The First Ten Years


January. The newly formed British Hang Gliding Association (BHGA) launched its new magazine known as 'Wings'. This was produced by Nick Regan and co editor Dave Tait and was well received and accepted as a means of bringing all sides of the sport together. Pages one and two explained who had been elected to what position and to the roll they would play within the Association. Also included in the magazine was a pull out article explaining what had been agreed by all who attended the Coventry meeting chaired by Ann Welch on the 8th December 1974. The front cover carried a photo of Miles Handley flying an early Skyhook glider from Devils Dyke near Brighton.

January. The #1 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

The BHGA also started to send out 'Application Forms' to anybody wanting to join the newly formed Association.

January. Critchley Hughes advertised the US imported 'Seagull' hang glider in the first edition of the 'Wings' magazine.

January. Mark Woodhams designed  and organised the manufacture of the BHGA cloth badge, an item that most of the early flyers took to wearing somewhere on their clothing or harness.

The BHGA committee promoted Tony Fuell to the position of National Public Relations Officer. His principle function being to assist clubs in their fight to retain sites.

Waspair announced that a full spares service would be available at the Kossen World Championships being held in March.

January. The BHGA included an Accident, Incident or Moment report form in its January edition of 'Wings'.

9th January. The inaugural meeting of the 'Cumbria Hang Gliding Club' was held at the Globe Hotel, Cockermouth.

The BHGA selected six pilots to represent the Association at the upcoming Kossen World Championships to be held in March. 1) Brian Woods. 2) Dick Bickel. 3) Gerry Breen. 4) Malcolm Hawkesworth. 5) Robin Payne. 6) Bob Calvert. The team was sponsored by Van Heusen the shirt manufacturers. While Anglian Marine Exports were to provide Helly Hansen suits and ski mitts.

12th February. The Evening Argus newspaper published an article about the banning of hang gliding from Mill Hill on the South Downs.

Hawksworth Skysports Ltd released a leaflet introducing the public and would be flyers to its company, it also included a price list.

February. The #2 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

The February edition of the 'Wings' magazine carried an article from Mark Woodhams of how he designed the BHGA badge. There was also a report of the meeting held at Coventry 8th December 1974, that was chaired by Ann Welch.

February. The Southern Hang Gliding Club published its 'Windsock' newsletter.

Rob Haynes from Waspair was running the British Hang Gliding School from Thornton Heath Surrey.

Early in the year, the Norfolk Hang Gliding Club was formed and it became the first and only club in East Anglia. Started by a bunch of enthusiasts who used to meet at Muckleburgh Hill (Weybourne), they also pioneered the cliff sites along the North Norfolk coast. The three founding members were, Rod Pace (Secretary) Greg Thompson (Flying Safety) Mike Lake (Technical Safety), these positions being the minimum requirements for a club to become affiliated to the BHGA.

Hawksworth Skysports Ltd announced the opening of their new specialist hang gliding sports shop in the south east of the United Kingdom.

March. The #3 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

The March edition of 'Wings' also contained a leaflet explaining the 'Proposed Constitution' of the BHGA, to be debated and voted on during a meeting that was to be held at the Matrix Hall on 6th April 1975.

Sailwings (Scotland) Ltd advertised their latest glider the 'Osprey 520' in the March edition of 'Wings'.

20th March. The World Championships that were held at Kossen in Austria. Ken Messenger won the best soaring time by a British Flexwing while flying an 'Albatross'. The British flyers were place as follows, 13th Tony Beresford, 20th Ken Messenger, 26th Brian Woods, 30th Bob Calvert, 34th Robin Payne, 38th Robin Haynes, and 56th Steve hunt. Photos from Don Liddard.

April. The #4 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

10th April. The 'Flight International' magazine published a short article informing would be competitors about the up coming Steyning Bowl Hang Gliding competition and that there would be two different classes.

17th April. Hawksworth Skysports Ltd released a leaflet about their company importing Wills Wings 'Swallowtail' gliders from the USA.

May. The #5 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

The Western Sailwing Centre was set up by David and Heather Lyne.

May. Geoff McBroom published details of an anti-luffing system which in essence was the application of luff lines from the king post to points near the trailing edge of the sail of a standard flexwing. This idea was later copied by other manufactures.

