Archive for January 2012

Pre-Modern Hang Gliding   1 comment

A long time ago I saw an image of a brochure for a manufacturer of Chanute type biplanes. It showed a photo of several such gliders on a hill, conveying the impression that this was a pastime that was being enjoyed by many. But rarely have I ever seen such Chanute wings in flight. The likelihood is that very few were flown successfully. In most cases the first attempt would end in a ground loop and damage that would render the wing unusable. The frightening experience that that crash would likely have produced combined with the prospect of a lengthy repair probably discouraged most from making a second attempt. Although I suspect there could easily have been many thousands, even tens of thousands of such Chanute type hang glidersPop Mech Glider Plan Apr 09.jpg

 built between 1900 and 1940, the difficulty of flying them meant that only one of twenty or maybe only one of fifty actually covered a distance of more than 100′. My guess is that only a very small number of hearty individuals may have actually surpassed the achievements of Chanute, Herring, and Avery. It could be that not one ever did since I have no such information. In Europe there was also a few. Willi Pelzner inspired Francis Chardon and actually sold his wings in the biggest department store in Stockholm.F. Chardon Combegrasse 1922.jpg

 Their achievements appear to have bested the hang gliding in the US F. Chardon Flight From 100 Meters.jpg

although I can’t decide whether it was because Pelzner had a better design or because he and Chardon were better pilots. The social nature was a more collaborative one there as compared to the more individualistic one here. Having a willing crew makes all the difference.



Malcolm Allison - Gliding 1910 -  1915 1.jpg
Malcolm Allison - Gliding 1910 -  1915 2.jpg
Malcolm Allison - Gliding 1910 -  1915 3.jpg
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Posted January 29, 2012 by Ken de Russy in Uncategorized