. Instead, we take off from a hill a little way inland and fly out to the cliff. I am told that this part of the slope crumbled away at some point.
For more about the Cirrus series, see the related topics menu Electra Flyer of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The Mark 2 version of the Ultralight Products Dragonfly also incorporated chord-wise battens, but this type of fixed wing-tip design was becoming less popular.
Incidentally, there is an external link to background information about one of the UP Volkswagen vans in the related topics menu Ultralight Products of California and Utah.
The photo on which this artistic derivation is based was taken by Mike Jones aboard a balloon during certification testing of the Phoenix 8 Jr above the Mojave desert, with Trip Mellinger flying. The Mylar windows in the sail are possibly an idea that we should re-visit.
There is an image of a prototype Phoenix 8 in For your eyes only in Three-sixty degree appraisal (my flying 1976).
This topic continues in Hang gliding 1977.
Big Blue Sky 2008 hang gliding documentary by Bill Liscomb on YouTube
Greg Mitchell in a Seagull VII in 1976: Hang Ten Hang Gliding World Meet, Part 2 video on YouTube starting at 43 seconds. It shows the sail shape and how the washout (twist) is limited by its curved leading edges. As far as I know, the Seagull VII never went into production.
Hang Ten Hang Gliding World Meet, Part 1 1976 World Open Hang Gliding Championships at Escape Country, CA — video on YouTube
Photo by Roger Middleton of a Bennett Phoenix 8 in flight at Pandy, Wales, in February 1977
1: Wedding of Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Grace Kelly on Unofficial Royalty
2: Mike Meier, Wills Wing–The Early Years in Sky Adventures, Legends and stories About the Early Days of Hang Gliding and Paragliding edited by Jim (Sky Dog) Palmieri and Maggie Palmieri, 1998
3: Cover photo of Wind & Water volume 1 number 4, December 1976, from Santa Barbara Area Newspapers, SBHC Mss 50, Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara