Episode 80 – The History and Future of Hang Gliding


Hang gliding is arguably the first “extreme sport” in human history and its influences radically changed the world. Drawing inspiration from Leonardo Davinci, Otto Lillienthal built the first foot-launched hang gliders in the late 1800’s. His wings inspired Octave Chanute and his assistants to make thousands of flights at the turn of the last century on the shores of lake Michigan which led to the Wright Brothers’ remarkable inventions- and humans take to the skies. Orville and Wilbur Wright’s flights in the early 1900’s are still hard to wrap your head around. Imagine picking up a 150 pound glider built out of bamboo, balsa and muzzen cloth in 30 miles per hour of wind and actually soaring! Their flights in 1911 wouldn’t be matched until the early 1970’s! Their passion for flight lead to the rapid development of powered aircraft which had a massive impact in the devastating air campaigns of World War I and World War II. Interest in unpowered flight returns after the Wars and the arrival of Francis Rogallo and his genius leads to Hang gliding as we know it. Suddenly we can chase the birds, fulfilling a shared dream that has existed from the beginning of human history. The sport goes crazy in the early 70’s, over a hundred manufacturers get into the game, performance gains go through the roof, but then so do the accidents. In the late 70’s the Hang Gliding Manufacturers Association creates a certification process and the sport becomes more interested in safety than just getting off the ground at any cost. Gliders continue to innovate at an insane pace and incredible distances are flown- the first 100 mile flight goes down, then Larry Tudor flies 200 miles, then 300 but as wings get more and more sophisticated and fast, they also get more difficult to fly and importantly- to learn. In 2012 Dustin Martin flies an unbelievable 475 miles in Texas, the farthest anyone has flown on unpowered aircraft but the future of hang gliding is anything but encouraging. What’s next for the sport, and has what’s happened to hang gliding foretelling of paragliding’s future? This is a remarkable tale told eloquently by the legendary Bruce Weaver from Kitty Hawk Kites, the president Wills Wing Steven Pearson, the former president of USHPA and former world record holder David Glover, the “Dark Prince” Larry Tudor and the current world record holder, Dustin Martin.


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Show Notes:

  • KittyHawk kites and the beginnings
  • Otto Lillienthal and then up to the Wright Brothers. The first “hang gliders”, taking from Divinci and Lillienthal
  • “Sacrifices must be made!”
  • Octave Chanute carries on the legacy of Lillienthal and the Wright brothers take notice
  • Wright Brothers Innovation and inspiration- thousands of flights go down before they add engines!
  • Changing the course of mankind
  • First time soaring- on a 150 pound glider, in 30+ mph wind with bamboo and a kitchen curtain!
  • Francis Rogallo- the lightbulb goes off. NASA and the space race
  • National Geographic and the birth of Wills Wing under Bob and Chris Wills
  • Wills Wing- from the Boom to accidents to the decades of decline
  • The space race and how it affects Hang gliding and free flight
  • David Glover and Rogallo and the “Killer van”
  • Steven Pearson and the birth of Wills Wing and the crazy boom of Hang Gliding in the early and mid 70’s
  • Hundreds of manufacturers form around the world, performance increases and the accident rates goes through the roof
  • Distance flights starts to hit, and the Dark Prince- Larry Tudor flies 200 miles, then 300 miles…
  • Zapata “fucking” Texas- chasing the longest flights on Earth
  • Dustin Martin and Johnny Durand battle it out, and Dustin goes farther than anyone ever has on a hang glider. The record still holds.


Mentioned in this episode:

Miguel Gutierrez, Rob Kells, Chris and Bob Wills, Steven Pearson, Mike and Linda Meier, Larry Tudor, Benny Abruzzo, Ben Abruzzo, Dean Potter, Gerry Katz, Trip Millinger and Gene Blythe, Steve Moyes, Don Partridge, Joe Bostik, Gerry Forberger, Manfred Ruhmer, Bobby Bailey, Moyes Dragonfly, Campbell Bowen, Bill Moyes, Brad Kushner, Mark Knight, Icaro, Moyes Gliders, Aeros, Pete Lehmann, Gary Osoba, Frank Brown, Davis Straub, Alex Ploner, Bruce Weaver, Nick Greece, Leonardo Davinci, Ted Boyce, Pete Layman, Gary Osoba, Dustin Martin, Jonny Durand, Bill Moyes, Pete Brock, Zac “Zippy” Majors

1959 Wind Tunnel Test


1976 on an SST


Bamboo Bombers



Chris and Bob Wills


Rogallo’s Daugher Carol on a Rogallo design, 1968


David Aldrich


Roger Flying Jockey’s Ridge


Francis Rogallo on Jockey’s Ridge

Watch this amazing film, “Playground in the Sky” that documents the beginnings of hang gliding:


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Episode 80 The History and Future of Hang Gliding

00:00:11 - 00:05:08

Everybody walk into a very very special eightieth episode, if you can believe that of the cloud base, ma'am. This one was by far the hardest at it we've ever done because we tip, you know, typically to sit down and have kind of fireside chat with one person this when we bring in quite a few different folks to tackle tough subject. Can we save hang gliding kind of grim title? But that's what we decided to to land on most people agree that hang gliding been more or less forty year decline since the hey days in the late seventies. And and so we we rewind the clock. Bruce Weaver steps in who runs the largest hang gliding school in the world. Kitty, Hawk kites Inada for very very long time. He is kind of our narrator, and he picks up the story from the very beginning. I maybe call hang gliding the first extreme sport long before airplanes. So back in. Lillian thous- days in the way for the last the turn of the last century and then onto Xinyu and designs that were literally came from Davinci. And then those designs inspired the Wright brothers, which is right down the street from Kitty Hawk kites on these guys were foot launching hundred fifty pound contraptions, and and literally flying sometimes soaring flying thirty miles an hour. You'll hear all about that. Really shocking stuff. Then hang gliding kind of goes away for a little bit during the first and second World War. And then it comes back for Roche ously because of Francis regard. So we'll bring David Glover into the story here, and he's actually still owns. Well. I won't give it all to you. But he's got the killer van pretty funny story there, and he enlightens us about aero towing. And the whole advent of that whole space, which made hang gliding available to more people in a lot more places. And but now. Nice kind of underlying problem, which she's. No, new people are not being attracted to the sport. So so then we bring in Steven Pearson who took over wills wing after Bob died, tragically filming a Jeep commercial and back in seventies. And he has been running wills wing. He built his first glider in nineteen seventy three and has been running wills wing and been charged. They're designing engineering few others since nineteen seventy seven. So we've talked to Steven about the commercial side of things and what has happened. What p feels has happened to the sport. And what needs to happen for hang gliding to make comeback compete with paragliding? And but there's a lot there's a lot of interesting things here. And you know, this a lot of maybe kind of foretelling of what could potentially also happen to paragliding. So super exciting show. Like, I said pretty hard for us to put together, but help you create it quite a bit of work news. Also. A lot of fun. And I certainly feel like I'm a lot more educated on fascinating subject. And if you're not ready, you will be here shortly before we get to the show. Typically, I saved the whole always ask for is a buck show to the end and talk about how you can sport show in various different ways. I'm gonna do that here at the top of the show. I think it's it's pretty important of I when we first got going with the cloud base may years back I had kind of a strangled relationship with asking for money that always felt really weird to me took me a while to get around to that typically podcast or seen as free and they're they're funded through their phone at three advertising, and I don't like advertising. I don't why I listened to tons of other podcasts not just this one. But you know, I hate that five ten fifteen minute stuff at throw in the beginning of the show. Trying to sell me the greatest latest mattress or something. You know? I don't see advertise. Zing as free. There's a there's a cost there. We see that all the stuff going on right now Facebook data personal side of things. And so about getting into all that I just don't find that's very authentic relationship upon sponsored by a paragliding company, and I'm trying to sell their products to you. You're gonna wonder about the authenticity of what is being said on here in the truthfulness of what is being said on here. You might not agree with my opinions or my guests opinions. But they're the truth is we see it. And what we're trying to do at the show just pass along to you information. Makes you a better and safer pilot and also makes our community sabre pilot for our community safer around the world. That's the whole purpose. I get meals literally almost every day from people have said that show as either kept him from getting hurt or a lot worse.

