The short cliff edge (sandstone presumably) from which the early hang gliders launched above Torrance Beach is, as far as I can determine, long gone.
For more about this early hang glider, incidentally, see Dave Cronk, Bob Lovejoy, and the Quicksilver in Cronk works.
Leroy was here…
This photo was taken after 1971. Note the fences along the top. Similarly with the next photo, which provides a fairly good indication of the location of the bluffs too.
Remember we are talking about the whole Hippie culture, Hollywood empire, Underground Surfer Counter-culture & the US Space Race Military Complex all rolled into one dot on the globe of earth….
— Neil Larson (*)
The Ultralight Products workshop at El Segundo — part of the Los Angeles sprawl — was a short distance north of Torrance Beach — by the Los Angeles airport. (See Ultralight Products of California and Utah.) The Eipper-Formance factory was a short way inland from Torrance Beach. (See High-performance in Hang gliding 1974 part 3.)
Along the Esplanade in Redondo Beach, CA. The Torrance Beach Bluffs can be seen in the back ground.
— Dave Cronk (e-mail correspondence, 2020)
Zooming in to the distance, I have attempted to identify the bluffs, Falcon Rock, and the lifeguard shack in this photo by Tony Abbott.
This photo, taken nearly a half century before hang gliders flew here, more clearly locates those bluffs. They were above where Louis Dart built his ‘flotsam castle’ on the beach in about 1920. See History of Torrance by Bruce and Maureen Megowan (linked later on this page) for more.
Looking north at the the background, the ridge height diminishes (along the Esplanade). We would take off on windy days along the Esplanade, soar above the condos, then fly South to the Torrance Beach bluffs. It had become illegal to fly in Torrance, so sometimes we would take off in Redondo Beach, get elevation above the condos, fly the Torrance Beach bluffs, then return to Redondo in the dark, to avoid trouble with the police. Very surreal.
— Dave Cronk
Torrance Beach, about 1973 or so. Carl Boenish set up a keel mounted camera, and we got this great shot. Jack Schroeder and Danny Bostwick flank both sides on a beautiful, post-storm day.
— Dave Cronk
By 1973 fences had been erected along the edge in front of the sandstone bluffs, but the hang gliders still flew from in front of the fences — until hang gliding was finally banned entirely from Torrance and Redondo beaches in I think early 1975.
This messy composite of screenshots from Bill Liscomb’s 2008 documentary Big Blue Sky (linked later on this page) would be better if the original photo by Leroy Grannis was available. Please let me know if you anything about it…
The following images are screenshots from a low resolution digitization of Playground in the Sky by Carl Boenish (linked later on this page). Carl was brother of Carol Boenish-Price, editor of the USHGA magazine Ground Skimmer for a term. The photos are of Francis Rogallo, one of the contributors to the invention of the flex-wing that bears his name, under instruction from Pete Brock of Ultralight Products in about 1973. I include them here to assist with identifying the exact location.
Starting with ground handling:
Compare this view with the preceding composite image. I think they are views of the same place, but from slightly different elevations and at different ranges. (Beware the foreshortening effect of Leroy Grannis’ telephoto lens, even in his wide angle shots!)
This screenshot from the 2008 documentary Big Blue Sky by Bill Liscomb originated as a still photo by Leroy Grannis. The hillside in the distance is the north side of the Palos Verdes peninsula. The photo appears during the Grannis interview in the video immediately after the earlier panoramic view looking north. The position of the fence at left and the lifeguard shack in both photos are further evidence that Grannis took them on the same day. See the photo by Steven Mansouri taken nearly a half century later in 2020 (linked later on this page) for comparison.
Here, the lifeguard shack is clearer. Those things are light blue. I have noticed over the years that objects of that bright color, when in shadow, can disappear into a grey background, as here.
That’s the ground handling training done. Time to fly:
Given a half century of erosion, I believe it reasonable to conclude that the preceding photos are of the same place.
It looks as though building work behind the fences was underway by 1974. The telephone pole here is just visible at upper left in the next (color) photo.
The pilot here (possibly Laverne DeJan?) was known as ‘Spoon’ and the guy watching from in front of his glider is Dave Meyers.
The green Torrance County Beach label — the one about two-thirds up, containing an umbrella — is where I think the bluffs began.
Pushing the outside of the envelope in Hang gliding 1974 part 3 for a bit about Point Fermin, a few klicks south of Palos Verdes
Space flight and hang gliding for more of NASA engineer Francis Rogallo
History of Torrance by Bruce and Maureen Megowan
Palos Verdes Secrets and Little Known Facts on the Mareen Megowan (realtor) web site, that page containing an outstandingly clear image of Torrance and Redondo beaches looking north from high on Palos Verdes, with Los Angeles center in the distance, taken in 2019
Panoramic photo of Torrance beach by Leroy Grannis, from which I obtained the composite screenshot: Big Blue Sky, 2008, by Bill Liscomb on YouTube starting at 46 minutes 25 seconds
Pete Brock teaches Francis Rogallo to fly the invention that bears his name, at Torrance beach in the early 1970s: Playground in the Sky, 1977, by Carl Boenish digitized film on YouTube (low resolution) starting at 40 minutes 29 seconds
Torrance Beach, Torrance, CA 90277, USA, photo in Google Maps by Steven Mansouri taken in February 2020, looking south towards Palos Verdes