Hang gliding mid 1980s
This page follows Hang gliding early 1980s part 2.
Most of the images on this page are artistic derivations of contemporary photos. Some are largely un-editd photos by Hugh Morton. See Copyright of early hang gliding photos.
Hugh Morton, the photographer here, was a prominent figure in North Carolina.
Thousands gather on Grandfather Mountain in June for Singing on the Mountain, which its aristocratic sponsor, Hugh Morton, calls a “king-size preachin’, Sunday school picnic, family reunion, and gospel singin’, rolled into one.”
— Neil Morgan, Home to North Carolina, National Geographic, March 1980
A wind dummy is a pilot at a competition who volunteers to fly before the competitors to report on conditions. That info assists the organizers in deciding on what task to set and on when, if at all, to start that day’s competition. A CB radio operates in the citizens’ band, normally associated with truckers at the time.
Almost to the lake I encountered lift that soon became a steady 200 FPM up. At 2400 feet over take-off, I got on my CB radio.
“Wind dummy to launch.”
“Go ahead, dummy,” came Joe Foster.
“The lift is everywhere; I would recommend some kind of cross country task.”
— Masters of Hang Gliding by Doug Rice, Whole Air, December 1983
Pilots of John Pendry’s caliber are not averse to accepting help when they need it.
See under External links later on this page for digitized film of the Masters competitions held at Grandfather Mountain in 1983, 1984, and 1985. Also a link to a documentary film aired one evening at the 1983 competition, about the ‘Moyes boys’ adventure in Africa.
Australian (and half Chinese) Steve Moyes of the hang glider manufacturing family finished in joint third place at the 1983 Masters, but he won the 1983 world championships, held in Germany.
This remarkable aerial view by long time hang glider sailmaker John LaTorre is of the 1986 annual race at Marina Beach, California.
Wills Wing at last released their first enclosed cross-tube design, the Duck. Notice how, in the photo of the Duck at full speed level flight, the trailing edge of the sail is held in a reflex curve by lines to the top of the king post (reflex bridles) and tip struts not attached to the sail, but firmly attached to the leading edge tubes.
At Ager in northern Spain in 1999 I (the original author of this web site) met a German pilot still flying a Duck. It had appropriately vintage colours: Brown and yellow sailcloth. I asked why he flew such an old glider. He explained that he had tried newer wings, but he liked his Duck better.
See the related topics menu Sport Kites/Wills Wing of California.
Mark Anderson in an Ultralight Products Comet is at the left edge about two-thirds up the photo, just below the light bare rock, while Pat Denevan flies the orange and yellow Flight Designs/Hiway Demon. The photo was taken by Greg Shaw in a third hang glider over Cathedral Spires, Yosemite national park. They launched from Sentinel Dome, which was closed to hang gliders shortly afterward. A unique view. (1)
The Bennett Delta Wing Kites and Gliders Streak, created by British designer Bob England (see Hang gliding early 1980s part 1) featured an under-surface that was detached from the upper surface at its trailing edge. (For a discussion of a similar arrangement, see the technical section under Shark in Graeme Bird’s hang gliders.)
The Dawn rekindled the concept of using struts instead of side flying wires (lower rigging) to allow the omission of a king post and upper rigging.
I include Progressive Aircraft under the Bennett sub-heading because ProAir’s designer Dick Boone was previously Bennett’s designer of long standing. ProAir eventually merged with Bill Bennett’s Delta Wing Kites and Gliders.
Here, the exceptionally clean lines of the Seedwings Sensor are evident.
Seedwings of Santa Barbara, California, is a separate entity from the manufacturer of the same name in Europe.
One of the greatest hang glider designers, Bob Trampenau, turned out to be a great photographer too.
According to industry expert Dan Johnson writing in Hang Gliding, July 1988, the largest manufacturer then was Gerard Thevenot’s La Mouette, which made 1,800 gliders in 1987. Here is the contemporary production hierarchy of manufacturers according to Johnson’s research:
- La Mouette (France)
- Polaris (Italy)
- Airwave (UK and USA)
- Wills Wing (USA)
- Moyes Gliders (Australia)
The image of French hang glider manufacturer Gerard Thevenot and Canadian sculptor, pilot, and inventor Bill Lishman (not to be confused with pioneer pilot and historian Bill Liscomb) is a screenshot from the documentary Operation Migration – Birds of a Feather shipped with the DVD containing the movie Fly Away Home, Columbia Pictures, 1995. (See under External links later on this page for a review.)
Austrian-American (via Australia) Hans Heydrich won the 1987 Arizona cross country contest in a Wills Wing HP2 — the stand-up keel pocket of the Duck had been left behind — with a flight of more than 200 miles. Heydrach’s grandfather flew zeppelins in World War 1 and his father flew Messerschmitt 109s among other aircraft in World War 2.
The Wills Wing Attack Duck logo on the stand-up keel pocket was an inverted version of the normal Duck logo. At least some, including this one, had missiles added under the wings. (See Sport Kites/Wills Wing of California.)
See Grouse Mountain invitational 1984 for photographs by Jan Kulhavy taken at Grouse Mountain on the outskirts of the city of Vancouver, British Columbia. They include rare images taken just after a mid-air collision.
Hang waiting is the art of waiting for conditions to improve. The impatient pilot often finds himself (or herself) in the bottom landing field. On the other hand, if you wait for perfect conditions, you will miss the best lift of the day and, again, find yourself de-rigging in the bottom landing field.
Jan Kulhavy took the Vedder Mountain photos likely during the competition held there on May 19th to 21st 1984. (1)
For some early hang gliding in Canada, see School for perfection in Hang gliding 1973 part 2.
The Explorer was a semi-rigid wing. Its complexity is often mentioned by those who remember it as being its principal drawback. Nevertheless, when Hiway ceased trading in March 1983, leading British hang gliding engineer and campaigner David Bedding continued to develop it. He was killed in a mid-air collision in 1990, which also took the life of Derek Austen, another well-known British pilot, and that ended the Explorer project.
See also the Hiway of Sussex, England and Abergavenny, Wales related topics menu.
This topic continues in Hang gliding late 1980s.
1983 Compressed 27 – 30mph Frontside Masters of Hang Gliding Championships on David Thompson’s YouTube channel. The video is annotated to identify several individuals present.
1984 Masters of Hang Gliding Championships – Backside / Frontside on David Thompson’s YouTube channel. Some pilots, launch assistants, and notable spectators are identified in embedded text.
1985 Masters of Hang Gliding Championships Sponsored by Piedmont Airlines @ Grandfather Mountain also on David Thompson’s YouTube channel
Big Blue Sky — The history of modern hang gliding – the first extreme sport! by Bill Liscomb on YouTube
Birdmen of Kilimanjaro on Moyes YouTube channel
Easy riser, a review of the movie Fly Away Home, Columbia Pictures, 1995, on Brave Guys and Beautiful Dolls
Ewoks Hang Glider on YouTube. In 1984 Jeff Mott in a modified Delta Wing Light Dream (struts added and top rigging removed, among other mods) put hang gliding in front of 65 million viewers in the LucasFilm television movie Ewok Adventure. (2)
1. Whole Air No. 35 May 1984
2. Dan Johnson, Product Lines, Whole Air, January 1985