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New User - Here to Learn More About my Dad

Postby smriggs304 » Sat May 08, 2021 7:51 am

Hello US Hawks!!

Hi! I'm not a hang glider, but the daughter of one! My name is Steph Riggs and dad is Mike Riggs from Seagull. On a whim I googled him and found this forum. He doesn't have a lot of pictures so I was really struck by some of the photos shared here. I'd love to see if anyone has more pictures or stories about him. Thank you so much!!
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Re: New User - Here to Learn More About my Dad

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Mon May 10, 2021 1:00 am

Hello Steph,

Welcome to the U.S. Hawks!!

:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

We have a great depth of hang gliding history on our site thanks to the contributions of hang gliding pioneers like Joe Faust, Frank Colver, and Niel Larson. They lived that history and continue to share it with us. I hope one of them might chime in.

Until then, here are a few sites with potentially helpful history sections. Of course I am partial to our own history section here at the U.S. Hawks:

You can search our site for your Dad's name and find lots of references (which is probably how you found us in the first place). But we're not alone, and here are a few others: - This site is managed by Joe Faust (USHGA 5 and U.S. Hawks 5) and it contains lots of research on pilots. The site's primary goal is to provide ratings, but it contains a wealth of information and links that might lead to other sites. - This site is relatively new, but it contains lots of history. It is managed by a fellow from the U.K., but there is lots of U.S. content as well. It is rapidly becoming the best organized hang gliding history site on the planet. - This site is operated by Rick Masters, and it has some biographical information. Unfortunately, the front page is not currently very helpful, and you have to guess names to use as part of the URL (such as or I tried and got an error, but you might find one of your father's friends that way.

You can also ask around at these web sites: - This is one of the more active national hang gliding forums. Just let them know that you're visiting from and you'll get special treatment. - This is another large national hang gliding forum, but it has been declining over the years. Even so, it does have some loyal readers who might be able to help. - You can also contact USHPA. USHPA was founded as USHGA in the early 70's by people like Joe Faust, and it's likely that your Dad was a member. I don't know how much historical data they have retained, but it's worth a try.

Good luck with your research, and please let us know what you find. Joe Faust has already included your Dad in many posts here at the U.S. Hawks, and it would be great to expand on that with anything you find.

Welcome again to the U.S. Hawks!!!

P.S. My suggestion that you mention the U.S. Hawks on was a bit of an inside joke. The guy running that site really hates the U.S. Hawks, and he may ban you for even mentioning us. So don't really do that unless you've got quite a rebel spirit ... and have already gotten all you can get from that site.
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Bob Kuczewski
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Re: New User - Here to Learn More About my Dad

Postby JoeF » Mon May 10, 2021 6:04 am

Hi Steph! Welcome.

Seagull Aircraft, hang gliders

Later, another:
Seagull Aerosports
Ultralight pod
See: ... new-angle/

His website is not active:
But Internet Archives has: ...
In 1969, I founded Seagull Aircraft, and during the following nine years the company became one of the largest and most innovative hang glider manufacturers of the time. For years now, I have wanted to return to the best flying there is, and in a way that would reflect well on the Seagull Aircraft of the past. The new company is called Seagull Aerosports to more properly describe what the company is all about. For the past three years I have been designing and engineering what I believe to be the ultimate soaring trike. It will be available in both self-launch and tow launch versions. I have degrees in Aerospace Engineering and Industrial Design, and I have been relentlessly applying these two disciplines to this project. The trikes and their components use the lightest materials and minimalist engineering to achieve my design goals. As the project has evolved, I have continuously improved it by “knocking myself off” as someone else might if they were to copy the products. All design is in AUTOCAD.

The trikes are fully composite using foam sandwich construction of PVC, and graphite prepreg materials. They are vacuum bag molded and oven cured for minimum weight and maximum strength. The complete lower shell and main structural bulkhead weigh only fourteen pounds out of the mold. The landing gear legs are filament wound graphite. The retracting mechanism uses a lot of racing catamaran hardware, and is really slick. The mast is a streamlined tapered composite structure. There is no forward compression strut. The powered version uses the 25 horsepower CORS-AIR M-21Y. The propeller is three-blade folding.

The pilot is fully enclosed in a streamlined pod. The canopy is molded acrylic with graphite frames. The control bar passes through a slot at the fuselage/canopy joint. The slot is large enough to allow complete movement of the bar and the pilot’s arms and elbows, and it is covered with split neoprene to maintain the streamline shape of the pod. The pilot flies in a very supine position, but not as flat as a sailplane pilot. The seat is of trampoline mesh supported and shaped by bent aluminum tubes on each side of the pod. This material allows stretch for comfort and shock absorption and air circulation so the pilot will not stick to it when hot. It weighs nearly nothing. Four-point restraint is standard.

The pods are small, light and efficient. The total drag is a little more than that of a perfectly prone

arms tucked pilot. However, the total drag of the pod over a given flight will be considerably less than the prone pilot because it will always be streamlined. An exposed pilot’s movement is all over the inside the control bar. His arms are usually exposed to airflow, and he might need to rotate vertically to stretch or wake up legs that have gone to sleep.

