Hang gliding 1976 part 1


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Hang gliding 1976 part 1

This page follows Hang gliding 1975 part 2.

Photo of a 1970s rigid wing hang glider

Rob S flies the Icarus V rigid hang glider in 1976. Photo by Dave L.

In these photos by Dave L, Rob S flies the Icarus V rigid hang glider in 1976. Twist grips on the hang cage armrests operated the tip rudders.

Photo of a 1970s rigid hang glider in flight

Rob S flies the Icarus V rigid hang glider in 1976. Photo by Dave L.

Rigid hang gliders provided more performance than flex-wings, but at the cost of greater complexity.

See the Big Blue Sky external video link farther down this page for film of the Icarus 5 and its inventor Taras Kiceniuk Jr.

Developments in Britain

Firebird

As well as stretching the Swallowtail concept, the Firebird, made by Birdman of Marlborough, Wiltshire, England, was said to be so quick to rig it opened like an umbrella. Radial battens such as these were straight — because they aligned with the axes of cones that constituted the wing shape — and they rolled up with the sail, so imposing no extra time in rigging and de-rigging.

Art based on a photo of the Birdman Firebird

Art based on a photo of the Birdman Firebird

See my threads page Birdman of Wiltshire, England.

Scorpion

Art based on a photo of a Hiway experimental wing at Firle Beacon on the Sussex Downs, England, in 1976

Art based on a photo of a Hiway experimental wing at Firle Beacon on the Sussex Downs, England, in 1976

The photograph (possibly by Adie Turner) on which this art is based depicts a Hiway experimental wing that evolved into the Scorpion.

The prone launch (pictured) is used in strong winds. The wire person holds on to the front wires for the pre-launch hang check, but because the wind is strong enough to provide sufficient airspeed for the rig to fly, when he (or she) reports that he is applying little or no pressure to the wires, the pilot says “Release” (in the UK) whereupon the wire person lets go.

Art based on a photo of a Hiway Scorpion flaring high above a beach

Art based on a photo of a Hiway Scorpion flaring high above a beach

Notice the abundance of leading edge deflexor cables with adjustment turnbuckles. While useful in flight test, they provided the non-test pilot an opportunity to over-tension the trailing edge of the sail, which caused instability that could, in the extreme, prove dangerous. Even test pilots flew without emergency parachutes in 1976. We wondered how you would detach yourself from the glider and whether you would have time anyway…

The Hiway Scorpion sported a fin protruding downwards from the aft keel tube. I saw British champion Chris Johnson flying a prototype or pre-production Scorpion in Wales when I was instructing there late in 1976.

See my threads page Hiway of Sussex, England, and Abergavenny, Wales.

Chargus

Art based on a photo of a Chargus Midas

Art based on a photo of a Chargus Midas

The Midas, designed by Martin Farnham, was manufactured by Chargus of Buckinghamshire, a few miles north-west of London, England. Chargus was run by Murray Rose (see The man with the golden gun) who started out by building a standard Rogallo in 1972 and rebuilding it several times after crashing it. Hang gliders made by Chargus, culminating in the Cyclone of 1979, all featured innovations in either airframe design or sail aerodynamics; often both.

David Parsons flying a Chargus Vortex hang glider

David Parsons flying a Chargus Vortex

The Chargus Vortex of 1976 looked no different from most contemporary hang gliders, but it incorporated several innovations, some new — which would be used again — and some that had been tried before.

Technical: Notice the cable from the centre to the near wing tip. (The one the other side is hidden by the right down-tube.) These ‘bow strings’ limited the flex of the leading edges in the opposite way of the earlier deflexor systems — cables on struts along the leading edges. The hang strap has a pitch limiter, similar to that used on the Skyhook Cloud 9, but the Chargus version seems to be made of cable rather than webbing. (Webbing provides better resilience to shock loading.) What this photo does not show are rows of circular holes in the sail near the leading edges at the tips. The idea was that, at a nose-high angle of attack, higher pressure air would go up from those holes and energize the air flowing over the top, preventing the tips from stalling.

The pilot in the photo is David Parsons, Justin’s father, who died in 2019.

In 1977 I flight tested a Vortex that was reported to exhibit a turn. I flew it from a low hill and discovered that it did indeed tend to turn one way when flown ‘hands off’ (that is, by relaxing my grip on the control bar). However, when I flared to land it, it dropped the opposite wing. It seemed likely to me that the bow strings needed adjusting. However, as was often the case in those days, I heard nothing more about it.

See also my threads page Chargus of Buckinghamshire, England.

Internal links

This topic continues in Hang gliding 1976 part 2.

Three-sixty degree appraisal (my flying 1976) — including my hang glider design efforts

External links

Big Blue Sky by Bill Liscomb on YouTube, starting at 34 minutes 51 seconds, for film of the Icarus 5 and its inventor Taras Kiceniuk Jr.

Devils Dyke Brighton Hang Glider Icarus 5: Flickr slide show of Don Liddard’s photos of an Icarus 5 taking off from the Devil’s Dyke, near Brighton, England

Photo by the Westmorland Gazette of Roger Middleton flying a Ridge Rider standard Rogallo at Latrig, Keswick, in 1976. Keswick bypass was under construction and they used the part-finished road surface as a landing field.