The First Ten Years 


January. The #37 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

1st January. The 'Avon Hang Gliding Club' Newsletter mentioned that John Burgess was stepping down as editor, and that the position was to be filled by Tony Williams and Phillip Gibson.

1st January. The 'Avon Hang Gliding Club' Newsletter published an article from John Croll about flying experiences of its club members.

16th January. The BHGA released a list of Member Clubs.

February. The #38 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

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

February. The Pennine Club published its 'Pennine News' editored by Trevor Birbeck.

February. Derek Bennett died from injuries received from an accident.

February. Collin Bissett died from injuries he received from an accident while flying a Wills Wing 'Super Swallow Tail' at Aviemore Scotland. A witnesses reported that he became detached from the Glider just after take off.

Geoff McBroom dropped out of the manufactures race, and closed down his factory.

Waspair brought out the 'Falcon V' which was designed for beginners through to intermediate pilots. It was a slow flying easy to handle, easy to land glider. The design featured a cambered sail and defined tips with 2º of billow. The airframe was completely anodised and could be supplied in a breakdown version folding down to just two metres in length. There were no deflexers. It had a leading edge of 18 feet  2 inches, a keel 12 feet, and a sail area of 190 sq-ft. The nose angle was 102º, the billow 2º, the aspect ratio was  4.45, and the span is 28 feet 6 inches while it’s all up weight was 46 lbs.

Kevin Cowie (New Zealand) arrived in the UK during 1978 with his Australian built Cohen 'Super 2'  hang glider. It was the influence of this and other down under gliders that helped shape the Hiway 'Scorpion' and its fin.

March. The #39 Edition of 'Wing's was published.

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

4th March. The 'Flight International' magazine published an article on the growth of hang gliding in the UK.

April. The #40 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

1st April. The AHGC newsletter published an article from Bob England about his local flying experience.

15th April. The AHGC newsletter published an article from Ray Willis about his local flying experience.

16th April. A newspaper article was published about Gordon Smith from Guisborough, of his adding power to his Hang Glider to help assist him into the air.

Early 1978. An article about Greg Stokes was published in the Tripex Magazine.

April. Birdman Sports brought out the 'Moonraker 78' as their ultimate machine for experienced pilots with cross country flying in mind. The glider had diffused fixed tips, with a deep subventral fin and fully battened sail. The air frame was in 2 inch O.D. x 18 G tube. The sail was made from 3.8 oz Howe and Bainbridge Dacron and could be supplied to customer's colour choice. Two sizes were available the 175 sq-ft and 210 sq-ft. The 175 having a nose angle of 130º with a span of 35 feet, and a root chord of 7 feet. Birdman also included an Owners Information Sheet.

April. Birdman Sports 'Moonraker 78' leaflet and order form with sail colour preferences from Terry Aspinall.

In early 1978 Hiway Hang Gliders brought out the 'Super Scorpion' It was their first machine to have a fully cambered sail with an absence of deflexers. The 'Mk 1' was a very simple airframe which was strong, reasonably light and easy to rig. The control frame uprights had a curve at the top and rigging was achieved by swinging out one upright which located with a spring button. As the uprights were of 1 1/8 inch x 17 gage they were quite easily damaged. The early 'Super Scorpions' were extremely easy to fly, being light in both pitch and roll, but with just the right amount of damping. One of the main virtues of the glider's handling was the ease with which the glider would roll, even without any pitch co-ordination. This allowed moderately flat turns and 360's to be achieved easily. The glider was supplied two sizes the B for pilot weight up to 10 stone and C for heavier pilots.

Later in the year they also brought out the 'Spectrum'. The 'Spectrum' came in two sizes and was a sporty machine designed to put the fun back into flying. The glider complied with FAI Class 1 Competition regulations. Although it was an intermediate glider with a conservative 105º nose angle, it generated a lot of lift to give other high performance gliders a good run for their money. The large model had a leading edge of 18 feet 6 inches, a keel of 15 feet, and a sail area of 193 sq-ft. The nose angle was 105º, the span was 29 feet 5 inches, the aspect ratio was 4.45, and the all up weight was 51 lbs. The pilot weight range was between 10-14 stone.

May. The #41 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

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

5th May. The Main Welding Company (later to be re-named Mainair Sports) sent Steve Pionk their latest Parts Catalogue.

9th May. While flying along the Mundesley cliffs in Norfolk, Terry Aspinall had a near miss with one of Bristow's Helicopters returning from an oil rig in the north sea. The incident was reported and Terry was found guilty by the CAA but with no further action being taken against him, for violating the helicopters approach path to its landing zone. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Norfolk club as they were given official authority to fly the site. While Notams were to be posted at the nearby RAF Coltishall air base, that when the wind was in a north to north east direction there was a possibility that hang gliders would be flying the northern coast line. This was all a little strange because the Norfolk Club had been flying the site for more than four years and nobody had complained before.

18th May. Paul Renouf died from injuries he received from an accident.

