55 years of hang gliding: Pat Crowe honored

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On September 8, 2018, we will be celebrating the 55th anniversary of the invention of modern hang gliding. The ceremony in Grafton, NSW, Australia will see the FAI Hang Gliding and Paragliding Diploma awarded to Pat Crowe, the operator of the boat that towed to fame the first working model of the hang gliders we know so well.

The first public exhibition of the 1964 Mark 3a Dickenson Wing will also be held. It is the oldest modern hang glider in the world, the third glider John Dickenson built in Grafton and the first glider he sold. This plane has only been taken out of its bag once, in 2009 for verification purposes since its last flight to Stradbroke Island in 1972. This will be his only exhibition in Grafton, or even elsewhere, outside of a museum. adapted.

The sport of hang-gliding didn’t really begin until 1963, when John Dickenson invented the modern hang-glider. The glider was sturdy, able to withstand many accidents and still fly, easy to transport and store. It all happened in Grafton, Australia, when John Dickenson, electronic engineer and member of the Grafton Water Ski Club, while inventing a kite for the annual Jacaranda Festival, created a whole new type of kite.

Since childhood, John was obsessed with flying objects and, of course, he carefully studied the research done by his ancestors. So when he was tasked with building a flying ski kite, instead of a traditional five-sided design, he created models with a high aspect ratio. Dickenson later recalled that he was mainly inspired by an old wing design that the US space agency, NASA was working on. John created his own airframe to adapt the canopy to his purpose. He also developed the pendulum weight change control system that revolutionized hang gliding. His other inspiration came from a flying fox – a large bat-like Australian animal that has foldable wings that allow it to soar perfectly. Watching flying foxes for a long time helped John complete his design idea.

On this Saturday in 1963, the start was not easy. At first John tried to fly the wing himself but they were still adjusting the place of the center of gravity and it took them many attempts to figure out where exactly the pilot, handle and tow rope should be placed. John was exhausted and suggested that his friends continue their attempts. Rob Fuller’s attempt was successful. He flew over a mile piloting the glider using a control bar.

In fact, in towing boats, both with flat kites and with deltas, the boat operator had much more control over the situation than the pilot and the boat operator was Pat Crowe.

The flight was not without incident: the strong wind gradient had to be brought under control, the Grafton bridge got in the way and the boat had to turn around. Meanwhile, Rod Fuller was simply the passenger enjoying the flight and following Pat. He had to follow Pat, who was in complete control at all times. Because of what was learned from the success of this flight, John Dickenson was able to fly later that day when he experienced the great little plane he had built.

Many thefts followed. The tow rope was released and the glider flew freely. Modern hang-gliding was born.

In 2012, John Dickenson received the FAI Gold Medal. The Hang Gliding and Paragliding Diploma was awarded in 2007 to John, in 2012 to Rod Fuller and in 2018 to Pat Crowe, the operator of the boat that towed the very first working model of modern hang gliding.

See the invitation here.

For more information contact: Graeme Henderson.

Phone. : 0497 921 991 – E-mail: [email protected]

Photos of the Dickenson Mark 3a from 1964 to 1975


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