The First Ten Years


January. Ted Salisbury flew from Folkestone to Dover and back flying prone on a Wasp 'C4221'.

15th January. The 'Hampshire Telegraph' newspaper published an article about hang gliding that included photo's of Frank Kemmery.

Birdman Sports sent information on their Firebird to Steve Pionk.

18th January. The 'Sunday Mirror' newspaper published an article by James Pettigrew about his experience with learning to fly a hang glider.

January. The #13 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

January. Ken Messenger from Birdman Sports placed an advert in the January edition of the Wings magazine, up dating members on what had been happening in his factory.

January. The BHGA released instructions on how to obtain the 'Pilot Certificate and Badge'.

Gerry Breen placed an advert for his 'Hi-Fli' glider in the January edition of the 'Wings' magazine.

February. The #14 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

February. The BHGA Included a voting slip for the up coming March elections to be held under the new constitution in the #14 edition of 'Wings'.

February. Custom Cars magazine published an article on Hang Gliding.

February. The BHGA included an Incident report information form in the #14 edition of 'Wings'.

February. Ken Messenger (Birdman Sports Promotions) placed an advert in the #14 February edition of 'Wings' explaining to customers and readers what Birdman had achieved and details on their gliders.

3rd February. Mark Woodhams received a letter from the Home Office about an enquiry into the local bye laws on the South Downs.

20th February. Don Liddard appeared in to the 'Ford' newspaper after flying in the Essex Hang Gliding Championships.

February. After being responsible for the first 13 issues of the 'Wings' magazine, Nick Regan retired as Editor and Tony Fuell replaced him.

The BHGA sets up an Accident / Incident reporting scheme under the direction of Roger Discombe, who replaced Miles Handley as 'Accident Analysis Officer'. A reporting form was published in the 'Wings' magazine.

March. The #15 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

March. The 'Long Mynd Hang Gliding Club' published its March Newsletter.

26th March. The Twentieth Centurary Fox Film Corporation released a film called 'Sky Riders'. An American action film directed by Douglas Hickox and starring James Coburn, Susannah York and Robert Culp. A woman and her children are kidnapped in Athens and held in a mountain-top monastery as hostages by a revolutionary terrorist movement. A rescue operation is the mounted using hang gliders. The rescue sequences were filmed in Meteora in Greece. Most of the flying scenes were under taken by the American Wills Brothers.

March. An application form was published in the March edition of 'Wings' for the upcoming British National Hang Gliding Championships to be held at near Pickering in North Yorkshire, from 29th to the 31st of May.

Brian Harrison the owner of Scot Kites in Glasgow released the 'Firefly' range of gliders. The 'Firefly 19-16' and the 'Firefly 20-17', both had fully battened sails.

March. The first BHGA elections took place under the new Constitution at the Matrix Hall, Coventry. Ann Welch was elected President by acclamation. Martin Hunt was re-elected Chairman, Derek Evans became Treasurer and Council Members Garth Thomas, Norman Wyse, Pat King, Peter Day, Frank Flitton, Fred Ashton, Reggie Spooner and Brian Milton were also elected.

March. Hang gliding became front page news in the ' Pilot' Magazine.

March. IBIS the South Wales Hang Gliding Centre advertised their training school in the March edition of 'Wings'.

March. Waspair Parts Manual.

March. Ken Messenger up dated what had been happening at the Birdman factory.

March. The Chargus Gliding Company Ltd replied to Steve Pionk about their gliders and training especially the Vortex.

March. Southern Gull Company advertised what they had to offer to hang glider pilots in the March edition of 'Wings'.

A Hang Gliding Instructor’s Association was formed to represent all professional instructors. Jeannie Knight was elected as the Secretary.