00:05:08 - 00:10:11

And that's really why do I hope you all pre she ate that. By me, asking for a bucket show that to me is kind of treating it like a magazine subscription or something you find valuable, but I am not asking for people to support me financially. If that's going to dig into your, you know, in any way into your lifestyle, like even if that's give if you've got a cut a cop Cup of coffee out of your life. And that's not the person I'm asking for of support financially, many other ways incident show, you can log about it. You can share on social media. You can rate it on the show on itunes or Stitcher. However, you get your Audi listen to your podcast. You can talk about it on the way to launch tell your friends because some of those friends might be able to afford kicking us down buck or so every once in a while in that goes along way so you can support us directly through on. If you go to cloud base, man dot com, you'll find the places where you can support directly through pay pal or you can become. Regular sports patriot. And be rewarded for doing? So. But again, I'm only asking for funds from people who can afford it. This is a lot of work. It does take a lot of time. And and there are a lot of cost involved. So for sure the support is absolutely necessary to bring it to you. And but it's a lot of fun. I'll keep doing it. Thank you, all reaching out in emails and should suggestions for topics and people might take very seriously if I don't get back to you right away. Just because my inbox is absolute disaster. But. Anyway, that's what I had to say about support. Thank you so much really appreciate it. And as has been a true honored this to you and all the comments from people that are getting something out of it. So on the show. I hope you get something out of this one. Please joy, this very cool story about hang lighting and history where it is in where it may. Or may not go George. Bruce awesome to have you on the show. Thanks for doing this. We've been trying to line this up in some ways for for months, although hang gliding. It's been around long time. So I guess we got plenty of time to talk about it. But a pretty excited to talk to you about the kind of the history of hang gliding. And and you know, Nick sent through this, you know, kind of two page thing on the on the just the background of it, which I know that you're going to expand on which is just fascinating. I guess it's kind of the first extreme sport there ever was, you know, before before the Wright brothers and everything so why don't we give the listeners a real quick background on on you and Kitty Hawk? And and and and then let's let's let's rewind the dial go way back and and bring us up to speed with. What's what what has happened in these many decades with with angling great? Yeah. Thanks for having me for sure I'm excited. So yeah. You know, I've been at it now here. On the east coast North Carolina started back in the mid eighties. And you know, learn how to get my feet off the ground here on the dunes of jockey's ridge. And I've been working for kitty all pretty much since the since the early nineties in gliding industry, helping other folks get up in the air them some, you know, bunch of different types of line. And you know, just impassioned about like all the rest of us. So definitely enjoy talking about it and getting people up to speed on. You know, all the different things that have happened to build up to where we are today. Let's get let's, you know, let's take us back to the history of it. 'cause I just had. No, I had heard regard. And and, you know, had this fascinating talk a couple years ago with with the prince, you know, Larry to and you know. He filled us with tons of just amazing stories of what was going down the seventy s in the, you know, the incredible period of way, too, many accidents. But let's go back before that, you know, how how did this all how did this absurdity? So, you know, it's it's interesting that that people have been dreaming about it forever. You're not seeing. Some of the drawings of Leonardo Davinci, you know, the bird wings. And he's got some great quotes about flight out there, and we get we get to the point in and eighteen hundreds were guy. Name auto Lillian thal really started to put some of this stuff together and make a functioning wing bird type wing that he was launching himself a hills with you know, Nick, I did thousands of flights and controlling the thing through you know, sort of through weight shift.

00:10:11 - 00:15:05

He was dangling by his arms and thrown his legs around trying to make that thing work. And you know, Eddie, he flew a bunch and and loved it. He ended up dying tragically in a in an accident on the hill. One of his famous close though was sacrifices must be made. And you know, I think that that's pretty interesting when you know, thinking all the way back there in the eighteen hundreds this guys so into it that, you know, he's he's going at it full bore. So literally like their original. You know, it's incredible to think that, you know, especially at that time, you know, the amount of time and energy, and you know, just going off what he sees bird wings, looking like, and maybe some of the drawings of Davinci, and, you know, making something that actually worked it's really really something. Yeah. It's really Spiring. Isn't it? I mean in that. Yeah. And then he takes to the next step that was real influential and in the in the right, brother. You know, and then Octavian Newt was really the next big name that came after him and carried on Lilienthal legacy and did a bunch of tests with a bunch of wings here in the states. And the Wright brothers too were inspired by both Lilienthal and shoot. And they started experimenting and of those guys had been tinkerers since they were little kids. And we're really intrigued with the challenge of manned flight, you know, like everybody else, you know, the Wright brothers weren't any different in that regard people been dreaming for thousands of years of, you know, looking up the sky figuring, you know, what what I would do to be able to get up there and fly like a bird and brothers, man. They really took it to heart and started going at it hard. Those guys those guys that story is pretty incredible to you know, here we are North Carolina. I'm just right down the road from where they I flew the powered flight and where they were doing all their testing. With the gliders. And that's one of the things a lot of people don't understand about the glider or about the Wright brothers is that they had thousands of glider flights perfecting, you know, controlled flight before they ever put an engine on that thing. Really? They were hang on. Yeah. Yeah. They were definitely. They were you know, those guys, you know, they were inventors I think everybody knows they they had a bicycle shop, Ohio. So they're very mechanical and very persistent, and they took this challenge. Head on of getting themselves and everyone else up in the air. And I spent years doing it finally in nineteen oh two they came up with a design for a wing that they felt was controllable they had made kites, you know, eighteen ninety nine they made a small aircraft in one thousand nine hundred and other one in nineteen oh one coming down here to the Outer Banks on the sand dunes and testing it and finally nineteen to they had modified their design enough to where they had actually figured out how to control their flight through the air, and it's pretty amazing feat at that point because a lot of the information. They were going on you know, was from the Hague. History books of divinity and Lilienthal and couple of things they figured out was you know, that those guys even though they were getting themselves off the ground. They really weren't doing it. Right. So they you know, the guys that were the superstars of what would be aviation at the time. These guys questioned what they were doing and figured out a different way. And sure enough they figured out to get themselves up. Broken bones is the document. How many flights ended in a crash? It must have been half the amount of carnage. They had for those aircraft Carney. But they aren't they you know, we were down here on sand dunes coastal wins. They were flying in. So, you know, those guys came out fairly unscathed. But they definitely you know, the old the old adage where you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet. They broke a few eggs. That's for sure. And then and then then some kind of weird happens. Right. So I mean, they figure out how to put a how to put an engine on these things. And if I'm jumping ahead bring me back, but the and then kind of engine Lewis flight kind of faltered for couple few decades. It's just kind of went by the wayside. That's right. Yeah. So interestingly enough the Wright brothers. There's there's such a great story, just innovation and perseverance. But one of the things that they had their mindset on was personalized powered flight.

00:15:05 - 00:20:01

They thought that they could figure that secret out in nineteen to they figured out this the secret of controlled flight. So they went back to a high. Oh, they built themselves an engine, and they put the engine on the aircraft. And then they traveled all the way back down here to North Carolina and took that fateful powered flight on December seventeenth nineteen three. And I really just changed. The course of mankind really at that point. Things were you know, completely different. You know, all the different horizons that were opened up just by those guys doing that. You know, obviously, we're still feeling today. The, but they were they were also at that point. You know, the they were the rock stars of that era. I mean, they they worldwide acclaim, they toured Europe, you know, I mean, it was they they were, you know, the most famous living people on the planet at that point. So with that it just captured the imagination of the entire world powered flight did. And you know, they started evolving powered flight, and you know, doing everything they could until we got up to where we are today, but glider flights at that point were not, you know, they were just a means to an end, you know, so they figured the glider flights. Yeah. We figured out how to control it with no engine. Now. We'll put an engine on it. Now, we've got control hand and engine. So you know, let's not doing gliding. We don't need to do that. More. We, you know, we got to the ultimate goal lesson work tweak this so yeah. Like, you say the glider flights, then definitely took a backseat. Interestingly though, enough that they in a nineteen eleven the Wright brothers with the they had toured they had, you know, the US military had gotten in on their their the powered aircraft. The France was a big supporter. I mean, you know, they had they had spent eight or nine years just you know, in a world win of powered aircraft building. And they decided nineteen eleven though that they needed to work more on the controls to the glider again. So they came back down to the banks with a glider. So they rebuilt another glider with what they had learned over the past seven or eight years came down to the Outer Banks, and they practice flying just to work on control services here on the Outer Banks. And in one thousand nine eleven they stayed aloft soaring almost ten minutes. No way. I mean. So is this is this like the is this the bamboo stuff? What what are they using? Then for for. You know, what's the fabric is? Exactly. So they you know, they had they're using Muslim Kloss. They they had what trying to think of all the different types of wood. They were using. But it wasn't lightweight from your boss. Yeah. It is the prising -ly resilient would that they are using it need to be because they were definitely, you know, trial and error with that thing, but the the nineteen to glider, for instance, weighed one hundred and fifty pounds, and they came back in the one in nineteen eleven I don't know the exact weight of that one. But it was certainly right around that same weight. So it wasn't a white weight aircraft. You know, and they were they were flying that thing and thirty miles an hour wind thirty plus it's just. That's insane. I can't even it's hard to wrap your head around. What is what is modern hang glider way? These days, we're, you know, we've got him anywhere from the upper forties on up in pounds. But you know, these guys are foot launching a hundred and fifty pound it's made out of lake sale. Cross. To about these guys is, you know, they're so famous for what they did, you know, their, ingenuity, the perseverance and all that. But man, those guys were brave, you know, locked themselves off thirty miles an hour wind and some that they put together that's that's Seward for ten minutes and went what year did you say? Yeah. That's awesome. That is so. How about it? Right. So they they had the soaring record the powerless time aloft until the thirties when someone broke it in an actual sailplane. I think they're up in New England on the coast New England. And then no one broke that record of of ten minutes down here on the Outer Banks until seventy see I think it was seventy six and a hang glider. Killers. It's ridiculous. Oh my God. Is so awesome. Wow.

