Hang gliding 1978 and 1979 part 2
This page follows Hang gliding 1978 and 1979 part 1.
The images on this page are mostly artistic derivations of contemporary photos. See Copyright of early hang gliding photos.
A colour photo of Liz flying her Condor appears on the next page and there is an external link to an article about her farther down this page.
Another lady pilot, this time in South America, was Paula Vieria. The Phoenix 6C was another Bennett wing designed by Dick Boone.
‘Flap chaps’ (see the translucent triangle of fabric stretched between the pilot’s legs) helped you obtain a steeper glide on your final approach to landing. However, they did nothing to correct the cowboy image of hang gliding in the 1970s. Reprinted courtesy of Ultralight Flying! magazine.
The broadsheet hang gliding and powered ultralight periodical Glider Rider carried an article about this development in the May 1978 edition, but in that it was called the Jaguar.
For more of Tom Peghiny, see Flying squad, a short history of the east coast U.S. hang glider manufacturer Sky Sports.
See also the Flex-wings with tails related topics menu.
Here, the wind on the sail has taken some of the pilot’s weight: Notice the upward curve of the leading edges, which were straight when the Mosquito was unloaded.
In 2012, long time instructor Ken De Russy sent me several American hang gliding magazines and books pre-dating my own collection. They provided much information I drew on for this web site. See the Santa Barbara Hang Gliding Emporium page for more.
The UP Mosquito was unique in its combination of forward-canted king post, triangular tip fins, and heavily bowed leading edges. A British pilot reported that the leading edge tubes were straight, but when launching in light wind, they took up their curved alignment part way through the launch run with an alarming clunk!
For a link to Richard Cobb’s comprehensive UP Mosquito page, see the related topics menu Ultralight Products of California and Utah.
The Mitchell Wing was a tail-less monoplane in which aerodynamic stability is built into the wing (mostly…) as is the case with most flex-wing (Rogallo) hang gliders. Unlike most other rigids of the time, the Mitchell Wing was ‘cantilevered’; its structural strength was built inside the wing rather than relying on external struts and cables.
George Worthington, a former US Navy pilot, became a world distance record-holder in his fifties and sixties flying a Mitchell Wing as well as flying flex-wing hang gliders in the Owens valley.
See the Mitchell Wing page for more.
While sandbag testing of single surface gliders suspended upside-down is effective (refer to the related topics menu Testing for stability and structural strength) there is a particular problem with sandbag testing of double surface sails: You cannot reach the underside of the upper surface to put sandbags on it. Even if you could — and even if there was enough room — how many sandbags should you place on the lower surface to add an ‘upward’ (downward in the Hiway upside-down test) force on the cross-tubes?
That was one impetus behind hang gliding associations in several countries creating structural and pitch stability test rigs. They included the Hang Glider Manufacturers Association in the USA, the DHV in Germany, and the British Hang Gliding Association.
I don’t know of anyone, inside or outside of the hang gliding industry, who is capable of doing an accurate structural analysis of a flex wing hang glider; the loading situations are far too complex and varied.
— Mike Meier of Wills Wing writing in Hang Gliding, June 1983, to explain why rigorous testing is required
See also the Computing in hang gliding related topics menu.
Compare with the (almost) blank canvass…
The Seagull Seahawk mark 2 had more battens than its predecessor. The artwork on the sail of this example was carried out by Donna Lifsey. See also the related topics menus Hang glider sail art and Seagull Aircraft of Santa Monica, California.
Technical: The Soarmaster power unit was attached to the keel tube of the wing and the thrust line of the propeller was significantly above the center of mass of the whole rig. If you stalled the wing when flying slowly in powered flight, the consequent immediate reduction in lift and — more importantly in this scenario — the reduced ‘induced’ drag (that results from the creation of lift) no longer fully opposed the thrust. (Drag and thrust are in equilibrium in straight and level flight.) Because of the high thrust line, that unopposed force caused a nose-down pitch rotation. That added to the nose-down pitch rotation of the wing automatically recovering from the stall because of its built-in pitch stability. The result was too often a pitch-over (the glider going inverted) followed by the airframe breaking. For an example, see under Power in Skyhook Sailwings. (A member of my club was one of several pilots who modified their Soarmasters so that the propeller was set lower; in line with the center of mass of combined glider, engine, and pilot.)
Jim Johns did not need an engine, however. On 18 April 1980, he flew his un-powered hang glider (in free flight as we call it) from 134 foot-high Jockey’s Ridge, North Carolina, 4.5 miles down wind to land near the Wright memorial.
The hang glider name Phoenix was effectively monopolized by Bill Bennett’s Delta Wing Kites and Gliders of Van Nuys, California. Bennett’s designer at this time was Dick Boone. I have no info about who created the sail art in this example.
The pilot here is Jeff James, but I do not know who painted the sail or who took the original photo, or even what the glider is.
See the Hang glider sail art related topics menu. Also see under External links later on this page for video in color of George Worthington’s Cumulus VB with dragons painted on the sail.
