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All things hang gliding. This is the main forum. New users, introduce yourself.

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By USHPA7
#406067
Last September I was sitting at a picnic table, in Utah, with Dave Cronk, some of you may have been around hang gliding long enough to know who he is.

I brought up the subject of hang gliding history and how more of it needs to be recorded while those of us who lived it are still around and he said: "Frank, nobody cares" with a solemn look.

We experienced a period in human history when a new worldwide sport started, recreationally flying as close to bird like as we had ever come. The date is even known: May 23, 1971, Location was Newport Beach, CA, National Geographic magazine was on the scene and publicized it worldwide, which fired people's imaginations everywhere. Soon people were flying almost like birds all over planet earth. I went home after that magical day and started building a glider, my son already had built one from bamboo and polyethylene sheet.

Is Dave Cronk right, that nobody cares what transpired after May 23, 1971?

Frank Colver
Bench inscription.jpg
Bench inscription.jpg (291.96 KiB) Viewed 1734 times








By DHMead
#406069
Yes.
People care.
I care.
The history might not seem important to some right now because of the relative recency of the "birth of hang gliding" and the current overall lull in interest, but it must be preserved ... Especially when so many of the pioneers are still with us to give an accurate first hand record of those exciting, creative, and dangerous days.
Dave Cronk must have been having a bit of a spell that day. Surely he knows how important those days were and how important this history is to preserve.
Big Blue Sky did an outstanding job of bringing some of those stories to light. We just need to record all of the other stories that are out there waiting to be told.
The designers: Cronk, Wills, Moyes, Hall, Pierson, Quinn, Meier, Peghiny, Kiceniuk, Trampenau, Thevenot, Blevins, Brock, Haggard, Reynolds, Morris, Armour, Miller, Raymond, and dozens of others ...
The comp pilots: Tudor, Lee, Arai, Porter, Muehl, Price, Nichols, Pagen, Pfeiffer, Rawlings, Bostik, etc, etc.
All of these folks are still around (I think!) to tell their stories. Their first hand accounts would be far, far more accurate and impactful than the same story told second hand.
By USHPA7
#406074
Thanks, it's good to know you care. I think Dave said that precisely because nobody is trying to record those other stories that Big Blue Sky didn't cover. I was kidding Bill Liscomb, one day, that my varios were seen on the control bars of gliders in his film but no mention was made about the first aircraft instrument ever produced especially for hang gliders. I estimated that about 5,000 were sold during the product's lifetime.

I'll add my name to the designers: Colver Skysail and Colver variometer. Now adding the HG Basic Trainer (in progress). My Skysail never went into production but I've been told by several of those on your list that it was an inspiration to their designs.

Frank
By DHMead
#406084
USHPA7 wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:42 am
Thanks, it's good to know you care. I think Dave said that precisely because nobody is trying to record those other stories that Big Blue Sky didn't cover. I was kidding Bill Liscomb, one day, that my varios were seen on the control bars of gliders in his film but no mention was made about the first aircraft instrument ever produced especially for hang gliders. I estimated that about 5,000 were sold during the product's lifetime.

I'll add my name to the designers: Colver Skysail and Colver variometer. Now adding the HG Basic Trainer (in progress). My Skysail never went into production but I've been told by several of those on your list that it was an inspiration to their designs.

Frank
Frank Colver! Of course! I flew with the golden box myself.

As far as the trainer, NorthWing had a proof-of-concept training glider recently that featured lightweight construction and permanently installed battens in lieu of removable ribs for simplicity, weight reduction, and ease of assembly. Don't know what happened to it, but the idea of a non-certifiable ultralight trainer could be a real benefit to basic hang gliding instruction.

#406095
You know, I was going to write a history of hang gliding, although I would have dated the birth of modern hang gliding to John Dickenson;s marriage of the Rogallo airfoil to the triangle control frame of the ski kite. That was the design that really got the sport off the ground.

