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Hang Gliding History

Hang Gliding History

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History Of Hang Gliding and Paragliding

Hang gliding can be dated back to the days of Leonardo da Vinci, whose sketchings portrayed his desire for human flight. Through fact and fiction, silent aviation has played a major role in man's dream to soar with the birds. From the time of the ill fated flight of Icarus to the turn-of-the-century pioneers of the sport, such as Otto Lilienthal, Octave Chanute and John Montgomery, man has attempted free flight in just about every phase of modern history. As the Wright Brothers continued their pursuit of powered flight, they honed their flying skills in "hang gliders". After their famed Kitty Hawk flight, the world became increasing interested in the technological advances of powered flight, leaving hang gliding for another generation. Hang gliding didn't emerge again until the 1960's, with the development of Francis Rogallo's "Rogallo wing", a NASA project for a possible recovery system for spacecraft. Little did Francis know that his design was going to begin a rebirth of hang gliding in the early 1970's. In 1971, the Southern California Hang Gliding Association was born. Through steady evolution of the sport, today we are known as the United States Hang Gliding Association, with a membership base worldwide. The modern day hang glider incorporates modern technology of high tech design and instrumentation. Hang gliders today must pass stringent "load" tests and are certified for their airworthiness. Pilots fly with altimeters, variometers, reserve parachutes and even on-deck flight computers. Flights of 100 to 200 miles are not uncommon, with Manfred Ruhmer of Austria establishing a world distance record of 435 miles from Zapata, Texas, on July 17, 2001. Paragliding started in the US and in Europe with the idea of launching skydiving parachutes off steep mountains slopes and gliding down to land at the bottom. The first few pioneering flights were made during the 1960's and 1970's. The sport of recreational paragliding as we know it today was born in Mieussy, France, in 1978 and grew rapidly during the mid 1980's in the French and Swiss Alps as commercial manufacturers improved the glider designs to optimize them for soaring flight. Paragliding reached various areas of the US in the mid to late 1980's and most of the growth of paragliding in the US occurred during the 1990's. Will Gadd of Canada holds the paragliding world distance record of 263 miles from Zapata, Texas, on June 21, 2002. The United States Hang Gliding Association is proud to serve the great sports of hang gliding and paragliding. Through programs like our Instructor Certification and Pilot Proficiency program, and our award winning magazine, Hang Gliding and Paragliding, the USHGA strives to promote pilot safety, skill, knowledge and above all fun. Now is the time to pursue your desire of flight. We'll see you in the sky.



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