Invented in Grafton 1963

THE

AUSTRALIAN

HANG GLIDING HISTORY

Experienced by the World

Return to Main Page The History of the Modern Hang Glider  

 

1922

It appears that the first person to water ski was the American Ralph Samuelson. However, his achievement remained largely hidden until the 1960s. His efforts were successful but it appears that they were not copied.

Water-skiing was re-invented a couple of years later by Fred Waller, another American, and I am unaware of any connection between the two.

1925

Waller patented his Aquaplane, US 1559390, and the sport of water-skiing began in earnest. With the exception of the invention of the power boat, this point marks the beginning of the trail that leads to the invention of the modern hang glider.

1948

29th January. Gerorge Wanner filed for a patent on one of his kite's.

1951

9th January. George Wanner is granted a patent on one of his kites, serial No 5047.

The next big step happened when Paul Updike and Vern Crary launched their five-sided water-ski kite at the California State Fair in Sacramento. Ken Tibado then refined both the kite and the flying techniques. He lived at Lake Wales, Florida, and regularly performed at Cypress Gardens.

He is also credited with adding the safety harness. This harness does not work in the same way as hang-gliding harnesses, but it was an aid to ease the strain on the pilot's arms. Among the many feats performed by Tibado was a flight from Florida to Cuba.

1953

Doug Laversha is credited with being the first Australian water-ski kite pilot, when he brought a Tibado kite back from the US.

(A Flat Kite and John Revelle demonstrates the stability of a Flat Kite)

The next step in the creation of the modern hang glider was of course when fellow-Australian John Dickenson was asked to build a water-ski kite, but could not make a five-sided kite work to his satisfaction.  

There were many influences acting on Dickenson at this time, as he came up with his “Improved Gliding Apparatus”. It was a fragile and serendipitous process. Right place, right time, right people. 

Dickenson's interest in aviation goes back to his childhood in Sydney. He spent a lot of time sitting on the flat rock above Curl Curl beach watching seagulls, and he built many kites and gliders.

He became interested in autogyros, eventually building one and teaching himself to fly it, which was no mean feat. Gyrocopters, and Autogyros have come a long way in the past 50 years, but in those days their notoriously over-sensitive control system killed a lot of pilots. New pilots would over-correct after take off, and the over-corrections would usually continue until they crashed.

1961

John Dickenson, then an electronics technician, moved to Grafton in New South Wales with his wife Amy and their two young children, Helen and Mark, to work for Gus Robinson Electrical. One of the people working under Dickenson at that time was Bruce Young. Young towed Dickenson along Woolgoolga beach when he was testing his autogyro, and it was Young who told his fellow members at the Grafton Water Ski Club about their new member, Dickenson, and his flying prowess.

1962

Mike Burns and Dick Swinbourne of Aerostructures, an aero-engineering company in Sydney Australia begin developing their Skiplane.

1963

The Grafton Water Ski Club made the fateful request that would lead to the creation of the modern hang glider – they asked Dickenson if he would build and fly a water-ski kite for their display at the annual Jacaranda Festival.

As new arrivals in Grafton the Dickensons had joined the Water Ski Club, not just for recreation, but also to help them to integrate into the local community. This really was the strongest force acting upon Dickenson when he accepted the task. He had no “dreams of glory”, no “grand plan” to revolutionize aviation, just a simple desire to contribute to the community in which he lived.

His father had taught him how to make five-sided kites when he was a boy. How hard could it be? Dickenson had never seen a water-ski kite, so he set about building models, working with the descriptions he was given by various club members, and his acquired knowledge of kites and wings. All the versions he came up with worked fine, until he hung a weight under them, when they all became horribly unstable.

As this process continued, Dickenson heard more accounts, not just of the kites, but of the flights, and all these accounts ended with spectacular crashes. He began to lose interest in the five-sided kite idea, and started casting about for a more stable design.

Through experience, he also knew that powerboats often stopped unexpectedly. They could run out of fuel, have water or dirt in the fuel, or just run aground on sandbanks. In a kite, this meant you dropped from the sky without any dignity. He felt that an ability to glide would be good, so the pilot could simply fly down and land gracefully and safely. He was after only a 1:1 glide angle, just enough to get down to the water in some comfort and style.

At this stage Dickenson started to look closely at flying foxes that are common in many parts of Australia. These creatures are amazing fliers, being capable of gliding flight, extreme aerobatics, and they can even fly backwards.

