Hang gliding 1974 part 1


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Hang gliding 1974 part 1


I moved my hang gliding history pages to a new web site: History of hang gliding. This page will be deleted eventually.


This page continues from Hang gliding 1973 part 2.

The images here are my artistic derivations of contemporary photos. See Copyright of early hang gliding photos.

Standard Rogallo landing in a street

Ted Salisbury flying the Dover cliffs, England, in a Wasp 229-B3

See also the related topics menu Waspair of Surrey, England.


Art based on a photo from Hang Gliding magazine archives of a Velderrain standard Rogallo flown prone

Velderrain standard Rogallo flown prone

Russ Velderrain manufactured Rogallo hang gliders in Lomita, California. His wife Carol ran the USHGA office.

Chuck Nyland ground skimming a Pacific Gull HA-19 at Escape Country


Technical:

Art based on a photo of the Pacific Gull sail clearance tower and deflexor strut

Pacific Gull sail clearance tower and deflexor strut

Pacific Gull of San Clemente, California, was an early adopter of ‘sail clearance towers’ on the ends of the crosstubes, to which the top side wires were attached. They prevented the wires from digging a furrow in the sail. (Alternatives were an enormously tall king post or extending the cross-tubes out beyond the leading edges.) Nowadays the preferred method is to pass the cable through a hole in the sail to a connection slightly inboard of the leading edge tube.

On the subject of hardware, the following photo illustrates typical mid-1970s nut-and-bolt type fittings with Nicopress (or Talurit) swaged cables and a pin through a hole in the end of each bolt to prevent the nut coming off.

Art based on a photo of the keel aft cable attachment used by Sailbird

Keel aft cable attachment used by Sailbird

Incidentally, Sailbird should not be confused with contemporary manufacturers Sunbird or Sun Sail… There were so many hang glider manufacturers that it was hard to think up a unique name, although Pliable Moose (Wichita, Kansas) surely succeeded in that respect. (Sailbird was based in Colorado Springs, Sunbird in Canoga Park, California, and Sun Sail in Denver, Colorado.)


Northrop Institute of Technology Ultralight Flight Seminar in January 1974. Photo by Clara Allen.

Northrop Institute of Technology Ultralight Flight Seminar in January 1974. Photo by Clara Allen.

Speakers at the Northrop Institute of Technology Ultralight Flight Seminar in January 1974, from the left left:

  • Irv Culver (co-designed the VJ-23 and -24 with Volmer Jensen)
  • Jack Lambie (Hang Loose)
  • Lloyd Licher (president of USHGA)
  • Eddie Paul (Whitney Enterprises Porta-Wing)
  • Bill Allen (pilot, photographer, journalist)
  • Taras Kiceniuk Jr. (Icarus 2 and 5)
  • Mike Riggs (Seagull Aircraft)
W.A. 'Bill' Allen in 1974

W.A. Allen in 1974

See also the related topics menu Photographers of early hang gliding.

Seagull 5 and other Rogallos

Mike Riggs in a Seagull V

The Seagull V flex-wing Rogallo used a rudder connected by ropes and pulleys to the pilot’s harness, a technique used also in the Quicksilver ‘semi rigid’ monoplane style hang glider. Together with its excessive dihedral, the rudder combined with weight shift provided turn control.

Art based on a Leroy Grannis photo of a Seagull 5 flown prone

Seagull 5 flown prone. Leroy Grannis photo.

Bob Keeler of Seagull Aircraft at Telluride on July 13th, 1974, by Leroy Grannis

Bob Keeler of Seagull Aircraft at Telluride on July 13th, 1974, by Leroy Grannis

See the related topics menu Seagull Aircraft of Santa Monica, California.


At the Sylmar 1974 U.S. nationals by Leroy Grannis

Pilots, gliders, and vehicles at the Sylmar 1974 U.S. nationals by Leroy Grannis

Art based on a photo by Russ Velderrain of an early 1970s hang glider launch

Early 1970s hang glider launch. Photo by Russ Velderrain.


Art based on the Sky Sports advert in Ground Skimmer

Sky Sports advert in Ground Skimmer

See also Flying squad, a brief history of Sky Sports.

UP is where it’s at

Ultralight Products advert in Ground Skimmer, October 1974

Ultralight Products, headed by automotive racing designer Pete Brock, set the standard for high quality hardware in hang glider manufacture.