00:20:02 - 00:25:05

Cool. So I mean, but their, you know, their inventions led to Edo just a radical change in how warfares fought, you know, and we're one World War Two. Of course, just if if those guys could have been alive fifty years later wall that she'd seen the I seventy seven. Carey. So when do we go to the moon was sixty nine sixty nine. Our three sixty six years later. What that is free. That is crazy. Okay. So but great say way, regardless Fasces, so another. Cut from the same cloth. As the Wright brothers for sure just always fascinated with flight, and his is is a great story of American, ingenuity, and perseverance too. But really cool guy grew up in California had always wanted to be a pilot and back in the day. The easiest way to become a pilot was to join the military. So he went to join the military and got rejected actually hit an accident. When he was a kid. He lost a couple of his toes. And apparently at the time if you didn't have all your toes, you couldn't join the military. So he so he was out. So so he set to task trying to figure out how he was going to give himself up in the air. I mean, he just you know, that was it. And he was like, well, no one's gonna tell me that I'm not going to be able to fly let me figure out this thing. So he goes to Stanford. He graduated in their first Aaron article. Engineering class out of Stanford. And he ended up getting hired by this south fit here on the east coast called Neka in a c- comes over here and Naqa soon turns its focus to space changes its name to NASA. And he's working with the time. The whole time is mulling over how he can get himself up in the air finally one day one evening at the kitchen counter with his wife Gertrude. He's sitting there they're eating dinner. And you know, the proverbial light bulb goes off over his head. He goes over and grabs a kitchen curtain Poulsen. Kite string out of the counter drawer and fashions this flexible triangular, looking kite thing and makes the I regard a wing, which is we still got that first one, it's it's a kitchen curtain for sure. And does some loopholes the window fan out of the windows? You know, you can sort of imagine the era now we're here in the forties pulls the window fan out of the window and does his own little makeshift wind tunnel tests. They're at the dinner table and ends up going into this guy's at NASA. The next day and say, listen, I'm trying to figure this thing out for years. I think I finally got something here and the whole trick was with it was it was completely flexible. It could be deployed like a parachute, and it would slow something's descent like a parachute. But unlike the parachutes of the day, you know, those round parachutes this one actually had a glide to it. So. So it to glide forward and could be steered. So this little regard wind that he invented could do all these things, and he was, you know, the what he envisioned for this thing, the, you know is just limitless. He had actually talked at that time and some of his writings about imagining the day when people would on for all these things at the top of a mountain and fly to the bottom. You know mean just it's incredible. The vision of this guy, but he goes to he goes to NASA, you know, took a long time. But eventually they they caught on. And they said, yeah, this'll be great. We should use this for returning our astronauts from space so mister Gallo as everybody was back in the day was all in. So he said, here's my patent. You know, let's get to work, and you know, they just kept working at it and working at it from there. And you know, eventually they decided that they were running out of time. With the space race with testing Mr. Gallo wing because they just used they ended up using round conical shoots to bring our astronauts back, but they did full scale tests staying with his wing there. Some great footage of full-scale capsules coming down under canopy and landing on dry land. Cool. And how does how does it his wife was quite an incredible figures? Well, right Gertrude. Yeah. So there's some great snippets about mister Gallo one of the little history points that Mr Gallagher. I think is so great is that Gertrude was with him at all times.

00:25:05 - 00:30:12

Always support him very bright lady. And when he made when he put this regatta wing together this flexible wing together, he got a patent for it and on the patent. He credits his wife Gertrude as the co inventor of the rebel a wing not only because he used our kitchen curtain to make the first one. But she was also integral, you know. And just you know egging him on and, you know, giving her input the whole way. And during the testing phases wing. He would make a large scale versions of the wing, and you would take his daughters up and put him up in this apparatus and fly him on the beach. And you know, so it's his daughter. Were test pilots for it? And you know, just the whole the whole family was really into it. Now. Like, I said, unfortunately, the space race was so we are so heavily involved. The space race at the time and the Russians at the time were beating us, you know, the United States in this race for space. And so NASA decided that all the testing that was going on with Mr. gallows wing was taking too long, you know, round parachutes and been around for hundreds and hundreds of years, and it didn't take nearly as much testing with that design as it was with this brand new design of Mr. dollars. So they basically told mister Gallo, listen, you know, it's a great idea. But we don't need it. We're not gonna use it for a space program. Yeah. Time. So essentially, what they did was they said, you know, here's here's the information that you are involved with you know, all the testing data and things like that. You know, all the stuff that we learned with this wing. You know, do with it what you may. So mister Gallo took a lot of information published some of the findings and some of the magazines the day people saw it. And once again, you know, like back in Lillian those times or the Wright brothers time once again people just became enthralled with the idea of being able to fly free fly through the air under their own power. And it wasn't long after that that, you know, essentially, hang gliding was born people started flying themselves office small hills, and then larger and larger here's needed glider show after graduating college, I had a friend that really wanted me to come out and a few summers before I taught Windsor Kittyhawk in turns out kitty on call soon as his hang gliding school. And so after teaching winter finishing college. I ended up going back in learning to hang glide in the funny thing was is that I was fairly new. I think I've not had my, you know, second rating and the the owner who's a great guy still there. John Harris ended up firing both managers the hang gliding school. So myself, Bruce in ended up becoming the managers at the Sanguede school any sort of fired of because of paragliding. What was interesting is John delta paragliding where things were going in that they should be doing more of it? He's two guys were very focused on hang gliding and didn't know paragliding that well, and they thought that you know, maybe you should bring him paragliding person. And and there was some friction and whatever happened. We ended up managing that world's largest hang ladies school. Just barely knowing. How to hang gliding beat a few pages in front of the other people in the learning curve that was that was a trauma. I fire, but a lot of fun. So I've teaching hang on the on the Outer Banks. I ended up buying this very rusted out of Volkswagen ban. And I got any credibly good deal on it. It was it was sort of light blue. And a what had happened was that? I got got a great deal because a guy committed suicide in it. No, none of his friends wanted to buy in a really upset that I wouldn't paint it because every time they draw drove it around. You know, they thought he was like it was just weird for him. But so I tell people I did get a killer deal. The. I ended up having to paint it and I painted like a watermelon belt like because we had gone down driven Guatemala with a fringe suburban, which is a whole nother story. And you know, one of our drivers should roll that. So that ended up becoming it quite an issue. But so I painted it was really wild colors, and I had parked underneath the regard tower at Kia Kiai across from the sand dunes, and you know, I had known Francis GAO for three or four years. This is very early nineties and polls this nineteen sixty three bulk swaggie ban that's turquoise that has some unusual features to it. And it's like just rolled off the showroom floor in. I just got onto dune I'm filled with sand and out steps Francis for GAO. And I'm thinking, how did I not know that he had this? What's the story on this thing any he gets out because I once a year I after drive over Manny oh to get a an inspection sticker.

00:30:12 - 00:35:03

And so I drive over there. And. I like to stop here. Then then drive there. He goes. Oh, you got one two I go. Yeah. But yours looks like it's a little better shape. It was a sixty three west volley at camper. It had to Canley pretended comes off at that. I found out later it's got this little pop up part of that you can just barely stand up in. So you can cook. It's just a little hatch. It's the split window. It's all real wood interior side. It's got a little hammock reg-. I mean, it's just it's amazing. And of course, myself like probably anybody else ever sees him or anybody else out around like, then you say if you ever want to sell this let me know, and he just laughed. He goes, oh, you don't know how many hundreds of times people have tried to buy this. Because you know, he goes I grab at once a week around the around the block, and you know, I keep an it was it was showroom. Perfect. In fact, if you talked to anybody back, then you know, that's the way it was in. So I thought well, that's. Great. I'm just a poor little hang glider pilots. Not. I'd be able to buy it. Anyway. So he called me up today. Why don't you come over? I I'd like to talk to you about something. And you know, I been does house a couple of times I didn't play tennis with Gertrude. So mister Gallo says well, are you are you serious about wanting to buy it? And I said, well, yeah. Sure. But I mean mean, it's it's very nice. It's gained a lot of value. Even this was twenty seven years ago. He says tell you what he goes down want to show you a few problems with it. So, you know, you don't if you end up getting you won't be upset with me in. So, you know, takes me around there's like, no scratches. It's it's perfect, except there's you could just barely see this little piece of paint. It was just sort of scraped away a little bit. But it was just like, you know, nothing on the side of the van, and he goes, I want to show you that. Because that's where I would strap my Brock wing in take the ban up to the top of the dune fly, and I just want you to see that. So you didn't come back later and say, look, there's some scratches here. It was it was nasty guy. And there's some great pictures of him. He I mean, he looks so cool with these Ray ban glasses on the side of the decided to do sending his hang glider flying down there. I mean, he was great everybody loved him. And he goes, we'll tell you what he goes. I come up with the prize. I don't want to haggle in this is going to be and I don't want to he can have it for any any anything more lasted Egypt pay. This in pulls out the sort of light pink old piece of paper. It turned out to be they sort of window sticker for the van, and he pulls it out any looks at me was sort of this nice glint in his eye, and he points down to the bottom right hand corner in it says three thousand two hundred twenty one dollars forty five cents. Bruce weaver. It was John Dickinson and Australia actually was the one that really took Mr. Golic design. He added the control frame underneath it. They were towing flights at the time at a ski show and Australia. So they would just told these guys up on what look like giant kites, very, you know, very little. Die huge on the wing or anything. It just like, you know, like a kite that you had makes for larger, and they would tow. These these water skiers up underneath that Dickinson came up with the idea to put the control frame underneath it underneath a kite. And before too long. They were releasing from the line that they were getting towed up in the air with and then flying that flat kite down so the ground, and at that point, the real potential of this wing kicked everybody saw it. And that's when people started making their own, you know, the first of all people are making their own ban Boone cellophane duct tape. You know, they would just make what looked like the design start flying off the hills and more often than not the thing worked. So people started crazy, right? So I had McGill I hadn't a gal Guti areas he of vite who'd kind of discovered Viei and his dad was like the first base jumper in the world. You know, he was he he hang off the edge of by plane. Viper lanes in. Mexico like some of the first power airplanes in Mexico and dive into stadiums, you know, with the parachute. I mean like in nineteen ten cr-. Our what would have been nice later than that. But you know, just crazy and then. And he he he was talking about he and his brothers. There's a whole bunch of 'em. When they first saw the first hang gliders in the early seventies. They would build these things out of St. garbage. They cruise around the street and they'd find some plastic. They find some bamboo in the forest and some pipes, you know, and and make a hang glider.

