Hang gliding 1974 part 1
This page continues from Hang gliding 1973 part 2.
The images here are artistic derivations of contemporary photos. See Copyright of early hang gliding photos.
See also the related topics menu Waspair of Surrey, England.
Russ Velderrain manufactured Rogallo hang gliders in Lomita, California. His wife Carol ran the USHGA office.
Pacific Gull of San Clemente, California, was an early adopter of ‘sail clearance towers’ on the ends of the crosstubes, to which the top side wires were attached. They prevented the wires from digging a furrow in the sail. (Alternatives were an enormously tall king post or extending the cross-tubes out beyond the leading edges.) Nowadays the preferred method is to pass the cable through a hole in the sail to a connection slightly inboard of the leading edge tube.
On the subject of hardware, the following photo illustrates typical mid-1970s nut-and-bolt type fittings with Nicopress (or Talurit) swaged cables and a pin through a hole in the end of each bolt to prevent the nut coming off.
Incidentally, Sailbird should not be confused with contemporary manufacturers Sunbird or Sun Sail… There were so many hang glider manufacturers that it was hard to think up a unique name, although Pliable Moose (Wichita, Kansas) surely succeeded in that respect. (See Hang glider names.) Sailbird was based in Colorado Springs, Sunbird in Canoga Park, California, and Sun Sail in Denver, Colorado.
Speakers at the Northrop Institute of Technology Ultralight Flight Seminar in January 1974, from the left:
- Irv Culver (co-designed the VJ-23 and -24 with Volmer Jensen)
- Jack Lambie (Hang Loose)
- Lloyd Licher (president of USHGA)
- Eddie Paul (Whitney Enterprises Porta-Wing)
- Bill Allen (pilot, photographer, journalist)
- Taras Kiceniuk Jr. (Icarus 2 and 5)
- Mike Riggs (Seagull Aircraft)
The Seagull V flex-wing Rogallo used a rudder connected by ropes and pulleys to the pilot’s harness, a technique used also in the Quicksilver ‘semi rigid’ monoplane style hang glider. Together with its excessive dihedral, the rudder combined with weight shift provided turn control.
See the related topics menu Seagull Aircraft of Santa Monica, California.
See also Flying squad, a brief history of Sky Sports.
Ultralight Products, headed by automotive racing designer Pete Brock, set the standard for high quality hardware in hang glider manufacture.
The colors (well, shades) of the sail, the pose of the pilot and his shape collectively indicate to me that this is 11-year-old Hall Brock, son of Pete, in 1974.
For more of Brock, see the related topics menu Ultralight Products of California and Utah.
Australian Bill Bennett’s Delta Wing Kites and Gliders factory in Van Nuys, California, was one of several manufacturers competing with Ultralight Products in El Segundo.
Britain was a little behind the USA in cliff flying, despite the ocean cliffs of Beachy Head on the south coast being adjacent a hill used as a flying site. They only flew the hill because they thought rotor from the cliff would demolish a hang glider. (Ted Salisbury’s earlier marathon at Dover, along the coast aways, seemed to be flown in front of and below the cliff top, which possibly engendered no confidence in the behavior of the air above a cliff.) Brian Wood, the first British champion (1974) was soaring the hill and he approached the Beachy Head cliff with trepidation, found rising air and immediately turned away back toward the hill. (We had no emergency parachutes at this time, so in-flight structural failure would likely be fatal.) Then he flew to the cliff again into the rising air and stayed a bit longer. Eventually, he soared high above the cliff and others joined him. (*)
Rotor (curl-over) from the cliff is a real danger, but it is behind the cliff. The air in front and above a cliff is not normally turbulent.
Hang gliders transported in this manner attracted attention, which might go some way to explaining why they were transported in this manner. (See also Cruising for a bruising under External links later on this page.)
In the photo, notice the guy with crutches and a leg in a cast! See Kitty Hawk Kites for more of this long-established hang gliding school.
Of course, hang gliders owed much to sailboat design and technology. The art of sail making and time-tested hardware allowed designs to advance quickly.
— U.S. east coast veteran pilot Chris Gonzales (via e-mail)
The Tweetie, designed and built by Australian Ron Wheeler, was a weight-shift controlled hang glider built of modified sailboat technology. British hang gliding pioneer Miles Handley rigged one at the inaugural meeting of the BHGA, held in December 1974. Handley then started work on a design of similarly ‘aeroplane’ layout, but of radically different geometry and construction.
A photo in the British weekly Motorcycle News of bike racer Stewart Hodgson flying a hang glider caught my (and others’) attention.
Notice the short horizontal tube near the top of the control frame on Mick Hurst’s glider. Many early production standard Rogallos had their hang points too far aft, requiring the pilot to pull in constantly to maintain airspeed. What went unnoticed on short top-to-bottom flights became annoying and tiring when hang gliders began to soar in stronger winds on larger hills. The addition of this ‘soaring bar’ with the harness risers passing in front of it mitigated the problem.
Despite the obvious crudity of this retrofitted correction, the harness risers slid over it from side to side easily, so it did not interfere with roll control. It did not adversely affect pitch control either, at least in my experience.
This topic continues in Hang gliding 1974 part 2.
Beginning of hanggliding in Norway by Reidar Berntsen, digitized film on YouTube
Cruising for a bruising in Hang gliding 1975 on Brave Guys and Beautiful Dolls
First International Woodpecker Hang Gliding Championship – Cam Long Down 1974-08-26 digitized film on Vimeo
HANG GLIDING – COLOUR digitized film by British Movietone on YouTube; the British championship at Steyning, Sussex, in 1974
KITEMEN digitized film by British Movietone on YouTube; Tweeties and standard Rogallos on a beach dune near Sydney, Australia
Photo by Roger Middleton of Mike Collis launching in a Tweetie at the British championships in August 1975
Wings (CBC 1975) digitized film on YouTube of Blair Trenholme flying a Seagull 3 in Brtish Columbia, with some bits of ‘instructing’ of new pilots thrown in
Beachy Head: Conversation with Brian Wood at the home of sail-maker Roly Lewis-Evans on October 20th, 2018