Deep In the Heart of Texas

Dave Broyles © 1997

In Texas, hang gliding started from water-skiing and the first thing you needed to hang glide was a powerful competition ski boat. So, at first, hang gliding revolved around Jack Hinson, myself and David Thompson. We all had competition ski boats, Jack and I had Ski Nautiques while David had a twin Chrysler Hydrodyne outboard.

David Thompson was a flat kite flyer. A flat kite was an invention of the devil which looked like a big polygonal kid's kite, except that it didn't have a tail to provide stability. The pilot, if you could call him that, was suspended via a short strap from a trapeze bar on the front of the kite which was towed by a complex bridle of ropes which set the angle of attack and kept the kite more or less at right angles in yaw to the tow boat. Thus, pitch and yaw were fixed and the pilot only controlled roll. The tow boat speed and throttle setting was the only thing that controlled the altitude of the glider. The average hang glider pilot, at this point, would be inclined to say, "sounds pretty crazy to me!" Well, that wasn't the worst of it. The darn thing didn't glide either. If the boat stopped quickly, the kite fell into the water sort of like a ton of bricks. David, for some unknown reason, was finding it hard to find anyone to fly with him. With a flat kite, the driver and observer were as important to the correct operation of the kite as the pilot. David knew me well from competition water-skiing as he was also a certified water ski judge and boat driver, and a fellow member of the Dallas Water-ski Club. I was famous for some of the more spectacular wipeouts off the open-men's 6 ft high water-ski jump. I was trying hard to exceed 100 ft. on a jump with only a limited amount of the musculature and talent necessary for this feat, and I often arrived at the 100 ft. mark upside down, and never on my skis. David apparently thought that with my previous flying experience, apparent stupidity and lack of fear, I would make an excellent candidate for the death defying water ski flat kite.

Once I learned how to avoid the problems created with a system that had a great deal of oscillatory freedom, and no tolerance at all for pilot induced oscillation, I quickly became a reasonably skilled flat kite pilot and more important to David, his throttle-man while he flew. On David's Hydrodyne kite boat, the throttle was in the middle of the boat so that the driver and the observer could both work the throttle. This was necessary because the altitude of the kite was solely determined by the throttle setting of the boat, and it was very handy for the person working the throttle to have his eyes riveted on the kite and the kite's intended victim. David's goal was to become an expert at Kite slalom, which required weaving a water-ski kite through a slalom course much like a water-ski slalom only longer and wider, and with the buoys replaced by water spouts. Since the pilot had no way to change the angle of attack of the glider, the throttle-man/observer was very important. When the glider was cut violently from side to side, as was required for slalom, it would slip from the sky like the previously mentioned ton of bricks, and altitude had to be maintained via a radical throttle increase. Once the kite was straightened out, unless the throttle was reduced, the kite climbed until it became aerodynamically unstable then it would fall like the ton of bricks I mentioned before. It was a hellofa scary ride. So when Jack Hinson asked me if I wanted to fly his Bill Bennett Delta Wing Water Ski Kite which actually had pitch control and was reputed to be able to glide when the boat stopped, I thought that was just OK! We followed flat kite procedure, and I slid off the shore of the lake on water skis while holding the control bar of the kite like a water-ski handle. Jack had put on a 150 ft. rope the same length as used with a flat kite, and immediately there I was taxing down the lake like I was on a flat kite, with the Delta Wing glider floating over my head. When we got as far down wind as possible, Jack turned his Ski Nautique into the wind, and increased the throttle. I immediately pushed out and began climbing. Jack and I had failed to discuss our expectations for this first flight. It turned out that Jack planned to keep me a few feet above the water, while I planned to fly as high as I could get on a 150 ft. rope then cut loose and fly down. By the time I got to 75 ft. Jack had cut the throttle. I was faced with an incipient stall. I had flown light planes and that told me what to do. I pulled in the control bar, released the tow rope, flew the little 15 12 ft Delta Wing Kite down to the water, flared and skied to a stop. Jack blinked once, put a 350 ft. extension on the rope and towed me straight up to 500 ft. I cut loose, did a few S turns, and landed. From the top of the tow rope, the view was great, and I was stoked. The glide ratio was poor, but the glider was easy to fly. Soon Jack and I were competing with each other to see who could get the most turns in from 500 ft. and hit closest to a spot. We were both airplane pilots and we both understood slips and stalls, so after only a few flights, we were doing 360s and hitting near the spot consistently. This was in the summer of 1972.