However, I felt that although I'd been involved in the sport since 1974 and have worked for a number of hang glider factories, a few of them among the biggest, for twenty years, I really wasn't close enough to the southern California scene to do the subject justice. I did write up a personal history and gave it to Ken de Russey for his Hang Glider Museum. That can be found at his Yahoo site, but since people don't have access to that site the way it used to be, I've posted it on my blog as well:

http://jayeltee.blogspot.com/2019/01/my ... maker.html

It might make for some interesting reading, particularly where it shows how the sport grew from the grassiest of roots. I purposely left out the actual flying I did, except for mentioning that I did a bit of prototype test flying, because that wasn't really part of the story. I had never really decided whether it would be part of the book I'd eventually write, or whether it would include some of the ways that hang gliding re-shaped my world and my self-perception.

Maybe we could compile a history of hang gliding from essays like this, with each person describing the subject as it appeared to him or her, and host it on an appropriate web site.
User avatar
By hgldr
#406097
So John, Who designed the Pac-Air Formula? Was it Jean-Michel and Bob Schutte? That was my first double surface in '89 and it still was my favorite ever glider I had ever owned.
Darrell Hambley
H4 Wichita, KS
#406103
Hey Frank,

Those of us who were there to witness and participate in the birth of modern bird-like-flight were very, very fortunate. The dream of flying like a bird had literally come true. I recall thinking hang gliding was going to be HUGE, with vast numbers participating because 'everyone' dreamed of flying like a bird. Oops, I quickly found that dreaming and doing were two different things.

But, for those who did participate, is was a magical time. We were there to see the birth and the rapid evolution of a new sport. It was a time of huge rewards and sometimes devastating mistakes.

We now have generations that have grown up with modern hang gliding. For them, bird-like-flight has never been an unattainable dream. I think of hang gliding, much like the wheel, bicycle, car, etc., as something that the majority of us now take for granted.

Phil
#406107
hgldr wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 9:30 pm
So John, Who designed the Pac-Air Formula? Was it Jean-Michel and Bob Schutte?
The Formula came out long after Bob Schutte left the company. It was essentially Jean-Michel's re-working of the Magic Kiss to eliminate some adverse yaw characteristics and improve handling in general. It had the same basic planform as the Kiss, but (IIRC) had a different airfoil and a simplified rib arrangement. Maybe the Hawai'ian guy out there can refresh my menory on that.

BTW, the Brits sold the Formula under the brand of the Magic 7. I don't know how many of them were made by Airwave UK, but I remember making ta duplicate of he pattern and sending it off to them.

I myself enjoyed flying the Formula more than the Kiss, even though its performance wasn't as good.
#406109
Yup, I seem to remember the Formula being a kinder, gentle version of the KISS. I don't remember there being much of a change in the airfoil, I think that there were less ribs and more twist in the wing to calm things down a bit. I also seem to recall a bit of a change in the tension of the undersurface for a little more camber that allowed you to slow it down and boat around (the KISS was a little prone to tip stall when it was pushed way out). The big sacrifice was high-end speed but it was much less prone to pilot induced oscillations, which was something that some pilots struggled with on the KISS. Both were good fun but the Formula was a lot easier to fly for the "intermediate" pilot, a great transition wing from something like a Vision Mark IV/Pulse to one of the rocket ships.
#406112
kukailimoku2 wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:43 pm
Yup, I seem to remember the Formula being a kinder, gentle version of the KISS. I don't remember there being much of a change in the airfoil, I think that there were less ribs and more twist in the wing to calm things down a bit. I also seem to recall a bit of a change in the tension of the undersurface for a little more camber that allowed you to slow it down and boat around.
Yeah, that's what I remember. The change in undersurface tension was mainly due to losing a few battens, although there may have been a slight more undersurface 'fullness" to allow a higher mean camber ... I can't remember.