Gerry Breen offered the 'Hi-Fli' during the first three months of 1976 at a special price of £269.00 and £289.00 for the deluxe model. The only concession made to modern trends was the inclusion of two small battens near the tips. By March the 'Hi-Fli' was re-launched as 'Hi-Fli 1B' and aimed at the intermediate to advanced pilot. It could be flown prone, supine or seated and was claimed to have an incredible 7:1+glide angle. It featured a double surface leading edge and an aerofoil shaped keel. The 'Hi-Fli 2' was for the beginner to intermediate pilot and claimed a reasonable glide angle. It was supplied in three sizes for varying pilot weights and had a good roll control through expert use of battens. Pitch stability was provided by a relatively long keel. The 'Hi Fli 2' claimed an L/D of 6.3:1, and was Price at £336.00 including VAT. Both of the 'Hi-Fli' Models were available in deluxe versions.

April. The #16 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

Birdman Sports organised and ran the first Manufacturer’s Challenge event at a variety of sites around mid-Wales, using the task-setting format that later inspired the formation of the British League. The Team prize was won by Hiway with 1300 points, followed by Waspair 1200 points, Skyhook 800 points, McBroom 700 points, Birdman 600 points, Chargus 500 points, Miles Handley 400 points, Vynair 300 points and Kestrel with 100 points. Individual prizes were won jointly by Brian Woods with 600 points, and Tony Beresford 600 points, followed by Simon Wooton 500 points, Graham Hobson 400 points, Norman Milhouse 400 points and Bob Calvert also with 400 points.

Gerry Breen was looking for training staff for his Welsh Hang Gliding Centre.

15th -16th May. The 'Long Mynd Hang Gliding Club' held its very first competition.

Having released the 'Cloudbase' glider during 1975, Hiway Hang Gliders released a sales leaflet updating the 'Cloudbase' 19, 20 and 21 details, while reminding flyers that they were still manufacturing the older 200 series.

Ted Salisbury claimed a 14 mile record flying from Folkstone to Dover and back.

Waspair Ltd brought out the 'Falcon lll' which was the first British hang glider to feature the cylindricised inflatable leading edges, a pre-cambered keel and slight elliptical tips. These features were developed with experience gained from the 'Nova' and 'Sting' gliders. It had a sail area of 215 sq-ft a leading edge of 20 feet. The keel was 16 feet, the span was 28 feet 3 inches, with an aspect ratio of 3.72, and a nose angle 90º. Its billow was 3º and its weight was 39 lbs. Priced at £335.00 ex VAT. For the 'Falcon lll' and 'lV' they also released a Manual. Lester Cruse chief test pilot for Waspair at that time also wrote a test report on the 'Falcon lll'.

May. The #17 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

May. The Chargus Gliding Company released their latest glider price list.

May. The Miles Wing 'Gulp' was advertised in the May edition of 'Wings'.

May. The 'Welsh Hang Gliding Centre' published their latest advert in the May edition of 'Wings'.

The Fack Brothers released information on their latest imported glider from the USA, the 'ASG 21' and also their latest price list and a prone harness.

29th - 30th - 31st May. The Embassy National Hang Gliding Championships was held at  Pickering. The event went well but sadly was remembered mainly by a serious accident that involved Allan James who ended up with a broken pelvis and serious internal injuries.

The Pickering Winners were as follows.
Class 1 1st Tony Beresford 130 points, 2nd Ian Thomas 130 points, 3rd Mick Evans 120 points.
Class 2 1st Bob Wisely 200 points, 2nd Brian Milton 200 points, 3rd Robert Sigrist 180 points.
Class 3 1st Johnny Carr 100 points, 2nd Guy Twiss 80 points, G Leason 50 points.

John Richard (Rick) Ware remembers flying his Hiway 'Cloudbase' in the competition.

May. Nick Gifford claimed a 9 hour 37 minute flight at Rhosilli flying a Wasp '229B3'. An article was published on page 11 of the # 23 November edition of 'Wings'.

June. The #18 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

Scot Kites released information and details of their latest import from Electra Flyer (USA) the 'Cirrus lll'.

July. #19 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

7th July. Waspair Ltd released their latest increased price list.