00:35:03 - 00:40:00

It's crazy that it works the designed, so people as awesome. But that all came from regard. I mean that was really that was his drawing that was his curtain concept. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah. So you know, what he early on the the the rebel a wing is what the thing became known as but he actually called it a paraglider, really. So. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, the the idea this idea foot launch aviation personal free flight was something that mister Gallo had been working on. You know, like I said since he was young, man. And finally saw it come to fruition here. You know, really it was this would have been in the sixties and then early seventies or win a bunch of manufacturers started to get in on it. And you know, there's a time there where there's, you know, there's main factors all over the country in the world making, you know, different types of wings, and every year someone would come up with some new revision make the glider, you know, from a two or three to glide they'd squeak out an extra, you know, half a point glide or something like that. And just the evolution of the wing from there from the seventies really up until today, but certainly through the seventies into the mid eighties was pretty exhilarated pace. See video like in the early seventies. I mean, what are we getting to two one three one? Yeah. Terrible. Yeah. Yeah. I think you know, you might have been able to get a better glide on Mr. Gallo original wing with the kitchen curtain, but. Worse than today speed wings. I mean. Way way worse. Right. Okay. You know, what it caught everybody's you know, everybody's imagination. It was flying. It was the coolest thing that was that was going on back. Then I mean everybody wanted to fly. And now, you know, you could go down like you said you go down grab some old parts from up the street corner. And the hardware store, and you can make yourself something that you could fly off the ground with. I mean, it was in these designs, quote, unquote designs, they were like, you could buy them, right? They were in the back of magazines. Going through that that eras version of spa and go. Yup. I'm on the fly. I'm gonna go down a hardware store by this design and go get the Visco lean. That's right. That's right. Yup. Yup. Mad? I got to come up with the different word. Just wouldn't be correct. These P C, but the Kony's. Like, oh my God. Yeah. Yeah. Always joke that it must have been hard for those guys to launch because their components were. So big. Right. Okay. So I'm going to skip just I mean because it goes from there to not good, right? I mean, Larry talked about that there were some winning that he was flying like forty people died on just like one manufacturer. I can't remember the name of it. I should know more hidden. I should've brought that up if you probably know which one that is, but like absurd death rates. That's right. The off the charts. Yeah. Well, you know, what was going on at that point? Was that everybody was so excited about it. And it seems so free and it looks so simple. And you know, so people were just going out there and try they no one told them what to do. In fact, there's stories of people learning how to do it from, you know, a short letter that was written to them, even if that much, you know, and they would just go out there and figure it out and they didn't get hurt. They'd keep doing it. Because it was cool. But obviously that's not gonna. That's not going to last very long not a real good way to to keep the thing going, and there was a lot of deaths and a lot of injuries in the early days. And that's really what led into the hang gliding Manufacturers Association in the early seventies. And you shoulda, you know, the, you know, the organization there's we figured out that this great enormously popular thing one going to work out. Very well, if you know a lot of people are getting themselves in trouble or injured doing it. So there started be the hang gliding manufacturer's association that started testing wings and making sure that they weren't going to collapse or fall apart on people in the air, usual started putting together, you know, some sort of training. Yeah. You know, at least some sort of idea curriculum for the things that you should do. And no and how you should get to the point where you are flying by yourself at out the tubes. And you know, the it. It cleaned up. I guess you could say the sport the fledgling sport a little bit.

00:40:00 - 00:45:03

But you know, still back in the day. Larry's got all got all kinds of great stories. It, you know, it definitely got a little safer, but people are still pushing the envelope. He talked about like, you know, they were flying the Sierras. I mean, even now it's like, you know, when I learned how to Perry light in the mid to the two thousand six in people weren't paragliding in the Sears in the middle of the summer that was just like old school the nomination doing it again now now people are back doing it again, which is which is awesome. Back even back, then it was just like that that that had been done for like ten years. I told Larry do we used to fly that back in the seventies without reserves? We didn't even know what that was. Can't imagine flying in like twelve and fifteen up on on a jar. I tell you what man this the stories and even some of the video, there's you know. Wills wing, the the wills boys. They started up their company in the early seventies. And there's some footage of either Bob or Chris wills? I forget which one. But flying out there on the coast in a swing seat. So the harness was a swing seem. It's literally as ght-wing seat rhyming, literally. From a kids park. That's what they. Right. Yeah. So when I first got into it. I thought oh swing seat. That's you know, it's got to be the layman's term for this big fancy Harnish against in. But no, it's sweet you cut off swifty. Thirty footer to him flying may have been at Tori, actually. But just way up there in the buttery, you know, the buttery lift there on the coast inist wing seat, and he just goes inverted in the swing seat. He just flips himself upside down, no parachute. No belt. And he's flying this thing from his ankles. This is in Paletta these guys. It was just you know. Yeah. Got it. I got this is. Able. Here's Steven Pearson with wills wing, but in terms of the United States, and what really took off started the whole, you know, hang gliding movement was a singularly an event in in Newport Beach in may of nineteen seventy-one that was to commemorate the birthday of one hundred twenty third birthday of auto auto Lilienthal. And so a year later or little exit a year later in February nineteen seventy two there was an article in hang glider in National Geographic with with. You know, a photo spread about this need and a lot of a lot of people saw that Bob and Chris will solve that. I was fifteen I saw that Bobby and Chris were a little older in there in California. I was in New England. But anyway, Bob, and Chris wills built their first glider in early nineteen seventy-two from photos Baid seen in that National Geographic article, and then a year later, they founded wills mine, and that's. Pretty much the start of you know, hang gliding that that nineteen Seventy-three period. Is when there was just a just an incredible number of, you know, hang gliding companies, people building hang gliding and angle, I just took off on this meter meteoric increase in participation in kinda captivated bows in thousands of people. Anyway, Chris the first US national championships were in nineteen Seventy-three. And and Chris wills one that then in nineteen seventy four Bobby both those meets on on wills wing lighters. Yeah. Well, yeah, we could spend hours talking about the shenanigans of of the wills brothers. And I you know, I shouldn't get too far off off of track. But it's I just got I just got to tell you this. I was at Chris Chris is now retired easing orthopedic surgeon or was for many years and actually did some really good work on my hip. But. But anyway, I used to Bobby used to tell stories of on the orange cannons they used to make they make these these these cannons in fire oranges across the neighborhood, and you know, across all sorts of things, you know, and you know, they were just incredible stories, and I never really saw these things, and I, you know, years later, I, you know, I wonder how much of that was just kind of made up. I mean because it just seemed kind of like too crazy to be real. I mean, just these were just not like toy cannons. These were like mortars. In Orange County of orange grows in and these these things were described as firing oranges like, you know, a half a mile or a mile just literally more damage if you cut one of the chest. So yeah. So. You know? So now, Chris wills retort retired orthopedic surgeon. So you know couple of weeks ago, he had this this pig gross.