May. John Amor, the BHGA’s South Midlands and East Anglia representative crashed fatally. The cause was attributed to his wearing climbing boots with hooks for the laces, one of which became caught in the back flying wires. The BHGA issued a strong safety advisory against this type of footwear.

June. The #6 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

15th June. John Smith was involved in an accident while flying and crashing a home built 'Quicksilver B'. at Doddington Near Wooler Northumberland. He later died from his injuries.

20th June. Waspair sent their price list and glider details to Greg Stokes.

June. The BHGA distributed the final version of its new 'Constitution' to all members. While work started on a 'Pilot Grading Scheme' by a sub-committee consisting of Anne Welch, Malcolm Hawkesworth, Geoff Shine and Tony Fuell.

June. Alex Cowie died at Rhossili from injuries received from an accident.

Johnny Carr claimed a 4 hour 15 minute record flying prone on board a Hiway '260'.

Steve Meredith and Greg Burgess flying a two man Hiway '260' claimed a record of two hours one minute that included four 360º turns.

Geoff McBroom brought out two new gliders, the 'Argus' and the 'Cobra'. The 'Argus' was offered with a new enlarged A-Frame suitable for prone flying, its fittings were black anodised. Its price including VAT and tuition for the 17 foot (10 stone or less) was £250.00, while the 18 foot (10 to15 stone) was £262.50. The 19 foot (12 stone or more) was £287.50, and the 20 foot 6 inch (two seater) was £325.00. Kits and plans were also still made available for sale at that time. The 'Cobra' was what became known as a second generation glider with a distinctive bird-like shape. Although without deflexors, the design incorporated truncated tips and battens. The 'Cobra' was reported to have been a pleasant and docile glider to fly, and was produced in two sizes. It had a sail area of 222 sq-ft designed for pilots of 11 stone and above. With a leading edge of 19 feet, and a keel length of 17 feet, was priced at £300.00 including VAT and tuition. The 17 foot leading edge model for lighter pilots costs £290.00 including VAT and tuition.

Hawksworth Skysports Ltd released a general price list of all its hang gliding products.

Unknown date (guessing 1975) a newspaper article was published called 'Birdman of Shoreham' that included Dr Dustance Handley.

July. The #7 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

13th and 14th July. The 'Southern Hang Gliding Club' held a competition at Steyning Bowl and an article was published in the 'Flight International' magazine with all the results. Further innovations this year was a Team Prize and a Ladies Cup, which both produced triumphs for the visiting Irish Association pilots. They carried off the four-pilot Team Prize, led by Tom Hudson, whose wife Jennifer took the Ladies Cup. The Hudsons' daughter, Sandra, was third. Team member Patrick Davitt, who had bought a new hang glider that morning, won a 'Ridge Rider' hang glider in the raffle, complete with free lessons. Class A was won by Steve Hunt, designer of the Hiway gliders which carried their pilots into all the top places in Classes A and B. The Class B winner was Brian Wood, defending champion, who retained his title as the overall winner with 242 points. All Class C entries at Steyning had single surface-battened wings. The newest, the Miles Wing 'Gulp', could be collapsed and rolled up in less than a minute after landing, and with a weight of only 40 lb could be carried back up the hill without help. The 'Gulp', flown by its designer Miles Handley, won Class C, with a 'Tweetie', manned by Lt Cdr Michael Collis coming second. A third aircraft in this group was Ian Partington's 'Tweetie' derivative with stick controlled wing warping. Results sheet.

The event was photographed by Don Liddard.

July. The BHGA issued its 'Code of Good Practice' flying recommendations and rules, prepared by John Amor and Bob Mackay.

July. The Leicester Hang Gliding Supplies company advertised their services in the #7 edition of the 'Wings' magazine.

Gerry Breen of Kustom Kites brough out a leaflet of his products.

Geoff McBroom and Norman Millhouse flying a two seater 'Argus' glider became the first to undertake a drop from a balloon in the United Kingdom. Photo

A selection of photos taken by Don Liddard during 1975.

More photos from Don Liddard taken at mill Hill during 1975, this time they are viewed via video.