He began building models based on these wings. One rainy night, accompanied by his friend Dave Williams, Dickenson cornered and captured a flying fox in his hen run. Williams' account of this was hilarious, with lots of slipping over on lots of mud. Anyway, Dickenson had a very close look at these amazing flexible wings, and the mechanics involved in them. Batwings are quite complex to build. Dickenson built models based on these studies and they flew very well with a good 7:1 or 8:1 glide angle. That was much better than the 1:1 glide angle Dickenson wanted – in fact, it was too good. Such a glide angle meant that if an emergency landing was necessary, the wing could end up over land, or worse, in a crowd of people. Better control would be needed if the wing was to be safe.

It was at this stage that John Dickenson was shown a photograph of a wing NASA was working with.

The photo shown to Dickenson was of a paraglider, a structureless wing being designed by a number of engineers at NASA. Dickenson was led to believe, from his one sighting of the article, that the paraglider shown in it was a successful design, that was actually being used to return space capsules to earth. This of course turned out to be an incorrect assumption. This is true for the many articles published about the NASA / Ryan paraglider program, the Fleep, the Flexwing, the PARESEV (US N75-70841) and the paraglider were all presented to the public as successful designs when in fact they were known to have stability and control problems.

While NASA was the acknowledged source of the wing for Dickenson, all Dickenson took from them was the double conical airfoil. This airfoil dates back centuries to the Japanese kite, the Tosa Dako. The famous French artist Jan Lavezzari used the airfoil in his 1904 attempts to fly. [Note, it is most probable that Jan Lavezzari based his wing on boat sails, rather than the Japanese kites.] The airfoil was next fully explored by Ulysses Lee and William Darrah in the USA. The explanation of the aerodynamics of this airfoil are in their “Flying Machine” patent US 989786, filed early in 1910.

The airfoil was also used by both Robert Bach, US 2463135, and George Wanner, US 2537560. It was not, however, part of the Gertrude Rogallo kite patent, US 2546078.

There is also evidence (TV News footage) of this airfoil being attached to water-ski kite airframes in Indonesia in the mid 1950s, and an article has appeared in the Cross Country magazine.

Dickenson's first thought was that he would need to give it a frame so that it could be held out of the water, and he came up with an original airframe. Others had used the double conical wing before this, but their airframes were substantially different from the elegant simplicity of the one that Dickenson assembled.  His wing was almost a marriage of the Wanner and Bach kites with a control system added.

In fact it was fortunate that Dickenson had not seen photographs of any of these other rigid-framed machines, or it would have polluted his thought process. For example, had Dickenson been aware of the hang glider Barry Hill Palmer built in 1961, he would simply have copied it. Even the strange and flawed design of the PARASEV could have altered the result, had Dickenson been shown a photo of it. He was better off seeing less, not more, of the strange goings on at NASA.

Dickenson made models using a simple four-stick airframe. He quickly concluded that a 90 degree sail cut, with an 80 degree nose angle, gave the most stable results. There was however one problem - the wing performed nearly as well as the batwing-based models. Dickenson still needed control.

It is worth considering that it was a lack of adequate control that caused Otto Lilienthal's fatal crash after nearly 2,500 successful flights.

Although many people had built hang gliders that flew following Otto Lilienthal's first hang glider flights, control at speeds below 25 miles per hour was still the real problem. Three-axis-control needs airspeed to make it work. Until you reach that speed you are out of control. I have yet to learn of anyone foot launching a Volmer Jenson VJ23 in still air.

The style of weight-shift control used by Otto Lilienthal, and later by others right up until the 1970s, was so inefficient that the pilot could not correct for even mild turbulence. You also had to literally hang on to the glider as well. This is not conducive to long flights, nor to high flights. Indeed the advice was: “Don't fly higher than you are prepared to fall.” It was ground skimming rather than free flying.

So Dickenson now had two wing designs - one simple to build, one a real challenge, but both requiring a means of adequate control.

As is well known, the solution came to Dickenson while he was pushing his daughter Helen sideways on a swing at a park. The swings are gone now, being considered too dangerous in today's cotton wool world. In 1963 they provided the vital clue to enable controllable low-speed fight.

So now Dickenson had a theory about control, he needed to establish if it could work.

