Kitty Hawk Kites
Most of the images on this page are my artistic derivations of contemporary photos. Others are largely unedited photos by Hugh Morton. See Copyright of early hang gliding photos.
John Harris of Kitty Hawk Kites made the first ever hang glider flight from Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina, on July 13th, 1974.
NASA engineer F.M. Rogallo gave his name to the technology, although others played greater parts in its development. (See Flex-wings in Earliest hang gliders.) Pete Brock taught Rogallo fly a a Rogallo wing in about 1973 at Torrance Beach, California (see Brock teaches Rogallo to fly in Torrance Beach) but Jockey’s Ridge was Rogallo’s ‘home site.’
John LaTorre worked building hang gliders north of Baltimore, Maryland, in late 1975 and early 1976…
We were still struggling, though, as were most of the hang glider shops we knew about. The only really successful enterprise in the area was Kitty Hawk Kites, which got much of its business from tourists who were attracted to North Carolina’s Outer Banks. It was located across the street from a state park with many huge sand dunes, which afforded perfect training sites for what Bob [Martin] called “hang glider rides.” After a modicum of orientation, the student would be taken to whichever dune afforded the best orientation to the wind that day and strapped into a glider. The student was almost guaranteed to get off the ground, particularly with the aid of a keel assist if the winds were light that day. That person would probably never take another lesson, but it didn’t matter, because there always new tourists to ensure a steady stream of would-be aviators.
— John LaTorre (see the John LaTorre related topics menu)
See also Hugh Morton’s photos (related topics menu).
See Training aids.
Hang Gliding at Jockey’s Ridge, Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding School — a video by Cathy Anderson on YouTube that imparts a thoroughly modern impression of the pilot training experience
Its a Kind of Magic by Andy Torrington, about Kitty Hawk Kites and the history of hang gliding at Jockey’s Ridge, in Hang Gliding & Paragliding, August 2011