July. Barbara Jones crashed while flying at Castlemoreton and later died of her injuries. An investigation revealed she had put her seated harness on wrongly. While Guy Twiss died as a result of a downwind-stall accident at Bo-Peep Hill, Firle, Sussex. John Hunter took over as the BHGA’s 'Accident Investigation Officer', assisted by Tony Fuell. Wings Article.

The BHGA under its new Competition Director Brian Milton held a Class I and Class II trial in the Abergavenny area to assist in the choosing of a British Team for the Kossen World Championships. Brian also published his proposal for the British Hang Gliding League, comprising of six competitions. The Class 1 chosen pilots were Tony Beresford 100 points, Mike Atkinson 100 points, Ian Thomas 130 points, Mick Evans 120 points, Ray Walder 100 points, Bruce Giddings 100 points, Tom Knight 70 points, and Des Butcher 90 points. Class 2 pilots were Keith Cockcroft 130 points, Lester Cruse 170 points, Bob Wiseley 300 points, Alvin Russell 150 points, Ray Sigrist 180 points, Brian Milton 200 points, Brian Harrison 130 points, Eric Short 110 points, Johnny Carr 180 points, Bruce Hudson 130 points, and Bob Bailey 160 points.

Daily Mail article about Jeannie Knight.

Bob Calvert recorded a seven mile cross country flight on a Hiway '20 De Lux Cloudbase' from Pendle Hill to a field near Waddington in Lancashire.

The BHGA came out with a new compulsory 'Elementary Hang Gliding Certificate', for all pilots flying on club sites throughout the country.

August. The #20 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

2nd August. Kevin Jordan broke the UK duration record by flying for 12 hrs 15 min on board a Hiway 'De Lux Cloudbase' while flying at Rossilli. Kevin took off at 06.59 am from the Pimple into a 30 mph northwesterly. However, by lunchtime the wind had backed westerly and dropped to a peachy 20 mph. He claims to have spent the rest of the day listening to Radio 1 on a small portable. Later the endurance record went up to over 15 hours and from then on flights of longer duration were being recorded until the record was finally abandoned, because of improvements to glider performance, the use of ridge lift that could last for days, and of the fatigue factor on the pilots.

5th August. Denys Irving was killed in an accident at Mill Hill in Sussex flying a Manta 'Fledgling'. An investigation concluded the cause was a downwind stall with inexperience of both the site and the glider as contributory factors. Wings Article

August. The BHGA added a few more gliders to its Registered Aircraft's list. Scot-Kites Electra-Flyer ('Cirrus 3'), the 'Firefly 19/16', the 'Firefly 20/17', and Sky-Ride's 'Phoenix 4' and the 'Phoenix 4B'.

7th August. An Article was published in the 'Express and Star' newspaper calling for a ban on hang gliding.

Skyhook Sailwings Ltd announced their latest innovation the 'Harp'.

A selection of photos taken by Don Liddard during 1976.

During the year Steve Cohen (Australia) visited the UK bringing with him his latest glider, while here he undertook a little work for Hiway, its believed that the 'Scorpion' was the result. Photos of his visit

25th August. The 'Amateur Photographer' magazine published an article on hang gliding and in particular Ken Messenger and Dave Raymond both from Birdman Sports.

28th - 29th - 30th August. The British Hang Glider Championship competition sponsored by Blue Stratus was held at Mere in Wiltshire. This particular year was known as the Yellow Welly event, owing to the popularity of the yellow sailors Wellington boot fashion craze. If you were not wearing a pair then you were not part of the hang gliding fraternity. A fashion that Brian Woods followed and was copied by many who wished to follow in his footsteps. This was also the first meeting that Bill Moyes and his son Steve attended.

The Mere 1976 winners  are as follows
Class 1 1st Rick Duncan (Aust, Moyes), 2nd Steve Powter (Aust, Ultra-light), 3rd Henry Heggie (Scott)
Class 2 1st Brian Woods ('SST'), 2nd Steve Moyes (Aust, Moyes), 3rd Dale Clothier (Hiway 'Special')
Class 3 1st Steve Moyes (Aust, Moyes), 2nd Rick Duncan (Aust, Moyes), 3rd Steve Powter (Aust)
Overall winner was Rick Duncan (Aust).

