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. A couple are largely unedited photos by Hugh Morton. See Copyright of early hang gliding photos.
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.
This design turned out to be a success during the hard times of the early 1980s. It started out as Wills Wing designer Steve Pearson’s resurrection of the glider in which the company’s earlier driving force Bob Wills was killed in 1977 (Ref). See also the Sport Kites/Wills Wing of California related topics menu.
The Ultralight Products Condor was popular in the USA. See also the Ultralight Products of California and Utah related topics menu.
See also Glider Rider in Copyright of early hang gliding photos.
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.
Cyndee Moore is pictured with her 1978 wing, a Wills Wing Raven. The photo of Debbi Renshaw was taken a few years later. See also Hugh Morton’s photos (related topics menu).
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.)
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 and the Flex-wings with tails related topics menus.
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
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.
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.
Hang glider pilots use the term sled ride for a flight from the top of a hill to the bottom, normally because of inadequate wind or even still air, typically at dawn. This photo depicts preparations for a sled ride in the other direction; from the bottom of the hill to the top.
Bob Trampenau founded Seedwings of Santa Barbara, California, in the 1970s. It is a separate entity from Seedwings in Europe. See under External links later on this page for a brief clip of film of Trampenau flying his rigid Sunseed in 1975.
The Scripps Institution of Oceanography pier is visible in this image. See also the Torrey Pines page.
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.
This topic continues in Hang gliding 1978 and 1979 part 2.
Mid-day lightning in Vermont, a review of the Francis Freedland documentary film 1978 Pico Peak International Hang Gliding Meet
1978 Pico Peak meet by bobbylangs on YouTube starting at 14 minutes 13 seconds for Ed Cesar carrying an Eipper Antares across the LZ
Bob Trampenau flying his Sunseed rigid wing in 1975 (brief clip) in Big Blue Sky by Bill Liscomb on YouTube starting at 40 minutes 9 seconds. It is brief and is followed by part of the Peter Brock interview.
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
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 editions of Ground Skimmer.
Where There’s a Wills by Annette O’Neil in Hang Gliding & Paragliding, March-April 2016