Hang gliding 1975 part 1
This page continues from Hang gliding 1974 part 3.
The counter-culture rejected ties with traditional society, and felt that suburban living in tract houses was the epitome of everything it despised. This was, of course, because most of the pilots had grown up in the suburbs.
— Richard Seymour writing in Hang Gliding & Paragliding, July, 2004
Most of the images on this page are artistic derivations of contemporary photos. See Copyright of early hang gliding photos.
Hugh Morton of Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina, through his photography and sponsorship of hang gliding, helped advance the cause. See Hugh Morton’s photos (related topics menu).
Another photographer of early hang gliding was Leroy Grannis, a major in the U.S. Air Force reserve. He was famous as a photographer of the 1960s surfing scene. He then turned his camera to the new phenomenon of hang gliding.
We got to Torrance Beach and saw all these kites in the air and I had a camera with me and got out and shot a few of them, and decided, well, I’d better get some more film. Sent the wife home to get it, and then I went down on the beach and started shooting landings and half the guys that landed on the beach were surfers that I knew.
— Leroy Grannis interviewed for the 2008 documentary film Big Blue Sky by Bill Liscomb (see under External links later on this page)
Early 1970s coastal flying sites such as Torrance Beach lent hang gliding a surfing aura. Indeed, Dan Poynter’s 1974 book Hang Gliding is subtitled The Basic Handbook of Sky Surfing.
Kitty Hawk Kites, founded by John Harris, is situated on the Outer Banks, North Carolina. It is still (in 2019) the world’s largest hang gliding school.
Inland, but still in eastern USA, John LaTorre was working in a program that was winding down in August of 1975, so he quit and began working for Econ-o-Flight of Randallstown, building airframes and cable sets, and helping with final assembly of the gliders…
…I also became acquainted with cutting the sails and preparing them for sewing […] And I read everything about hang gliding that I could get my hands on, from Joe Faust’s “Low and Slow” newsletters to Dan Poynter’s self-published books on hang gliding and kiting.
— John LaTorre (see the John LaTorre related topics menu)
LaTorre’s experience of working in the cottage industry of hang gliding in those days is one of low pay with periods of no pay…
When I was at Econo-Flight, we were so desperate for income one year that we actually tried selling skateboards and Christmas trees … anything to get some money into the business.
— John LaTorre (via e-mail, March 2010)
See the Kitty Hawk Kites page of this web site, which includes an analysis by John LaTorre of why the Kitty Hawk Kites operation was so successful when nearly all other schools failed commercially.
Back on the west coast, you could also walk into a hang glider store. This photo is from long time instructor Ken de Russy, who nowadays (2020) runs a hang gliding museum in the Pacific north-west.
See the Santa Barbara Hang Gliding Emporium page for more.
See Flying squad for a short history of the east coast U.S. hang glider manufacturer Sky Sports.
A hang gliding event was held on an almost windless day at the the 450 ft Guadalupe Dune on the California coast in May 1975.
A World War 2 vintage DUKW ferried hang gliders and their pilots the mile from the car park to the top of the dune. (Military modelling enthusiasts might be interested in the link to the author’s 1/76th scale rendering of this event. See under External links.)
The Wasp CB240 was almost certainly copied from the Seagull 3, with leading edge tubes permanently formed into parabolic curves. See Semi cylindrical Rogallo in Rogallo wing definitions and diagrams.
Top pilots Brian Wood (British) and Eric Short (Australian) flew Wasp CB240s in the World Championship competition at Kössen, Austria, in 1975. For a description of Brian’s crash during that competition, which paradoxically caused Eric to be medevacked by snowmobile, see Spiraling out of control.
Airline pilot Eric Woods should not be confused with Brian Wood or Eric Short, who also flew black CB240s…
See also the related topics menu Waspair of Surrey, England.
For a photo of the glider that won that first ever official (arguably) world championship, see Eipper Cumulus in Cronk works. That page also contains links to digitized film of the competition.
Bill Moyes, founder of what is still (in 2021) one of the top hang glider manufacturers, made a splash…
The seven girls entered were segregated from the men and were not permitted to fly from the top of the mountain as “it would be dangerous”. Tina, the sole U.S. female entrant lodged a protest and all nations voted in her favor except Australia. Bill Moyes stated that “down under” women still do as they’re told.
— Dan Poynter writing in Ground Skimmer, May 1975
Tina Trefethen went on to also fly powered ultralights. See Early powered ultralights part 2. For digitized film of the 1975 championships including an interview with Tina, see under External links later on this page. See also the Moyes related topics menu.
Puff the Magic Dragon was made in 1974 by Hiway Hang Gliders of Brighton, Sussex, England, headed by John Ievers and Australian Steve Hunt. (They had met as university students.) Its nose angle appears to be the usual 80 degrees of the early standard Rogallos. For more about this manufacturer, see the related topics menu Hiway of Sussex, England, and Abergavenny, Wales. For a movie clip of Puff flying, see under External links later on this page.
This one is more advanced in that its nose angle is 90 degrees.
Author’s reminiscence: There was nothing standard about the standard Rogallo. When I first encountered a Hiway standard, it was so different from my Skyhook standard, I was rendered speechless. (An uncommon happening in those days!) For example, the Hiway had a larger diameter cross-tube with a pre-formed dihedral bend. I was told that it was so strong that, in the event of a side wire failure (unlikely) or shackle failure (the wires were attached by little screw shackles) the tube would not break and the glider ‘clap hands.’
On a low hill near the atomic research establishment at Winfrith in the heathlands of Dorset, England, 17-year old sailmaker Roland Lewis-Evans 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. (See also the Roly Lewis-Evans, sail maker, related topics menu.)