21st May. Nick Lawler died from injuries he received from an accident.

May. A selection of photos taken of Pete Taylor taking off from Seaford Sussex captured on film by Don Liddard.

May. Waspair brought out the 'Grython 3'. Developed from Miles Handley's brilliant original concept designed glider the 'Gryphon 3'. The braced airframe eliminated the use of cross boom together with its attendant drag, weight and rigging penalties. Claiming an L/D ratio better than 11:1 and a sink rate of around 2.5 feet per second made it a perfect cross country glider.

Bob Dear flying his 'Gryphon'. Bob Dear: "I remember the 'Gryphon' as being the one on which I had the most fun.  It was rigged as tight as a drum and was actually quite twitchy to fly, but was amazingly maneuverable and aerobatic for its time.  Maybe that is why I still have a deep feeling of nostalgia for that particular period in my hang gliding experience".

25th to 28th May. The Open Scottish Hang Gliding Championships were held in the Cairnwell Mountains Braemar Aberdeenshire. Final results were 1st Bob Bailey 509.1 points. 2nd John Bridge 445.1 points. and 3rd Mick Evans 384.1 points.

Skyhook Sailwings Ltd brought out the 'Safari'. Its leading edge was 20 feet 7 inches, the span 35 feet 8 inches, the keel was12 feet 5 inches and with a root chord of 9 feet 8 inches. The small version weighted 52 lbs.

June. The #42 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

June. The Norfolk Hang Gliding Club published its latest edition of their newsletter.

June. The Avon Hang Gliding Club published its latest edition of their Newsletter.

A collection of photos taken by Don Liddard during 1978, that included Pete Taylor's launch from the Seaford Cliffs in Sussex.

June. The 'Long Mynd Hang Gliding Club' released their June edition newsletter.

Mainair Sports released their 1978 stock list catalogue.

Mainair Sports leased their finance terms for pilots wanting to purchase items from them.

6th June. Ray Clements died from injuries he received from an accident.

7th June. Garrett Taylor died from injuries he received from an accident.

9th June. The Daily Express mentioned Hang Gliding in an article about the Isle Of Man TT Racing.

The Chargus Gliding Company came out with the 'Vortex' their first contribution to the intermediate glider market. It was supplied in two sizes, and followed the 'Super Scorpion' deflexerless concept but with the addition of vortex generators. These were little holes cut in the wing tips just behind the leading edge to give a lower stalling speed than normal. However it was difficult to assemble the control frame and bolt on cross booms, like the 'Mk 1 Super Scorpion'. The 'Vortex 110' had a leading edge of 19 feet, a keel of 12 feet, and a sail area of 196 sq-ft. The nose angle was110º, the billow was 0.68º, with an aspect ratio of 4.6, and span of 30 feet. It was priced at £397.00 including a bag and VAT. The 'Vortex 120' had a leading edge of 19 feet, a keel of 12 feet, sail area of 204 sq-ft, while the nose angle was120º. The billow was 0.68º and the aspect ratio was 5.23. The span was 32 feet 8 inches and was priced at £415.00 including a bag and VAT.

The Chargus Hang Gliding Factory was based at Gawcot.

July. The #43 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

16th July. While flying at Devils Dyke two pilots (Ian Grant & Ian Dawler) had a mid-air collision 200 feet above the take off point. Both survived the crash, considering them selves the luckiest pilots alive. This was the second time during 1978 that a mid air collision had taken place, the first being back in January.

British Hang Gliding team were photographed at Kossen 1978.

29th July. The 'Flight International' magazine published an article on the rapid growth of hang gliding throughout the world and especially the UK.

August. The #44 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

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

September. The #45 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

September. The Avon Hang Gliding Club published the latest edition of their newsletter.

The Irish Hang Gliding Club published its No3 Autumn edition of its newsletter.

Hiway Hang Gliders updated their 'Super Scorpion' to become the 'Super Scorpion 2'.

2nd - 3rd September. Sadly by now the 1978 Mere event had lost its importance in the flying calendar owing to the success of the newly formed Hang Gliding League the year before, and was open to members only. Therefore it was deemed a fun event and everybody was issued with an Events Card for the competition. The entry fee was £2 for the first event you entered, and a further £1 for each additional event. The timed precisions winner was Mike Stainer flying a 'Super Scorpion' 60 points, 2nd Mark Silvester 50 points, and 3rd Tom Knight 45 points. The Saturday glide angle winner was Dave Thomas flying a 'Gryphon', 2nd was Tom Knight. The Sunday glide angle winner was Tony Williams flying a 'Vector' and received a Sliver name inscribed Tankard, while Mick Gregory flying a home built crossboomless glider came 2nd. While the cross country winner was Dave Thomas who managed to fly four fields from take off. Special wards went to John Ivens for the longest carry up and shortest flight down. While Mike Collis received a special award for spot landing on a judge.

Len Gabriels demonstrated his latest powered unit at mere.