Soon after that, David Thompson and I went to several water ski meets, and he flew in the flat kite events, while I flew Delta kites. The flat kite events were trick and slalom. The trick event being to do things like hang upside down and backwards on the trapeze of the flat kite without crashing it into the water. The delta wing events were slalom on the tow rope, and free flight. At the Kite Nationals of 1973 near St. Louis, I got a second in delta slalom, and a fourth in free flight. I loved competition, so I wanted to go to the Big Daddy of Delta Kite meets, the 1973 Cypress Gardens Delta Kite World meet. But, due to personal factors, I didn't get to go. David Thompson did go to Cypress Gardens, and returned with a beautiful high performance Moyes 18-16 short keeled standard, which had been flown by the second place pilot, I think, Ricky Duncan. Steve Moyes had won with another like it. David , Jack and I all were determined to go to Cypress Gardens in '74.

Meanwhile, I was flying delta water-ski kites in water-ski shows. I heard Jeff Jobe was coming to town to fly the Budwiser Jobe Wing Kite for an event. Jeff was a great kite pilot flying from both water and snow. He had a feature article written about him and his kite flying at Lake Sammamash, Seattle, Washington in Sports Illustrated and had been on TV doing a flight on snow skies slaloming down a ski trail while turning the glider sideways to pass between trees otherwise too close to fly between. But when Jeff showed up at Lake Ray Hubbard, in Dallas, he wasn't experienced with the 20 to 25 mph winds so common in Texas. Since he had little high wind experience, he elected to stay on the ground. My friends and I whipped out our gliders and did some flights for him. This impressed Jeff no end, so he made me a Jobe Wing dealer. he was planning to come back and fly the Budwiser kite in saner conditions, so he left it with a friend in Dallas, but made him promise not to fly it.

Soon after this, Jack got a phone call from a balloon pilot in San Diego who wanted to do a hang glider balloon drop for an altitude record. Jack wasn't quite as much of a risk taker as I was, so he passed the opportunity on to me. I called Jeff Jobe, who sent me a brightly colored Jobe Wing glider, with O'Brien Water Skis printed on both wings. I headed down to Wimberly, Texas to the annual Wimberly balloon races.

The balloon pilot who had planned to do the hang glider balloon drop, had been talking about the risks involve in doing a balloon drop with an experienced professional balloon pilot named Matt Weiderkeir. Matt convinced him that hang gliding was unsafe and that balloon drops were unsafe so he backed out. I went to talk this over with Matt, pointing out that what the balloon drop needed was a top of the line record setting professional balloon pilot. Soon, hanging from a rope underneath Matt's balloon, I was being lifted out of a school yard surrounded by power lines on all sides. Sure enough, it was clear that a top of the line record setting professional balloon pilot was what I needed. Matt took me straight up out of the school yard and we soon were drifting right over the drop zone at 4000 ft. Not being totally insane, I was wearing an Army surplus chest pack parachute, and was fully prepared to fall out of my glider's swing seat, count to 3 and pull, hopefully above 1000 ft. Matt and I had made a game plan prior to the liftoff. This was good as we could only communicate when he wasn't running the burner, over which nothing could be heard. So when Matt stopped his burn, he then yelled down to me, "Are you ready?" and I yelled up to him, "Let's Do it."! We started a decent. When we reached 400 fpm, Matt yelled, "3,2,1,drop!" and I pulled the release. The glider docilely dove at a 30 degree angle, and quickly I was flying in circles around Matt's balloon which was sinking as fast as I was. From other balloons around me, sky divers jumped and opened their PCs, (not what you think, this was 1973 and ParaCommanders not parafoil chutes were the common sport parachute) Their sink rate was much higher than mine, and they used up several thousand feet free falling as well so they landed at the LZ long before I did. As I approached, I noticed a big target on the ground and surmised that the sky divers were having a spot landing contest, so I set up an approach and flew down towards the spot. The crowd was yelling and cheering me on. I didn't know that I was being included in the spot landing contest. I hit about 10 ft. from the spot, and then walked off with my glider. Everyone was yelling "Run, run." I ran off the LZ thinking another sky diver was approaching. It turned out that they meant for me to run to the center of the spot, and drink or kick over the cup of beer there. Each landing was being timed from touch down to contact of the cup. If I had only known! It turned out I would have won hands down since most of the skydivers didn't even land in the same field as the spot. Oh well, the new Corvette went to someone else. Just kidding, I don't know what I would have won, but considering the local sky diving community, it probably would have been a case of more beer. We spent the rest of the weekend towing hang gliders behind Jack's Cadilac with the observer watching out of the sun roof and me in my Bell Bottoms jeans, long hair and no helmet for the benefit of the balloon races crowd, but I never did get to do my altitude attempt. Goodby, Guinness Book of World Records.

