Point Fermin


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Point Fermin

The images on this page are artistic derivations of contemporary photos. See Copyright of early hang gliding photos.

Mike Huetter at Point Fermin, California, by Leroy Grannis
Mike Huetter at Point Fermin, California, by Leroy Grannis

The beach landing area at Point Fermin was not much larger than the bit of beach visible here. See the external video link under Landing on the beach at Point Fermin later on this page for Jack Schroder doing just that in a Quicksilver.


Jack Schroder at Point Fermin by Yvonne Fiamengo
Jack Schroder at Point Fermin by Yvonne Fiamengo

Jack Schroder was as expert at flying flex-wings as he was at flying the Quicksilver. This I think might be an Eipper Cumulus mark 1 designed by Dave Cronk and Mike Huetter. (1) It resembled the Seagull IV.

Notice the ‘wire man’ on the cliff edge just visible at right.

Immediately after the second fatal accident, in late 1974, the club — renamed the Point Fermin Soaring Association — has begun to institute stronger measures including a card system. Bob Sjostedt was elected president, Mike Huetter vice-president, and big Jack Schroder marshall at arms. White lines were painted on the sidewalk to mark safe boundaries for spectators. A harness and retaining line have been set out to prevent nose-wire helpers from falling off the cliff.

— W.A. Allen, Flying Fermin in Wings Unlimited, Feb-Mar., 1975


Point Fermin flying rules placard. Photo by W.A. Allen.
Point Fermin flying rules placard. Photo by W.A. Allen.

This photo, by accident, kind of illustrates the geographic ‘hot house’ of early 1970s hang gliding in southern California. Cliffs along the southern face of Palos Verdes peninsula, which included a flying site near two radar domes (San Pedro Hill radar station) are visible in the distance. The other side of Palos Verdes peninsula lies Torrance Beach, where much early hang gliding development took place including flight testing Dave Cronk’s Cronkite and Bob Lovejoy’s Quicksilver.

I flew out of the lift band with no idea how to fashion an approach and arrived at the beach in soft sand by some miracle. Schroeder had told me to wait but I was impatient and flew before he got back up from the beach. When I landed he yelled at me for not waiting. He understood well the extremely narrow path one needed to follow to succeed at safely landing there. (No top landing was possible there.) Sadly it proved to be too narrow even for him.

— Ken de Russy via e-mail August 1st, 2020. (See under External links later on this page for brief film of Ken launching at Point Fermin.)

See under External links later on this page for digitized film of Mike Harker’s crash there, in which he was lucky to be uninjured and also film of Jack Schroder making a final approach over rocks in a Quicksilver to land on the small patch of flat sand.

We are happy to hear that Jack Schroder, who had a serious accident at Point Fermin in early August, may escape permanent spinal cord damage. He had a hard rump landing on a rock while trying to make the shoreline in poor lift.

— USHGA Accident Review Board Chairman Robert V. Wills writing in Ground Skimmer, August 1975. Schroder was flying an Icarus 5 rigid hang glider when he crashed. (2)


Ed Cesar and Rick Lesh at Point Fermin, California. Photo by Leroy Grannis.
Ed Cesar and Rick Lesh flying Eipper Antares(es) at Point Fermin, California, in 1978 or 79. Photo by Leroy Grannis.

Related

Domes, Palos Verdes related topics menu

Torrance Beach

External links

Hang glider launching at Point Fermin on December 7th, 1975, photo on Wikimedia Commons

Hang glider soaring at Point Fermin on January 10th, 1977, photo on Wikimedia Commons

Hang Gliding at Point Fermin, 1976 by H5-Phil on YouTube. Includes slow-motion action replays of launches.

Ken de Russy launching in a Wills Wing Swallowtail (white or light blue and yellow with dark tips) at Point Fermin: Wings of the Wind on YouTube starting at 21 minutes 49 seconds (very brief)

Point Fermin crash: Mike Harker – Courage Countdown – OLN -TV.wmv digitized film on YouTube by mikeharker1 starting at 1 minute 7 seconds, where Mike launches, loses control (looks like a stall), and hits the cliff…

Quicksilver landing on the beach at Point Fermin: Wings of the Wind on YouTube starting at 24 minutes 57 seconds

References

1. Eipper Cumulus mark 1: Ground Skimmer December 1975 page 17

2. Jack Schroder crash: Los Angeles Times, August 7th 1975

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