The First Ten Years


January - February. The #49 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

3rd February. Angus Pinkerton found himself on the Tinto hills south of Glasgow, sheltering from a snow storm behind a glider. While attending one of Brian Harrison's hang glider school classes. He managed to get off the ground twice that day, in between the showers, while held down by tether ropes in a strong wind.

February. Saw the Hiway Hang Glider company move its factory to South Wales.

March. The #50 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

April. The #51 Edition of 'Wing's was published.

7th April. Paul Maratos died from injuries he received from an accident.

28th April. Mark Hammond died from injuries he received from an accident.

May. The #52 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

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

4th May. Fourteen pilots met at the Admiral's Head pub in Great Bealing Suffolk where the idea of forming a Suffolk club was discussed. A fortnight later the BHGA were informed of its formation. The club was added to the BHGA club list and a request made by the BHGA to seek member club status. This was undertaken and the Suffolk Coastal Floaters Hang Gliding Club (SCFHGC) became a BHGA member club in their meeting on 23rd September. David Cook was elected president and Terry Aspinall became the Secretary.

Chargus Gliding Company brought out the 'Cyclone'. This was a high aspect ratio machine which utilised a tight sail with preformed battens, and was designed purely for experienced pilots with cross country and competition flying in mind. It also had single deflexers and unusually a tip to control frame wire and was very sensitive to turning on the various turnbuckles. Handling was a little difficult until the pilot had adapted to the machine's peculiarities. Pitch and roll on the small 165 model were fairly light which normally lead to quite a lot of pilot induced oscillation. On the large 180 model roll was much heavier, leading to possible discomfort in rough air. In 1980-81 the Chargus Gliding Company brought out the 'Mk ll Cyclone' which featured a floating keel which improved the handling. The 'Cyclone 180'. Had a root chord of 7.66 feet, a sail area of 180 sq-ft, a span of 36 feet, an aspect ratio of 7.2, and was priced at £595.00 including a bag and VAT.

The BHGA brought out a Student Handbook #3 for new pilots coming into the sport. (During 1982 a Second Edition was also issued). A 'Pilot Handbook #2' Editon1/1979 edited by Anne Welch and designed to explain to would be flyers what hang gliding was all about. They also published the 'Observers Handbook' Edition 1/1979 to show what was expected of an official observer to the sport of hang gliding. While the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) brought out their latest edition of 'Cap 85 Aviation Law' for applicants for a Private Pilot's Licence, to help pilots understand Air law, this was also a time when power was being added to some of the gliders and their efforts were being tested at a few of the local airfields.

The BHGA Pilot 2 Rating examination paper. During June 1983 a revised 2nd edition was sent out to all BHGA members.

Waspair brought out the 'Laser'. The 'Laser' was designed for the intermediate to advanced pilot and was suitable for competition, cross country thermaling or just plain ridge soaring. The machine had taken over a year to develop. The 'Laser' slices through turbulence with its cambered fully floating battened sail. Having no deflexers and a strong easy to rig airframe it allowed the maximum time possible in the air. The 'Laser 190' had a leading edge of 20 feet, a keel 8 feet, a sail area of 190 sq-ft, with a nose angle of 120º, with an aspect ratio of 6.2, coupled with a span of 34 feet 6 inches, and billow of 0º.

12th May. Bob Bailey flew 50 miles from Littondale to Hartlepool. An article from Bob Bailey called 'Fifty Mile Flight and the Big If' was published in the June edition of 'Wings'.

17th May. Pete Hargreaves claimed a national and local record after flying a distance of 110.2 km from Kettlewell Yorkshire. A article called '68.8 Miles' by Peter Hargreaves was published in the June edition of 'Wings'.

Hiway Hang Gliders came out with the 'Vulcan', which had been designed to supersede the 'Super Scorpion'. It was much like a 'Super Scorpion' to look at, but had a higher aspect ratio, much tighter sail and more double surface. Unlike other fourth generation gliders the 'Vulcan' did not use preformed battens. Its leading edge was19 feet 8 inches, with a span of 34 feet 5 inches, a nose angle of 180º, aspect ratio of 8:1, root chord of 9 feet 2 inches, sail area of 184 sq-ft, aspect ratio of 6.45, its down length  was 20 feet, while in knock down its length was 14 feet and, weighed 57 lbs. The pilot weight range was between 11.5 to17 stone, and was priced £640.00.

June. The #53 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

6th June. The BHGA brought out a new 'Pilot Rating System' for all pilots.

16th June. James Payne died from injuries he received from an accident.

16th June. John Ogden died from injuries he received from an accident.

18th June. Lorraine Evans died from injuries she received from an accident.

25th June. Peter Closterman died from injuries he received from an accident.

1st July. Les Osbaldstone died from injuries he received from an accident.

July. An article was published in an unknown newspaper about the death of Les Osbaldstone that also included Steve Pionk.

4th July. Letter and price list from Hiway to Steve Pionk from Hiway.

July. The #54 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

A collection of photos was taken during 1979 by Don Liddard.