By this time, I had done several foot launches from various hills using Bill Bennett water ski kites, hang gliders and my Jobe Wing. The difference between a Bill Bennett water ski kite and a Bill Bennett hang glider was the control bar. If the glider had a control bar of stainless steel, very heavy with floats on the ends of the base tube, it was a water ski kite. If the glider had an aluminum control bar, it was a hang glider. Either way, it was a standard with no battens or ribs and a very noisy sail. Airspeed control was done by listening to the sail flap. The Jobe Wing, which had a much quieter sail was my favorite and got the longest glides from the Lake Lewisville Dam. It was our best foot launch site and coincidentally, at the same lake we usually towed on. In the fall of '73, Jack put an ad in the Dallas Morning News, "learn to hang glide from a Bunny Hill" and got about 200 calls. he immediately recruited me to help him train. By the winter of '73 we were training every weekend the wind wasn't blowing 30, and on the days it was, we were out on the hill trying to soar the Dam. This was a period of very rapid learning. If we hadn't, we would have died. We weren't very safe instructors, but we soon found out that everyone was teaching differently, and no one knew how to teach safely. We were lucky too. We had few training injuries, and the various mistakes we made ourselves cost us a lot of aluminum but only minor injuries.

In 1974, after a very interesting spring of competing in St. Louis, and New Orleans, Jack, David Thompson and I did go to Cypress Gardens. . Cypress Gardens was strictly a free flying contest. We would tow to 500 ft. then release, the task was to do a 360, then reverse direction, then do as many 360's as possible before attempting to hit a spot. Half the score was based on the number of 360s, and the other half was based on the spot. a bullseye being 500 points, and farther than 100 ft. being a zero. For the really experienced World meet competitors, the game was actually to luck into a thermal, use it to extend the number of 360s you got, then still make it to the spot. I was flying the Jobe Wing, Jack was flying a

Bill Bennett standard, and David was flying his Moyes. At the end of the semifinals, I was in seventh place. The water ski kite crowd believed that it was totally insane to fly a glider bigger than a 16'. For a standard, this meant a 16 foot leading edge, and a 16 foot keel. Those of use who had been foot launching had been flying much larger gliders than this because we knew that the little gliders had such a high sink rate that you had to run about 900 mph to foot launch them, and tended to fall out of the sky. Bill Moyes came up and told me that my "big sloppy hang glider was just the thing for this meet." I knew that from the boys down under, this was a high compliment, not an insult. Several people had been standing around wondering how a nobody from Texas was in the finals with all the cognoscenti from Florida and Australia. We had three flights in the finals, and I was doing quite well, running third into the last flight. A 20 mph wind started to blow directly on shore, and I knew I would be disqualified if I got over the land. I instructed the tow crew to tow me straight out then so I could release about 1/4 mile off shore then drift back into the target while 360ing down. They didn't understand my plan, and instead towed me in the usual circle where I arrived above the target and had to release there. Sure enough I did several 360s and the wind drifted me back above the grandstands, and while I made it back out to the spot, I got no score for the flight. I filed a protest, but was told that I should have waved off and refused the flight, so it was to no avail. Steve Moyes was towed up, and Bill Moyes rode in the boat to insure that the tow drivers took him to the right place. he released about 1/4 off shore, and 360ed down to the target and landed right on it. I am sure that they learned from watching my misfortune. One of the advantages of being the leader, is that you fly last. Still, it was the best strategy for a high score, and I was surprised that only Steve and I attempted it. But still I blew it. Anyway, I was pleased to have made the finals. I would have liked to finish higher than 10th...