Art based on a photo by Pete Brock of a Brock short-keel standard Rogallo in flight

Brock short-keel standard Rogallo in flight. Photo by Pete Brock.

Brock 82 standard Rogallo in flight

For more of Brock, see the related topics menu Ultralight Products of California and Utah.


Art based on a photo of the Bennett Delta Wing factory at Van Nuys, California

Bennett Delta Wing factory at Van Nuys, California

Australian Bill Bennett’s Delta Wing Kites and Gliders factory in Van Nuys, California, was one of several manufacturers competing with Ultralight Products in El Segundo.

Bridge too far

Standard Rogallo above ocean cliff by Dave Meyers

Standard Rogallo above ocean cliff by Dave Meyers

For more about Dave Meyers, who took the ocean cliff photo, see farther down this page.

Art based on a photo by Dennis Jenks of instructor Doug Weeks at a covered bridge in Vermont

Instructor Doug Weeks negotiating a covered bridge in Vermont. Photo by Dennis Jenks.

Hang gliders transported in this manner attracted attention, which might go some way to explaining why they were transported in this manner. See Cruising for a bruising in My flying 1975 for more on that subject.


Kitty Hawk Kites, North Carolina, in about 1974

Kitty Hawk Kites, North Carolina, in about 1974. Note the guy with crutches and a leg in a cast!

See the related topics menu Kitty Hawk Kites.


Of course, hang gliders owed much to sailboat design and technology. The art of sail making and time-tested hardware allowed designs to advance quickly.

— U.S. east coast veteran pilot Chris Gonzales in e-mail dialog with the author

Art based on a photo of the Australian Tweetie

Tweetie

The Tweetie, designed and built by Australian Ron Wheeler, was a weight-shift controlled hang glider built of modified sailboat technology. British hang gliding pioneer Miles Handley rigged one at the inaugural meeting of the BHGA, held in December 1974. Handley then started work on a design of similarly ‘aeroplane’ layout, but of radically different geometry and construction.

Stewart Hodgson flying a hang glider in Motorcycle News, 1974

Stewart Hodgson in Motorcycle News

A photo in the British weekly Motorcycle News of bike racer Stewart Hodgson flying a hang glider caught my (and others’) attention.


This topic continues in Hang gliding 1974 part 2.

External link

Photo by Roger Middleton of Mike Collis launching in a Tweetie at the British championships in August 1975.

8 Responses to Hang gliding 1974 part 1

  1. This is fascinating–are you still hang gliding? It’s a sport I have always wanted to try. The only true flying that we humans can do, it would seem. I love its simplicity, its cleanliness. I can imagine a push-off, then lift, then…the surrounding. Being enveloped in whole new medium of yaw and pitch and roll, but without those words.

    Would I wind up killing myself if I just up and bought a glider?

    • “Would I wind up killing myself if I just up and bought a glider?” — Yes! You need to get trained at a hang gliding school. You can find a list on BHPA.co.uk. Paragliding is easier to learn and is more popular than hang gliding, but I stopped paragliding a couple of years ago to concentrate on hang gliding, which is where I started really.

    • Al Courtines says:

      I taught myself to fly back in those years. I learned on sand dunes at the beach. I believe it is the ONLY place to learn! My present craft is a Solairus ATF.

  2. Richard says:

    Wow, memories. I flew a Ridge Rider on the south downs, was at the Minto championships, and later had a Chargus Vega. Happy days.

  3. Russell says:

    Brilliant pics and history. Russell

  4. Chris Gonzales says:

    In regard to pitch problems in 70‘s gliders, in my experience the most common one was that there was simply too much, leaving two usable speeds for a prone pilot: trim and elbows locked.

    In my early days on a Sky Sports Lark (a “standard”: Low Aspect Ratio Kite) preflight did include sighting down the keel for a certain amount of reflex, and if lacking, a twist of turnbuckle could bring it up to spec.

    My one occasion flirting with pitch divergence was when I sent my Sirocco II off for an upgrade ostensibly to improve handling. Standing keel pockets were in vogue and Sky Sports had come up with a retrofit that bent down the keel, added a small post where a keel pocket would be, and put two pulleys on the out and down deflexor wires at the nose. The bent keel required shorter flying wires to the keel. Well an error was made on my glider where they used the length of the smaller size Sirocco. End result was a glider that flew with negative bar pressure and was quite terrifying. My instructor was skeptical – that is until he flew it!

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