Hang gliding 1978 and 1979 part 1


Home (contents) Chronology Hang gliding 1978 and 1979 part 1

Hang gliding 1978 and 1979 part 1

This page follows Hang gliding 1977.

The images on this page are mostly artistic derivations of contemporary photos. See Copyright of early hang gliding photos.

State of the art

Bill Armstrong of Edward's Canyon, 1978
Bill Armstrong of Edward’s Canyon

While southern England was brought to a standstill by record snowfalls in early 1978, in southern California, Bill Armstrong flew a hang glider for 11 hours at Elsinore. Armstrong, 29, gave up a job with the San Diego Police Department, sold up, and set about promoting hang gliding full time. On March 16th, 1978, he launched above Edward’s Canyon at 06:00 in a wing borrowed from the Ultralight Products factory and soared the ridge in company of up to 30 other hang gliders, landing at 17:02.


Photo of a late 1970s hang glider
Ultralight Products Condor. Reprinted courtesy of Light Sport and Ultralight Flying magazine.

The Ultralight Products Condor was popular in the USA. For more of UP, see my related topics page Ultralight Products of California and Utah.


'Glider Rider' May 1978 cover photo of Charles Ashford (a Brit) as Sherlock Holmes
Glider Rider May 1978 cover photo of Charles Ashford (a Brit) as Sherlock Holmes. Reprinted courtesy Light Sport and Ultralight Flying magazine.

See also Glider Rider in Copyright of early hang gliding photos.


Chuck Logan of Moran, Wyoming, at John Ballantyne’s hang glider store on East Imperial Highay in El Segundo, California, in 1978. Photo by Don Apodaca.

Early hang glider manufacturer Ultralight Products was also based originally in El Segundo, an industrial area bordering Los Angeles International Airport, but by this time it had moved to Temecula, California.

Art based on a photo by Leroy Grannis at Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina
Sub-optimal final approach at Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina. Photo by Leroy Grannis.

Windhaven hang gliding school and store in Sylmar, California
Windhaven store in Sylmar, California

Trip Mellinger’s Windhaven hang gliding school also manufactured some of the first emergency parachutes designed for hang gliding. I (the original author of this web site) still have mine. Its repacking instructions are superior to the modern equivalent. (See under External links later on this page for more about that.)

Bird’s eye view

Art based on a photo by  LeeAnn Hawkins of three hang gliders flying above one another
Three hang gliders flying above one another. Photo by LeeAnn Hawkins

The lowest of the three hang gliders here is flown by Lauran Emerson, who wrote a two-year column in Hang Gliding magazine titled Bird’s Eye View, which presented a female insider’s perspective. (*)

The middle glider is a Bennett Phoenix Mariah with a retrofitted tailplane.

Technical: The cross-tubes of the Bennett Phoenix Mariah were enclosed between upper and lower surfaces of the sail to eliminate their aerodynamic drag. When the Mariah’s battens were changed to a material with different flexing properties, the glider became pitch divergent. The tailplane cured that fault. See also Mariah in Hang gliding 1978 and 1979 part 3.

Lauran Emerson in about 1978
Lauran Emerson in about 1978

We launched and spent the afternoon flying thousands of feet above the ridges, river and ranches near Lincoln, Montana. By the time we landed, all that mattered was that flight.

— Lauran Emerson, Bird’s Eye View in Hang Gliding, January 1981

Art based on a photo by Hugh Morton of a Moyes Maxi launching at Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina
A Moyes Maxi launching at Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina. Photo by Hugh Morton.

Art based on a photo be Daniel Brown of Don Potter at Carson Hill, California in 1979
Don Potter at Carson Hill, California in 1979. Photo by Daniel Brown.

In the preceding image, Don Potter, a forester by trade, rigs his Olympus on Carson Hill where, during the first half of the 1800s, a 195 pound gold nugget was found.

Ice man

Art based on a photo by Jim Steil of hang gliding near Moscow in 1979
Hang gliding near Moscow in 1979. Photo by Jim Steil.

From the Krilatskoya hills one can look back into Moscow on a clear day and see some of the buildings not far from the Kremlin.

— Jim Steil writing in Hang Gliding, September 1979

See also Iron curtain in Hang gliding early 1980s part 1.

British Columbia Snow Kites, February, 1978 by Leroy Grannis
British Columbia Snow Kites, February, 1978 by Leroy Grannis. Reprinted courtesy Light Sport and Ultralight Flying magazine.

Art based on a photo by Seedwings of one of their Sensor series of refined flex wing hang gliders
One of the Seedwings Sensor series of refined flex wing hang gliders. Photo by Seedwings.

Bob Trampenau founded Seedwings of Santa Barbara, California, in the 1970s. It is a separate entity from the manufacturer of the same name in Europe.

