Ok lets make a start. ..
I've set these pages up to re count the History of the Norfolk Hang gliding club.
Using this wiki thingy, there is a forum function. But you know that cos youre reading it. Trouble is i don't know ifs its worth while or not. We shall just have to see shant we?
Ok lets make a start. ..
After setting up a great site Phil deserves a little help in order to get this Forum on the road.
So I would like to start the ball rolling by asking you all to support it, because its a great means of communication..
You must all remember the BEST and WORST flights you ever had at Cormer or Mundsley, so why not let us all know about it.
Me well the worst flight I ever had was the day I was Buzzed at Mundsley by Bistowes Helicopter, only a week after Bob Wills from the USA was killed by one when it moved off station while filming a jeans advert. The down draft smashed him into the ground. I consider my self luck that day. But I would not like to tell you the stupid thoughts that went through my head that day. And the best flight well I'll leave that for another day. NOW HOW ABOUT YOU!!!!!!!!
Where we know how to play Cricket
On one of the history Pages you wrote
"Number of members form Suffolk Club
26th September A meeting was held at “The Fleece” Bungay, in conjunction with the Suffolk Club club. Nearly 60 people attended for a discussion on towing and a film show."
I'm sure thats the meeting I exsplained to you, via E-mail, that Brian Pattenden first came up with the idea of towing the man instead of the glider, I hope he gets a mention becuase he deserves a little credit after the flack other club members leveled at him. Terry
I'm interested to know who in the Norfolk Club was the very first to fly, and in what type of glider, where and when?????
And also who was the very first to fly using a tow system, where and when.
Hope somebody might be able to help as I'm writting an article on the history of hang Gliding in the UK
and I know that the Norfolk club played a big part during those very early years.
Would also like to hear from anybody who feel they might be able to help me
I think this must have been me.
I managed a short hop at Weybourn early 1975, if this can be called flying. The first ‘proper’ flight was a few weeks later from about half way up the cliffs at Cromer (I must have thought this was safer than from the top). This was for about 20-30 seconds tops, including a turn (wow). I know I have a photo of this somewhere. The same day I took the heart-stopping decision and launched from the top, eventually followed by Rod Pace on a Pegasus.
These were the only to flying gliders at the time as Greg was getting his sail replaced
(Jeckels could not accept that a hang glider sail was not a spinnaker).
I was flying a Skyhook.
We had a few weekends of these light wind top to bottoms until one day we arrived to find two pilots flying ABOVE the top of the ridge (I didn’t know you could do that!) This was Frank (somebody or other) and Brian Griffith. That day, after some soul searching, I made the first souring flight (from us lot) as well.
The first person to tow was Greg at the Little Snoring meet. He was also the test dummy for the Skyhook winch when we all went to collect this from Oldham.
I do not know who or if anyone else other than the ill-fated Ken Cole flew on this winch before it was abandoned in a garage after this accident.
I collected the winch about late ’80 to try to revive interest… but that’s another story.
I actually made contact with Brian Griffith a few weeks ago, and he's promised to send me a few details of how he first became involved in hang gliding. Although at one time I learnt with him. It was Brian who introduced me to the Reydon site just south of Ipswich. Not sure who Frank was, although I do know that at one time Brian used to fly with Jim Dowe from Woodbridge in Suffolk. Brian ended up as a conventional glider instructor.
Strange how our lives change, can you remember Mel Mayes, he's in America flying Lea Jets.
I knew Ashley Doubtfire very well as he was also a Birdman flyer. I'm sure you are aware that he died in strange circumstances.
Can’t believe that it was Greg’s first tow flight at Little Snoring even though I was there. Am I right in thinking he was also the first to fly at the event??
He was the guy who made the Pegasus gliders. Remember the curved leading edges? Very hi-tec at the time. Frank, and his gliders, are little known and I have never seen any mention of him anywhere else. I will see if I can find a surname.
The name Mel Mayes does sound familiar and Ashley Doubtfire I think was involved also with Gerry Breen in the very beginning.
No one in our region had had anything to do with towing until Little Snoring. Greg was certainly not the first to fly at the event his role was one of a local ‘test dummy’, well into the event. As I have said Greg was also the ‘test dummy’ when we went to collect the Skyhook winch (we were always willing to volunteer Greg for anything that might turn upside down!)
I can’t remember if anyone else flew the Skyhook winch up until Ken Cole’s accident I think this was the first winch outing. You were at that event Terry can you remember if his accident was the first (and last) flight on that day? Or had others had a tow?
This would have been the very first time I ever attended a proposed tow meet. As far as I can remember, most who were attending the meet had already arrived and I’m not sure if anybody had already flown, although I’m sure they would have because I would have wanted to watch to see how it was done, it being my first attempt. However, as I was about to set up my glider, John Sharp told me that I could use his glider. Sounded good to me as it would save me setting mine up. But when I picked his glider up for some reason I did not feel comfortable with it. Can’t remember what Glider John was flying at the time or what I normally flew. Although it could have been when we were both flying Monraker 77’s, Johns was a medium, and I was flying the large. Anyway Ken announced that he would take my place, flying his Wills Wing SST, one of John’s old gliders.
