Hang gliding 1978 and 1979 part 3


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Hang gliding 1978 and 1979 part 3

Believed to be Burke Ewing taking a second pilot up for a dual flight in a hang glider at Grandfather Mountain in October 1978
Believed to be Burke Ewing taking a second pilot up for a dual flight in a hang glider at Grandfather Mountain in October 1978, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1978 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

This page follows Hang gliding 1978 and 1979 part 2.

Some images on this page are artistic derivations of contemporary photos and some are largely un-edited photos by Hugh Morton. See Copyright of early hang gliding photos.

Burke Ewing and Hugh Morton flying dual at Grandfather Mountain in October 1978
Burke Ewing and Hugh Morton flying dual at Grandfather Mountain in October 1978, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1978 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

Film maker Burke Ewing still flies (in 2020) in a more modern but similarly painted wing. See Hugh Morton’s photos (related topics menu).

Mariah

Rich Grigsby launces his Mendij-painted Phoenix Mariah at Palomar, California. Photo by Bettina Gray.
Rich Grigsby launches his Mendij-painted Phoenix Mariah at Palomar, California. Photo by Bettina Gray.

Some weeks before this photo was taken at Palomar, Rich Grigsby had pitched over in another Phoenix Mariah at Azusa Canyon in the mountains near Los Angeles. The glider broke and Grigsby deployed his emergency parachute, which had time only to open partially before pilot and glider hit sloping ground. Grigsby was uninjured. Then, during practice for the Palomar competition, John Brant flying another Mariah had the same thing happen. Both pilots were provided with identical Mendij-painted Mariahs for the competition, which used a one-on-one fly-off format. John Brant is visible launching from the second ramp in the photo.

See also the Hang glider sail art related topics menu.


Phoenix Mariah advert in <em>Glider Rider</em>, July 1978. Reprinted courtesy of <em>Light Sport and Ultralight Flying</em> magazine.
Phoenix Mariah advert in Glider Rider, July 1978. Reprinted courtesy of Light Sport and Ultralight Flying magazine.

The broadsheet format Glider Rider magazine lent itself to larger and more detailed adverts. Bill Bennett’s Delta Wing Kites and Gliders was one of the few companies that took advantage of that. Other manufacturers just used the same adverts that they used in Hang Gliding magazine.

The Phoenix Mariah was possibly the most complex flex-wing hang glider ever manufactured. (It came in three sizes too!) It was found to be unstable in pitch when they changed the materials used for constructing the battens. Eventually, the design was retrofitted with a tailplane to restore pitch stability.

Bennett Phoenix 8 at Grandfather Mountain in 1978
Bennett Phoenix 8 at Grandfather Mountain in 1978, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1978 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library
Phoenix 6D photo by Mario

By this time the Bennett Phoenix 6 series, designed by Dick Boone, was still in production, the model D contrasting both with the Mariah and the single surface Phoenix 8 in its simplicity. It used a stand-up keel pocket, which allowed the sail to shift laterally to ease roll control, and the leading edge deflexor systems of earlier types were replaced by aerodynamically ‘clean’ leading edges.

See also the Dick Boone, hang glider designer and Bill Bennett’s Delta Wing Kites and Gliders related topics menus.

Antares, Floater, Ten Meter, and others

Eves Tall Chief launches an Eipper Antares hang glider at Yosemite
Eves Tall Chief launches an Eipper Antares at Yosemite, California, in 1979. (Notice the camera on the right wing.)

Eves Tall Chief, who was well known in drag racing before he started hang gliding in the early 1970s, was for years a mainstay of hang gliding at Yosemite National Park, where the flying is highly regulated. He died in September of 2020. See under External links later on this page for more about him.

Ed Cesar and Rick Lesh at Point Fermin, California. Photo by Leroy Grannis.
Ed Cesar and Rick Lesh flying Eipper Antares(es) at Point Fermin, California. Photo by Leroy Grannis.

For more of this long closed coastal site, see the Point Fermin page. See also the Eipper-Formance of Torrance, California related topics menu.


