Hang gliding 1978 and 1979 part 1
This page follows Hang gliding 1977.
While southern England was brought to a standstill by record snowfalls in early 1978, in southern California, Bill Armstrong flew a hang glider for 11 hours at Elsinore. Armstrong, 29, gave up a job with the San Diego Police Department, sold up, and set about promoting hang gliding full time. On March 16th, 1978, he launched above Edward’s Canyon at 06:00 in a wing borrowed from the Ultralight Products factory and soared the ridge in company of up to 30 other hang gliders, landing at 17:02.
Dennis Pagen, a prolific author of hang gliding technical articles and books, was U.S. champion in 1978 flying a Sky Sports Sirocco II, which he partly designed. For more about this east coast manufacturer, see my page Flying squad.
The Ultralight Products Condor was popular in the USA. For more of UP, see my threads page Ultralight Products of California and Utah.
Here, Burke Ewing, Wally Schirra, and W.A. ‘Pork’ Roecker are photographed at Torrey Pines, San Diego, in the late 1970s. Ewing was an early hang gliding film maker. (He was still flying hang gliders in 2018.) Schirra was an astronaut in projects Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. Roecker taught creative writing and English at the universities of Oregon and Arizona and was a regular pilot at southern California hang gliding sites.
The lowest of the three hang gliders here is flown by Lauren Emerson, who wrote a two-year column in Hang Gliding magazine titled Bird’s Eye View, which presented a female insider’s perspective. The middle glider is a Bennett Mariah with a retrofitted tailplane.
Technical: The cross-tubes of the Bennett Phoenix Mariah were enclosed between upper and lower surfaces of the sail to eliminate their aerodynamic drag. When the Mariah’s battens were changed to a material with different flexing properties, the glider became pitch divergent. The tailplane cured that fault.
In the preceding image, Don Potter, a forester by trade, rigs his Olympus on Carson Hill where, during the first half of the 1800s, a 195 pound gold nugget was found.
From the Krilatskoya hills one can look back into Moscow on a clear day and see some of the buildings not far from the Kremlin.
— Jim Steil writing in Hang Gliding, September 1979
Bob Trampenau founded Seedwings of Santa Barbara, California, in the 1970s. It is a separate entity from the manufacturer of the same name in Europe.
The rectangular object secured to Jon’s left downtube is a radio/cassette player so he could listen to music. He was doing the same (with updated equipment) 40 years later: See the external video Dreaming Awake at The Point farther down this page.
See also my threads page Electra Flyer of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
If you were going to stay on the cutting edge, if you were going to be competitive, if you were going to venture into those unflown spaces, you took those risks. A lot of good pilots and nice people paid for that with their lives. And that is probably the greatest sorrow that I carry.
— W.A. Roeker speaking in the documentary Big Blue Sky (see the external video link farther down this page)
A colour photo of Liz flying her Condor appears on the next page and there is an external link to an article about her farther down this page.
In 2012, long time instructor Ken De Russy sent me several American hang gliding magazines and books pre-dating my own collection. They provided much information I drew on for these pages.
The UP Mosquito was unique in its combination of forward-canted king post, triangular tip fins, and heavily bowed leading edges. A British pilot reported that the leading edge tubes were straight, but when launching in light wind, they took up their curved alignment part way through the launch run with an alarming clunk!
For a link to Richard Cobb’s comprehensive UP Mosquito page, see my threads page Ultralight Products of California and Utah.
The Mitchell Wing was, like the earlier Icarus 2 and 5 by Taras Kiceniuk Jr. and Volmer Jensen’s VJ-23 and VJ-24, a rigid hang glider that required a trailer to transport it. Like the Icarus 5, it was a tail-less monoplane in which aerodynamic stability is built into the wing, as is the case with most flex-wing (Rogallo) hang gliders. Roll and yaw control was provided by tip rudders (much as with the Icarus rigids and the ‘semi rigid’ Fledgling) while pitch control was by pilot weight shift.
George Worthington, a former US Navy pilot, became a world distance record-holding hang glider pilot in his fifties and sixties flying a Mitchell Wing as well as flying flex-wing hang gliders in the Owens valley.
While sandbag testing of single surface gliders suspended upside-down is effective (refer to the threads menu Testing for stability and structural strength) there is a particular problem with sandbag testing of double surface sails: You cannot reach the underside of the upper surface to put sandbags on it. Even if you could — and even if there was enough room — how many sandbags should you place on the lower surface to add an ‘upward’ (downward in the Hiway upside-down test) force on the cross-tubes?
That was one impetus behind hang gliding associations in several countries creating structural and pitch stability test rigs. They included the Hang Glider Manufacturers Association in the USA, the DHV in Germany, and the British Hang Gliding Association.
I don’t know of anyone, inside or outside of the hang gliding industry, who is capable of doing an accurate structural analysis of a flex wing hang glider; the loading situations are far too complex and varied.
— Mike Meier of Wills Wing writing in Hang Gliding, June 1983, to explain why rigorous testing is required
A manufacturer in the USA discovered by accident that their novice level glider without deflexor wires bracing the leading edges outperformed their more advanced wings. (I am not sure whether Electra Flyer of New Mexico or Wills Wing of California was first with that discovery.) Realizing that deflexors caused too much drag, hang glider manufacturers then changed to stronger leading edge tubes instead. Wills Wing, just one of the several hang glider manufacturers based in California, replaced their three production hang glider types, the Omega, Omni, and Alpha, by a single defelexorless design; the Raven.
Erik Fair, shown here demonstrating correct landing flare technique in a Wills Wing Raven, wrote an entertaining and instructive book titled Right Stuff for Hang Glider Pilots.
This topic continues in Hang gliding 1978 and 1979 part 2.
Mid-day lightning in Vermont, my review of the Francis Freedland documentary film 1978 Pico Peak International Hang Gliding Meet
3 Decades of Liz by Liz Sharp as told to C.J. Sturtevant in Hang Gliding & Paragliding, May 2008
Big Blue Sky, 2008, by Bill Liscomb on YouTube starting at 59 minutes 47 seconds, one of several places where W.A. Roeker speaks
Dreaming Awake at The Point by David Aldrich on YouTube, including Jon Lindberg still flying with a radio/cassette player so he can listen to music 40 years later