00:45:03 - 00:50:04

That is at his ranch and invited us out a lot of other people, and I show up, and there's this lake looks like a replica, you know, World War One cannon on wheels. Air I said, what's that? He says orange cannon. You know, he says, well, okay, I had I had the wheels made Ford, but everything else is original in any search described and he's got this type. And he's got this whole thing put together, these this is what we had when we were kids. My gosh true. He's loading this thing with his mixture of whatever it is. And and launching these oranges over the mountain. Just you know, he's in his rural area type behind Elsa orange thing is lethal. I mean, it's like these things people have these they disappear with her rise. But anyways, always stories were kind of you know, there's a lot to them. And he ends a lot of he has a lot of old footage of them flying these damn booth and plastic gliders and and few years ago, he actually built for one force, and, you know, in fifteen minutes, we just got the bamboo and duct tape and plastic, and you know, he taped one together. And the only thing that was I, you know, I just really couldn't get was this thing was a lot smaller than I imagined. And so he had to be young and run fast to get them off the ground. But anyway, wills Ling took off along with a lot of other companies and. Few years later, Chris often med school and Bobby continued to run wills wing until he was fatally injured in a film in a Jeep commercial in the summer of nineteen seventy seven helicopter bloom into the ground at that time. I was just a flying buddy, rob Kells and other one of our partners who passed away two thousand eight at just arrive with a traveling band of other young misfits stayed on to be to work wolf swing. My other partners. Mike, and Linda Meyer, Linda was working in the front office and Mike recently been fired from those wing. The local dealer. So after Bobby passed away, we kind of loosely formed fringe awhile. I mean, we were friends but loosely in management wills because wills buying really had. No, no leadership at that time. And you know, by the end of the year, you know, I'd started developing gliders, and we took over management industry wing, you know, in that period. So at that time, as I said there were a lot of, you know, lot of hang gliding manufacturers. And we'll swing was by no means the largest there were there was an industry association formed in nineteen seventy six with a board of directors of Ken members and wills wing wasn't large enough to get on the board. We were like number eleven so hang gliding pretty much flourished through the seventies. But already by the end of the seventies. There were starting to be a decline in shakeout. And the shakeout really continued heavily in the early eighties and by nineteen Eighty-four. Most of those ten manufacturers were gone, and we'd become the largest manufacturers of hang glider in in the US, and and pretty much worldwide. And why was that Stephen was that shakeout? Why was there a decline already in the late seventies? 'cause paragliding wasn't around yet. And I would imagine. There was just only more media and more pictures and more movies and more commercials. What was going on there? Well, you know, the technology of hang gliding in the innovation the pace of innovation at that time was really extrordinary far for a quick seeing. What we see today? I mean, the the product life of a new design was was maybe six months, and with you know, so many some so many hang gliding companies and in a very contentious industry that was just just an product. So starting out so technologically, you know, simple. There was a lot of room for improvement. So, you know, as the technology, you know, progress that put, you know, a lot of additional strain on manufacturers. There were a lot of accidents. There was I don't know. I mean, we we could probably spend hours talking about why that shakeout happened. But I think gliders became more difficult to build more difficult to fly more difficult to teach. I mean, it used to be, you know, a standard joke continued today that, you know, this year's competition gliders next year's trainer and that that can only go so far because those gliders became as they became higher performance.

00:50:04 - 00:55:02

They became harder to fly and oftentimes more dangerous. It was also during that period that we had struggle with, you know, the concept of airworthiness on in the initial gliders, you know, bamboo and plastic there wasn't a lot of, you know, aired amick analysis, you know, and and engine nearing two those structures. But then his hang gliding started. The the the performance improved in. You know, soaring flight became possible and airworthiness issues like stability and controllability structural integrity. All of those issues became, you know, more important, and how we address those issues, and who could do that address those issues effectively, you know, became kind of a factor that sorted out. You know? The major manufacturers. So that was part of the shakeout. And and they said the performance factor is also an issue. And I think remains a big factor today. Higher performance gliders or take a lot longer to learn one of the reasons why you know, always manufacturer just sprung up in the early seventies. Was I mean, it's kind of it's kind of a joke. But it's true. I mean, you could build the glider from the kit one weekend teach yourself to fly in the next couple of weeks. You know couple of weeks later, you were a flight school, and, you know, six months later, you're manufacturer, and you know, the town Honey. But that's that is actually true. I mean, just look at look at Will's Ling nineteen seventy-two BC. Photos bobbin, Chrissy, photos and National Geographic. And they make copies, you know. Just with a by scaling the picture. Just looking at the pictures, they get some Bambu and plastic and make their own gliders and by nineteen Seventy-three their manufacturer. And a, you know, I found a the first ad that that we published and there was nine point list of reasons why you should fly, you know. Wills wing, and why should participate in hang gliding? I am number two. Is that that hang-gliding which may come maybe may come to be called skysurfing could easily become the fastest growing sport in the country in the next couple of years that was the expectation in kind of energy behind the, you know, the whole thing. And then one of the other items is a majority of kite-flyers in the US who have soared for an hour or more belong to the sport. Kite sport kites our corporate name before we, you know, avenue name new Brandon wills wing, but its corporate name anyway who have soared from warning our belong to the sport kites point team now fly wills wings. So this is where it was, you know, in in early nineteen Seventy-three, which is not to say, that's really the birth of hang gliding. Hang gliding is. I'm sure Bruce told you starts with William Paul Shinshu, and and many other. Participants along the way I mean in nineteen oh nine it was a famous Bates glider that was published in in popular mechanics that was tied glider that over the following years. God knows how many people learn to fly or build their own copies of that fact, my uncle in like nineteen twenty seven I have some photos of my my, you know, seventeen year old great uncle building afoot launched weight shift. She knew type glider that was probably modeled on the the Bates glider and flowing that and on the back of the photo, it says ham and his name was Wilson Hammond flying hang glider. This has been around for a long time. What happened in the seventies was just a just kind of reached a critical? Now's and you know with the recall, configuration and other things it it just somehow resonated with that group of people when and took on here's Bruce Weaver. So early on there's you know, everybody, you know, there's I forget how many manufacturers probably close to a hundred manufa people just building these things and sending them out of the garages and things like that. Well, I usually that didn't work real well because there wasn't a whole lot of high tech research going on. But starting like you say the in the early eighties late seventies early eighties things really start to get a little bit more high tech. They start being able to prove the performance of these things and people start instead of just going from the top of the hill down to the bottom. They're able to start soaring and staying. Up in the air. You know in thermal ING, and, you know, wings, just started getting more and more efficient, and that's really, you know, from really from day one, actually even all going all the way back to regard.

00:55:02 - 01:00:05

Oh, that's really what people were looking for. You know, just okay. Here's this really cool thing. How can we tweak this thing to make it be even cooler? Make it go a little bit faster or glide a little bit further, and that's still going on today. But you know, through the through the eighties was a real pivotal time. So the manufacturers were really putting a lot of effort into improving the glide performance and the handling and really a pretty interesting time in hang gliding. And that you know, we'd finally gotten past this point where people were you know, sort of worried about dying if they tried it. And now just more more worried about how far they're going to be able to fly. Steven pearson. So. Yeah. During the next, you know, following years the shake between the the seventies eighties was in a large part. I guess to do with air worthiness. With reconcilation, you know, something that you teach yourself out of fly and teach your neighbor out a fly with having to take lessons and having to deal with airworthiness shoes with higher performance aircraft. But still the innovation the progress continued at an extraordinary pace, and I know you've interviewed Larry tutor. And I didn't listen to those interviews, but I mean, Larry is kind of he's an icon for the the progress in the experiences of of you know, pilots of you know, that timing Larry by nineteen I think he was so the first hundred mile flight was I think in nineteen seventy six that would be Jerry cats lining, Neil and valley. And I think it was the year. Before that the treadmill injure Jean Blake made the first fifty miles flight from from Cerro Gordo up to west guard pass and then following your Jerry cats, flew from Sierra Gordo to genie's along the whites. And there's a funny story with that to Jerry's a local southern California pilot. He he fly seeded, and you supply this Pacific and goal lighter that I guess, you know, at had advertised elephant ear probably ten or twelve and really had a glide ratio about seven. But he was he he can distort. If lined up there. I mean, I'd been to the Owens once in that period. I mean, people were kind of flying up there, but not very much was pretty pretty sparse. But so he's flying along the whites circling seated no helmet point seated anew this quieter, you know, up at approaching cloud base at eighteen grand and a sailplane comes by. And the guys start circling around him, and he's just you know, pointing pointing down. Don't belong here. Jerry's just sitting there in his little swing seating. With a yellow line. No parachute. No helmet waving at the guy. Yeah. Great. Yes. Jerry clue hundred miles. But then Larry Larry was the second person to play one hundred miles. And then just a few years later. I think it was in nineteen eighty-two flew, the I two hundred mile flight outta the owns and then only a few years later. He was working for us in the first three hundred mile flight, and then the second three mile flight, and in so, you know, from the mid seventies nineteen ninety it seemed like an eternity back, and but really we're talking about fifteen years. We went from pretty much bamboo and plastic to flying three hundred miles. Tutor we approaching that part of Texas in there was this long line of power lines. Just been snapped off at the base. These giant power line. Poles been snapped off at the base. And we we get to our Joe was and we're talking with them the locals nickel. Yeah. We had a wind storm come through here a week or so ago that was so powerful that we had this. Baseball sized hail was bouncing off the interior walls before it was hitting the floor. So you you you just have no concept. You know, if the owns valley is big for thermals in giant mountains, Texas is big for thunderstorms that defy just they just they just get massive. Don't they? Yeah. They're on there. You can't even you can't even explain them. So I'm not sure if we got a big flight that year or not but the following year. I was out there with Ted Boyce. And I gotta say Ted Weiss had the right attitude for long distance flights.