Ed Cesar

In the late 1970s, Ed Cesar of Hawaii invited former British champion Brian Wood of south London to the Nordic Cup, a competition in Norway. For a slalom flight at a coastal site they flew out through ridge lift — contrary to instinct — and crossed markers laid out on the ground as many times as possible before spot landing on a beach below a raised highway. (1) (For more about Brian wood, see the Brian Wood related topics menu.)

Cesar became a test pilot for Eipper Formance, notably on the Antares development, and later he starred in the short hang gliding documentary movie Up (1985) which won an Academy Award (Oscar). (2)

Ed, like Brian, was in the airliner interiors business, running a company with his wife Barbara, who he met in 1977 at Kitty Hawk Kites, where Ed taught her to fly hang gliders. Ed Cesar died on May 24, 2002 and Barbara died in 2007.

See under External links later on this page for more about Ed and Barbara Cesar.


Hang check in the Electra Flyer advert
Hang check in the Electra Flyer advert

A full hang check in a flex-wing requires the wire assist to haul downwards to raise the pilot from the ground. In this case, I suspect that the amount of clutter attached to the right down-tube contributes to that endeavor!


John Brant launches in his Seagull 10 Meter at Moab, Utah
John Brant launches in his Seagull 10 Meter at Moab, Utah. Photo by Leroy Grannis.

See the related topics menu Seagull Aircraft of Santa Monica, California.


Liz Sharp flying her UP Condor in 1979. Photo by John Coyne.
Liz Sharp flying her UP Condor in 1979. Photo by John Coyne. (No larger image available.)

A monochrome photo of Liz Sharp wearing her 1970s comms helmet appears on the preceding page.


Dave Ledford in his broken hang glider in Chattanooga, 1979
Dave Ledford in his broken hang glider in Chattanooga, 1979. Photo by Karen Alexander reprinted courtesy of Light Sport and Ultralight Flying magazine.

The Glider Rider cover photo is of Dave Ledford after his wing tumbled seven times following a failed wingover attempt (at Chattanooga, Tennessee). He was unhurt and his glider, a Moyes Mega II (with cross-tube fairings, by the look of it) was largely undamaged. See Dangers of hang gliding for more about hang glider emergency parachutes including a link to a video of Dave Ledford’s chute deployment. Ballistically deployed versions of the emergency parachute were developed subsequently and that technology was applied to the emerging phenomenon of powered ultralight aircraft (microlights in UK terminology) and, later, to more conventional light aircraft.

The subject of dive recovery and pitch-overs is touched on in When we lived in modern times in Luff in the time of cholera. (Sorry!) See also Glider Rider in Copyright of early hang gliding photos.

See also the Moyes related topics menu.


Doug Meehan about to launch in a Peregrine Aviation Owl hang glider
Doug Meehan about to launch in a Peregrine Aviation Owl at Whitwell, Tennessee. Photo by Ron Gleason.

In the USA, Peregrine Aviation pushed the ‘truncated tip’ single surface flex wing to its limits with the Owl. This one has fairings to reduce the aerodynamic drag of the cross-tubes. However, the design was by late 1979 dated by its triple leading edge deflexors, which comprised a hidden cause of much drag. The multi-line harness, stand-up keel pocket, and absence of an enclosed space to store a glider bag were additional drag-inducing aspects that were dealt with in the next few years.

Electra Flyer Cirrus 5B with custom inlay
Electra Flyer Cirrus 5B with custom inlay by pilot John LaTorre. Photo by his brother Joe.

Most of the innovations in hang glider sails — high aspect ratios, battens, applied trailing edges and cambering — aren’t really innovations at all. They’ve been commonplace techniques in sail lofts for years. We learned from them, modifying their methods to the peculiar needs of our own sails. The offspring of this marriage is both sail and wing.

Your Sail – More Than Color and Shape by John LaTorre, Hang Gliding, October 1980

Electra Flyer Spirit with custom inlay
Electra Flyer Spirit with custom inlay by pilot John LaTorre. Photo by his brother Joe.

The Spirit was successor to the Floater.

See also the John LaTorre and Hang glider sail art related topics menus.

