Hang gliding early 1980s part 2
This page follows Hang gliding early 1980s part 1.
Most of the images on this page are my artistic derivations of contemporary photos. See Copyright of early hang gliding photos.
World War 2 fighter ace Chuck Yeager was first to break the sound barrier. He did so in the Bell X-1 rocket plane in 1947. In 1980 he flew dual in a hang glider with Jack Carey from Gold Hill, Telluride.
Ian Huss was soon to become a member of a team that completed an extraordinary hang gliding adventure that gained positive publicity and resulted in a some historic and spectacular photographs. See Across the U.S.A. by hang glider in Hang gliding late 1980s.
As well as taking photos from the ground and by rigging his cameras on others’ gliders, Leroy Grannis took to the air with his camera on occasion.
Torrey Pines is a hang gliding site inside San Diego city limits. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography pier is visible in the image.
The Solar Wings Typhoon was a popular British ‘Comet clone’ from the early- to mid-1980s. See my related topics page Solar Wings of Wiltshire, England.
Yeah, we’re gonna get high
We’re gonna touch the sky
— from the lyrics of Living on an Island by Status Quo, 1979
In 1980, racing yacht designer Rory Carter, who lived and worked on the Isle of Wight, off the central south coast of England, together with New Zealand sailmaker Graham Deegan, manufactured the UP Comet under licence. (Carter and Deegan were both also hang glider pilots and designers.)
…production began in a local council ‘nursery’ factory unit. The metalwork was done five miles down the road in Newport and the office work in Rory’s bedroom.
— Stan Abbott, There’s Magic in the Air, Wings magazine, June 1982
The manufacturing licence was never signed and, as is often the case with such things, Ultralight Products and Airwave parted company, the latter renaming their glider the Magic. In the 1970s, Ulralight Products wings were renowned for their purpose-made high-quality fittings while other manufacturers used functional but cruder ‘nuts and bolts’ hardware. (Birdman of Wiltshire, England, briefly partnered with UP, thereby gaining a lead in hardware that was clearly visible in the polished and clean look of their hang gliders.) However, by 1980, all American hang gliders had fallen behind the Brits in the design of fittings, particularly those that enable the pilot to rig his wing quickly and easily. The Airwave Magic was superior to the UP Comet in that respect, and its performance and handling were at least as good.
Its definitive version was, arguably, the Magic IV, released in the spring of 1985. The Magic IV (and inevitable American-made copies) remained competitive among the next generation of flex-wings with superior performance, including the Wills Wing HP, Ultralight Products Glidezilla, Seedwings Sensor, and Moyes GTR. Those wings did not match the Magic 4’s combination of easy rigging and benign handling qualities combined with good performance. (I flew one from 1993, with a gap when I flew the UP TRX for about five years, until 2003. Before that change, other pilots sometimes asked when I was going to buy a new wing. I replied “As soon as they make one as good as the Magic 4!”)
The Mystic was an Airwave Magic clone made in the USA…
Until someone proves to me that there is something out there that out-performs my Mystic, I’ll stay with it. But, the main reason I fly a Mystic is safety. I fly in a lot of high winds, and the Mystic was designed for ease of setup and breakdown in high winds. In seconds, with the pull of one pin, I can have my glider lying flat in any wind. This has saved me more than once.
— Kevin Christopherson, World Record in Wyoming, published in Hang Gliding, August 1988. For more about Kevin’s adventures, see Wyoming in Hang gliding late 1980s.
The Magic and then the K-series hang gliders were considered the best in the world and were the gliders chosen by top pilots.
Donnell Hewitt developed equipment and procedures for relatively safe winch-launching of hang gliders, a center-of-mass bridle system, which he termed Skyting. Incidentally, the photo here was used as an illustration of one of the dangers; that of the release line and tow line passing either side of the pilot’s head. It was published in industry expert Dan Johnson’s Whole Air magazine, August 1983.
British instructors Tony and Rona Webb trained under Hewitt as part of their world tour learning tow-launching for their eventual school in the flat-lands of Norfolk, north of London, England. They opted for a simpler technique than Hewitt’s. See the related topics menu Lejair (Tony and Rona Webb).
I based one of my hang glider paintings on this photo. Reprinted courtesy of Ultralight Flying! magazine.
In an extraordinary contribution to the hang gliding world, Bob Rouse combined sculpture with serious research into low-speed flight. The accompanying images are based on some in his book Selected Works 1982 to 1998.
The photo on which this image is based was the December 1983 hang gliding calendar photo. Hang gliding’s principal technical author Dennis Pagen devoted one of his series titled Hang Gliding Design considerations to bob Rouse’s Aquila. Aquila is Latin for eagle, apparently.
“Selected Works of Bob Rouse,1982-1997.” Not sure what I had in my hands at first, I became more and more amazed at the scope of what I was viewing. This 90-page book is literally a work of 15 years that starts with Bob’s early store-bought gliders, a Leaf Talon and a Phoenix Mariah. That’s when he began his own tinkering, joining parts of a Seagull IV with the Talon and the Phoenix to make an original glider.
— Dan Johnson, November 1998 (see link farther down)
While these are not even remotely intended to be marketable aircraft, Bob does actually build AND FLY! these gliders. Though I’m no designer and have no ambitions of replicating any of Rouse’s work, I nonetheless found his new volume to be of intense interest… although this is quite clearly art, and not everyone agrees that a given type of art is appealing.
— Dan Johnson, February 2000 (see link farther down)
For an image of another of Bob Rouse’s creations in flight, see Hang gliding 1996 to 2014.
This topic continues in Hang gliding mid 1980s.
Product Lines – November 1998 by Dan Johnson, including an overview of “Selected Works of Bob Rouse, 1982-1997
Product Lines – February 00 by Dan Johnson, including an overview of Bob’s 119-page, 8.5 x 11 book (with many fold-out pages of larger dimension)