Using materials scavenged from a rubbish tip, and some banana bag plastic, he built a half-scale model. This development model was not intended to fly, indeed it was built small to ensure that it wouldn't, at any reasonable speed. At 200 mph it could have been an exciting toy, but at the maximum speed of the club's ski boats it was never going to carry a pilot.

The test was successful. By swinging his weight John Dickenson was able to get the small wing to take him from side to side while skiing. The wing knocked his helmet over his eyes so the trial ended in an inglorious fashion, but it proved to Dickenson that his idea could work.

Bruce Young and a couple of other enthusiastic club members spent some time after that tearing up and down the river trying to get the little wing to lift them off the water, but Dickenson was already away working on the real machine.

Money was an issue for Dickenson, and the wing was intended to be used only for the festival displays, and then thrown out. There was no justification for large investments in this project, and no funds to make them anyway.

Building models is one thing. Building a man-carrying wing is quite another. Even though the stunt was planned to be over water, it was not desirable to have the wing fold up on launch.
Oregon, [Douglas Fir], wood was used for the main spars, its strength to weight ratio being comparable to Spruce.

Banana plastic was used for the membrane. John tested this to make sure that it was strong enough for the task.

Note:- The three wooden spars and a membrane, by themselves would make a “Flying Wing” kite of the type American Robert Bach patented in 1947. Of course John Dickenson knew nothing about the Bach Patent.

Adding a cross bar, to define the nose angle, is an important step. With the Bach concept, the wing is free to flex as the leading edges swing in and out in turbulence. This is fine with a kite, but it is a problem with a glider. Changing the nose angle and billow also changes the center of lift on a double conical airfoil, [note:- this is not an issue with a cylindrical airfoil.], so the cross bar is an important aerodynamic component of the double conical wing.

Part of Dickenson's area of responsibility at Gus Robinson Electrical was the installation of TVs and TV Aerials. The aerial masts often had to be quite tall to get a good reception and they were being made of aluminium tubing braced with wire. While Dickenson did not erect the aerials himself, he had tested the components, and he had a real 'hands-on' understanding of the strength of both the aluminium tubing and the wire cable. He had tested the cables, and the method of tying the wire, to breaking point. Dickenson had access to aluminium tubing, but it was not strong enough for the main spars, and it only came in 10 foot lengths. There is an obvious transference of technology from TV aerial to the hang glider airframe.

The first task was to establish the size of the wing. Dickenson is very good at mathematics, and was wizard with a slide rule. He came up with a wing size using 16 foot spars and set about to build his water ski kite substitute.

Working alone, Dickenson began constructing his wing. The length of the aluminium meant that the spar / cross-bar had to be forward of the optimum position, but that limitation was acceptable. This thing was still only a theoretical device, and it was meant to be disposable. Dickenson, at this point in time, still had no aspirations for the wing. His total motivation was simply to meet his commitment to the water ski club. There was no “future vision” here, yet. He expected the wing to do no more than amuse a small crowd of spectators in a rural town. He did not, at this stage, imagine that he would build a second wing. He was not thinking that others would copy it. He didn't know if it would even work, but the mathematics, and the models, said that it could.

There is mathematics involved in the control system as well. The distance below the Center of Gravity to position the handle bar and the pilot. This is all about leverage and accounting for the pilot's arm reach. The seat was positioned to duplicate the position of a rider on a motorbike, Dickenson was an enthusiastic motorcyclist. He needed enough control, but not too much or he could end up with over controlling issues.

The wing at this stage was rigged with fore and aft wires, from the handle-bar ends, to the front and to the rear of the keel. Steel struts went from the ends of the handle-bar to where the spacer / cross -bar joined the leading edges, plus a set of cables going from the ends of the handle-bar to a point halfway between the rear tip of the leading-edges and the strut/leading-edge junction.

Making the sail was a huge undertaking, banana bag plastic stuck together with insulation tape sounds much easier to do than it is in reality. The banana bag plastic is very slippery to work with.

The solution Dickenson used to attach the sail to the frame, clamping the sail between the leading edges and a strip of wood with nails, was mechanically the same as the method adopted by Otto Lilienthal, but John Dickenson's version was crude, while Lilienthal's was a work of craftsmanship.

On the morning 8th of Sept 1963, John Dickenson carried the machine the two and a half kilometers to the Grafton Water Ski Club room for final assembly. At this stage the machine lacked the refinements that would make it easily portable, and easy to assemble.