Hawaii five

Launching at Oahu, Hawaii, in January 1978
Launching at Oahu, Hawaii, in January 1978, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1978 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library
Oahu, Hawaii, in January 1978
Oahu, Hawaii, in January 1978, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1978 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

Michael Van Dorn in an Eipper Cumulus V at Makapuu, Hawaii, in January 1978
Michael Van Dorn in an Eipper Cumulus V at Makapuu, Hawaii, in January 1978, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1978 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library
Michael Van Dorn in an Eipper Cumulus V above another hang glider at Makapuu, Hawaii, in January 1978
Michael Van Dorn in an Eipper Cumulus V above another hang glider at Makapuu, Hawaii, in January 1978, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1978 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

Oahu, Hawaii, in January 1978
Oahu, Hawaii, in January 1978, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1978 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library
John McNeely flying with his hawk in 1978
John McNeely flying with his hawk at Grandfather Mountain in 1978, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1978 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

The photo of John McNeely and his hawk was taken after Morton returned home to Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina.

See Hugh Morton’s photos (related topics menu). See also under External links later on this page for film/video of an aerial dogfight over Makapu’u by Michael Van Dorn on YouTube and for an online discussion started by one of Morton’s photos he took in Hawaii in January 1978.

Incidentally, Hugh Morton should not be confused with Bruce Morton, a top pilot of the 1970s in Hawaii.

Jaguar

Tom Peghiny launching in his Jaguar at or near Grandfather Mountain in May 1978
Tom Peghiny launching in his Jaguar at or near Grandfather Mountain in May 1978, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1978 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

The Jaguar was the most successful of a series of V-tail prototypes made by Tom Peghiny. (For its predecessor, see the Eagle under Developments 1978-9 in Hang gliding 1978 and 1979 part 2.) The lower bowsprit tube was a folding mechanism. It reduced the tasks of rigging and de-rigging to fastening and unfastening a single bolt.

Incidentally, the guy on the ground getting another angle on this launch is Hugh Morton of Grandfather Mountain. See Hugh Morton’s photos (related topics menu).

The quick setup feature is the “big trick.” In a five-second metamorphosis a jumble of cable and tube is transformed into a beautiful flying machine which is controlled by weightshift alone. No surface controls are used.

— T. Hoyt, Glider Rider, May 1978

Tom Peghiny with his Jaguar at or near Grandfather Mountain in May 1978
Tom Peghiny with his Jaguar at or near Grandfather Mountain in May 1978, in the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films #P0081, copyright © 1978 North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library

The Jaguar’s structural similarity to the Sky Sports Sirocco is evident. (See Sirocco in Flying squad.)

You took the glider out of the bag, swung out the control bar, pulled up the king post and with the assembly lever, boing, the glider was assembled. (OK, I left out the battens but you get the idea).

— Tom Peghiny (3)

See also the Flex-wings with tails and Tom Peghiny related topics menus.

Gryphon 3

In Britain, while the Gryphon 2 of 1977 used wing warping to assist with steering, the Gryphon 3 of 1978 relied on pilot weight shift alone.

Photo of a 1970s hang glider in flight
Bob Dear flies the Gryphon 3

Bob Dear, flying the Waspair Gryphon 3 in the photo, says that you had to actively fly the it all the time—you could not relax. It was, however, immensely precise and controllable as well as having unbeatable performance (in its time). Note the bowsprit and cables instead of crosstubes bracing the leading edges. Unfortunately, all those cables created about as much aerodynamic drag as crosstubes, if not more.

The Gryphon was getting a lot of attention and several manufacturers were interested in it. I chose Wasp mainly because they were virtually next door to me, and liaison would be relatively easy. I’ve got a full-time job which I can’t afford to jeopardise because I have people working for me. The Gryphon III had to go out to be produced. I produced 24 Gulps in my spare time and that nearly killed me. I don’t want that to happen again.

— Miles Handley quoted by by Dave Worth in Wings (BHGA magazine) February 1978

Production of the Miles Wings Gryphon was taken over by Waspair in 1978, its designer and first manufacturer Miles Handley being unable to keep up with demand.

