Hang gliding 1974 part 2


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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

Art based on a photo by Mike Piper of a ground-skimming hang glider

Ground-skimming hang glider. Photo by Mike Piper.

Art based on a photo by Ken Rogers of cycle transport of a hang glider

Cycle transport. Photo by Ken Rogers.

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)


Art based on a photo by Ed Cesar of a standard Rogallo soaring in Hawaii

Standard Rogallo soaring in Hawaii. Photo by Ed Cesar.

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.


Art based on the Manta advert in Ground Skimmer

From the Manta advert in Ground Skimmer

That looks to me like the Scripps Institution of Oceanography pier, which is at the south end of the Torrey Pines ridge, San Diego.


Art based on a photo by Rich Grigsby of thermaling behind Trip Mellinger over Sylmar

Thermaling a Sunbird Rogallo wing behind Trip Mellinger over Sylmar. Photo by Rich Grigsby.

Art based on the Sunbird Gliders advert in Ground Skimmer

Sunbird Gliders advert in Ground Skimmer

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.

Swallowtail

Despite the performance advantages of the rigid wing hang gliders, the simplicity and ruggedness of the Rogallo ensured its popularity.

Chris Price prototype 24x20 Swallowtail (photographer not known)

Chris Price prototype 24×20 Swallowtail (photographer not known)

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.

Art based on a photo by Chris Price of Bob Wills flying Price's prototype Swallowtail at Point Fermin

Bob Wills flying Chris Price’s prototype Swallowtail at Point Fermin. Photo by Chris Price.

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.)

Art based on a photo by Stephen McCarroll of Bob Wills at the 1974 U.S. nationals at Escape Country, California, in December

Bob Wills at the 1974 U.S. nationals at Escape Country, California, in December (no larger image available). Photo by Stephen McCarroll.


Instructor Ken de Russy in a Swallowtail at the Mesa training hill, Santa Barbara

Instructor Ken de Russy in a Swallowtail at the Mesa training hill, Santa Barbara

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.

Art based on a photo by Paul MacCready at the hang gliding portion of a symposium of low speed gliding in September 1974

Standing room only at the hang gliding portion of a symposium of low speed gliding in September 1974. Photo by Paul MacCready.

Tommy

Dave Raymond as Tommy in the 1975 movie (no larger size available)

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.

Rogallo versus Quicksilver in colour

Hang glider launching at Torrance Beach. Photo by Leroy Grannis.

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.

Art based on a photo by Leroy Grannis of Jack Schroder flying a Quicksilver

Jack Schroder flying a Quicksilver. Photo by Leroy Grannis.

Art based on a photo by Ted Schmiedeke of a Sun Sail Rogallo

Sun Sail Rogallo. Photo by Ted Schmiedeke.

Art based on the Seagull advert in Hang Glider magazine

Seagull advert in Hang Glider magazine


Cover of the Illustrated Monthly Flypaper, September, 1974

Cover of the Illustrated Monthly Flypaper, September, 1974

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.

Bob Wills in a Swallowtail at the US nationals, Escape Country, CA, in December 1974 by Leroy Grannis

Bob Wills in a Swallowtail by Leroy Grannis (no larger image available)

Art based on a photo  by Leroy Grannis of Dave Cronk heading for the bullseye after avoiding a Rogallo in the target area

Dave Cronk heading for the bull’s eye after avoiding a Rogallo in the target area. Photo by Leroy Grannis.

Fred Tiemens of Minnesota flying a Swallowtail turns away from Jack Schroder (Quicksilver) at the US nationals, Escape Country, CA, in December 1974 by Leroy Grannis

Fred Tiemens of Minnesota, in a Swallowtail, turning away from Jack Schroder (Quicksilver). Photo by Leroy Grannis.

Art based on a photo by Leroy Grannis of Dave Arrambide at the 1974 U.S. Nationals

Dave Arrambide at the 1974 U.S. Nationals. Photo by Leroy Grannis.


This topic continues in Hang gliding 1974 part 3.

External links

British Hang Gliding History

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

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