01:00:05 - 01:05:02

He would fly every day. No matter what. And he would start early. 'cause he said you'd never know how early you can start on the world record day unless you just try for it. And he wouldn't try re predict the weather. He wouldn't try to second guess the weather. He would just go for early try to go for every day. So he had really the right attitude in and I learned a lot from him. Will there was but he was a racer. And I I'm more of a a floater I didn't ever race that much. That's probably why I never got the big competition results either I'm to patient like to take thermals to heights in staying too long. But there was one day where? Ted put it on the ground some around Clovis New Mexico when I was still in the air, and we still had Josh former driver in on this one particular day. There wasn't much in the way of wind wasn't a world record day. But it was a good day. It's just that. There was no wind in the dust. Devils were dancing around in the fields going every way north south east west patterns in the fields. It wasn't really a good day for for open distance. But at any rate, I made it up somewhere near Amarillo. And and Ted comes on the radio. Take on the rating says, hey, Larry where are you in look around and said, oh about fifteen miles southeast of of them realo and Ted goes thirty what the fuck are you doing in the air when there's a tornado? Well, this is that's what it was a maze. Ing on this particular day. There was no wind, and it was an inversion. You see these Hayes domes everywhere. But no, no Cumulus. In. I looked around to see where there might be some rain or storm into the west of me non start to the east of me about thirty miles forty miles. There was a little cloud or not a little cloud. That was dumping rain in in take comes back on the radio's Larry. What the fuck are. You do, you know get down on the ground. There's a tornado. And I'm like, I don't see one Ted. You must be mistaken. Must just be really big dust. Ted Ted comes back. He says, nah, Josh Johnson. A lot of tornadoes. He says this this is definitely a tornado. And so I said, okay, I'm just gonna I'm just gonna go and final and and land and we'll go back. It's not a record day anyway. And so I turned north again on course. And I went holy shit. There was a cloud that popped in front of me that had a tornado going straight to the ground. It was like a solo cloud. No big line of thunderstorms. Nothing. Like that was just one cloud that put this tornado out the bottom right to the cloud cloud right to the ground. So I just about shit because I always want to see a tornado before. But never from never face the face. Flying a hang glider. Hang. Yes. Only like five miles away. Literally. And so I turn south. I turned around to start racing away from it. And you not flying fastest can in my glider in this little voice on the radio from Ted Saint don't forget to take pictures. So like, oh, man. Oh, man. Okay. Okay. So I turned around my hand shaking. I'm taking these photos like, okay that's enough. So take some photos and turn south again. I'm just blazing south trying to get on the grounds fast as I can and not not having a lot of luck. Because something happened that they were everything started letting loose around five o'clock in the afternoon everywhere all at once just the entire desert started lifting and and just clouds popping everywhere, and it was hard to get down. So perhaps what was happening is the cloud off to the east triggered a gust front that wedged underneath all the hot air that had been building all day to the west. And then everything just kicked loose. It was just enough to bust loose the inversion. So after racing south for I don't know ten fifteen miles across the pellet canyon. I was looking down. And I thought my, you know, my eyes watering or something because everything looked all blurry. In a white my eyes and look down nods. Definitely blurry. And I realized that the whole desert was just a big windstorm in missing. This is good. And so so I start spiraling down to land on the probably the wrong side pellet canyon from where Josh and Ted were chasing me from.

01:05:03 - 01:10:04

We were already out of radio contact spiral down to land. I started backing up pretty quickly. It was it was boy so hard that I was backing up at a pretty pretty fast rate looking over my shoulder, whereas gonna land had pop up over a bar fans just managed to get down on the ground and jump out on the front. Let's trim speed on Englander. Pretty sure flowing about four year forty five miles an hour when I touched down and still going backwards. Through the control and grab the front flying wires in my hands were so cramped up from drip in the control bar so hard that I couldn't I couldn't undo my Caroubier. I kept trying to KB to get loosened glider, so I lay my glider down flap. I couldn't I couldn't make my fingers work. And so back about that. Tony everything's getting black. I mean, the sun's going away the sirens are starting for the tornado warnings. It's getting really surreal and people are trying to out of town. There was a guy leaving with all his horses in the back with his pickup truck pulls up the road next to me says, hey, do you need to be helping me on? Yes. Yes. Help I need help. And he could see him. Look at me look up at the twenty to look at me. Look at the tornado. He got back in his car hall ask I'm like. Oh, no. So here. I hurry up standing there in this big field. In all hell's breaking loose with the weather, and I can't unhooked from the glider. And fortunately, Josh Ted show up. We broke down glider in record time through on top started working away out to try to get back to Lubbock in the hallway out, it was just surreal because there'd be these baseball games with all the lights on and people were out there on their lawn chairs and the tornado is right there looking at the tornado. And look at the baseball game. Look at NATO look at the baseball game. It's just life in west, Texas. They're just used to turn does. That is terrifying. The hackles skittered. It was pretty terrifying. But it just you know, really showed me that whether can change so quickly would your fifteen thousand feet and everything starts to lift off. It's pretty hard to get down on the ground in any short amount of time. So tell me about that encampment. Did you was not year you to the record? Oh, yeah. So so. Ted were trying for these flights and getting some pretty long flights. And there was a competition coming up in Hobbs because Hobbs started to be discovered by then they were going to hold a tow competition Hobbs, and there was one day where we got a really long flight up past clients corners up towards Santa Fe, New Mexico, which was. Somewhere around two hundred sixty two hundred seventy five miles in the next day. Got back late like three thirty four o'clock in the morning. Few hours sleep trying to gin and got another flight up toward the north of New Mexico, and that was like two hundred eighty miles and had another real late retrieval and very little sleep. And there was this was the last day before the Hobbs competition was about to begin. But even after having two long flights in Rome being sleep deprived. I just jumped out of bed that morning in. I had this Primin primitive from the previous night's sleep. That I was going to do this flight. And I live this flight exactly panned out. And I knew it was going to happen. We were always doing declared goals, but we never really could be sure where declared goal would be when reflecting the flatlands because if you're off a few degrees. It's it means miles of difference. But I knew I was going to do it. So I called up wills wing in talked to rob. And in all the boys and said, I'm going to call you tonight from Elkhart Kansas because that's where I'm going to land in like, oh, that's nice. Larry. That's nice. Hope you're having a good vacation, which is always sort of an inside joke because they always figured when I'm out on the road. You know, I'm not. Bending back doing real work. And then there was a pilot in Elkhart Kansas. Ron Kinney who I had flown with on previous years in found his number called him up said, hey, Ron would you sign my witness form if I if I landed Elkhart tonight. He's like, yeah. Yeah. Right. Whatever are you here in town or you put me on what kind of joke is this? I'm said, no, no, I'm calling you from Hobbs and good land next to the Pizza Hut tonight. And I want you to sign my forums these like, whatever to just have have a fun day in. And so then I told my driver Pat page.

01:10:05 - 01:15:01

Official observer I said find the coordinates for the airport in Elkhart Kansas 'cause that's going land. I am. I know I'm gonna land next to the Pizza Hut on the grass in L cartoons tonight. That's what's the end. I didn't know it was three hundred miles at the time. He just said that's where I'm going to land in. So we filled out the forms took the photos in the flight played out. Exactly like. I relived it it. In fact, the I took out of the airport had a low save above all these oil derricks only about two feet off the ground. There's not much. Not much good landing around there because it's all mosquito oil, Jerry and electric lines. In wasn't nervous. I wasn't nervous that I was going to land or anything. It was all part of the same dream or the same premonition that I'd had the night before. So all the low saves all all through the flight was exactly as it played out in the dream, with the exception that at the very end of the date. I started getting low in the panhandle of Texas northern Texas in didn't seem like there's going to be thermals left. But there was a big feed lot feedlots are huge. And so I flew over the past over the feed line and didn't get anything just kept heading north. And was thinking this is just another cruel joke that was gonna get another two hundred eighty mile flight not get the record in. So just about that time. I started smell manure in various started to be dead and started getting real patient just working. Thermal for what seemed like eternity and gained enough altitude to turn down wind again and make sort of dead reckoning toward Elkhart Kansas. We didn't have GPS at the time. So I wasn't really sure exactly where Elkhart Kansas was. But. You know, how late in the day, you just get the warrior air, and we had a tale. I just got real pointing brought my dabbles in really close in my head down you tuck, my thumbs in behind the control bar and just did everything I could not move and not detract from my glide and just flew long minimum sink to let the wind carry me. So is it literally just a compass? You're following for three hundred eight miles their roads. Were there landmarks were there? Resist this premonition guide must dead reckoning. Okay. God. This is awesome. Okay. Keep going up. Oh, yeah. So I was heading across the Oklahoma, panhandle. And with all that altitude. I got from that last feed lot ermal, and then I started make out some grain towers and Daigle road and the railroad tracks and all that. And I knew that that was L car Kansas and got there with about. I don't know three or four thousand feet and since I was declared goal and every night. I have her down landed just exactly were were thought. I would right next to the Pizza Hut at the airport. She could again Olen. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah. It even so I'm still glad did it just as the most special part about that flight wasn't that we more than three hundred miles was. You did what you said you were going to do. That's insane. Well, yeah. In stunned by said what I was going to do. But in this life. You hear stories about people experience things that are beyond you know, what's explainable until it actually to you it it doesn't carry the same weight. So just another these types of things are possible or just know that. We do have census beyond what we we encountered day-to-day that were kind of dumbed down to we have potential this. Who knows what potentials here's David Glover? Shinshu as what am I best friend someone that I spent over a summers down in Texas with he calls upon it. Zapata fucking Texas heat heat Lehman. I mean has a love hate relationship is in so many different people from around the world have been chasing world records, and there's a sort of poli grail in. It's probably the way surfers do with big waves. It's like when you find the new place in it could be Deplace, everybody blocks, we had, you know, all all the Brazilians. Frank brown. All those guys, you know, came down bunch of Europeans, Alex planner Manford rumor from who set the world record in distancing line with cynicism. Body was discovered. You know, it's it became the mecca. But I mean, it is a brutal place. It was basically down by Gary Aasa who is a manufacturer glider when it back in the day.