Malcomb Hawksworth was the agent for imported 'Wills Wings' glidwers and in particular the Super Swollowtail. he was also running a training school.

Mere 1976. The 'Southern Hang Gliding Club' magazine 'Windsock' wrote an article about the Mere meeting but it was not published until January 1977.

Eclipse Gliders based in the West Country and a new manufacture entered the market. They brought out two gliders the 'SK90' and sold a number of them to local flyers and the 'SK96' which was an experimental glider which never went into production.

September. The #21 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

5th - 6th - 7th September. The UK was represented at the first official FAI World Championships being held in Kossen Austria from the 1st to12th September. Tony Beresford came 6th in Class I, while Ian Thomas was placed 36th and Mike Atkinson placed 41st. Lester Cruse came 21st in Class II, with Keith Cockcroft coming 32nd and Robert Wiseley 61st. Johnny Carr came 10th in Class III, flying a Miles Handley 'Gryphon', and G. Leason came 28th with D.Goepel coming 33rd.

Scot Kites sent a letter to Terry Aspinall explaining their Electra Flyer range of hang gliders and, that they were looking for flyers to promote the gliders around the country on a commission basis. The letter also included order forms.

18th September. The 'Flight International' magazine published an article wrote by T.W. Shreeve (BHGA Technical Officer) on the BHGA Championship competition held at Mere Wiltshire, 28th - 30th August.

As a result of an accident that happened to Brian Woods’s, the BHGA issued a safety advisory article that sails should be securely attached to L/E booms (a torn sail pocket had allowed the sail to slide up the boom, rendering the glider uncontrollable).

Avon Kites Ltd brought out the 'Swift' it had been designed by John Glover and featured a folding cross boom to facilitate quick rigging, also a separate back-up wing wire system. The glider was offered in two sizes to suit pilot weights of 9-12 stone. and 11-15 stone. and could be quickly converted for seated or prone. The 'Swift' (Medium) had a sail area of 236 sq-ft, a boom of 19 feet 4 inches, a keel of 14 feet 9 inches, and a nose angle 102º. Its billow was 2.5º, with an aspect ratio 3.9.

2nd October. The 'Flight International' magazine published an article by Ann Welch reporting on the first Official FAI World Hang Gliding Championship that was held at Kossen in Austria during September.

3rd October. Anthony Jones died from injuries received from an accident. 'Wings' Article.

October. The #22 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

October. Brian Milton sent out a letter via the October edition of 'Wings', on how he hoped to form a new League Competition. He was also looking for clubs, manufacturers or individuals to stage the competitions, as well as pilots who wish to take part.

October. Ken Messenger up dated what had been happening at the Birdman Sports factory.

October. Scot Kites from Glasgow released it's latest Electra Flyer (USA) price list.

October. Chargus Hang Gliding Ltd advertised their Midas hang glider in the October edition of 'Wings'.

9th October. The 'Flight International' magazine published an article about the rapid growth of hang gliding in the UK. It also showed that there were members of the government at that time, who were trying to get the sport banned.

October. The 'Avon Hang Gliding Club' and in particular T.J. Flower published for all club members a new wind direction requirement article for the use of certain flying sites.

30th October. Birdman Sports Ltd released a temporary information sheet, explaining to pilots flying their new Moonraker gliders why some of them had been experiencing problems while flying.

30th October. An article was published in the 'Flight International' magazine reporting that some members of Parliament wanted to try and ban Hang Gliding in the UK.

The Chargus Gliding Company released a few details on their latest glider the 'Midas'.

The Chargus Glider Company came out with two new gliders the 'Midas C' and later the 'Vega'.
The 'Midas C' had a sail area of 166 sq-ft, a leading edge 19 feet 3 inches, and a keel of 8 feet 3 inches. The nose angle was 110º, with a billow of 1.6º. The aspect ratio was 6.0, with a claimed L/D of 8 to 1, all up price including carrying bag, harness and VAT was £450.00.

