Hang gliding 1975 part 1


Home (contents) Chronology Hang gliding 1975 part 1

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.

Art based on a photo by Hugh Morton at Grandfather Mountain, Georgia
Grandfather Mountain, Georgia. Photo by Hugh Morton.

Hugh Morton of Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina, through his photography and sponsorship of hang gliding, helped advance the cause.


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.

Art based on a photo of surfing and hang gliding photographer Leroy Grannis
Surfing and hang gliding photographer Leroy Grannis

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)

Danny Bostwick lands on the beach in 1974 by Leroy Grannis
Danny Bostwick lands on Torrance Beach in 1973 or 1974. Photo by Leroy Grannis.

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.

See the related topics menu Photographers of early hang gliding. See also Torrance Beach, which even includes a bit about the building in this photo.

Emporia

Art based on a photo of Kitty Hawk Kites' premises in its early days
Kitty Hawk Kites’ premises in its early days

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. See the Kitty Hawk Kites page of this web site.


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.

Ken de Russy's first hang gliding store in Santa Barbara, California
Ken de Russy’s first hang gliding store in Santa Barbara, California

See the Santa Barbara Hang Gliding Emporium page for more.


Art based on a photo by Bettina Gray of the Mount Cranmore ski lift, Easter, 1975
Mount Cranmore ski lift, Easter, 1975. Photo by Bettina Gray.

Art based on a photo by Bettina Gray of Tom Peghiny flying a Sky Sports Kestrel hang glider at Mt. Cranmore, New England, in early 1975
Tom Peghiny flying a Sky Sports Kestrel at Mt. Cranmore, New England, Easter 1975. Photo by Bettina Gray.

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.

Art based on a photo by Jim Otterstrom of a buggy at the Guadalupe Dune in May 1975
Buggy at the Guadalupe Dune in May 1975 (no larger image available). Photo by Jim Otterstrom.
Art based on a photo by Russ Stolling at the Guadalupe Dune in May 1975
Guadalupe Dune in May 1975. Photo by Russ Stolling.

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.)

Art based on a photo of the German Alps Festival at Hunter Mountain, New York State, in 1975
German Alps Festival at Hunter Mountain, New York State, in 1975

Curved leading edges

Art based on a photo of the Wasp CB240 semi-cylindrical Rogallo hang glider of 1974-5
Wasp CB240 semi-cylindrical Rogallo hang glider of 1974-5

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.

For a photo of the glider that won that first ever official world championship, see Eipper Cumulus in Cronk works. That page also contains links to digitized film of the competition.

Eric Woods in a Wasp CB240 at Mere, Wiltshire, England, in August 1975
Eric Woods in a Wasp CB240. The original photo is owned by BP and Photocall.

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.

Puff the magic dragon

Art based on a photo by Malcolm Hawksworth of Colin Joby flying Puff the Magic Dragon
Colin Joby flying Puff the Magic Dragon. Photo by Malcolm Hawksworth.

Puff the Magic Dragon was made by Hiway Hang Gliders of Brighton, Sussex, England, headed by John Ievers and Australian Steve Hunt. 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.


Art based on a photo of a Hiway standard Rogallo
Hiway standard Rogallo

This one is more advanced in that its nose angle is 90 degrees.


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.

Roly's first flight near Winfrith in Dorset, 1975
Roly’s first flight near Winfrith in Dorset, 1975
Hang glider in 1975 with British 'west country' sail cut and was likely made by McBroom Sailwings of Bristol.
Hang glider overhead. This one has the ‘west country’ sail cut and was likely made by McBroom Sailwings of Bristol.

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.

Snow bound

Chris Price and Dave Muehl on a snow trak (no larger size available). Photo by W.A. Allen.
Art based on a photo in Wings Unlimited, April-May 1975, of snow traks at the 'World Snow Kite Championship', British Columbia, in February 1975
Snow traks at the ‘World Snow Kite Championship’, British Columbia, in February 1975

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 more about Wills Wing and the remarkable Wills family, see the related topics menu Sport Kites/Wills Wing of California.

Art based on a photo by Wings Unlimited of a standard Rogallo at Telluride in July 1975
Standard Rogallo at Telluride in July 1975. Photo by Wings Unlimited.
Art based on a photo by David Stanfield of pilots and gliders at Telluride in 1975
Pilots and gliders at Telluride in 1975. Photo by David Stanfield.
Art based on a photo by David Stanfield at Telluride in 1975
To hell you ride. Photo by David Stanfield, 1975.

See also the related topics menu Telluride, Colorado.


Art based on a photo by Don Hill taken at Cypress Gardens, Florida, in August 1975
Cypress Gardens, Florida, in August 1975. Photo by Don Hill.

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.”


Photo of a hang glider in 1975
Training flight at Monk’s Down in north Dorset, England. Photo by Dave Lewis.

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.)


Photo of a man carrying a fully rigged hang glider up a hill
Having landed in the field at the bottom of the hill, you then carried it back to the top. Photo by Dave Lewis.

Which was more dangerous; flying it or carrying it back up like this?

Photo of an early 1970s hang glider launching
A Birdman Grasshopper launches at Monk’s Down. Photo by Dave Lewis.
Art based on a photo by Steve Burns of John Dunham at the Electra Flyer factory in New Mexico
John Dunham at the Electra Flyer factory in New Mexico. Photo by Steve Burns.

Book cover featuring a Hiway standard Rogallo hang glider with prone pilot
Book cover featuring a Hiway standard Rogallo flown prone

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.

Hang Gliding revised edition by Dan Poynter, 1975
Hang Gliding revised edition by Dan Poynter, 1975

This topic continues in Hang gliding 1975 part 2.

External links

1975 Hang Gliding World Open – Escape Country, SoCal on H5-Phil’s YouTube channel

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

First official world championship, Kössen, Austria, 1975: RR7513B AUSTRIA WORLD HANG-GLIDING CHAMPIONSHIP digitized film on YouTube by AP Archive

HANG GLIDING CHAMPIONSHIPS – COLOUR: Kössen, Austria, March 1975, digitized film on YouTube by British Movietone

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