Grandfather Mountain 1975 part 1


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Grandfather Mountain 1975 part 1

Posing for a photo at Grandfather Mountain in September 1975
Posing for a photo at Grandfather Mountain in September 1975, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1975 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

These photos are by Hugh Morton. See Hugh Morton’s photos (related topics menu) and Hugh Morton in Copyright of early hang gliding photos.


Hang gliders in line waiting to launch from Grandfather Mountain in September 1975
Hang gliders in line waiting to launch from Grandfather Mountain in September 1975, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1975 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

Hang glider launching from Grandfather Mountain in June 1975
Hang glider launching from Grandfather Mountain in June 1975, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1975 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

By the early summer of 1975, the first launch ramp had been constructed.

Hugh Morton was impressed by Harris’ flight, so much so that the following year the U.S. Open Hang Gliding Tournament was staged at Grandfather. The Tournament was called the Grandfather Mountain Hang Gliding Region VI National Championship and was staged June 7th and 8th, 1975.

— Jack Hilliard (1)

Hilliard refers to the first ever hang glider flight from Grandfather Mountain, made by John Harris of Kitty Hawk Kites, in July 1974. (See Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina, 1974.)

The hang gliding meet held at Grandfather Mountain in June of 1975 was the USHGA Eastern Regionals — which was won by New Englander Terry Sweeney. (See Flying squad for more about Sweeney.) In September of 1975, Grandfather Mountain hosted the USHGA National Championships, won by Dave Meuhl. (2)


Seagull III on the launch ramp at Grandfather Mountain in September 1975
Seagull III on the launch ramp at Grandfather Mountain in September 1975, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1975 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

The Seagull 3 had parabolic curved leading edges.


Seagull IV launching at Grandfather Mountain in September 1975
Seagull IV launching at Grandfather Mountain in September 1975, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1975 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

And the Seagull 4 featured a cambered and reflexed keel as well. See the Seagull Aircraft of Santa Monica, California related topics menu.


Manta Fledgeling launching near the Mile High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain
Manta Fledgeling launching near the Mile High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

The Fledgling was a ‘semi rigid’ type that used drag rudders for turn control. The pilot in this undated photo seems to have tied his glider bag to the back of the keel tube. See the Manta Products of California related topics menu.


Brock Standard Rogallo hang glider launching from Grandfather Mountain in September 1975
Brock Standard Rogallo hang glider launching from Grandfather Mountain in September 1975, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1975 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

The prone harness created less aerodynamic drag than the upright pilot position.


Ultralight Products Dragonfly launching at Grandfather Mountain in September 1975
Ultralight Products Dragonfly launching at Grandfather Mountain in September 1975, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1975 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

For more about the Brock line of hang gliders andthe Dragonfly see the Ultralight Products of California and Utah related topics menu. See also the Hang glider sail art related topics menu.


A hang glider launches from the ramp at Grandfather Mountain in September 1975
A hang glider launches from the ramp at Grandfather Mountain in September 1975, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1975 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

Notice that the sail is completely luffed in what was likely a nil-wind launch. The ballistic trajectory of glider and pilot causes it to gain airspeed, and the sail to fill and generate lift, whereupon the pilot acquires control and pulls out of the ensuing dive. It was all standard operating procedure in a standard Rogallo…


Standard Rogallo hang glider with fairings on exposed tubes at Grandfather Mountain in September 1975
Standard Rogallo hang glider with fairings on exposed tubes at Grandfather Mountain in September 1975, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1975 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

Notice the transparent — presumably plastic — fairings on the king post and control frame down-tubes, and just discernible also on the cross-tubes. That attempt at minor drag reduction came at the cost of added rigging time and care and maintenance of the fragile fairings. Modern hang gliders mostly have exposed struts made of oval section tube to achieve a better result.


Hang glider preparing to launch from Grandfather Mountain in September 1975
Hang glider preparing to launch from Grandfather Mountain in September 1975, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1975 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

A strong wind launch was even scarier…

Notice in the second photo that the front wire assist has ‘hit the deck’ of the purpose-built platform to avoid being struck by the launching glider or pilot. He is secured to the ramp, so is in no danger, but any off-centre contact with the glider at that critical moment could cause a crash.

The glider here is a Wills Wing Swallowtail. See the Sport Kites/Wills Wing of California related topics menu.

Hang glider launching from Grandfather Mountain in September 1975
Hang glider launching from Grandfather Mountain in September 1975, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1975 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

Hang gliders launching at sunset from Grandfather Mountain
Hang gliders launching at sunset from Grandfather Mountain, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

See also a photo from high above Grandfather Mountain shortly before sunset in On the mountain in Hang gliding early 1980s part 2.


This topic continues in Grandfather Mountain 1975 part 2.

References

1. For A Few Glorious Moments… in A View to Hugh, Processing the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films, by Jack Hilliard on UNC Chapel Hill library

2. Catherine Morton feedback contribution to For A Few Glorious Moments… in A View to Hugh, Processing the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films, by Jack Hilliard on UNC Chapel Hill library