Once it was assembled Dickenson tried to get it to fly. He exhausted himself being towed behind a boat with the wing, but he couldn't get it to fly. Norm Stamford was next and he encountered the same problem.

Adjustments were made and Bob Clements had a go. Now, strictly speaking, Bob Clements was the first to fly the wing, however he went up fast, and down fast, to crash heavily into the water. Part of his problem was that Dickenson had moved the hang point back too far after the first two attempts showed it was possibly too far forward. Also, it is possible that the boat driver over-reacted to the high climb rate and cut the throttle, thus stalling the wing at a very high nose angle. It is also possible that Bob Clements over-reacted to the unexpectedly high nose angle and climb rate. The fact that the glider survived the crash from about 80 feet demonstrated its structural integrity, as well as the value of testing over water. It also indicated that the boat had either stopped, or slowed considerably before the impact, thus reducing the forces on the wing.

John Dickenson made some more adjustments to the C of G, and then Rod Fuller had a go, “It seemed like a reasonable proposition to me,” is how Rod Fuller explains his willingness to have a go, even after the spectacular crash. With Pat Crowe as Fuller's chosen boat driver, and Bruce Young observing, the fourth attempt succeeded, the C of G wasn't perfect yet, and the strong wind made this a difficult exercise, but the three men involved made it work safely. Making head lines in the local newspaper the Grafton Examiner.

Rod Fuller and Pat Crowe have exciting stories of their roles in this success, but to Dickenson it seemed to be a non-event. From his vantage on the river bank, it simply went how he had hoped it would. Neither Pat Crowe nor Rod Fuller had any idea just how different this wing would be to a flat kite, but they were up to the task, neither panicked and they both dealt with their initial shock at their spectacular success with courage and intelligence.

Following this successful flight, and after listening to Rod Fuller's account, Dickenson made some more adjustments to the C of G, and he also moved the handle-bar forward. It was quite late when Dickenson finally got to have another go with the wing and the strong winds encountered by Rod Fuller had died away. Everything went perfectly, the wing flew well, there were no surprises and the control worked. Dickenson found that he could swing to each side and go up and down at will.

It was at this point, while up in the air in his creation, that the enormity of what he had done hit home. He was suddenly aware that he was in a lovely little aeroplane, and that, inadvertently, he was continuing the work of Otto Lilienthal.

Dickenson's excitement was almost overwhelming and he immediately set about drawing up a patent application for his “Improved Gliding Apparatus”.

Now everything was different for John Dickenson, aware of what he had, and suddenly with a vision of the future, he reappraised the glider.

By shifting the top of the struts from the leading edges to the keel he could substantially increase the glider's strength, for no appreciable gain in weight. This created the first 'A-Frame'. The struts were replaced with a second set of side wires. The original configuration had two bolts through the leading edges at the nose plate. By abandoning the second unnecessary set of bolts, the wing became easier to rig and de rig.

And so, by the time the Jacaranda Festival arrived, the wing, to all intents and purposes, possessed all of the desirable qualities that would lead eventually to it being cloned in the thousands, all over the world.

Fuller and Dickenson continued to fly the wing after the festival, but Dickenson was already working on the second wing. This time he used an all aluminium airframe, but his lack of welding skills resulted in a rectangular frame to position the handle-bar. Dickenson again utilized the banana bags, and used contact adhesive to attach it to the airframe. The main spars were reduced to 14 feet, he wanted to increase the take-off and landing speed to harmonize with the speeds that water skis work well at. The big wing wanted to fly before the pilot was able to ski properly. This Glider, that we call the Mark2 , flew well, but the contact adhesive was not up to the job and so the wing was quickly abandoned.

The next wing saw a return to the wooden spars so that the banana plastic could again be attached using nails.  The wing was reduced in size yet again as the 14 foot wing was still flying at a slower than desirable speed for water skiing.

Dickenson found a bent steel bed-head at the rubbish tip, by simply increasing the bends he was able to return to the triangular A-frame of the Mark I, without needing welding skills. It is interesting how many people copied that “Bed-head” bent base bar design, indeed it was still being produced in the late 1970's, even though it is an inferior structural design.

Dickenson flew this wing in many places, attempting to sell it to finance the next one.

