Sunlit sail in the sky, 1976
Acrylic on canvas, 18 x 24 inches (46 x 61 cm) painted by Everard Cunion in March 2022
Feel free to make a print of this painting for your own non-commercial use.
I based this painting on a photo by Stephen McCarroll of Paul Courtney in a Sky Sports Merlin at the Hang Ten World Open Hang Glider Championship, held at Escape Country, near El Toro, California, on April 10-18th, 1976.
The Merlin was designed by Tom Peghiny in consultation with aeronautical engineer and hang glider designer Tom Price(2). Its advanced features included a large amount of double surface, although it did not enclose the crosstubes. Curiously, that double surface ‘wrap round’ of sailcloth — yellow in this example — was on the upper surface.
Similar to a Kestrel, but with more double surface, higher aspect ratio and more battens, it looked sexy and a little dangerous.
— Chris Gonzales (1)
Stephen McCarroll was one of the early hang glider photographers. He also flew and he had Wills Wing build him a wing specially adapted for in-flight photography.
Although the glider is past vertical in the original photo (and you can watch the maneuver in the video under External links later on this page) I feel it looks better at a less steep angle of bank.
For whatever reason (the shape of the wing and the view angle maybe) and the apparent close viewpoint accorded by the glider filling a large portion of the canvas, I felt that the original photo, which was taken at a distance, needed its perspective adjusting as if the viewer was close to the subject.
My usual image editor, Irfanview, does not seem to have a perspective adjuster, so I tried the ‘perpective crop’ in PhotoScape X and I found it excellent.
The backdrop is sprayed and the glider brush painted.
Hang Ten Hang Gliding World Meet, Part 3 video on YouTube starting at 4 minutes 5 seconds, where Paul Courtney performs an ‘aerial bellet’ (a required competition task in those times) in a Sky Sports Merlin. (The video also starts with Courtney flying an earlier task.)
Flying squad, a short history of the east coast U.S. hang glider manufacturer Sky Sports on my other web site, Hang Gliding History
Tom Price’s flying machines on Hang Gliding History (Tom Price assisted Tom Peghiny with the design of the Merlin)
1. Sky Sports Gliders of the Late ’70s by Chris Gonzales with photos by Tina Sheppard in Hang Gliding & Paragliding Vol47-Iss5 Sep-Oct 2017
2. Dennis Pagen letter in Hang Gliding, February 1994