My flying 1975


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My flying 1975

This page continues from My flying 1974.

Everard Cunion with hang glider on bike in garden in 1975

“Hurry up and take the photo, mum. I’ve got some flying to do.”

From some time in early 1975, instead of carrying the de-rigged glider on my shoulders from home the whole way to the slope (about a half hour) I added some padding to my bike and wheeled it there.

Hang glider launching St. Catherine's Hill, Christchurch, Dorset, UK, in 1975

Another to-to-bottom at my local hill in February 1975

My local flying site was a public walking, biking, and radio control glider flying area. Crowds accumulated on warm spring flying days. Despite the simplicity of the standard Rogallo, I used a written check list when rigging it. One gent with a walking stick insisted that, “If you were in the army, you would have to remember all that.” Another chimed in, “If you join the RAF, you can do this for free.” (One difference between then and now is that I bought the kit-form Skyhook with money left over from my student grant.) Still another earnest fellow: “Why don’t you join the navy?”

For another anecdote about flying there in the company of others and usage of language, both there and, ten years later in the USA, see Little parrots.

One navy helicopter pilot, not much older than I was and full of enthusiastic questions, helped me carry the wing back up the waist-high heather covered slope one hot day while his less enthusiastic wife trudged along behind. The wind was rarely strong enough to soar, so extended top-to-bottom flights were the norm. After I landed, I found the easiest way to carry it back up was to undo the bolts that connected the leading edges to the cross-tube ends, fold the leading edges to meet the keel tube, and tie them together along with the sail. I then carried it with the cross-tube, control frame, king post and cables still rigged, like a giant aluminium cross.

Immediately after my first awakening as to the reality of flight, I called up the chief pilot of my company and told him I quit. That was the last time I flew a jet for a living.

— Larry Newman of New Mexico hang glider manufacturer Electra Flyer writing in Ground Skimmer, June 1976

Roly's brother clipped in to Roly's glider for its first flights near Winfrith in Dorset, 1975

Roly’s brother clipped in to Roly’s glider for its first flights near Winfrith in Dorset, 1975

Meanwhile, on a low hill near the atomic research establishment at Winfrith in the heathlands of Dorset, a 17-year old sailmaker took to the air in a Skyhook IIIA that he made from plans. John Jenkins, who is pictured flying on an earlier page in his all-green self-made standard Rogallo, supervised.

Roly's first flight near Winfrith in Dorset, 1975

Roly’s first flight near Winfrith in Dorset, 1975

Roly Lewis-Evans flying his home-constructed Skyhook IIIA standard Rogallo at Kimmeridge in 1975

Roly Lewis-Evans flying his home-constructed Skyhook IIIA standard Rogallo at Kimmeridge in 1975

I did not have a car, but I met two men at my local hill taking it in turns to fly a hang glider made by Kestrel Kites of Poole, of whom I had never heard. They introduced me to the local hang gliding club and they gave me lifts to new flying sites. I no longer always flew alone.

Everard flying a Skyhook IIIA standard Rogallo hang glider in early 1975

Flying the Skyhook IIIA in early 1975

Although no scenery is in view, this was taken at Monk’s Down in 1975, which I still fly 40 years later (2015).


Roger Platt flying a hang glider at Monks Down in 1975

Roger Platt of Kestrel Kites flying at Monks Down in 1975

Kestrel Kites was based in Poole, on Dorset’s coast, in a building subsequently demolished during construction of, ironically, a highway flyover.

Internal links

This topic continues in Simple versus complex (my flying 1975 part 2).

Duck à l’orange — my Airfix 1/76th (OO) scale DUKW with scratch built hang gliders

Hang gliding 1975 part 1

Hang gliding 1975 part 2

Skyhook Sailwings, a short history of the early hang glider and powered ultralight manufacturer based in the north of England