In the late 1980s Miles Handley created two advanced hydrofoil sailboats, the sail of one of them being crafted in Mylar by long time hang glider sail-maker Roly Lewis Evans, who was then at Kemp Sails of Dorset, England(5). King Hussein of Jordan bought one of these advanced projectiles. See reference 4 for a link to a page containing photos of both prototypes. The project ended when, according to Miles Handley, his business partner disappeared after wiping clean the accounts on the computer. (4)

See also the Miles Wings Gulp and Gryphon related topics menu.

Love and hate in a different time

Sadly, hang gliding is not exempt from the problem of innovators being unable to fund their developments and falling victim the ‘business acumen’ of manufacturing partners. Some do not even get that far; their expectations regarding the enthusiasm of others for ideas not their own possibly being unrealistic. Here is the experience of an early 1970s pilot (a contributor to this history on the other side of the planet from Miles Handley) who wanted an established manufacturer (another contributor to this history) to help him develop and manufacture an advanced ‘three-axis’ hang glider:

He didn’t want to look at my plans let alone answer any of my questions. I shouldn’t have been so surprised but I had my hopes pinned on this man. If he wouldn’t help me I knew of no one else to ask. In one afternoon my hopes dimmed to nothing and I left that warehouse a picture of dejection. After this my enthusiasm for flying quickly waned.

Superscorpion

Art based on a hang gliding photo by Leroy Grannis
Art based on a hang gliding photo by Leroy Grannis

This image illustrates a classic hang glider design of the time, with drag-inducing, costly, time-consuming, and fault-prone deflexor systems on the leading edges. A minor design revolution (a back to the future scenario, arguably) at this time did away with them.

In Britain, the Hiway Superscorpion (said to be based on the Australian Moyes Maxi) was the most popular of the late 1970s deflexorless wings.

Gary Dear flying a Hiway Scorpion 2 hang glider at Monk's Down, north Dorset, England, in 2018
Eking out the lift

Here, Gary Dear flies a Hiway Superscorpion at Monk’s Down in 2018, 40 years after the design was intitially manufactured. However, this example is a Superscorpion 2 made in about 1981.

Gary Dear flying a Hiway Scorpion 2 hang glider at Monk's Down, north Dorset, England, in 2018
Heading into the sun

See the related topics menu Hiway of Sussex, England, and Abergavenny, Wales.

Birdman and Solar Wings

Hang glider launching from a hill
Roly launching from Monk’s Down in a Birdman Cherokee

While all manufacturers went defelexorless, Birdman took a different approach with their Cherokee in that it retained a single deflexor wire in line with the airflow. The aerodynamic drag of that cable was reckoned to be minimal and it facilitated tuning the wing as a whole (tensioning or de-tensioning both sides together using turnbuckles) and you could tune out a turn if one developed by tensioning or de-tensioning just one side.

Brian Wood in a Birdman Cherokee hang glider
Brian Wood in a Cherokee fitted for winch launching in 1979. Photo from Brian Wood, photographer not certain, but possibly Don Liddard.

Although hang glider development had progressed greatly in the five years since its modern resurgence in Australia and the U.S.A., pressure of competition between designers and manufacturers led inevitably to compromises in the tension between innovation and risk. An example was when Roly Lewis-Evans, sailmaker for Birdman, launched in a prototype Cherokee with a shorter chord than that eventually used. His estimate of the trim hang point was off and he stalled on take off, resulting in a smashed glider and back pain for two days until he was able to see a chiropractor.

In the summer of 1979, several Birdman personnel left to set up Solar Wings, also in Wiltshire. See Birdman and Solar Wings of Wiltshire, England. See also the Roly Lewis-Evans, sail maker, and Brian Wood related topics menus.

American revolution

Manta Fledge 2 at BHGA AGM Warwick Uni, March 1980
Manta Fledge 2

In the winter of 1977, Manta developed the double-surface Fledge 2 ‘semi rigid’, seen here at the BHGA AGM in March 1980. It had superior low-speed handling and greater performance compared to its single-surface predecessor. Fledges came first, second, third, and fourth in the 1979 U.S. national championships and also won the world championships that year. (Source: Whole Air January-February 1983)

See the Manta Products of California related topics menu.