01:15:01 - 01:20:00

He had pliable moose hangglider. He actually just recently. Working for Google alphabet, helping create an autonomous drone that might be able to air longtime to create cell service. And he's a very very interesting guy. Very smart us in the oil and gas industry, but he felt that there was maybe some place to where everything lined up where meteorology and geography would line up to be where you could start early in the day, stay up and have strong wind, but also be able to in late in the day on the record day that ma'am. Uinta the very first time. It really busted Larry tutors record. What happened was the day before destined? Martin it been blind in landed in rock springs about two hundred twenty miles away. Well, destined is frugal and didn't have the best drivers situation in egos, basically, abandoned dare. Line on his back with Manfred rumored literally Lou over his head for the record. I think it seared as sort of a certain resolve inside Dustin that you know, he's just not going to let that happen again. But the thing is waiting Japan for the conditions lineup. And then all of a sudden the hurricanes start coming through or range, you know, it's hard. And so what happened was is that a lot of people started going in just trying to snipe it. And so Justin would would watch everything would not come as a pot in torture himself. And just wait to see if the lined up in one time, it looked like it was going to line up a few years before the day that I think Manfred set the record data Straub who is one of the most helpful people in the history of hang-gliding running the competitions. Now, you know told Alex plunder don't worry about flying today. You know, this doesn't look that. Great. And it was like a six hour seven. I mean, I'm not sure we we've actually been there when it's. Been ten out of ten, and you know, but you know, those six out of seven days sometimes they break the world record. And that's that's the day that you know, Dustin and Johnny win far which hopefully talk to them sometime about here's Dustin Martin. Yen two thousand twelve. Johny durant? And I went to to attempt to break the wool record angling distance in that trip was culmination of maybe I don't know three or four trips that we had each made down there to try to break that record. That was at the time. I think four hundred thirty seven miles but third worked out in. I'm inch to get up. I in just typical Zapata scratching scratching a couple thousand feet or less for an hour or two. And then it you know, it rapidly gets better. And yes, then that particular day Johnny took off a few minutes later, twenty minutes later, something like that. And I think he caught up with me about one hundred hundred mile more goes by pretty quick about goes by about two hours or so down there on a good morning. So he caught up with me there. And then the b flu physically raced, you know, the next. Nine eight nine ten hours together. On pretty classic day. I mean without the wind with it was a twenty three mile an hour wind all day, which is the whole secret of the place without the winds. I mean, twenty three times eleven is is what two two fifty three or something like that. So the wind gave us fully more than half the flight in without the wind. The thermals were good. But they weren't. It's it's not like, you know, it's not like a thousand thermal. It's it can be four hundred it can be six hundred so just like northeast, Brazil, you just, you know, the wind is the magic just calculate how many hours of daylight that you could possibly fly and how much wind you think you're gonna get in there. It is. So, you know, we got two hundred fifty miles for free just by circling and another two twenty five or so by gliding, and that's that's pretty much magic the place. I mean, we were even able to get low and get stuck a few times. Even when he gets stuck you're going twenty three miles an hour. So. Long as your circle you're making pretty good ground. And yeah is literally a race day all the way until thirty minutes before the sunset. And then of course, that was just fun glide time, so. It the last thirty minutes or even more. Maybe the last hour was late in the day turned off while we were both in about ten grand, which is pretty rare. So we were already high and then it turned off. And then we, you know from the last cloud. We started scratching he he kind of there's a whole back story. But you know, he he flew into thermal that I was in the blue. I'm like, I can't believe it's Johnny again.

01:20:00 - 01:25:11

I thought he landed. So, you know, there we aren't like eight or nine or ten grand circling in. It's like fifty up, and we repeated that process maybe half a dozen times four five times maybe in on that last time he was. To my writer. Spends a front, and I turn to the left and something that I felt that might have been as euro or little better and actually got like three three sixties in before. He looked back realize he needed to be in the in not just glide. It was it was something substantial enough that at that time of day, which almost sunset he needed to take it. And by the time, you know this. I you turns were actually productive. It might have been fifty one hundred feet a minute. And that was it that was you know, there was a couple that was like a couple hundred feet right there. And there was just no no making that up, and we have been tipped tip until that point. So he didn't quite get as good. As those initial returns. I got in on top the bubble was still working the separation increased. I don't know what it was like three hundred feet or so, but it was you know, three hundred feet with a twenty three mile an hour tailwind. Instill air is a long that's a couple few miles. So yeah, that was it. Was it? Here's Bruce lever. The peak for participation probably in the seventies. But that you know, that's not really what we're really what we want to focus on just because it, you know, it really wasn't all. Wasn't that great? You know, there's so many people excited about it. People getting hurt the manufacturers and really gotten everything together yet safety concerns and all that so eighties. I think is early eighties is really the, you know, the prime time. It's like Taytay. Yeah. Yeah. For for hang gliding. And and we kept pushing the envelope and making gliders five faster further and with that just like a high performance car or motorcycle or whatever it is or boat. You know, they got a little harder to handle. So we had to give up our handling to sacrifice that for more performance. And eventually the gliders went from being these real docile things you could bounce down the side of a cliff and laugh about it to these. You know, flying these things that are, you know, blade wings that will go real fast. But boy, they're not all that easy to to control. Consequence for mistakes 'cause you're you're doubling your speed from Larry were in the early eighties. Correct exam. Trim speed seventy in your home, right? Yeah. You're really moving and moving that fast and not having as much control. So it we started to get to a point where it was. It wasn't a no brainer is never a no brainer to fly. But early on in hang gliding docile and slow flying that at least on the smaller hills. It didn't take a lot to to get that thing in the air and figure it out. But now, you really had to be very current very up on, you know, whatever you're flying skills were and fly a lot in order to make sure that the wing that you're gonna be able to keep up with the wing, really and. You know that just kept evolving involving involving and the wings still to this day. I mean, the wings that were flying today is far as performance are. Just absolutely it's hard to imagine. You know, the performance that we're getting out of these things. I mean, it's really incredible. What we've got along the way what we found was that it we started to lose a little bit lost track. A little bit of what made the hang-gliding, this my opinion. The what made hang gliding so attractive in that was that it was easy, and it was exhilarating. Yeah. Is acceptable. And it wasn't necessarily scary. It was exhilarating. But it wasn't necessarily scaring we gotten ourselves to a point where you know, it got it can get kind of scary. But all during that time, hang gliding was they said kind of in into online, and because I think there's a natural Cohen flicked or tension between increasing, you know, performance technology and excessive ability, you know, we there's a there's a great time in towards the end of the eighties where we we got into actually we'd they'd been towing forever. Hang gliders, but towards the end of the eighties. We got into arrow tone. So aero Toan came on the scene, it made hang gliding accessible to places that you know, you don't have sand dunes. You don't have a gentle slope of a hill. You don't have mountains. You just have flat areas, and you could still go and tell your hang glider, and it was a fantastic revolution revolution in the sport of hang gliding.

01:25:11 - 01:30:18

And it allowed us loud. The sport to expand into places that it never would have been. Here's David Glover. So Erickson, I mean, basically started win the bridge guys started to a tracking in a Toha anglers. Trite thing was the trikes don't have as much control thority, and they're really fast people loved it. But you know, just didn't seem like he was going to be something that would be available to masters in some guys down in Florida. There's a big water ski community down there from cypress gardens. And just people going Boto ING where you know, hang gliding came from the ski kites, and it continued on and then they would go up to, you know, Tennessee, Georgia to go, hang gliding. But they really. We have a pretty good community in Florida would like to fly and Bobby Bailey was the adventure the moist rag implied played around with some different Toby calls that were three axis control. More more all tra- lights in Campbell. Bowen would bribe him with cans of gasoline and Pepsi to try to keep on working on these things in advance something in Bill Moyes heard about it. And. What was born was the Bailey Moyes Dragonfly there's been I'm not sure how many over one hundred produced in really radically changed the ability to fly in do training on the flatlands. If you think about it. Hang on impair glad the to stupidest ways that they try to teach it. I they do the two hardest things I which is the launching and landing which is difficult because you're not sure how to fly yet before you get to learn the flying all other aviation's talk with somebody by your side. You do the flying version you start doing the launch and landing later, and what happened is with the era tone in also opened up tannin, so Bobby and Campbell bone and Malcolm Jones and Russell Brown. All basically got together in wanted to start a flight Clark. And that's how while b ranch was born and then an offshoot of that was quest air, and then people came from all over the country from. You know, Brad, Kushner, Wisconsin was one of the first people to buy a tug in taking up their opening up. Hang gliding to the flatland. It's it's really made a huge difference. And. But the biggest thing was being able to teach hand him and have somebody by your side. And I've done about five thousand tandems there's lots of people with a lot more. But it really really lets people, you know, have the experience immediately and really made a difference in short of at that time kind of help save hang gliding, and at least show the way for a possibility to expand it, but one of the things I think at the two was of sort of masked that that trend that we were seeing of these really high performance wings. Because now, you know, you didn't have to foot launch your glider every time to get in the air. You could fly it off the Dalai. You get pulled into the air. And you know, so we had this distraction that actually helped blighters like this get up in the air. So. You know, fantastic in-flight parts today are still, you know, some of the most flying goes on a lot of these white park. So they're still a great asset. But really what we ended up. Finding out was that we have lost a little bit of that original magic. So you're you're you're Trish in the foot launch attrition in the mountain flying was being masked by the flatland flying. So you got all these new people coming into sport. You're still losing a ton of people said it in a way, it's kind of balancing out. So by the numbers it looks. Okay. But in reality, you're really losing people. Right. Right. And and you know, what paragliding came along really at the perfect time. You know? So so here, we are we've gotten we've evolved these wings that are so much fun to fly, and they can do they can perform these, you know, it's just incredible performance. They've got. And everybody who's in the sport already is, you know, just just eating it up. I mean, they can't you know. Give me more. Give me more. Give me more. What's problem is the people that haven't gotten into sport yet or sort of left behind, and it has been relatively relatively stable decline for the last forty years punctuated by you know, economic factors or you know, other issues along the way, but recognizing those issues and also trying to look forward to you know, what can we do to stimulate or Bill hang gliding going forward? And certainly there are lessons to learn in that experience, but but the reasons for the decline of hang gliding in the past even if we could agree on all of them aren't necessarily the solutions going forward.

