Hang gliding 1974 part 2
This page continues from Hang gliding 1974 part 1.
The images here are my artistic derivations of contemporary photos. See Copyright of early hang gliding photos.
I am convinced that if there is a truly inspired race upon the face of the earth, it must be the hang glider pilots.
— Carol Boenish-Price, USHGA magazine Ground Skimmer, May 1975
Even those who did not fly wanted to be part of this social revolution. This is from a description of a meeting of the Southern California Hang Gliding Association, soon to metamorphose into the USHGA:
The first speaker was a youth in glasses who must have been from Cal Tech because he drew formulas and equations on a blackboard, mumbling abstractly and mostly inaudibly until everyone began stirring.
— from Higher than Eagles, the Tragedy and Triumph of an American Family by Maralys Wills and Chris Wills, 1992 (see my review)
Ed Cesar subsequently became a test pilot for Eipper-Formance. He ran a business creating aircraft interiors and his clients included the actor and jet pilot John Travolta.
That looks to me like the Scripps Institution of Oceanography pier, which is at the south end of the Torrey Pines ridge, San Diego.
Rich Grigsby was a founding partner of Sunbird Ultralight Gliders, based in Canoga Park, California. He took over from Carol Price as editor of Ground Skimmer.
Despite the performance advantages of the rigid wing hang gliders, the simplicity and ruggedness of the Rogallo ensured its popularity.
Could its performance be improved without sacrificing its advantages? The Wills brothers and Chris Price took the 90-degree nose angle standard Rogallo with reduced billow and cut a ‘helical’ curve into the trailing edge. They called it the Swallowtail.
The leading edges of Chris Price’s prototype were each four feet longer than the keel, restoring the sail area, but resulting in a lanky look reminiscent of the Windlord 4, Cirrus, and other contemporary short-keel Rogallos. However, early production Swallowtails were made in several variants, some with equal length leading edges and keel, and some with longer leading edges.
They subsequently added a small amount of ‘roach’ at the wing tips, each supported by a short radial batten. (By radial, I mean each batten was aligned towards the nose. It was therefore straight and it rolled up with the sail for transporting.)
The Swallowtail was the first glider I owned that flew really well. It was the first properly balanced and well-tuned wing that I ever flew that enabled me to experience anything approximating trim. It was a revelation and showed me what real control was like.
— Ken de Russy (e-mail correspondence, February 2020)
There are some color photos that include Swallowtails later on this page.
The Ken Russell movie Tommy, filmed in 1974, featured Roger Daltry of rock band The Who apparently launching from a castle tower near Portsmouth, England, in an all-white Birdman standard Rogallo. He flew shirtless and helmet-less while singing a long-forgotten song, thus causing dozens of mods and rockers on the streets below, some wearing World War 2 German steel helmets, to stop fighting and instead break out into spontaneous gyrations while they looked up at him in awe.
The point is that, with the advent of hang gliding, you no longer needed to use a multi-million dollar airplane to drop napalm on iron-age villagers in support of a corrupt capitalist regime half a world away (fighting a brutal communist regime) to be a flying hero.
In the Tommy video clip on YouTube (linked farther down) Birdman’s Dave Raymond did the flying, but the cuts to close-ups of Roger Daltry of The Who hanging in the glider suspended from a rig were seamlessly edited.
See also the related topics menu Birdman of Wiltshire, England.
The pilot in the preceding image (possibly Laverne DeJan?) was known as ‘Spoon’ and the guy watching from in front of his glider is Dave Meyers. There is some info about Dave Meyers in Hang gliding 1973.
The ‘official organ’ of the (UK) National Hang Gliding Association was the Illustrated Monthly Flypaper. The September 1974 edition, which I received while I was waiting for delivery of my hang glider, contained a report and photos of an early British hang gliding competition held at Cam Long. (Cam Long had not yet fallen to the Vietnamese Communists. It still hasn’t. Cam Long is in Shropshire…)
The 1974 US nationals were held at Escape Country, California, in late December 1974 and early January 1975. In the flex-wing (Rogallo) class, Bob Wills won first place, Chris Wills second, and Chris Price third, all flying Swallowtails.
This topic continues in Hang gliding 1974 part 3.
Mark Woodhams writes about the early days of Hang Gliding (in Britain) on the Southern hang gliding club web site
TOMMY (1975) Sensation [1080 HD] video clip on YouTube