As Ken took off I was standing directly behind him and he rose into the air quite quickly then suddenly the glider started to lock to the left and went in, I’m not sure if it tucked what I do remember is that there was a very loud bang as he hit the ground.
Being scared and not wanting to watch, my wife had stayed up on the main road sitting in my car. The next minute Mike Pullford is banging on the side of the car for her to start the engine. He then jumped in and they race off looking for a phone box to get an ambulance. All the time my wife who had also heard the bang is thinking it’s me that had crashed. Mike in his desperation to find a farm house just forgot to tell her exactly what had happened.
I would like to also add that most of the Norfolk club members had all attended a first aid course run by a St John’s Ambulance officer just a few months early to the crash. However, the horror of seeing Ken crash, left most of us wondering what the hell to do next. When up stepped Paul Whitley one of the few attending who had not been at the first aid course. In the past Paul had been described as a bit of a wild type of guy, and had attracted a nick name of the bionic baby. To me it was Paul who saved Kens life that day by taking full control of the situation. He was cool, calm and most of all knew exactly what to do. My opinion of Paul went up 1000%, that day and I have admired him greatly for what he did that day for Ken. I visited Ken several time while he was in hospital, feeling a little guilty that he had taken my place in the queue.
Since the accident I’ve had time to think about it and I’m sure I’m right when I say that I don’t think Ken should have been flying that day. I say that because he was a total novice pilot, who had only completed a few top to bottom’s while flying at the RAF Bawdsey site in Suffolk.
Am I right in thinking that this all took place before the Little Snoring event??
Would like to know more about Frank, as he might fit into my early History of UK Hang Gliding article I'm trying to put together.
Ken’s accident was defiantly after Little Snoring. No one in the club (or the region) had done any form of towing until the Skyhook winch was purchased, and this was first Demonstrated at the Little Snoring event.
You are right about Ken’s inexperience and this was a perfect example of enthusiasm overtaking common sense. Ken’s accident made me (us) 10x more careful.
Frank LeBurge I think was the Pegasus glider man. I think this picture is of Rod Pace on his.
Notice the curved leading edges.
Just for the record. Well before I had even built my glider one Ashley Doubtfire was seen at Sheringham running down the SIDE of Beeston Hill. Ashley was a friend of a family member of mine. I don’t think he ever got off the ground.
The following is about my very first attempt to fly my Birdman Sports Albatross Hang Glider. I believe I might have told a few of you before how in 1973 I saw Ken Messenger on children’s television program “Magpie” Anyway I contacted Ken and his company built me my very first Hang Glider. The minute I was informed that it was ready to be picked up, I wasted no time in rushing down to Marlbough in Wiltshire to pick it up, only to be informed at the factory that Ken was attending the very first British Hang Gliding championship at Mere and that he had my glider with him. So off I went again trying to locate Ken and the place called Mere. Only to be told that he was very busy taking part in the competition, however, he did have my brand new glider and after paying him in cash, I finally took delivery of my new “Pride & Joy”. Unfortunately, nobody had time to show me how to fly it, come to think of it nobody even showed me how to put it all together. Anyway that was just a mild complication, I could work it all out for myself when I got home. At that moment all I wanted to do was rush home, put it together and jump off the nearest hill somewhere close by. Therefore after watching the Hang Glider Competition and the then very famous Wills brothers clean up all the competition prizes. I drove home at break neck speed with my imagination runny riot, as to what I was going to achieve and show the world I could do with my newly acquired piece of hardware.
All that week after I arrived home from work, I would assembled the glider on my back lawn, you would not believe how many different ways I invented to achieve this and even now I’m not sure I ever did it the correctly way. Mind you with my lateral thinking, I convinced myself that I had found a better way than all the so called experts.
The very next weekend, along with Emily my wife, and Trevor Pearce one of my friends from my country band, we all went down to Sizewell Beach to assemble this giant kite (180 squares). This took us a couple of hours, mainly because all the time I was talking to Trevor explaining something I knew absolutely nothing about, but was trying my hardest to sound like an expert. As you might have guessed I had to make a couple of changes and minor alterations when a few of the bolt holes did not line up. When it was finally constructed, I found a large rabbit hill amongst a thick gathering of Blackberry bushes, which must have been all of a meter high. This I preceded to tell Trevor would be high enough for the first test flight of the day. Trevor then shocked me by asking how far I was going to fly up the beach. Somehow, I managed to evade the question, but I hoped I’d left him believing that it was going to be in miles rather than meters. At one time he even asked if I had clearance to fly from RAF Bentwaters the local military airfield about 12 miles away. Gee this guy seems to think he knows more than me when it came to flying.
