Electra Flyer of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Larry Newman
…that he has retained into his thirties the brashness of youth, tends to send conflicting signals. Yet his achievement gives substance to his hype. You’re left believing that almost anything is possible if Larry’s involved.
— Tracy H. Knauss after his extensive interview of Larry Newman of Electra Flyer in Glider Rider, February 1980
They sold well over a thousand gliders a year. At its spring and summer peak, our sail loft produced more than forty sails a week. Even during the winter, with a stripped-down staff, we’d be making around five to ten gliders a week.
— John LaTorre (3)
This related topics menu links to material in the main hang gliding pages. The links here are in chronological order.
- Trial and error in Hang gliding 1973
- Cirrus in Hang gliding 1975 part 2
- Flight of the Phoenix also in Hang gliding 1976 part 2
- High aspect in Hang gliding 1977
- Torrey Pines
- Engineering (the closest sub-heading) in Hang gliding 1978 and 1979 part 2 for a Cirrus 5B color photo along with John LaTorre joining Electra Flyer as a sail maker
- Back to the future also in Hang gliding 1978 and 1979 part 2 for the Electra Flyer Floater and Spirit
- Dove also in Hang gliding 1978 and 1979 part 2 about a problem with a prototype licence-built Electra Flyer Dove, and its solution
In the late 1970s Larry Newman branched out into powered ultralights with the Eagle. His company Electra Flyer (later American Aerolights) ceased production of hang gliders in early 1981 to concentrate on the Eagle.
Not too many came right out and said, “Oh man, I’d love to go fly a hang glider!” However, Princess Grace of Monaco (Grace Kelly) indicated such an interest at a party in New York City. She expressed an interest in flying tandem in Monaco, where hang gliding is popular.
— Larry Newman interviewed in Glider Rider, February 1980
Larry Newman was introduced to movie star Grace Kelly (The Bridges at Toko-Ri) after his 1978 Transatlantic crossing with Ben Abruzzo and Maxie Anderson in the hot air balloon Double Eagle.
One of Grace Kelly’s friends at drama school was Bettina Gray, who went on to become one of the most prolific photographers of early hang gliding. Bettina was the mother of top pilot Bill Liscomb, whose 2008 documentary Big Blue Sky informs these pages. Twenty years before, Bettina Gray was a bridesmaid at Grace Kelly’s wedding to Prince Rainier III of Monaco.
I remember him as a person with both enormous charm and a prodigious ability to hold a grudge. My understanding is that his personality underwent a profound change in the 90’s, and I think I would have liked to meet him after that transformation. I respect him for his undeniable accomplishments in aviation, lament his shortcomings and the way he treated those who had business with him, and mourn the loss of both the man and the man he could have been.
— John LaTorre, who ran the Electra Flyer sail loft for two and a half years (1)
Larry Newman died of cancer in 2011 aged 63. (2)
Early powered ultralights for the Electra Flyer (American Aerolights) Eagle
Marty Alameda and Flight Designs, for whom John LaTorre worked after managing the Electra Flyer sail loft
Tom Price’s flying machines (Price worked at Electra Flyer while Newman was away on his balloon adventure)
2. Larry Newman, 2011 in Light Sport Hangar Flyin’
3. My Life as a Hang Glider Maker by John LaTorre on his blog No truth to the rumor