01:30:18 - 01:35:03

Ultimately, the way we get back is making sure that it is as acceptable as it once was and one of those things, you know, certainly the. Hang gliding needs to learn from paragliding, you know, that the there's so many positive things about paragliding that, you know, hang gliding doesn't have say, the, you know, the pack ability of it, you know, I mean, it's just it. The whole package is lightweight. You can take it on an airplane the things like that that you know, we need to we need to look at that. And figure out how we're going to you know, how we're going to make it more in that vein at least at the introductory level. You know, at least to start out with and you know, the higher end is going to be the higher end. You know, we're going to have the Ferraris in a Maserati, we're still going to have that that's still that's still there. But we need to figure out how you know. That's not what people just what people see when they're thinking about getting the sport. You know, you gotta you gotta have it be something where people are looking at it going. Yeah. I think I think. I can do that. You know, it's a pretty telling for me I was up in New England in New Hampshire, and I was watching a hang gliding lesson. This is about ten years ago watching the hang gliding Wesson beginner, hang gliding less than a bigger beginner paragliding lesson happen, and obviously been in hang gliding for a long time and flown paragliders. But watching those two first day students learning what they're gonna learn on their first day of or their introductory lesson to the sport was really night and day. You know, it was the learning how to paraglider it's a little bit slower, you know, perception wise for someone without any background little bit slower the wing look softer. It didn't look like they had to work as hard to get the thing in the air. You know, actually get their feet off the ground, and the hang gliding guys are this big apparatus that they're running underneath running hard, and you know, downhill and. The speeds are faster, and it really brought it home to me that you know. Why wouldn't why wouldn't anybody if given the choice standing up there? I was why wouldn't they try paragliding and and get into that. Now, as you Volve into it like, you say, the hang gliding is, you know, it's the performance, and, you know, the great thing that hang gliding Scott going for it is that you've got every slight little movement you make in the wing controls your direction through the air. So the the the ancient dream of bird like flight where you know, you you sprout wings in your dreams and you fly around. I mean, really that sensation is what you get. When you're you're flying, hang glider. So it's really, you know, it's the being that connected to your movements and the controllability of the wing moving through the air. There's there's really not. Like it. You know, as I as I said in the beginning. I mean, one of the reasons why hang gliding grew so fast in the early seventies. Was there was so many manufacturers, and there were so much competition innovation in design space. And now we're kind of reduced to like four major manufacturers worldwide. I mean, it's it's wills wing here in the US. It's Moyes in Australia. It grew you know, in Italy. And it's you know, Aeros in Ukraine, and and that's worldwide we used to have that in LA more than that in LA. We had delta wing at UP. We had wills wing had subtler. We had quicksilver we had you know, that was just all within, you know, forty five minutes where I am right here. So going forward, I think there there's a lot of opportunities. But there are some. Fundamental issues that we we can't avoid that we need to address and the first and most important of those issues is the subject of, you know, flight schools and flight instructors because we can't there's no opportunity for hang gliding growth. No matter. What you know one of expected? You know, opportunities come our way for promoting or developing the sport.

01:35:03 - 01:40:06

But there there's no opportunity for growth without some way of teaching people how to fly the dream of flight. I don't think there's ever going to leave anybody. You know, I think that's almost innate in humans if they see people are they see any birds. They, you know, it's hard not to see a bird and wonder what's wonder what they're looking at flying by. That's what I was gonna ask. You is you know, because you've been in this so long, and you know, when when you look back at the seventies where it was just like people are buying designs out of the magazines, and they're just going for, you know, like here, you know. You know, my my good friends who are competent outdoorsman back country skiers and that kind of thing they're just they they don't even consider getting into it. Because they're they hear about the accidents, whatever. And I did that when I when I was first introduced to the spores the mid nineties and all about where the accidents, and I was like, I'm really stupid. I'm going to be one of those two ticks, you know, that just doesn't sound. Hearing like it's not the gear, you know, people making decisions. I make terrible decisions. I don't want. Rope is for ten year now convincing me, right? Exactly. Exactly. So, you know, but but have are we just different are humans different? Now, forty years later that you know, that we're just not were way concerned about safety and personal safety and. If things just changed that much. Oh, if we lost some of that, you know, right brothers. Doozy. Azam for for crazy. Yeah. Well, I think that's a that's a great question. I think there's definitely it appears that there's truth to that. I think that you know, there's a lot. There's a lot more things to grab people's attention. Now, maybe distraction becoming you know, free solos going around. You can see there. There are people doing things rebel rampage. Just happen. I mean, the stuff that people are doing these days on motorcycles mountain bikes surfboards, you name it. You could not have imagined what Alex onnell just did ten years ago. No, no, right. Anybody could have imagined that. And I mean that that's he's done something that is classified. It's impossible. Right. And so now, it's not imposs-. Able and someone's going to be do it better. There's things going to be done harder. You know, that's remarkable. So it's not like we're getting lazy. There's personalities. I mean, people are still finding flow state and pushing it hard. But it's it is interesting. Isn't it? I it is. I think I think that we're all going to you know, we're all going to settle into our to, you know, are part of of where we are as a culture we all settle in. And we're going to be fine. But you know, that that doesn't mean that we're just gonna sit around and and hope that it happens. You know, we're gonna have to we're not to keep innovating and have to keep working on safety and getting out in front of people and showing them, you know, the absolute glorious experience that that free flight is, you know, and as you know, once people do it. I mean, you know, that's it. You know, you you've hooked you've given them the taste and like nothing else. Like, yeah. There's like nothing else. Nothing else. I don't you know, they can they can go on YouTube and think they wanna go, you know, do something else and and have a dream of doing something else. But if you can get somebody in the air and under their own power that's nine times out of ten that's going to Trump anything else that they thought that they wanted to do if we want growth than we have to as a community in the national association, we have to prioritize and incentivize new pilot development. I mean, we talk about a lot of things, but and there's a lot of supporting elements that might support growth, you know, media outreach and all sorts of other things, but until we get down to really making new pilots priority and. And devoting resources to that that objective. We're not really going to make any headway. You know, there's an evolution of the sport free flight. I I think that's coming. And you know, we got a lot of really smart people in both industries that you know, that I know are always sort of pushing the envelope not necessarily just in performance. But just you know, what if what you know, what are we going to do next wing suit for instances is an interesting example, you know, I mean, just you know, who would have thought of that fifteen twenty years ago, or, you know, thought it would be where it is.

01:40:07 - 01:42:36

So you know, there's an evolution that that's come in. And you know, we need to as a community we need to, you know, just keep working to show people to the glory that is free flight. And as we do that. All of us will you know, continue to enjoy it and share it and evolve it and ten years from now, you know, wills wing Moi's, you know, north wings and other manufactured these guys I think will will continue on but they're not going to continue on without effort. You know, it's going to it's going to still take effort like it always with anything. Hope you enjoyed that. That was a tough one for us to put together, we don't usually have a whole bunch personalities like that. But hope you enjoyed it will be out of that history. And I don't know about you. But I am inspired to learn hang-gliding. They are amazing aircraft. I've been flying around with those guys on paraglider awesome. Wondering God that or thinking that look so mazing I gotta get into that. And now, I really really need to. So maybe after the exile. I'll I'll take it out. But appreciate it. Thanks for listening already said at the top of the show all things about the support. But I'll say it real quickly here again, all we ask for his buck show, if you can't afford, it kicks down some money if you can and that that pays for all this to to happen reach your ears, and you can also just rate us on itunes or Stitcher. They're actually really does help prop up in the ratings and gets more people to see it. You can blog about it. You can share it on social. Media. You can go to our store and and purchase a Patagonia t-shirt or recaps out are all recycled materials sustainably made great stuff, really high quality stuff. And so with the Christmas and holiday season coming up love free to go buy some of that stuff and give it to your family or friends or for yourself and until Christmas we've got a special going where during when you're in the checkout mode. They're put in the discount code cloud base. And that'll give you ten percent off. Thanks a lot everybody. I appreciate it. We'll see on the next one. Cheers.