I guess it's too late to say "Mele Kelikamaka" but do have a happy new year, my old friend.
#406113
Back at ya', JLT. This conversation has brought back a lot of great memories and a big smile.
#406115
Yes, the Formula was pretty much a JMB/Latorre/Deegan design as I recall. I think my X still considers it the best glider ever. Not a bad choice for the fun loving pilot -- kinda best of all worlds.

Three Formula builders on the same thread. Old times.

JB
#406117
Yes Dickenson, Rogallo, Otto Lilienthal, etc,etc, all had a hand in setting the stage for the start of the worldwide sport of hang gliding but it was that first meeting of multiple "birdmen" with their gliding machines of varied design and that it got worldwide exposure in Nat Geo Mag that made the beginning on May 23, 1971.

Below is a photo, I took at that meet, of my son Matt getting airborne in his bamboo and plastic "Rogallo" with a little help from his friends. I'm glad it's easier to get airborne these days.

It was a magical day as the history bench inscription says.

Frank
1st Otto Meet 4.jpg
1st Otto Meet 4.jpg (1.51 MiB) Viewed 1115 times
#406176
USHPA7 wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:55 pm
Yes Dickenson, Rogallo, Otto Lilienthal, etc,etc, all had a hand in setting the stage for the start of the worldwide sport of hang gliding but it was that first meeting of multiple "birdmen" with their gliding machines of varied design and that it got worldwide exposure in Nat Geo Mag that made the beginning on May 23, 1971.

I would agree that the Lilienthal meet was the point that hang gliding reached national recognition due to the coverage of the National Geographic. Although there were a very few clubs in southern California, most of the clubs that were formed elsewhere in the country were created after, and almost certainly due to, the NG article.

Perhaps I should have been more specific and said that hang gliding, as an industry, began with John Dickenson's wing. There were quite a few enthusiasts before 1971, and even a few that offered plans and such, but Dickenson already was having a company make his wings under license, training people to fly them, and setting up dealerships by the end of the 1960s. And it was Bill Bennett who demonstrated the potential of the wing worldwide and began selling finished gliders and later establishing dealerships and schools here. As the sport really became popular, there were a few people selling rigid wing designs and plans, but the fast majority of the hang gliders in the early seventies, and the first gliders for almost all of those coming into the sport, were Dickenson wings and their direct descendants.

I certainly don't want to put down all the people who built Rogallo wings and fixed-wing gliders, but I don't think that any of those would have been marketable on a large scale. It was the advent of a wing with the combination of a Rogallo airfoil with reasonably docile handling and stall characteristics, a triangle control frame allowing greater roll authority, and the ability to be easily folded and car-topped, that made the industry possible. And that wing happened to be the one that John Dickenson created. (And may Joe Faust forgive me!)
#406215
I care, absolutely.

I've been reading the sport's history and watching as much that's out there as I can... like this gem;


Fair warning, the filming style, campy sense of humor, sound effects, narration, music, etc is all kind of 'classic' 70's style. It's so bad that it's glorious...
#406216
Image

Here's an image of Mr. Fred Bickford from 1897 Joe Faust sent me awhile ago.

So saying there was a specific time and place an individual started hang gliding is a bit far fetched to me. There's much much more to the history. Sorry FAI...

We need to try and prevent stuff like Columbus Day from happening in hang gliding world history.
#406217
So, Bickford, you've taken a sip of the cool ade and enjoyed it's blissful taste, eh? Yeah, I did too at one time. But there exists more than enough evidence to support the contrary of Joe's assertions.
Columbus had to be a hard man to keep his crew and others on a path and to achieve the goals required of him. Holding up our past heroes to the modern, feministic standards will result in the despise of their deeds, even though their overall works gave us great advancements for today. Their day was a much harder existance and had much different standards than we have today. How can we judge what they did when we have very little understanding of the social conditions? Same for our Civil War heroes and other past heroes. Each played their roll, and without their fortitude we may not have had it so good today.
There will always be a group who dispises a past fallen hero for deeds that will never measure up to todays standards and misconseptions.
There exists similar mindsets against John Dickenson for some reason. Why is that?

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