21st October. An article appeared in the Grafton Daily Examiner Newspaper.

Late 1963. The Grafton examiner published and article on the Dickenson Wing and Rod Fuller. The quality is very poor but at least it has survived and can be read. The exact date is unknown at this time.

1964

Finally, John sold the MkIIIa on the 29th July 1964, to the owner of the Tweed Heads Ski Lodge, the late Rex Bernoth. This wing was then flown by Ron Nickel for more than 5 years, taking part in a Water Ski Show in front of the Tweed Heads Ski Lodge. Ron performed five times a week during the summer months, and still had the glider in 2012.

The next wing, the MkIIIb, had a sewn sail, and Dickenson dropped the second set of side wires. It was sold to a person from the Forster area and its story remains a mystery. It was however the plans to this wing that Dickenson sent to NASA in November 1964 after they contacted him with a request for information on his invention. Providing this material to NASA was probably Dickenson's biggest mistake as far as getting recognition for his invention was concerned, but he naively believed that NASA and its employees could be trusted.

1965

January. The New South Wales Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

The next wing, MkIIIc was sold to Ray Leighton. Ray Leighton played quite a role in the promotion of the wing with his photo appearing on the cover of water ski magazines.

March. The New South Wales Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connected with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

Shortly after Ray Leighton purchased his wing it was measured up by Bill Moyes. It is uncertain if Moyes built a clone at that time.

April. The New South Wales Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connected with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

The World Water Ski Championships were held in Australia.

John Revelle was the first confirmed person to actually build a clone based on Dickenson's glider. His glider suffered a snapped leading edge though. This was in 1965, and John Revelle used an all aluminium airframe while Leighton's glider had wooden spars. John Revelle sold that wing to Bill Moyes in 1966.

July. The New South Wales Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

From here on the changes Dickenson made to the wings only involved construction techniques and different materials. This process culminated in the Aerostructures built wings, that were built to aircraft specifications.

November. The New South Wales Water Ski Association monthly Kite Flyers Club news published an article 'Go Fly a Kite' that mentions John Dickenson.

December. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

1966

January. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

February. The New South Wales Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

March. The New South Wales Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

Aerostructures became the first company to commercially manufacture and sell the Dickenson Wings, marketed as the Ski Wing, in a licensing deal with John Dickenson. This was the Mk 4 version of the glider.

April. The New South Wales Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

May. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

June. The New South Wales Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

October. The New South Wales Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

November. The New South Wales Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

December. The New South Wales Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

1967

January. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

February. The New South Wales Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

An unknown Magazine published an article that is reported to have been what first attracted the attentions of both Bill Moyes and Bill Bennett.

In February/March Bill Moyes approached Mike Burns at Aerostructures, wanting to buy a wing. Not realizing that Bill Moyes already had at least one wing, Mike Burns arranged for John Dickenson to teach Bill Moyes how to fly the glider.

Moyes had wanted to “learn” on Sydney Harbour, but that request was refused as Dickenson was under the impression that it was to be a first lesson and he did not want some learner giving his product a bad name, in the middle of the city. Moyes however was invited to attend a group demonstration John Dickenson had planned, and once the others had finished, Moyes was given his chance. Bill Moyes climbed quickly, flew a short circuit, and released high, even though he had been instructed not to release from the rope and to just let the boat lower him back to the water. Bill flew down and landed perfectly. Both Mike Burns and John Dickenson thought Moyes was an absolutely natural pilot, for him to be able to fly so well on his first flight. But was it his first flight?

Bill Moyes purchased an Aerostructures wing at that time, which was brought back for repair a couple of times in the first weeks that he had it.

It is important to realise that the first record flights made by Bill Moyes and Bill Bennett, were on Aerostructures wings.

April. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

April. An article appeared in the Australian Water Skier magazine with the cover photo showing Ray Leighton flying a glider he bought from John Dickenson especially for the photo. It clearly shows Ray has full control of the glider using an 'A' Frame and hanging in a swing seated harness. Ray's wife is also on the photo.

May. The New South Wales Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

Sunday 7th May. N.S.W. Kite Flying Championships are held on the Hawkesbury River at 'Jax's Ski Gardens' near Wiseman's Ferry.

Friday 12th May. Bill Moyes broke the World Height Record.

The next major change came when John Revelle adapted a parachute harness to replace the seat, he then developed the first prone harness so as to reduce drag from the pilot.