Chargus demonstrated their latest powered Midas E also at mere.

Mean time the press was having a field day. Anything that resembled a hang glider was almost front page news and during this period many unusually story's appeared in the media, like this one of Graham Slater.

12th September. John Humphreys died from injuries he received from an accident.

13th September. Robert Phillips died from injuries he received from an accident.

17th September. Bob Bailey and Bob Calvert both set a new British and European distance record while flying in the last day of the Atlas Express National Championships, the final British league competition of the year. They took off from Llandinam in Wales and landed 30.6 miles away near Pembridge, beating the previous British record of 24 miles. The flight was made almost entirely in thermal lift, and was less than half a mile short of the qualifying distance (50 km) for the cross country part of the Delta Silver international soaring badge. Bailey was flying a Wills Wing 'Super Swallow Tail' and Calvert a Hiway 'Super Scorpion', both being advanced gliders in Class II. An article about the record was published in the ' Flight International' magazines September edition.

23rd September. Tim Gilbert died from injuries he received from an accident.

30th September. The 'Flight International' magazine published an article from Anne Welch reporting on the World Championships that were held in Kossen Austria. The meeting involved several UK pilots, In Class 2 Bob England flying a Birdman 'Moonraker 78' came 2nd, Johnny Carr came 4th and Bob Calvert flying a 'Super Scorpion' came 4th. In Class 3 Mick Evans came 2nd flying a 'Gryphon 3', and Lester Cruse flying a 'Fledgling' came 21st.

Chargus Hang Gliding brought out the 'Midas Super E' which had some special features, amongst which was an adjustable C of G strop, large diameter cross boom with short or long keel option. Triple tubular wing posts gave greater strength to the airframe and more control to the canopy shape. Aircraft push pins were used for uncomplicated and rapid assembly. Another feature was the floating truncations which greatly contribute to the machine's incredible speed range, glide ratio and sink rate. The 'Midas Super E' sail was made from American Dacron sail cloth. Its leading edge was 19 feet 10 inches, the root chord was 8 feet, while the sail area was188 sq-ft and nose angle was110º. Its aspect ratio was 5.7, the L/D was 9.5:1, and mean chord was 5.74 feet, with a keel of 17 feet 5 inches, and span of 32 feet 9 inches.

October. The #46 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

1st October. John Randall died from injuries he received from an accident.

October. The Aeroplane Monthly magazine ran a competition to win a Hiway Hang Glider.

17th to 22nd October. Brian Milton captaining the BHGA team in America, while flying for the coveted American Cup (the world Championship of Hang Gliding) and lead the British team to victory. Later Brian wrote an article of the event, that was published in the 'Flight International' magazine.

November. The #47 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

November. Mainair Sports released their latest price list.

November. Brian Milton just back from the USA, was test flying his glider and training for a future powered hang glider flight from London to Paris. While flying his Soarmaster powered unit about 200 feet above the Dorset country side, his glider caught a large gust of wind under its right wing. The glider then turned on its back and plummeted to the ground, as the wings collapsed around him. Brian struggled desperately to open his parachute, but he never made it. Spectators feared the worse but when he opened his eyes his first words were 'I’m Alive, that’s really great'. By a miracle he wasn’t badly hurt. A bruised eye, a cracked shoulder and fifteen stitches to his chin were the total of his injuries.The accident did not put him off flying and he continued to live the charmed life we all became used to. Because of rumours that were circulating as to why the accident happened, Brian released an article giving his side of the story. There was also another unknown magazine that ran the story.

November. Birdman Sports Ltd released an information sheet of their latest glider the 'Cherokee'.

Flexi-Form Sails came out with the 'Skyline' which had no wing wires, just a simple rugged airframe and a carefully cambered sail. Low weight and advanced sail technology gave it a superbly light inertia free feel to the handling, so important when flying close to the hill or thermalling. Roached tips, short keel and high aspect ratio contributed to its performance, whilst mellow slow speed characteristics add to the pleasure. The 'Skyline' was offered in four sizes covering a weight range 8 to16 stone. The medium 'Skyline' was for pilots between10 to12 stone and had an  aspect ratio 6.4, a sail area of 175 sq-ft, a span of 33 feet 8 inches, and a keel of 8 feet. It’s all up weight was 49 lbs and was priced at  £475.00 including VAT and bag.

Eclipse brought out the 'Super Eagle'. It is believed that Phil Fouracre, a well known West Country pilot was the owner of a 'Super Eagle'. He lost faith in the machine after spinning it whilst flying over the Quantocks.

November. Birdman Sports Ltd released its latest information sheet details on the 'Moonraker 78' Glider.

Keith Reynolds won the 1978 Alvin Russell award.

December. The #48 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

December. The 'Southern Hang Gliding Clubs' newsletter 'Windsock' was published

December. An article was published in the 'London Evening Standard' newspaper about the Haynes Brothers business and of their first flight back in 1972.

28th December. Christopher K Read died from injuries he received from an accident.


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