Manta, based in Oakland, California, manufactured the Fledge 2 ‘semi rigid’ hang glider, which at this time was unbeatable in competition. However, a flex-wing was under development by a rival manufacturer that was to nullify the Fledge’s advantage. The Manta Fledge 2, like the Eipper Quicksilver, subsequently gained a new lease of life as a powered ultralight. (See Early powered ultralights.) Manta also manufactured components for other powered ultralight manufacturers. See the Manta Products of California related topics menu.
George Worthington was a retired navy pilot who held world distance records in both rigid and flex-wing hang gliders. (See the Mitchell Wing page for more of Worthington.) Tom Peghiny started designing and building his own hang gliders while still at school. Dennis Pagen writes the most authoritative texts about every aspect of hang gliding.
Dennis Pagen, a prolific author of hang gliding technical articles and books, was U.S. champion in 1978 flying a Sky Sports Sirocco II, which he partly designed. For more about this east coast manufacturer, see Flying squad.
In early 1979, the Lancer IV, originating in New Zealand, epitomized the state of the art for the average flex-wing pilot. (See Lancer IV in Graeme Bird’s hang gliders.) However, as was normal in hang glider technology development during this period, its pre-eminence did not last long. A new wing designed in France was about to consign all previous flex-wings to history. Then, a further development in California made that design redundant too, at least among top performing flex-wings.
Fly straight with perfection
Find me a new direction
— From the lyrics of The Raven by the Stranglers, 1979
A manufacturer in the USA discovered by accident that their novice level glider without deflexor wires bracing the leading edges outperformed their more advanced wings. (I am not sure whether Electra Flyer of New Mexico with their Dove or Wills Wing of California was first with that discovery.) Realizing that deflexors caused too much drag, hang glider manufacturers then changed to stronger leading edge tubes instead. Wills Wing, just one of the several hang glider manufacturers based in California, replaced their three production hang glider types, the Omega, Omni, and Alpha, by a single defelexorless design; the Raven. (See the related topics menu Sport Kites/Wills Wing of California.)
Notice the absence of deflexors along the leading edges, with their cables, adjusters, supporting struts, and attachment fittings. All gone! In this late model Raven, even the outer ends of the crosstubes and their attachments to the leading edges are tucked away into the slower moving air close to the underside of the sail.
Erik Fair, shown here demonstrating correct landing flare technique in a Wills Wing Raven, wrote an entertaining and instructive book titled Right Stuff for Hang Glider Pilots.
In this image the creases in the left (underside) leading edge pocket, caused by differential span-wise tension between the leading and trailing edges, create an incorrect impression of the camber of the sail, incidentally. The orientation of the batten pockets provides an accurate indication.
Dove: Past tense of dive 😀
Hang glider manufacture is intolerant of even apparently trivial changes. Every change must be tested. This sub-section describes a problem with a prototype licence-built Electra Flyer Dove, and its solution.
The Electra Flyer Dove was a beginner rated single-surface wing with the latest 1979 features: Absence of deflexors and the addition of short anti-flutter battens at the tips. All modern hang gliders (in 2020) incorporate the former (that is, they are without deflexorss) and some also include short anti-flutter battens.
The first prototype of the Scotkites/Eurowing license-built Dove (with UK aluminium tubes and a sail made in the U.S.A.) flew just like American made Doves; at least in light winds. However, when two test pilots tried it in stronger conditions, they found that pulling on speed caused the nose to drop alarmingly. It was puzzling because the new frame was a good match for the original.
Some ‘wind tunnel’ testing on top of the hill in a strong breeze illustrated that a slightly loose fit of the sail at the nose and the flexibility of the plastic center batten caused the problem. When the angle of attack was reduced enough, the sail at the nose blew down, radically altering the airfoil curve and introducing a nose-down pitch force. (The nose batten was held up by a cord attached to the front top rigging cable, and in the unstable state it changed from a convex curve to an S shape…)
After Scotkites repositioned the sail and fitted a stiffer nose batten, the docile flying characteristics of the Dove returned. (*)
For more about the problem of dive recovery in a weight shift controlled flying machine, see Luff in the time of cholera (a whole topic about the luffing dive) and Righteous stuff (look for the Sport Aviation Centurion) in Hang gliding early 1980s part 2.
See also the Electra Flyer of Albuquerque, New Mexico related topics menu.
This topic continues in Hang gliding 1978 and 1979 part 3.
3 Decades of Liz by Liz Sharp as told to C.J. Sturtevant in Hang Gliding & Paragliding, May 2008
Grouse Mountain competition 1978: Names to Faces. The Challenge. Posted by Fred Wilson in 2014 on the Hanggliding.org forum, it attempts to identify the individuals in a group photo of about 70 top pilots from around the world. (Updated by this author in October 2020.)
1970s Found 8mm Film Home Movie – TORREY PINES HANG GLIDERS on YouTube starting at 1 minute 5 seconds, where George Worthington’s Cumulus VB with dragons painted on the sail appears; parked on the ground
Dove: Topic reply on British Hangies Facebook group