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