Torrey Pines

Phoenix 8 launch by Bettina Gray
Phoenix 8 launch by Bettina Gray

Torrey Pines is a public park in San Diego, California. It provides coastal soaring year-round. The cliff is four miles long and faces west (the Pacific). The University of California San Diego (UCSD) is a half mile back from the cliff and it owns a glider (sailplane) runway there. (Sailplanes have soared the Torrey Pines cliff since the 1930s.) Scripps Institution of Oceanography, with its distinctive pier, marks the south end of the cliff. Whales, dolphins, and seals can be observed from the air. Jets from Naval Air Station Miramar (home of Top Gun) cross 2000 ft above. (Source: Torrey Pines 1979 by Don Betts and Bettina Gray.)

Hang glider designer Dick Boone and top British pilot Graham Hobson rigging at Torrey Pines, San Diego, in 1979. Photo by Bettina Gray.
Hang glider designer Dick Boone and top British pilot Graham Hobson

Nearly all the photos from which the artworks in this section are derived were taken by Bettina Gray at Torrey Pines, San Diego, California, in 1979. A possible exception is the photo of Wally Schirra, which is from Glider Rider, but the photographer is not credited.


Cmdr Levy lands his Eipper Antares
Cmdr Levy lands his Eipper Antares

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography pier is visible in this image.

The bowsprit-rigged Eipper Antares was the result of eight prototypes (according to Ed Cesar in Hang Gliding, August 1978). It resembled the 1978 British Gryphon 3 superficially. However, the Gryphon had evolved from a fixed-tip flex-wing steered by drag rudders, and in the mark 2 version by direct wing warping (reverting to pure weight shift in the mark 3). In contrast, the Antares was more like a contemporary flex-wing, complete with roached tips supported entirely by battens, but with the nose angle widened and the cross-tubes replaced by a bowsprit and cables. It even retained the triple deflexors bracing the leading edge tubes.

See also the Eipper-Formance of Torrance, California and Miles Wings Gulp and Gryphon related topics menus. For a brief video clip of Ed Cesar with an Antares, see 1978 Pico Peak meet under External links later on this page.


Art based on a photo by Bettina Gray of Jon Lindberg flying an Electra Flyer Olympus at Torrey Pines, San Diego, in 1979
Jon Lindberg flying an Electra Flyer Olympus

The rectangular object secured to Jon’s left downtube is a radio/cassette player so he could listen to music. He was doing the same (with updated equipment) 40 years later: See the external video Dreaming Awake at The Point farther down this page.

See also my related topics page Electra Flyer of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Art based on a photo by Bettina Gray of hang glider pilots at Torrey Pines, San Diego, in 1979
Hang glider pilots at rest

If you were going to stay on the cutting edge, if you were going to be competitive, if you were going to venture into those unflown spaces, you took those risks. A lot of good pilots and nice people paid for that with their lives. And that is probably the greatest sorrow that I carry.

— W.A. Roeker speaking in the documentary Big Blue Sky (see the external video link farther down this page)

Art based on a photo by Bettina Gray of hang glider pilot, poet, teacher of English, and author W.A. Roecker at Torrey Pines, San Diego, in 1979
Hang glider pilot, poet, teacher of English, and author W.A. Roecker
Burke Ewing plans a formation flight
Burke Ewing plans a formation flight
W.A. Roeker flying at Torrey Pines in 1979 by Bettina Gray
W.A. Roeker flying

Astronaut Wally Schirra (in tie) with hang glider pilots at Torrey Pines.  Photo by Bettina Gray.
Astronaut Wally Schirra (in tie) with hang glider pilots at Torrey Pines. Photo by Bettina Gray reprinted courtesy Light Sport and Ultralight Flying magazine.

Here, Burke Ewing, Wally Schirra, and W.A. ‘Pork’ Roecker are photographed at Torrey Pines, San Diego, in the late 1970s. Ewing was an early hang gliding film maker. (He was still flying hang gliders in 2018.) Schirra was an astronaut in projects Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. Roecker taught creative writing and English at the universities of Oregon and Arizona and was a regular pilot at southern California hang gliding sites.

Dave Beardslee launching at Torrey Pines. Photo by Bettina Gray.
Dave Beardslee launching at Torrey Pines

Related

This topic continues in Hang gliding 1978 and 1979 part 2.

Mid-day lightning in Vermont, my review of the Francis Freedland documentary film 1978 Pico Peak International Hang Gliding Meet

External links

1978 Pico Peak meet by bobbylangs on YouTube starting at 14 minutes 13 seconds for Ed Cesar carrying an Eipper Antares across the LZ

Big Blue Sky, 2008, by Bill Liscomb on YouTube starting at 59 minutes 47 seconds, one of several places where W.A. Roeker speaks

Dreaming Awake at The Point by David Aldrich on YouTube, including Jon Lindberg still flying with a radio/cassette player so he can listen to music 40 years later

Hang glider emergency parachute manuals in Technical Writing and Programming on Brave Guys and Beautiful Dolls

Torrey Pines Gliderport History by Bill Liscomb/LightWing Productions for La Jolla Historical Society, 2010, video on YouTube

Note about Bird’s Eye View

Lauran Emerson’s Bird’s Eye View column in Hang Gliding magazine, referred to earlier, contrasts with Dave Meyers’ similarly titled series of cartoons of seagulls voicing their opinions about the new intruders of their airspace in early Ground Skimmers.

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