The 'Vega' was an intermediate glider with a sail area of 188 sq-ft, a leading edge of 19 feet and a keel length of 16 feet. The aspect ratio was 4.47, with a billow of 2.75º. The claimed L/D was 6.5:1, with a nose angle of 100º. In November the price was quoted as £384.00 which included a carrying bag, harness and VAT.

Flexi-Form Skysails Ltd entered the market and came out with the Spirit, which was designed by Paul Maratos and featured a fully battened sail with small roached tips and a relatively short keel. The sail was not cambered, the kite was tuned by fully adjustable double wing wires and a keel camber wire. The Glider came in two sizes. The Medium had a nose angle of 102º, a weight 52 lbs, and an area of 190 sq-ft. The leading edge was 20 feet 6 inches, the keel was 10 feet 6 inches, and it came with a price tag of £400.00 or £330.00 for the kit option.

Birdman Sports Ltd brought out the 'Firebird' for soaring in very low wind speeds and was capable of being rigged very quickly. The 'Firebird' was offered as an intermediate glider in two sizes with leading edges of 19 and 20 feet. The small version had a leading edge 19 feet, a Keel of 16 feet, and was priced at £265.00.

Birdman Sports Ltd started distributing windscreen stickers advertising their company name.

Controversy broke out over whether to send a British Team to compete at the proposed 1977 World Championships to be held in apartheid-era South Africa. Brian Milton and Gordon Wyse both placed a motion opposing participation to the November Council meeting.

November. The #23 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

November. Ken Messenger up dated what had been happening at the Birdman Sports factory.

November. Ridge Rider Gliders advertised their latest Glider the 'Fintail' in the November edition of 'Wings.

Brian Woods announced he was importing Moyes Gliders from Australia.

14th November. Brian Milton and Graham Driscoll achieved a World Record for the highest two man balloon drop from 13,750 feet at Church Stretton, Shropshire.

25th November. The Chargus Gliding Company Ltd responded to a letter sent from Terry Aspinall enquiring about the 'Midas E'.

Waspair Ltd released its latest price List.

November. Birdman Sports Ltd announced that their latest glider the 'Moonraker' was now in full production and would be ready for the new year. The sail was made in 3.8 oz Howe and Bainbridge Dacron and featured an aerofoil shaped center pocket. The sail area was 190 sq-ft, with a nose angle of 108º. Its leading edge was 20 feet, with a span of 32 feet. It had an aspect ratio 5.38, with a billow of only 0.5º, with an introductory price of £375.00 + VAT. It was also described in the factory advertisement leaflet as 'This glider is definitely not a coastal floater' a name that was later to be adopted as the name of the Suffolk Hang Gliding Club.

The 'Wings' Magazine announced a Great Christmas Giveaway Competition.

December. The #24 Edition of 'Wing's was published.

2nd December. A letter from Sussex Delta Sailwing Ltd to Terry Aspinall about their latest glider the 'Fintail' that was released during November.

December. Ken Messenger up dated what had been happening at the Birdman Sports factory.

Sussex Delta Sailwing Ltd announced that they are running training courses and sent out application forms.

December. From this date all hang glider pilots flying in competitions in the UK or abroad would have to be in the possession of a current FAI sporting Licence.

December. The BHGA released figures of almost 6000 people who have been through the registered training schools during the past 18 months leading up to December this year. While before the BHGA was formed its claimed that over 2700 learnt to fly by them selves and friends.

December. The Norfolk Hang Gliding Club published the latest edition of their newsletter.

24th December. Alvin Russell the BHGA's first 'Flying and Training Officer' died while flying in Ireland, after a accident. Wings Article.

December. Brian Milton had an article published in the New Scientist magazine looking for help to design a British hang glider.

By the end of 1976 the L/D of most hang gliders had been raised to around 6 to 1.


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