At 17 years old, Roly was a founding member of his region’s hang gliding club along with Roger Platt and John Jenkins, which is still active (in 2020). Early hang gliding club meetings were usually held in the home one of the members, Roger Platt’s in this case. On the other side of the world, here is New Zealander John Veysey’s observation:
I went along to meetings held in private living rooms. The atmosphere was reminiscent of what I had read of an RAF officer’s mess, without the piano. Instead of drinks and boisterous songs we watched home-made movies of hang-gliding. I asked a lot of questions and pestered all the fliers who had soared.
— John Veysey via e-mail on August 11th, 2020
When membership numbers increased rapidly during 1974 and 1975, club meetings moved to larger premises, such as, in Roly’s case, the sports and social club of Hamworthy Engineering, a large employer in Poole on the Dorset coast.
That is Bob Wills on the right. He won the competition in a Wills Wing Swallowtail, which I was to obtain a close look at and ask him about it later in the year. The Wills Wing range of Rogallo flex-wing hang gliders was manufactured by Sport Kites Inc., of Santa Ana, California. (It was subsequently renamed Wills Wing Inc.) For film of Bob Wills flying the Swallowtail at the 1975 world championships in Austria, see Sail on under External links later on this page. And for more about Wills Wing and the remarkable Wills family, see the related topics menu Sport Kites/Wills Wing of California.
See also the related topics menu Telluride, Colorado.
When I was at Rhossili, a coastal hill in Wales on a hot summer weekend in 1978, a ‘middle aged’ couple in the same camp site said they had attended a hang gliding event at Cypress Gardens a year or two before. The guy attempted to persuade his wife that we were doing essentially the same thing; flying hang gliders, but starting from a hill instead of being hauled into the air behind a boat. She seemed to focus into the distance, as if recalling the pizzazz and glamour of the event in Florida, and said, “Oh, but that was fantastic.”
This large size dual glider was made by Kestrel Kites of Poole, Dorset, England. Their sail-maker, Roland Lewis-Evans, initially cut the sails on his parents’ back lawn and machined them inside the house. Unlike many manufacturers who simply folded the fabric over to form the leading edge pockets, Roly created ‘applied’ leading edge pockets made of separate panels. The aesthetic improvement is obvious and I cannot help thinking it is aerodynamically better too. (See also the Roly Lewis-Evans, sail maker, related topics menu.)
Which was more dangerous; flying it or carrying it back up like this?
Although this book was published in 1977, its cover photo is of a 1975 wing made by Hiway Hang Gliders of Brighton, Sussex, on the south coast of England.
Hang Gliding by Martin Hunt and David Hunn contains a chapter by Dan Poynter, author of Hang Gliding, the Basic Handbook of Skysurfing, detailing the several individuals who developed various aspects of modern hang gliding, mostly unknown to each other at the time. See the Amazon search under External links.
The USHGA Eastern Regionals were held in June of 1975 at Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina, where Hugh Morton was the resident photographer. And in September 1975, Grandfather Mountain hosted the USHGA National Championships. See the following pages for more of Hugh Morton’s color photos taken at those events:
This topic continues in Hang gliding 1975 part 2.
1975 world championships external links
The first official (arguably) world championships were held at Kössen, Austria, in March 1975. The competition was run by the ‘World Organization Committee.'(*). There are more links to film of this event under External links in Spiraling out of control (Brian Wood’s crash).
HANG GLIDING CHAMPIONSHIPS – COLOUR digitized film on YouTube by British Movietone
RR7513B AUSTRIA WORLD HANG-GLIDING CHAMPIONSHIP digitized film on YouTube by AP Archive
Sail On by the Commodores featuring Bob Wills in a Swallowtail (YouTube video)
Tina Trefethen interview, March 1975, in the documentary ‘Free as a Bird’ by Otto Pammer and Julian Grant, digitized film on YouTube dubbed in German, unfortunately for most of us: Hanggliding Worldcup 1975 (Drachenflug WM 75 Kössen in Tirol) on YouTube starting at 6 minutes 27 seconds
Tina Trefethen’s Eipper-Formance standard Rogallo sitting in the landing field at Kössen: Photo by Don Liddard. (Above the Eipper, Brian Wood is on finals to land his Wasp CB240.)
World Hang Gliding Championships (1975) external links
This competition was held at at Escape Country in Trabuco Canyon, El Toro, California, on April 12th, 1975. Videos on YouTube:
World Hang Gliding Championships (1975) on Burke Ewing’s YouTube channel
Hang Gliding Worlds 1975 Escape Country California on cdnskydog’s YouTube channel
1975 Hang Gliding World Open – Escape Country, SoCal on H5-Phil’s YouTube channel
Other external links
Duck à l’orange: Airfix 1/76th (OO) scale DUKW with scratch built hang gliders based on the Guadalupe Dune event mentioned earlier on this page
Hang Gliding by Martin Hunt and David Hunn Amazon book search
Jigsaw – Sky High (1975) The Man From Hong Kong, movie title sequence
Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding Spectacular 1975 – Nags Head, NC on Kitty Hawk Kites’ YouTube channel
Photographer Leroy Grannis: Big Blue Sky, 2008, by Bill Liscomb on YouTube starting at 46 minutes 25 seconds
Puff the Magic Dragon, a Hiway standard Rogallo, in flight at Steyning, Sussex, in HANG GLIDING – COLOUR digitized film by British Movietone, 1974, on YouTube, at 1 minute 45 seconds (very short)
World Organization Committee: Dan Poynter writing in Ground Skimmer, May 1975