Safety has been a major concern. The bottom of the pod is dead flat so that if an out landing is necessary, and the terrain does not encourage the use of the gear, a belly landing can be made. The shape of the nose will prevent shoveling and possible flip. There is a foam crush zone forward of and under the pilot. The engine mount is designed to collapse without the engine going through the bulkhead. A BRS rocket deployed parachute is mounted on the rear of the main structural bulkhead and fires through a hatch on the side. The Kevlar strap is buried in the tear away trailing edge of the mast. The rear side of the main bulkhead is covered with anechoic foam to keep it quieter for the pilot while under power.

There are other innovations involved, but I have patent work in process and need to keep them under wraps for now. The trade marking of the names is under way.

The tow launch version is the POD RACER.

The self-launch version is the ESCAPE POD.

The mock-up made from prototype tooling was shown at the Experimental Aircraft Association fly in last summer. The response from the flying public was very good, and the first deposit was taken. I had planned to have them finished earlier, but even though they are just trikes, there are complexities, and I want the fit and finish to rival any German sailplane. They will be flown at several events this summer. The ESCAPE PODS will be seen with and demonstrated with the Moyes Lightspeed 5, and the Northwing Stratus. Experienced pilots will make the high performance connection of the PODS with two of the most efficient and well-respected gliders available today.

Response to the PODS has been very good, and I am quite enthusiastic about their potential. Several hang gliding dealers and schools are eager to represent them.

Associate in early endeavors: Bob Keeler, hang glider. A typo occurs on the Internet some: Keller.

New Zealand hang glider people may have some photos of Mike that are special. Mike's hang glider hardware was heavily purchased by a New Zealander upon a direct visit to Santa Monica, CA, headquarters of Seagull Aircraft.

Mike partnered with Waldo Waterman to build a replica of the early Waterman biplane hang glider.

Self-Soar Association gained the copyright for the plans of the Seagull III hang glider. The plans were distributed to 23 nations. ... -pod-racer

Joanne Faust flew Mike's Seagull II (at Escape Country meet) and Seagull III hang gliders (at Dockweiler State Beach) .

I flew the Waterman-Seagull biplane hang glider, Seafull II, and Seagull III. ... age002.jpg

Upon my conception of the first Hang Glider Manufacturers Association, Mike cooperated in the launch; later a parallel association surfaced and sustained with leadership by Pete Brock.
Michael Riggs, President Seagull Aerosports

Michael Riggs is President and Founder of Seagull Aerosports. He holds degrees in Aerospace Engineering and Industrial Design. His experience includes 25 years in consumer product development with annual line responsibilities reaching more than $400 million. He has achieved executive management at the vice president level. He has designed, built and flown several aircraft. In 1969, he founded and operated for nine years what became one of the largest international manufacturers of hang gliders and accessory equipment.

In 1981 Riggs designed, built and flew an aircraft prototype intended to fit the then new FAA Part 103 Ultralight Rules. He is a founding member of the United States Hang Gliding Association, and he has served as a director of that organization. He is also the co-founder of the United States Hang Glider Manufacturers Association (HGMA), responsible for establishing aerodynamic and structural standards for hang glider aircraft.

He is a highly decorated Army gunship pilot with two Vietnam tours.

We shared for our hang glider businesses a commercial-property loft owned by historic aviator Waldo Waterman in Santa Monica, CA. The building has been demolished. Fifth Street.

LinkedIn has his notes:
Seagull Aerosports
Company Name
Seagull Aerosports
Tonka Toys
Design Manager

Name Tonka Toys
Dates Employed1982 – 1988
Employment Duration 6 yrs

San Marino High
Dates attended or expected graduation1958 – 1961 ... 1osh03.jpg

Mayb $$ explore his San Marion High School yearbooks, e.g., ... 61?page=29


See: ... rcraft.htm

Mike hugely assisted in my flight session at Sylmar for the early 70's show 60 Minutes. Mike taped a camera and rock to my Seagull III crossbar for the flight. On the launch site was Mike Wallace and Mike Riggs.

Mike had a significant stint in living in his boat at Marina del Rey harbor.

At one of our early meeting photo: Irv Culver (he spoke of the wing twist for hang gliders), Jack Lambie, Lloyd Licher, Eddie Paul, Bill Allen, Taras Kiceniuk, Jr., Mike Riggs:
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Re: New User - Here to Learn More About my Dad

Postby Everard » Mon May 10, 2021 1:15 pm

Here is a 'related topics menu' on my hang gliding history web site:
Seagull Aircraft of Santa Monica, California

That page is a list of links to various pages where Seagull hang gliders appear in the main pages, which are in more-or-less chronological order.

The Seagull 3 was widely copied around the world and is one of the most recognizable designs of the earliest days of 'modern' hang gliding. (At least, what I think of as modern hang gliding...)
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