Grouse Mountain invitational 1984


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Grouse Mountain invitational 1984

Photographs by Jan Kulhavy at the 1984 World Invitational Hang Gliding Championships, Grouse Mountain, British Columbia

Hang glider at Grouse Mountain in 1984. Photo by Jan Kulhavy.
Catching the light

This is a sub-page of Hang gliding mid 1980s. With photographs by Jan Kulhavy digitized at about the turn of the century, it documents the 1984 World Invitational Hang Gliding Championships. That event was held on July 18th to 22nd over a two-mile course at Grouse Mountain on the outskirts of the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It was sponsored by the photographic film manufacturer Kodak, who put up $10,000 in prize money.


Hang glider checking session on the ramp at Grouse Mountain in 1984. Photo by Jan Kulhavy.
Glider checking on the ramp

The clutter at the center of the glider — where the pilot’s harness is attached — is a double French Connection. (The clutter in front of the glider’s nose is the chair lift up the mountain!) The French Connection was a nuts-and-bolts metal parallelogram that lightened the forces necessary for pitch control of the early double-surface hang gliders; the so-called Comet clones, this example being a Seedwings (California) Sensor. Simpler gadgets that achieved similar results were the speed rail (see later on this page) and the pitchy. Placing another at right-angles to the first, as in the photo, created the double French Connection, which lightened roll control forces too. Fortunately, hang glider design evolved sufficiently so that, about a year later, the need for such complex additions went away.


The strong lift and low cloudbase, combined with a moment’s loss of concentration resulted in a spectacular midair collision between John Duffy and Ian Huss.

— Rob Kells and Mike Meier (1)

John Duffy and Ian Huss after a hang glider mid-air collision at Grouse Mountain in 1984. Photo by Jan Kulhavy.
Only one parachute deployed initially after this mid-air collision

I still remember one of the pilots asking the other to use his parachute.

— Jan Kulhavy (2)

John Duffy and Ian Huss after a hang glider mid-air collision at Grouse Mountain in 1984. Photo by Jan Kulhavy.
The other pilot’s chute deploys

The asymmetric combination of wreckage and parachutes caused it all to spin.

John Duffy and Ian Huss after a hang glider mid-air collision at Grouse Mountain in 1984. Photo by Jan Kulhavy.
Nearing the tree tops and just missing the cables

The gliders fell together under the two canopies, missing the tram cables by only 10 feet, and snagged in the top of a 100-foot pine tree. Fortunately, both pilots were unhurt.

— Rob Kells and Mike Meier (1)

The mountain tram was used in the rescue of the pilots.

Hang glider wreckage in trees after mid-air collision between John Duffy and Ian Huss at Grouse Mountain in 1984. Photo by Jan Kulhavy.
Gondola to the rescue

Ian Huss was soon to become a member of a team that completed an extraordinary hang gliding adventure that gained positive publicity and resulted in a some historic and spectacular photographs. See Across the U.S.A. by hang glider in Hang gliding late 1980s.

See also Collisions in Dangers of hang gliding.


Pilots were launched one-on-one, had two pylons to race around, lift permitting, and then tried to stay in the air for a maximum of 70 minutes duration; normally not an easy task in the marginal lift typical of Grouse.

— Rob Kells and Mike Meier (1)


Hang glider pilot changing hand position at Grouse Mountain in 1984. Photo by Jan Kulhavy.
Pilot changing hand position immediately after launching
Hang glider pilot changing hand position at Grouse Mountain in 1984. Photo by Jan Kulhavy.
Another pilot doing the same

The glider on the right appears to be fitted with a speed rail to which the harness riser is attached near the control frame apex. Its purpose was to lighten pitch control forces. It was a simpler equivalent of the French connection mentioned earlier on this page.

In addition, the ‘flight deck’ mounted on the right control frame down-tube is fitted with an impeller that protrudes into the air-flow on a stalk to register airspeed. See Total energy compensation in Variometers for more.

Barry Batman and another hang glider pilot converse on the launch ramp at Grouse Mountain in 1984. Photo by Jan Kulhavy.
Instructor Barry Batman and another pilot converse on the launch ramp

Barry Batman launching in a hang glider at Grouse Mountain in 1984. Photo by Jan Kulhavy.
Launching

This sequence of Barry Batman launching in an Airwave (UK) Magic demonstrates how the pilot gets into a cocoon harness, which was a refinement of the 1970s stirrup harness. Some pilots still (in 2020) use them because of their light weight and compactness when stored compared to modern pod harnesses.

Barry Batman just after launching in a hang glider at Grouse Mountain in 1984. Photo by Jan Kulhavy.
Diving for speed
Barry Batman after launching in a hang glider at Grouse Mountain in 1984. Photo by Jan Kulhavy.
Almost in and heading out

Final approach in a hang glider at Grouse Mountain in 1984. Photo by Jan Kulhavy.
Final approach

The postage stamp field, bordered by tall trees, small trees, houses and a fence and backstop, and graced by typically shifting winds struck its usual chord of terror into the hearts of approching pilots.

— Rob Kells and Mike Meier (1)

Hang glider at Grouse Mountain in 1984. Photo by Jan Kulhavy.
Northern light
Hang glider just after launching at Grouse Mountain in 1984. Photo by Jan Kulhavy.
Into the air
Picnic by hang gliders on the launch ramp at Grouse Mountain in 1984. Photo by Jan Kulhavy.
Camera on the picnic table
Hang glider line on the ramp at Grouse Mountain in 1984. Photo by Jan Kulhavy.
Glider line on the ramp
Hang glider line on the ramp at Grouse Mountain in 1984. Photo by Jan Kulhavy.
View from the top

Hang glider line on the ramp at Grouse Mountain in 1984. Photo by Jan Kulhavy.
Evening light, aluminium tube, and sailcloth

…the remaining pilots packed their gear in the warm late afternoon sunlight. The city of Vancouver was shining, the ships in the bay swinging into the seabreeze.

— W.A. ‘Pork’ Roecker writing about an earlier year’s event (3)

Photographer

Jan Kulhavy, a tool and die maker by trade, was always interested in fine mechanics and optics and at the same time felt that life events should be recorded and preserved. At the age of 40 he started skydiving and shared his experiences with friend and co-worker Barry Batman, who was already experienced at hang gliding.

Related

Canada in Hang gliding mid 1980s, featuring another of Jan’s photos as well as one taken from the air at the same event by Rob Kells, and an external link to early hang gliders and powered ultralights in Canada

Photographers of early hang gliding

External link

Stick thermal in Wikipedia

References

1. Rob Kells and Mike Meier, Hang Gliding, September 1984

2. Photographer Jan Kulhavy describing the collision of John Duffy and Ian Huss via e-mail, July 2020

3. W.A. ‘Pork’ Roecker, Hang Gliding, September 1979

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