Greg Stokes was flying a Hiway '204' (Gregs Photo Gallery) (Gregs Log book and ratings)

The 'Thames Valley Hang Gliding Club' was formed, with Roy Hill being elected as chairman (later to become Chairman of the BHGA), other committee members were Jim Taggart, Ron Jerome, Tony Keefe, Alec Caley, and Rick Wilson.

Ann Welch and Gerry Breen co-authored the first British book to be published in the UK about hang gliding. Ann Welch was later to become the President of the BMAA. (British Microlight Aircraft Association}.

Len Gabriels Skyhook Sailwing Company launched the 'Cloud 9', this was a higher aspect ratio glider than its predecessor, the 'Mk3A', and it had super performance and excellent handling. They also launched a leaflet advertising both gliders to the public.

August. The #8 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

August. The Southern Hang Gliding Club published it latest 'Windsock' newsletter.

August. Don Liddard has a collection of photos taken around this time.

August. Waspair advertised there latest glider the 'Nova' in the #8 Edition of 'Wings'.

August. Newhall Marketing Services Ltd advertised their latest glider the 'Hill Plane 21' in the #8 edition of the 'Wings' magazine.

August. An article from Parco Developments Ltd about their latest glider the 'Fulmar', was published in the #8 edition of 'Wings' magazine.

Hawksworth Skysports Ltd released its second price list of the year.

Early Video Footage taken from Agnew's Hill, an easterly facing ridge near the port of Larne, Co Antrim - one of the very few sites in Northern Ireland that does not have a road to the top.

In 1975 Edmund Potter motorcycled to Brighton for a weekend with the Hawksworth Hang Gliding School. Malcolm H stood with a radio in a field at the bottom of a very steep hill, whilst the wind blew a huley at the top. Edmund Potter: "We (the novice pilots) stood at the top, strapped to a Hiway 220 glider (with frantically flapping sail) and launched when the radio said so. Nearing the bottom, when the radio said “flare!!” – if we heard it - we variously made contact with knees/nose/wingtip or whatever and the ground. Then we nursed our bruises, laughed with relief, and helped carry the kite back up the hill for the next victim. Expert pilots at the top took off and beat back and forth above the ridge to our immense envy. They would disappear behind the top to land, to be followed occasionally, moments later, by a pirouette of aluminium tube, coloured sail cloth, and odd arms and legs. Later on ambulances would wind their way up and down the access road. I logged a modest 1 min 30 secs (total) for three intrepid launches. It was clear that you needed a 400’ high steep hill with a 40 mile an hour wind at the top for this form of aviation – not something readily available to East Anglians, alas". Taken from Ed's Autobiography that appeared on the Norfolk Hang Gliding Club website run by Phil Chettelburgh.

1975. Video footage of Tony & Derek Prentice flying their hang gliders.

Tony Prentice designed and experimented with his 'Mk I Splitwing' glider by ridge soaring at Brasted on the Northdowns in Kent, 1974 or 1975. (Photos) The 'Mk I' had a jib in front of the main sail, with the hang point between the two, so it could be classed as a canard. Video

1975. Video footage of Johnny Carr flying a 'Gulp'.

22nd-23rd-24th-25th August. After a lot of hard work by Chris Corston the newly elected Secretary of the BHGA and a few close friends. The first official British Hang Gliding Championships was held at Mere being sponsored by British Petroleum (BP). An event that was well attended by many flyers from all over the country. Brian Griffith's one of the competitors from Ipswich in Suffolk, mentioned that there were 223 registered flyers that year. Even the American Wills brothers, Chris and Bob, turned up and introduced their Wills Wing 'Swallowtail' to the UK. Bob went on to win one of the events and was overall winner. During the spot landing competition Bob was constantly landing on the cross marked out on the ground, but for some reason Nick Regan who was a marshal overseeing the event would not give him maximum points. In desperation Bob approached Nick and asked why he was not awarding him maximum points. To which Nick told him that each time he landed his feet straddled either side of the cross, and that in order to get maximum points he would have to land dead centre on the cross. Bob went straight up the hill to the take off area and had another flight and this time he landed on one-foot, on the dead centre of the cross. Nick had no hesitation and awarded him maximum points. Bob went on to win the Class 2 event. Malcolm Hawksworth was later to import the Wills Wing 'Swallowtail', although it performed very well, when compared to the British built hang gliders of the time, the higher price of the 'Swallowtail' placed it beyond the reach most of the early pilots. The official program.