 A new company known as Vulturelite joined the manufactures market bringing out the 'Emu'. The 'Emu' was a glider offering a genuine performance increase, while remaining easy and forgiving to fly, it was also the first production glider to combine the advantages of a bowsprit type airframe with a flex-batten cambered sail. The absence of a crossbar together with the low drag aerofoil section achieve a considerable drag reduction and consequent performance increase throughout the Emu's broad speed range. The sweep angle reduced induced drag at low speed, improving the sink rate and reducing tip stall tendencies. This combined with a short span and low roll inertia gave an extremely quick roll rate and a circling ability unequalled in any other flexwing glider, allowing efficient confident soaring in the roughest of thermals. Pitch stability and control was excellent a result of advanced sail camber and flexible battens, allowing the sail to blow down at negative angle of attack adopting a reflexed section. This augmented the positive pitching action of the defined tips without the potential danger of preformed ribs near the leading edge. The large version had a leading edge of 17 feet 6 inches, a nose angle of 140º, a span of 35 feet, an aspect ratio of 6.3, a sail area of 195 sq-ft, with an all up weight of 52 lbs. Pilot weight was between 10 to 15 stone and was  priced 533.00 +VAT.

Hiway Hang Gliders published a list of agents who were representing them in the UK and overseas.

Birdman Sports brought out the 'Cherokee' which had a mellow handling characteristic that was suitable for intermediate right through to expert pilots. Birdman ultilised all the latest techniques and knowledge accumulated from their wide experience of all aspects of hang gliding. The 'Cherokee' sail was built in 3.8 oz material with 6 oz reinforcing panels. It was fully cambered and was the result of a constant R & D program pursuing higher performance and better handling. The airframe was of 1 3/4 x 18 g HT30TF aluminum, inner and outer sleeved where appropriate. The control frame was of 1 1/8 x 14 gage and folded with the removal of a single button pin. A centre box system was used to allow quick and easy rigging. The 'Cherokee' medium size glider had a leading edge length of 19 feet 4 inches, a keel of 13 feet 2 inches, a root chord of 10 feet 6 inches, the sail area was170 sq-ft, with a nose angle of 120º. Its span was 30 feet 6 inches, while the aspect ratio was 5.47, and weighed 61 lbs.

Eclipse Hang Gliders brought out the 'Super Eagle79' at the attractive price of £433.00.

Skyhook Sailwings Ltd brought out the 'Silhouette' which was a fourth generation machine. Later they also brought out the 'Cutlass' which was also a fourth generation glider with a 35% double surface, and preformed battens. The 'Cutlass' was produced between 1979 and 1984. The medium weighed was 66 lbs and was priced at £810.00.

August. The #55 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

10th August. The Daily Mail newspaper published an article on hang gliding about Bernard Gray flying with his dog.

The BHGA's Manufacturers Federation list of members.

25th - 26th August. The first national tow meet organised and set up to enable different clubs and privateers to demonstrate available static line towing techniques. This was held at the Little Snoring airfield in Norfolk, and was hosted by the Norfolk Hang Gliding Club. There was a big turn out and many differing ideas were on display. Sadly one of the demonstrators Gary Philips who came from Tenby in Wales was badly injured when his glider tucked and crashed into the ground just after take off. This brought towing to a stand still for a time as clubs and people went back to their drawing boards. An article about the event by Brian Pattenden and Terry Aspinall was published in the #58 Edition of the 'Wings' magazine that came out in November 1979. The same article of the event also appeared in the Norfolk Club magazine, and there were a couple of videos taken during the event. Don Liddard was also at the meeting and took many photos of the event. Gary Philips make a miraculous recovery, but It took 2 years of dedicated nursing and care.

August. The 'Long Mynd Hang Gliding Club' released its August edition of their newsletter.

August. Graeme Baird completed a 21 mile flight from the Long Mynd site.

The annual early September Mere meeting, became known as 'Clubman Mere'. The Sunday Glide angle competition included a 360 degree turn on the way to the bottom. Not sure of other competitions and winners?

Scot-kites had a name and location change when they move to a new factory in Glasgow and called them selves Eurowing Ltd. Led by Brian Harrison the company gave up on designing and building and instead concentrated on building american Electra-Flyers Corporation products under licence.

September. The #56 Edition of' Wings' was published.

September. The BHGA invited its members to join the 500 Lottery Club.

5th September. Brian Milton sends out a late letter to all the League Flyers.

October. The #57 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

October. Heralded the birth of Solar Wings Ltd a new hang glider manufacturer, headed by designer Dave Raymond, with Cliff Ingram and Mark Southall. They started operating from Marlborough in Wiltshire.

Waspair brought out the 'Gannet'. The 'Gannet' was a new cross boom-less machine designed by Bob England. Its leading edge was19 feet 5 inches, with a span of 35 feet 6 inches. The nose angle was136º, and had an aspect ratio 8:1, with a root chord 7 feet, while the sail area was 155 sq-ft.

November. The #58 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

Another new hang gliding manufacturer was born under the name of Southdown Sailwings and run by Ian Grayland.

Some time during 1979 the 'Woman's Own' magazine published an article on hang gliding called 'Out of Town' by Irene Heath.

December. The #59 Edition of 'Wings' was published.

1st December. The BHGA sent a letter to Steve Pionk.

29th December. The Flight international' magazine published an article about the Royal Aero Clubs end of year awards night. Which were presented by their President his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. David Cook was awarded the Bronze Medal for his historic flight across the English Channel to France, flying his home built powered 'VJ23' on the 9th May 1978. While the British Hang Gliding Team was awarded the Prince of Wales Cup for their historic winning of the American Cup in America. Most believe that it was Brian Milton's formation of the British Hang Gliding league that helped their win.

 Bob Calvert won the Alvin Russell award.


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