The next nearest wing in the photo is a Waspair Gryphon, designed by British genius Miles Handley. The wing behind that (not the one almost entirely hidden) looks to me like a Waspair Falcon IV, a development of the Wills Wing Superswallowtail, but with a hefty camber permanently formed into the keel tube. (The SST and its clones had a slight camber produced — as I recall — with the aid of a tensioning cable under the front part of the keel tube.)

Art based on a photo by Leroy Grannis of a Fledge 2 at Telluraide, Colorado
Art based on a photo by Leroy Grannis of a Fledge 2 at Telluraide, Colorado

The rigid wing Fledge 2, with its lightweight tube, cable, and fabric structure (similar to that of Rogallos) was so superior to flex-wings that it was moved into a separate category in competitions.

Terri Dunham, Vick iJones, and Katie Grannis attach streamers to tennis balls for pilots to drop at Telluride. Photo by Leroy Grannis.
Terri Dunham, Vick iJones, and Katie Grannis attach streamers to tennis balls for pilots to drop at Telluride. Photo by Leroy Grannis.

Jim Lee in an Ultralight Products Comet. Photo by Ken Gallard.
Jim Lee in an Ultralight Products Comet. Photo by Ken Gallard. (No larger image available.)

However, on April 1st 1979, Ultralight Products tested a new flex-wing hang glider with a double-surface sail (not unusual by then) and a carbon fiber airframe. The latter was eventually discarded in favour of conventional aluminium alloy tube, yet the combination of performance, handling, and — importantly — safety of this glider was to make it equal to the Fledge 2. For more about UP, see the related topics menu Ultralight Products of California and Utah.


The Owens valley, a desert created by siphoning off water for Los Angeles, is a corridor walled by barren mountains stretching from California to Nevada. By 1979, hang glider pilots from many countries went there to compete and to set records.

Butch [Peachy] had landed five miles north of the Peak where there are no roads, no trees, no lakes and no people.
Butch had a CB [citizen’s band] radio… Otherwise all-night searches and dawn helicopter rescues would have been necessary… The winds persisted and Butch spent the night on the the mountain top. Matches, and the skill to build a fire out of poor fire materials, saved him from the risk of freezing. He had brought food and water with him on his glider. At 7:00 a.m. the following morning, Butch had a beautiful serene flight to the valley.

— George Worthington writing in Hang Gliding, September 1979

This topic continues in Hang gliding early 1980s part 1.

External links

Aerial dogfight over Makapu’u, 1970’s, Oahu, Hawaii by Michael Van Dorn on YouTube

Gryphon 3 in flight video: Mere 1978 BHGA Hang Glider Competition Event (at Mere in Wiltshire) on YouTube starting at 1 minute 43 seconds

Hang gliding, circa January 1978 in A View to Hugh, Processing the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films, for an online discussion started by one of Morton’s photos he took in Hawaii in January 1978

Photo by Roger Middleton of a Gryphon mark 3 turning low to the ground in 1978

Quadruplane Hang Glider, digitized film on YouTube of Larry Hall’s quadruplane of about 1978, flying at Point of the Mountain, Utah

Ed Cesar external links

Airport Journals: Van Nuys, Hollywood Mourn Aviation Champion Barbara Cesar

Ed Cesar on IMDB (Internet Movie DataBase)

Firm Ordered to Leave Van Nuys Airport, Los Angeles Times, March 30, 1997, about Barbara and Ed Cesar’s troubles

Eves Tall Chief external links

Eves Tall Chief – a Portrait of a Local Legend video on Vimeo

Eves Tall-Chief Facebook page

References/Sources

1. Brian Wood interviewed by the original author of this web site at the home of hang glider sail-maker Roland Lewis-Evans on 20 October 2018

2. Eipper Antares by Ed Cesar, Hang Gliding August 1978

3. Tom Peghiny e-mail exchange on January 21st, 2021

4. Photo Gallery/Miles Handley on British Hang Gliding History

5. Telephone conversation between Roly Lewis-Evans and the author on June 16th, 2021

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