Hawksworth Skysports Ltd released a price list of the Wills Wings 'Swallowtail' hang gliders that it was importing.

The Mere winners for 1975 were as follows
Class 1. 1st Bob Calvert Skyhook '3A'. 2nd Miles Handley & Norman Millhouse. 4th Dale Clothier.
Class 2. 1st Bob Wills (USA) Wills 'Swallowtail'. 2nd Chris Wills (USA). Wills 'Swallowtail'. 3rd Robert Wisley.
Class 3. 1st Brian Woods Miles Wing 'Gulp'. 2nd Cdr Mike Collis 'Tweetie'. 3rd Johnny Carr Miles Wing 'Gulp'.
Overall Winner of the event was Bob Wills (USA) flying a Wills 'Swallowtail', followed up by his brother Chris, and Bob Calvert was 3rd.

Video of the 1975 Mere competition was taken by Frank Kemmery.

Everard Cunion also attended the Mere meeting flying a Skyhook '3a'.

30th August. Don Liddard photographed Miles Handley flying a Wasp '229' at Devils Dyke.

The Fack Bothers, John and Jeremy started up their 'High School of Hang Gliding' in the Bristol area, assisted by Paul and Chris Baker. They also became agents for most of the hang gliders on offer from all the manufacturers at that time. They notified future pupils that as of the the beginning of September (1975) they would only be operating 4 day courses to the BHGA's Elementary Certificate standard. This would enable each pupil to have a much more thorough grounding in the sport of hang gliding.

The Fack Brothers released information on the Albatross Sails Glider (US import) the 'ASG-20'.

The Fack Brothers released their latest price list.

By this time most manufacturers in the UK had also introduced the use of battens into their wings.

Another new company that set up in Scotland during 1975 was Scotkites/Eurowing, run by Brian Harrison. Some of the gliders offered included, 'Firefly', 'Firetail' and under licence from Electra-Flyer Corp, the 'Cirrus 2', 'Cirrus 3', 'Cirrus 5', 'Olympus', 'Dove' and 'Floater'.

September. The #9 Edition Of 'Wings' was published.

September. The BHGA using the September edition of 'Wings', released details for all 'Flight Instructors' on what was required of them before they could be registered and approved.

September. BHGA announced its new 'Pilot Grading Scheme', comprising of two grades, Elementary and Pilot. Progress with the Schools Registration scheme was also announced. A subsequent explanatory article appeared in the November issue of 'Wings'.

September. John Smith died at Doddington while flying a 'Quicksilver'. An Investigation revealed that a flying wire attached by bulldog clips over plastic sheathing had pulled through. BHGA issued a safety advisory notice to only use swaged ends straight on to steel wire.

Waspair unveiled their latest glider to the public calling it the 'Falcon'.

Waspair announced their latest price rises.

'Southern Hang Gliding Club' raised an 8000 signature petition against a proposed by-law banning hang gliding at Mill Hill, Shoreham and handed it in to the Home Office.

Birdman Sports Ltd acquired the UK dealership for Ultralight Products of California. The UP 'Dragonfly' was imported and proved to be of superior performance to the 'Hawk' and 'Albatross'. As an interim measure they issued updating kits comprising of a prone harness, A-Frames and deflexors. A high performance conversion for the 'Hawk' helped reduce the sail billow to near 3%.

Hawksworth Skysports Ltd sent a letter explaining the Wills Wing 'Swallowtail' glider to Terry Aspinall.

Tony Fuel was recruited by Council as the BHGA’s 'Public Relations Officer' to help deal with the organisation’s response to the increasing media interest in hang gliding.

An unknown newspaper article and date was published high lighting the deaths in the sport.

October. The #10 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

October. Delta Wings (Towkites and Gliders) from Brighouse in Yorkshire advertised their latest glider the 'Skytrek' in the October edition of 'Wings'.

October. Ridge Rider Gliders from Steyning Sussex advertised their latest glider the 'Pinto' in the November edition of 'Wings'.

October. The 'Knight School of Hang Gliding' from Washington West Sussex run by Tom and Jeannie Knight advertised their school in the October edition of 'Wings'.

