Hang gliding 1976 part 2


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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.

Developments Stateside

Art based on a photo of the Pliable Moose Diffusion Tip hang glider of 1974

Pliable Moose Diffusion Tip hang glider of 1976

Pliable Moose of Wichita, Kansas, was founded by Gary Osoba, who still flies (in 2019).

Pliable Moose Diffusion Tip drawings from their 1976 magazine advert

Pliable Moose Diffusion Tip drawings from their 1976 magazine advert

See also Semi cylindrical Rogallo in Rogallo wing definitions and diagrams.


Bettina Gray by Penny Wolin-Semple

Pioneering hang glider photographer Bettina Gray by Penny Wolin-Semple. Reprinted courtesy Ultralight Flying! magazine.

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.


Bill Liscomb flying an ASG-21 at Telluride, Colorado, in August 1976. Photo by Bill’s mother, Bettina Gray.

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.

Art based on a photo by Stephen McCarroll at Mill Creek, Telluride, Colorado

Hang glider carry-up start point at Mill Creek, Telluride, Colorado. Photo by Stephen McCarroll.

See also the related topics menu Telluride, Colorado.

Art based on another Bettina Gray photo of the ASG-21, as used in the 1975 Albatross Sail Gliders magazine advert

ASG-21, as used in the 1975 Albatross Sail Gliders magazine advert. Another Bettina Gray photo.

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.


Art based on a photo by Roger Schoener of Chris Wills flying a Wills Wing Superswallowtail

Chris Wills flying a Wills Wing Superswallowtail. Photo by Roger Schoener.

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)

Art based on a photo of load testing a Super Swallowtail to 5G

Load testing a Super Swallowtail to 5G

See the related topics menu Testing for stability and structural strength.

Jim Debauch flying a Wills Wing Superswallowtail at Telluride, Colorado, in August 1976. Photo by Stephen McCarroll.


Cover photo of Santa Barbara Wind & Water, December 1976

SST at Santa Barbara in 1976 (photographer unknown)

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.


Art based on a photo by Stephen McCarroll of Paul Courtney past vertical in a Sky Sports Merlin

Paul Courtney past vertical in a Sky Sports Merlin. Photo by Stephen McCarroll.

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.

Art based on the photo in the Bennett Phoenix 6B magazine advert of 1976

From the Bennett Phoenix 6B magazine advert of 1976

The Phoenix 6B was designed by Dick Boone.


Art based on a photo by W.A. Allen  of two Electra Flyer Cirrus IIIs

Two Electra Flyer Cirrus IIIs. Photo by W.A. Allen.

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.

'Dorset Countryside' cover photo of a hang glider launching at Ringstead

Electra Flyer Cirrus 3 launching at Ringstead

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.


Ultralight Products Dragonfly Mark 2 (screenshot from Bill Liscomb's Big Blue Sky)

Ultralight Products Dragonfly Mark 2 (screenshot from Bill Liscomb’s Big Blue Sky)

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.

Dragonfly Mk2s in the Owens Valley together with UP's distinctive Wolswagen vans

Dragonfly Mk2s in the Owens Valley together with UP’s distinctive Wolswagen vans

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.


Art based on a photo by Mike Jones of a Bennett Phoenix 8 with Mylar windows in the sail

Bennett Phoenix 8 with Mylar windows in the sail. Photo by Mike Jones.

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.

External links

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

Hang Ten Hang Gliding World Meet, Part 2

Hang Ten Hang Gliding World Meet, Part 3

Photo by Roger Middleton of a Bennett Phoenix 8 in flight at Pandy, Wales, in February 1977

References

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