June. The New South Wales Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

During the winter Bill Moyes makes the first mountain launch flying an Aerostructures wing from Mt Crackenback Thredbo NSW, and also claims the longest unassisted flight todate a distance of 1-1/2 miles.

July. An article appeared in the Australian Water Skier magazine by Dick Rangott describing how on Friday 12th May 1967 Bill Moyes broke the World Height Record.

July. An article appeared in the Australian Water Skier magazine by Dick Rangott called 'Up In The Air' describing the "1967 N.S.W. Kite Flying Championships" held on the Hawkesbury River at 'Jax's Ski Gardens' near Wiseman's Ferry on 7th May 1967.

Bill Moyes flying a Dickenson Wing becomes the first person in the world to be towed up above 1000ft.

October. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

November. The New South Wales Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

December. The New South Wales Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

1968

January. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

February. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

March. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

April. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

May. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

June. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

August. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

Some time during 1968 and article appeared in an unknown Australian newspaper about Bill Moyes.

Bill Moyes takes the world altitude record up to 2870 feet.

Bill Moyes becomes the 1968 Australian Water Ski Champion.

October. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

November. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

1969

Bill Moyes and Dick Rangott took a wing to La Perouse for some tethered flying. Moyes ended up soaring for 29 minutes when Rangott dropped the rope because there was no strain on it. When Rangott tried to emulate the feat after Moyes landed he unfortunately crashed the glider.

12th April. John Dickenson sets an endurance record over Botany Bay of just over 3 hours. The event was captured and reported by the Daily Telegraph.

15th May. An article was published in the Maily Mirror about Bill Moyes.

16th May. An article was published by an unknown newspaper about John Revelle.

Bill Bennett arrived in the USA with a glider where it was flown as a foot launchable aircraft.

While in the USA Bill Bennett taught Dave Kilbourne to fly his glider towing it behind boat.

Later Dave Kilbourne ridge soared a Bennett wing, and asked for a larger wing that would fly more slowly. When Bill Bennett built the 16 foot wing for Kilbourne the wing returned to its original size, that Dickenson had designed.

Bill Bennett sets up a business in California manufacturing hang gliders.

On a trip to Europe during 1969 Bill Moyes sold a 13 foot clone to Alfio Caronti, who eventually started manufacturing the wing under license to Bill Moyes. It appears that Alfio Caronti was under the impression that Bill Moyes had invented the wing.

4th July. Bill Bennett flies over the Statue of Liberty in the USA.

24th September. Bill Bennett filed for a patent, calling it a Passenger carrying Tow Kite.

5th November. An article appeared in a Sydney newspaper about John Revelle's 7 year old son ski-kiting flying. The youngest person to date to have done so.

Bill Moyes becomes the Australian Water Ski Champion.

Bill Moyes gains his 2nd World altitude record.

1970

On a trip to the USA Bill Moyes flew a glider into the Grand Canyon a distance of 4.75 miles, and spends two days in jail for his effort.

Bill Moyes flying a Dickenson styled wing claims the Australian Endurance record with a time of 6 hours and 55 minutes.

1971

March. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

Bill Moyes becomes the Australian Water Ski Champion.

Bill Bennett lifts the world Altitude Record to 2960ft while flying at Havasu City Arizona USA, taking the record from Bill Moyes. Article on Page 22.

Bill Bennett unveils a back pack power unit and demonstrates its capability's while flying one of his Delta wings (based on the Dickenson Wing) in the USA.

Bill Moyes flying a Dickenson based wing is towed behind an Aircraft in the USA.

December. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

1972

January. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

9th January. Bill Flewellyn claimed the world hang gliding endurance record of 15 hours 3 minutes 50 seconds whilst being towed by a ski boat around Lake Bonney, Barmera. Bill was one of Australia's Pioneer Kitemen.

February. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

13th February An article was published in an unknown newspaper about Angela Revelle and Bill Moyes and a ski kiting show.

13th February. An article was published in the Daily Mirror about Angela Revelle.

March. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

June. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

July. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

Date ?? Bill Flewellyn was runner up during the Australian hang gliding championships.

Bill Bennett flies a hang glider in the latest James Bond film 'Live and let Die' also acting as a stunt double for Roger Moore.

11th July. Bill Bennett's patent for a Passenger Carrying Tow Kite is final granted for a period of 14 years, serial No 19272.

September. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

Late in the years Bill Bennett took his Dickenson wing to the United Kingdom. After one of his water ski displays he was approached by one of the early legends of hang gliding in the UK, Ken Messenger, about the wings suitability for foot launching from hills. The next morning Bill Bennett demonstrated the feat for Ken Messenger. Because of the high winds at the time, he flew it from near the base of the hill. Both Bill Bennett and Bill Moyes helped spread the wings popularity through such acts of generosity. But they were not the only people spreading the wing.

November. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

The spread of the wing around the world was organic and explosive. Virtually everyone that got one became an instant instructor, many became instant manufacturers. As happened with the Leighton wing, gliders were copied, some people worked from photos to build their wings, some met people like Leighton, Moyes, or Bennett, and were assisted into the activity. Those new enthusiasts spread the wing's popularity by teaching friends and interested spectators.

Steve Cohen, influenced by the ridge soaring stories coming back from California, started pioneering flying sites south of Sydney and making profound changes to the wing. Cohen was the first to fly from, and then the first to soar, Stanwell Park. He was closely followed by John Revelle and Ray Ryan for the soaring flight as they virtually all took off together. Cohen was the first to drop from a balloon in a hang glider, Bill Moyes was there to witness his landing. Cohen also claims the first positive G loops in a hang glider, an SK1.

Cohen designed the keel pocket, the first really significant design change to the airfoil.

Another very important person who was involved is Kevin Mitchell. Mitchell was a sail-maker and his knowledge and his inputs were important. At one point Mitchell was making the sail for Cohen's business, Ultralight Flight Systems, as well as for Moyes.

Many people have contributed to the design of the wings as they evolved. Many people contributed to the spread of the wing. The popularity, and the money generated from the commercial exploitation of the original Dickenson Wing supported that evolution and expansion. All modern ultralight aviation started here, there are only two wings that did not start in some way with John Dickenson, the Icarus by Taras Kiceniuk and the VJ23 by Volmer Jensen. However even their limited popularity was largely due to the interest and media created by the wing invented in Grafton, N.S.W. Australia.

December. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

1973

Arnold Cohen started flying and here are a few of his photos.

February. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

April. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

June. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

July. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

Date ?? Bill Flewellyn represented Australia at the world hang gliding championships.

Date ?? Bill Flewellyn was runner up during the Australian hang gliding championships.

September. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

31st October. The Daily Telegraph published an article called 'The Birdmen of Bald Hills' and was about the first pilots to Fly Stanwell.

December. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

1974

John Dickenson was awarded a shared United States Hang Gliding Association (USHGA) Presidential Citation for his role in developing the hang glider. Quote "Somehow that award was never presented, perhaps because John's name is misrepresented in the association's records of the 1974 awards" Unquote. Wording taken from the Citation awarded to John from the USHGA in 2012.

Date ?? Bill Flewellyn became the Australian hang gliding trick flying champion.

1976

Bill Moyes and his son Steve competed in the British Hang Gliding Championships held at Mere in late August early September. Winning a couple of competitions. The first time the British had seen a Keel Pocket

1977

Glen Woodward published a book called 'Catch the Wind'. One of the first books published to mention John Dickenson part in the hang gliding story.

Date ?? Bill Flewellyn claimed the Australian altitude record for Altitude Gliding at 24,100 feet set at Barmera.

Date ?? Bill Flewellyn flew the first hang glider over Japans highest peak, Mt fuji.

Bill Moyes and his son Steve competed in the British Hang Gliding Championships held at Mere in late August early September. Winning a couple of competitions.

1979

February/March. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

June. The Australian Water Skier magazine was published and it contained articles of interest in connection with the development of the Dickenson Wing.

1980

May. A US Hang Gliding Magazine Sunshine Soaring published an article about the 'Frigate' Hang Glider that Bill Moyes and John Dickenson were working on. The article shows 3 people in attendance during its flight. Bill Moyes, John Dickenson and Bills son Steve.

1987

28th May. The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper published an article called 'Can a Concrete Hang Glider Really Fly'. Stating that it had in fact been flown the day before on the 27th May by Phil Mathewson the federal secretary of the Hang Gliding Federation of Australia, when he flew 30 meters down the sand hills at Kurnell in a fairly stiff breeze. It went on to say that the craft had been designed and built by professor Rob Wheen based on details supplied by Mr John Dickenson, the Sydney inventor of the world-wide sport of hang gliding.

