Saw a fantastic video outlining the history of hang gliding, including the development of the Rogallo Wing, the first hang gliders, featuring a lot of footage about Joe Faust, who published the first hang gliding “magazine” called “Low and Slow”. Entertaining and enlightening video.
LINK TO HISTORY OF HANG GLIDING VIDEO:
I remember reading an article in Popular Science magazine outlining the new extreme sport of hang-gliding, featuring some of the early home-built gliders such as “The Bamboo Butterfly” and “The Conduit Condor”. I read that anyone could build one out of aluminum antenna masts from Radio Shack, clear plastic sheeting, and duct-tape.
This was in about 1974-1975 when I was in high school.
I tried to build one and fly it but the results seemed dangerous and not very promising, so I bought one instead - an Eipper (brand) “standard Rogallo” hang-glider built by Dick Eipper. I even have one of that same model here at my house - people give away old hang-gliders!
There were no instructors then - you just bought one and flew it. Flew it several times and enjoyed dive-bombing family and friends below, only learning in more recent years that those old gliders had a fatal flaw - they could get stuck in a dive and kill the pilot. Luckily for me, I never got stuck in a dive like that. The problem, if I understand it, was a now-well-known tendency of airfoils to exhibit a tendency toward positive pitch (tendency to pitch forward, or down). If you know anything about wind energy you probably already know this. Or alternatively I could say. probably almost nobody here has any idea what I’m talking about.
Well, now you do - In the early 1980’s or so designers started including a “reflex bridle” to lift the trailing edge, preventing getting stuck in a dive. After that, pilots started wearing parachutes (gee, ya think?) etc. and we seem to “only” lose someone every couple of years here in California anyway. The worst injury I have sustained so far is one damaged pinky toe. (God sending a message).
Anyway there is a lot of info about how Joe Faust organized early events and published his “Low and Slow” magazine, etc., greatly helping the new sport of hang-gliding to get started in a big way.
Funny but these days flying too low, or too slow, or especially flying slow while low, are considered dangerous, since flying slow can cause the wing to stall, then you are too low to recover so you crash. But those early gliders had a low aspect ratio, and a lot of surface area, so you had a better chance of being able to “parachute” them to the ground in a pinch.
These days, gliders are much higher performance, but less-forgiving in some ways, and if they stall you will drop out of the sky, so you have to keep them moving, and pilots are advised to dive or increase speed approaching landing, since the headwind you land into will be slower as you approach the ground (this is called the wind gradient) and if you are going too slow, you can unintentionally stall the wing in the suddenly-slow air as you land, and crash-land. So, best to go fast when you get low, and only slow down once you are skimming the ground.
So much for “Low and Slow” - today people who like to ground-skim go very fast - it is another new extreme sport called “Speed-flying” - who knew?
Since Joe was similarly instrumental in organizing the first AWE (HAWP) conference in 2009, I thought this great video might be seen as relevant to the development (or not-so-much-development?) of AWE. Very entertaining and informative. I would rate it as a “must-see”.
Not sure if Joe ever censored anyone declaring how many pilots would be killed, before they started to get a handle on safety, which was a LOT of people dead, as though they were fighting a war, but anyway, this sort of activity helped eventually lead us all toward seeing the possibility of AWE, and there is a lot of great footage of Joe Faust.
Now this is funny, but unless I missed it, this great video did not mention Joe Faust’s perhaps biggest role in popularizing hang-gliding which was playing the lead actor in a hang-gliding-themed commercial for “Dial Soap”.
LINK TO DIAL SOAP HANG-GLIDING COMMERCIAL:
There was Joe lathering up in the shower, then flying down a hill, being chased by a several beautiful girls running along beside and behind the glider - what;s not to like? Suddenly, everyone wanted to try hang-gliding!
Well it turned out that AWE was not quite as easy to get “off the ground” but Joe did give it a good try and does have a history of positively influencing new airborne fun technology development and popularization.