Anyway I climbed into the seated harness strapped myself in, and picked up the glider and somehow managed to position myself on the top of the rabbit warren with the nose of the glider pointing out to sea. That much I had learnt while at Mere. Where I’d seen the so called expert nose men throwing grass into the air. Although to be honest at the time I believed it was some sort of ritual, a bit like making a cross on your chest.
The nose has to always point towards the wind in order that it might pick up the kite so you can fly, or that was how I keep answering most of the questions that were being fired at me. At this stage, I must add that there was absolutely no wind, so I tried jumping up and down on the rabbit warren, but with no luck. All I could hear was the flapping of the sail being generated by my frantic jumping up and down in order that I might get airborne. I felt like Tony Hancock the comedian in a scene from one of his famous films, where he turns up at an airport dressed as a chicken and asks the booking clerk “Can I fly to France”. I heard one guy tell his little boy that I was going to fly to France. Gee that guy had more faith in my Hang Glider than I did. By this time I had secretly settled on hopefully making it to the beach just in front of my one meter high rabbit warren.
After about an hour of me jumping up and down, which I might add was all taking place in front of a very large growing crowd. All of a sudden out of nowhere a large gust of wind just picked me and my glider up and tossed me over backwards. What had happened I did not have a clue? Not understanding the principles of flying, it was a crazy thing to do. With what I know now, it is a wonder I did not kill myself that day. The eastern coast line of England can be quite treacherous at times, especially when it comes to wind. It’s nothing to see the wind suddenly whip up to around 20mph. With a wind like that instead of going to France I believe I would have ended up in Wales going backwards. I guess I should also add that most flyers who came after me, at least had the help of others to not only help them build their gliders but to also advise them on the best way to fly it.
Anyway, my antics on Sizewell beach seemed to amuse the still steadily growing crowd, leaving me to feel like Co-Co the clown. I could also see that my sudden backward somersault amused the crowd to such a point that’s by now there were tears of laughter streaming down their faces. As they watched me desperately trying to get my car keys from my trousers pocket, while all entangled up in a mass of steel wires, aluminum tubing, sail material and the seat harness. Emily and Trevor then had to race back to my car to get some spanners to release me from my imprison position, and that took them another twenty minutes. While all the time I was trussed up within the heap of scrap. I was further humiliated having to answer some of the gathered crowds silly questions. Like, “Will you be flying again today mister”, or “Is that supposed to happen”. Then there was the usual, “Did it hurt”, while one young kid said he thought the wings were going to flap. One little old lady walked away saying that she could not see what all the fuss was about with these new fangled Hang Gliders, claiming that I hadn’t gone far, she also thought I was going to whiz up and down the beach, her words not mine.
The whole event was very humiliating for me in front of all those holidaymakers. As slowly, Emily and Trevor started to undo as many nuts and bolts as they could. The whole time Trevor was wetting himself laughing at me. It took them a further fifteen minutes to extricate me from the mess that was once my pride and joy. The net result was £50 worth of damage, I had only been off the ground about a foot and that was backwards at a speed of ten mile an hour. Trevor even measured it out to a distance of around five meters. That means that the flight cost me something in the region of £10 per meter. At these rates, it would have been cheaper to fly with Freddie Laker to New York.
I then had to contact Birdman Sports to organise them to send me some spare parts. This took several weeks, as we did not have telephones in those days it was all done by letter. Needless to say, I had to answer many many questions as the factory was always interested just in case it was their workmanship that had failed. I made up some cock and bull story that I had had a great flight, but unfortunately I had landed rather hard. It seemed to satisfy them and they sent the necessary parts, but not before, I sent them the postal order for £50.
Once I had rebuilt the glider, I started worrying that I might have weakened something during the crash and at that time, I was not game to write another letter to Birdman. Therefore, I just put it all into the back of my mind and took it down to the beach once again. Only this time Emily was my only helper and I found a spot that was deserted and secluded. However, it was all to no avail as I still did not get the dam thing up off the ground, nor did I at the second and third attempts. The whole exercise was very frustrating and I really did not have any idea how I was going to progress past this point of my flying career. For some reason I strongly believed that I could run down a runway, pick up some wind and just take off and fly away. My complete conversation with anybody who would listen was always about flying. And so you can imagine how I continually bored my wife. I’m sure there were times when she wished I would just fly away.
I remembered at some time I had been told about a local guy named David Cook, who was into Hang Gliding. Unfortunately, I had never met him, even though he worked at Richard Garrets a company I had also worked for a few years earlier. Anyway after my third unsuccessful attempt at trying to fly at Sizewell I called it a day. As I was leaving the site, I caught sight of a car pulling a very long trailer with what looked like a giant Hang Glider on board. This had to be David Cook, so I sped after it, and followed it all the way to his house in Aldringham. I watched him pull into his drive and through some trees where he parked. I parked on the roadside out front of his house and ran up to introduced myself.
And the rest is history as they say.