1988

December. An article about Bill Bennett in the USA by David Lynch was published in the Hang Gliding magazine.

1989

May. Stephane Malbos (France) published an article called 'The decisive part of the history of hang gliding' (The wondrous history of John Dickensonin), in the German magazine Drachenflieger.

1993

Stephane Malbos (France) published an article called '1963 - 1993, 30 years of Hang Gliding' or "JOHN WHO?". This article covered John Dickerson his invention of the modern hang glider,and its early development.

May. Ski Wings magazine published an article 'Who Invented the Flexwing Hang Glider'.

18th June. The British Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association (BHPA) awarded John Dickenson an 'Honorary Life Time' membership, for his contributions to Hang Gliding.

The Hang Gliding Federation of Australia (HGFA) presented John Dickenson with a 'Life Membership' It reads "Life Membership Awarded to John Dickenson in recognition of continued service to the sport of Hang Gliding 1993".

1996

June. John Wallace Dickenson was awarded 'The Order of Australia' after being nominated by his work mates who felt that he deserved recognition for inventing the modern Hang Glider.

2004

May. An article 'Who invented the flex wing hang glider?' by Mark Woodhams, was published in a newsletter of the British Columbia Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association magazine. Volume 2 Issue 2.

7th October. Bill Bennett died in the USA.

18th November. An article was published in the Daily Telegraph newspaper that Bill Bennett had sadly died on the 7th October 2004.

2005

Stephane Malbos (France) published a book called 'And the World Could Fly'. It contain a chapter called 'Dickenson, Moyes and Bennett'. That covered the parts they played during the early years of the modern hang gliders development in Australia.

2006

The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) Presented John Dickenson with a Hang Gliding Diploma award. This Diploma was established by the FAI in 1979. It may be awarded every year to an individual who is considered to have made an outstanding contribution to the development of hang gliding by his or her initiative, work or leadership in flight achievement.

Johns Dickenson's Diploma reads: "John Dickenson invented the modern hang glider at Grafton, Australia. It was flown on 8 September 1963. John built scale models to determine design concepts, until a full sized glider was towed behind a speedboat. He incorporated the control bar into the airframe by designing the A-frame to distribute flight, refining this further when he invented the pendulum weight-shift control system. John developed the piloting techniques, and taught all the early pilots, including Hang Gliding pioneers Bill Moyes and Bill Bennett, to fly the wing. John Dickenson’s invention has been copied by every manufacturer globally, with few minor changes for over a decade".

Graeme Henderson, Rod Fuller, Pat Crowe with assistance from Doug Trentchard built a replica of the original Dickenson Wing in Grafton.

The N.S.W. Town of Grafton held a carival to celebrate the invention of the modern hang glider by John Dickenson.

Mid 2006. Graeme Henderson published an article 'Fly Like A Bird' that covered the Dickenson Wing story.

Mid 2006. An article was published in the Grafton Examiner newspaper about John Dickenson.

28th October. The Hang Gliding Federation of Australia (HGFA) awarded John Dickenson with a 'Certificate of Recognition'. It read "In recognition for the design and invention of the modern Flex Wing hang glider and his inspiration that led to a new sports generation. Awarded on behalf of, and in gratitude from,the Hang Gliding federation of Australia on this day 28th October 2006. Signed by the HGFA General Manager".

Late 2006. Graeme Henderson published an article called 'The Role of the Dickenson Wing in Aviation'.

2010

United States Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association (USHGA) awards John Dickenson with their Citation.

During 2010 Mark Woodhams and Graeme Henderson published an article in the British Skywings magazine called 'Did we really fly Rogallo wings? This is the official magazine of the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (BHPA)

December. The British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (BHPA) made an application to The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) for Rod Fuller (from Grafton) to receive their Diploma for his services to Hang Gliding.

2011

Rod Fuller received the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale's (FAI) Diploma for his service's to Hang Gliding. After the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (BHPA) had nominated him back in 2010.

2012

May. The Hang Gliding Federation of Australia (HGFA) acknowledged that John Dickenson was the inventor of the modern Hang Glider in 1963 and presented him with an award

May. John Dickenson was nominatered for the The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) Gold award, by a private group with the backing of France and Australia.

 

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