H A N G G L I D I N G C A M PA I G N
S U M M E R 2 010
In July I was given an assignment to pick up some historical
hang gliding artifacts
from a pilot in Charlotte and from Hang Glider Heaven in Georgia. I was given a van (Alfred) and some directions and was on my way.
Charllote North Carolina
In Charlotte I met Mike Rupert who had an old prototype glider and some memorabilia from Electro-flyers and flying in New Mexico. Mike had fallen off a ladder a few days earlier and was in a sling. Although he doesnâ€™t Hang glide anymore he said he has gotten into skydiving. The more we chatted and he recounted
flying memories (some good some bad) I could tell he hasn’t really given it up. In fact after we set up the glider he told me he was confident about flying it again. As excited as he and I were about the idea we were both sure this glider will probably never fly again. Not so much because it’s old but because it’s a one of a kind and merits preserving. The Glider is called the Vulcan. It is an electro-flyer with a bowsprit and no cross-bar. It is the most interesting and unique glider I’ve ever seen, and growing up in Lz’s I’ve seen em all from the Ghostbusters to swifts when they were also prototypes. This Glider however was never mass produced, there might be
one other like it lost somewhere. The story behind this glider and the idea of the bowsprit unique and I wonder what gliders would be like today if designs had continued in the bowsprit direction. The Vulcan wasnâ€™t the only glider with a Bowsprit, they and deflators had been used in other designs by various manufacturers, but it may be because of the Vulcan they stopped. The first and obvious flaw is if you ever whack or beak in you pretty much lose the entire glider. Also the weight and structural strength of cross bar is only replaced by the heavy cable that run in front of the leading edges, so drag really isnâ€™t reduced significantly either. The biggest attribute and difference from the crossbar-less gliders was the handling. They were super responsive in all axis.
the most Interesting and Unique glider Iâ€™ve ever seen
Mike and a lot the mountain pilots in New Mexico liked having such a sensitive glider and liked the way it theramaled. However most other pilots were used to flying large boaty sort of gliders and ones like the Vulcan were too sensitive for them and didnâ€™t like it. About the same time the swaying cross bars and double surfaces were becoming more popular and the Vulcan concept was abandoned. Mike still flew it for years and loved it and I could tell he was a little sad to hand it over, but knew it would be going somewhere better than in someoneâ€™s garage collecting dust. Now itâ€™s at KHK collecting dust, but not for too long, eventually it will have a place in a museum where Mike and everyone can see it again.
8 0D D
EIGHTY-D? the Next Generation is in the Air coming soon
GLIDER Clayton Georgia
My next stop was Hang Glider Heaven in Clayton Georgia. It was weird when I got there because I’d been there before. Not to Hang Glider Heaven but Clayton. When I was in the scouts in Florida we would go to week long camps at Rainy Mt in the summer. My dad had told me about Hang glider heaven before but I didn’t realize it was so close to that camp. So it felt a little weird to spend the night in that part of the Smokey Mountains… again. Hang Glider Heaven is it’s own valley that was all once owned by the Late Francis Tut Woodruff. She was the daughter of George Woodruff of Coca -Cola and a enthusiastic Hang glider Pilot. From what I understood she was a water skier down at cypress gardens and there was introduced to kiting behind the boat. She had a good
relationship Bill Bennet and Moyes (all the gliders she had were Bennetâ€™s or Moyes designs). Hang glider Heaven Had itâ€™s own launch, LZ, and she also had a zip line with a glider frame on it for training, and of course cabins and lodging for pilots to stay in. She even had two roads to launch so one could be used for coming down and the other for going up with the glider already set up on the back of a pickup. She also had a zoo on the property that started out as a place injured local wildlife but then grew into an attraction. In her later years she couldnâ€™t fly anymore but she kept the property maintained until the very end. Mrs. Lyn Hamilton was the one who met me and showed me around the property. She has been working there
remains of Zipline
the barn was full of wasps... It was amazing we werenâ€™t
with Madam Tut a long time. Everyone called her Tut, She told Lyn that if she ever had a heart attack or anything not to take her to the hospital. She said to take her to launch and sheâ€™d do the rest. She loved flying. She actually past without any warning one morning at the end of 2009. She was a unique and amazing person, (as most pilots are come to think of it). Iâ€™m grateful I got to learn of her and all she did for Hang gliding. Lots of her property was already sold when I got there. Two of the cabins were lost to fires in the spring of 2010, and everything was overgrown.
All the Hang gliding gear was in the upstairs of a barn that was also full of wasps nest. It was amazing that nor she or I were stung. We slid all the gliders out the hay door and onto the top of the van. I think I had at least 13 old gliders tied down for the trip (one may even have a Coca-Cola sail on it). I also took all the gear, flags, windsocks, pictures, and even the Hang glider Heaven sign. It was a little sad to think that future generations may never know that Madam Tut and Hang Glider Heaven was there. Thankfully for the museum her story can be preserved and re-told. I wonder however how many will remember to go and visit the valley. You can still fly there, even the though the launch and Lz are owned by separate people now. Launch isnâ€™t the greatest direction (kind of northeast) but people
Cabin burned down when lightning struck a nearby tree
She lived the
have gone cross country from there before and Paragliders Also fly there (maybe more than Hang gliders lately).Well I remember how to get there and maybe one day Iâ€™ll take a flight there. Itâ€™s always been a dream of mine to be a sponsored pilot and fly an all red glider with Coca-Cola written on it. She lived the dream.
One of a kind Hats that were going to be thrown away. Mine got me a free milk shake in Clayton.
by: Eric Meibos
Published on Feb 10, 2011