Hang Gliding Then and Now

South Central New York Hang Glider Pilots' Association

Hang Gliding Then and Now

Postby wingspan33 » Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:50 pm

I started hang gliding back in 1975 and it is amazing how the sport has advanced. My first glider had a 4 to 1 glide ratio (4 feet forward to one foot drop) and my current hang glider has a maximum glide ratio of 15 to 1. That's close to 3 quarters of the glide ratio of beginner/training sailplanes! And there are rigid wing hang gliders that have better glide ratios than 20 to 1. :thumbup:

The very latest "delta wing" hang glider is close to or above 16 to 1 glide ratio. Heck, check out the Wills Wing T3 at < https://www.willswing.com/t3/ > Does that not look like a real airplane wing? Hard to say no.

And if you are just beginning, the hang gliders are still much better than those around when I began. And MUCH safer too! I just love the WW Alpha. < https://www.willswing.com/alpha/ > It's the perfect glider for someone just starting out.

With all my refection on the past and present of hang gliding technology, do any of you guys have something you'd like to add? There have to be many stories to tell about the Then and Now of hang gliding.
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Re: Hang Gliding Then and Now

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Tue Oct 22, 2019 9:01 pm

wingspan33 wrote:I started hang gliding back in 1975 and it is amazing how the sport has advanced.

I was pretty much a "then and now" pilot with my first hang gliding flights in 1978 and then a long gap (mostly flying airplanes and seaplanes) until coming back into the sport at the end of 2003.

I may have been lucky to miss many of those particularly dangerous years in between.
Join a National Hang Gliding Organization: US Hawks at ushawks.org
View my rating at: US Hang Gliding Rating System
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Re: Hang Gliding Then and Now

Postby Craig Muhonen » Thu Dec 05, 2019 6:59 pm

The then for me was on a river North of Sydney Aus. 1968, when I got to see Bill Bennett and his toe glider, and then ski our brains out. Then in Torrance Beach 1970, Cronk, Eiper and others with their "home made" foot launched gliders. Then in Telluride Co., 1972-3 When I launched 4 hang gliders (Greg Henzie, Clint Wolf, John Dunam, and Robert St. Onge) from Ajax mountain. (Sea Gulls and Standards I believe). Then 1973-4, The "800" hill, where I watched Cronk fly a quick silver " c" all the way to town and back (magic he said). Then 1975 gold hill launch site helping and watching in awe, the Telluride Air Force and pilots from all over the country fly "state of the art" gliders , sometimes "cross country". Then 1978 when I watched a hang glider (Voight I believe) do 5 loops, with smoke, over my house, his wires "singing" the whole time. Then watch my friend Jack catch a "clear air" thermal (that was 1,700 FPM up !) And go almost out of sight over town, to an altitude of 10,200', which at the time was a record. It became so common place for me to look up and see many Hang Gliders overhead, following each other from thermal to thermal. By 1980, Flying had tapered off because of the fact that the only 2 L Z's were "downgraded", and Telluride IS an area for experts only. The now for me came by way of Bob and US HAWKS which jogged my memory back to those forgotten times. Seeing the pilots and their "aircraft" evolve between 1968 and 1978, for me anyway, was truely amazing. The last 41 years of hang gliding have been great, but the first 10 ......well I think they had the old surfers attitude ....... "If it swells ride it".
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