Gerry Breen’s Kustom Kites brought out two gliders in 1975, the 'Kingkite' and the Kustom Kite'. The Kustom Kite included wing nuts and safety cross-pins, thus making it possible to rig and de-rig without tools whilst still retaining aircraft approved methods. The Kustom kite series was advertised to include the following variants; 'Butterfly', 'Firefly', 'Cirrus', 'Cumulus', 'Stratus', 'Nimbus', each of these were in two sizes (+6, presumably six inches longer leading edge). While the 'Kingkite' was advertised in three different sizes 20-18, 19-17, 18-16.

Hiway unveiled their second generation glider, the 'Cloudbase', which incorporated battens and deflexors. Early models had two radial battens. whilst later ones, had chord wise battens. The 'Cloudbase' was supplied in three different sizes to cover pilot weights from 7 to 18 stone. This was an excellent glider and became one of the first to be used for cross-country flying. The 'Cloudbase model 20'.(medium size for 10 to 15 stone pilots) had a leading edge 20 feet 2 inches, a keel of 18 feet 2 inches, with a sail area of 220 sq-ft, its aspect ratio was 4, and weight was 43 lbs, with a total price tag of £378.00.

Commander Mike Collis introduced hang gliding to the Royal Navy, forming a club in 1975 while he was stationed on board HMS Fyfe. Mike remembers assembling the club’s first hang glider from a kit, bought from a UK distributor and in true naval style it was assembled at sea. Mike and the Commanding Officer of HMS Fyfe sewed the sail. The members of the first club were any of the ships company who expressed an interested in exploring the idea of free flight. Later, Mike left the Royal Navy and went on to become the paid secretary of the BHGA from 1988-1990, before it amalgamated to become the BHPA.

Waspair unveiled their next generation of glider with the 'Sting'.

November. The #11 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

November. Ken Messenger (Birdman Sports Promotions) placed an advert in the November edition of 'Wings' summing up what Birdman had achieved through out the year.

November. Avon Kites advertised their latest two gliders, the 'Phantom' and the 'Phalanger' in the November edition of 'Wings'.

November. The 'Mercian Hang Gliding Club' released its latest newsletter.

November. 'The Long Mynd Hang Gliding Club' released its latest newsletter.

November. Vynair from Manchester advertised 'Sail Kits' in the November edition of 'Wings'.

10th November. As of this date the BHGA had approved the following gliders. The Birdman 'Hawk' and 'Albatross'. The Breen 'Custom Kites' 14 to 19 feet models. The Chargus 'Standard' & '18/80', the '200' seated & prone. The '240' seated & prone and the '260' seated & prone. The Kestrel 'Windhover 2'. The McBroom 'Argus' 17 and 18. The 'Pegasus', 'Pegasus 2'. The Skyhook '3A' 13 foot to 18 foot. The 'Cloud 9' 15 foot to 19 foot. Sailwings Scotland's 'Osprey 520'. Sussex Delta's the 'Ridge Rider' and Waspairs '229B3', and 'CB240'.

John James was photographed flying prone on a standard seated Wasp 'CB240' at Cam Long Downs. Note how he is controlling the flight by using the front bottom wires.

November. Bob Bailey set a Pennine Hang Gliding Club soaring record of six hours and seven minutes flying a Skyhook 'Mk3A' on the Filey/Scarborough cliffs.

Johnny Carr broke the British endurance record for prone flight on a Hiway '260' at Rhossili.

December. The #12 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

December. Ken Messenger (Birdman Sports Promotions) placed an advert in the November edition of 'Wings', talking about the birth of hang gliding in the United Kingdom and of who had done what during that time.

December. Avon Sailmakers placed a sales leaflet advertisement in the #12 December edition of 'Wings'.

December. A local branch of the 'Welsh Hang Gliding Club' (WHGC) was formed to look after the interests of fliers living within the area bounded by Bridgend to the west, Brecon to the north, and the river Monnow to the east. This was initially known as the Heads of the Valleys Branch. Ewart Jones, who was the first man in Wales to own a hang glider, was elected as Chairman, and Hugh Hutchinson became the Secretary.

27th December. The 'Guardian' newspaper published an article by Martin Walker describing what it's like to fly a hang glider just like 3000 other people in the UK.


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