But when I got back from Florida, I still had a trip planned to California. I had been to the Mecca of tow, and next I was going to the Mecca of footlaunch. Escape Country, and then up to Sylmar. There was no event at Escape Country, but the big World Meet Hang Gliding Meet was due to be there in 1975, and a number of my friends had been to Sylmar for the Annie Green Springs meet in 1973. So I was lusting to foot launch off of a real mountain. My wife was pregnant, but we loaded a few gliders and a friend into my trusty Ford van, and headed West for Escape Country. I had been impressed by the Moyes style prone harness, and I was convinced that prone would be the way to go, so I build a copy to take with me. This harness had two parts, a body harness from which the pilot hung at launch and a sort of sling that the pilot clambered into to fly prone. This worked great for water ski kiting... But I found that it was hard to foot launch. If the glider's control bar had enough sweep for prone, then it had too much to foot launch safely hanging from the shoulders alone. When I got to Escape Country, and flew, I found that my Bennett Delta Wing Hang Glider, flown seated, only had about a 2 to 1 glide ratio and wouldn't even reach the spot for me to land on it. This meant that I needed to fly my trusty Jobe Wing, which had now had the control bar swept for prone and which I was sure had at least a 3 or 4 to 1 glide. I decided to use the Moyes style Prone harness. The 500' launch was bulldozed from the side of a hill, and had a slope of about 30 degrees with a dirt berm at the bottom. I ran, pushed out, found that the glider wouldn't lift, and plowed head first into the berm. I ripped my t-shirt almost off, and had dirt all over me and was all skinned up. The glider, which had a control bar reinforced for tow wasn't damaged. I walked to the top, and did the same thing again. Someone took pity on me, and sidled over to tell me, "Run faster." So I ran down the hill at about 90 mph, lifted off, climbed into the sling, and flew down. I made the spot and landed near it. but it was still clear that virtually any of the California hang gliders flew better than either of my water ski kites. It was also clear that my prone harness sucked, at least for foot launch. So, I left, and went to the Eipper Formance Factory and bought a California style Prone harness. since it had a Sheep skin pad for my waist, I was sure that it wouldn't be appropriate for water tow, but I was ready to throw caution to the winds. I was there to be a real foot launch pilot, and by gosh, I wasn't going to let anything like money or practicality stand in my way.

While I was at Escape Country, my buddy bought a fixed wing glider. He paid cash. Though I didn't know it at the time, he apparently was a mule for a (later to be ) notorious Texas Drug ring, and had a LOT of disposable income. This glider was a Conquest, and a brazen rip-off of the Eipper Quicksilver except with more wing area and some especially machined bits and pieces. Being a quick study, I flew it from the 500 at Escape Country and then again from the 1500 at Sylmar. My buddy, who incidentally has since served his time for his sins, flew out on an airline to do some HIGHLY unspecified task for his employer, and I took his Conquest down to Torrey Pines. In '74, flying at Torrey was pretty unstructured. People would show up with a glider, assemble it and leap off the cliff. Some few would even land on top. While standing around on top, I met both a very experienced local Quicksilver pilot, and the whole Conquest Flying Team, who in toto had about 15 minutes of air-time. Both the local pilot and the TEAM encouraged me to fly. The local was offering to act as guide pilot, while the TEAM who had never seen a Conquest flown at Torrey Pines was quite willing to help SOMEONE ELSE to do it. Soon the Quicksilver and the Conquest were set up and ready to launch. The Quicksilver pilot launched, and then I followed on the Conquest. Pretty soon, we were making passes up and down the ridge with the Quicksilver pilot hugging the cliff with one wing tip and I following his lead. We soared for a while and then the Quicksilver pilot turned south to fly down to the road down the hill by the Scripps Institute. I followed. Pretty soon we were about 100 ft high and I noticed that no one on the beach below was wearing a swimsuit, nor any other clothes at all. We were going to land at the notorious Blacks Beach, the famous La Joya nude beach. Of course, this was the first I had heard about it so when I launched, I was totally unaware it was below. But now, I was having to land on a beach PACKED with nude people. Not that I minded that they were buck naked, the key word was "packed". The crowd spread apart like the Red Sea did for Moses for the Quicksilver, but then it closed back together behind him. Everyone had their backs to me, coming in to land about 100 yards behind. I could see that the least populated part of the beach was at the waterline, so I lined up with the waterline yelling like crazy. The crowd moved out of my way, and I landed safely, without harming a single naked person or even going bug eyed. My final memory of this flight was standing by my glider while a nude woman took a picture of me to remember her visit to Black's Beach. California rules state that if there are no pictures taken, then it didn't happen. Most of these flights were recorded on super 8 movie film, and can be found in the Broyles family archives.

While I was on this trip flying at Sylmar, I went to the Sunbird factory in Canoga Park. I had heard of Sunbird from my friends who went to Sylmar in 1973 for the big Annie Greensprings Meet. I met Gary Valle who was the president of Sunbird. I was aware of how poorly my water-ski kites flew as hang gliders, and wanted better equipment. I had heard that Sunbird gliders flew really well. I had already encouraged my buddy Jack Hinson to become a Wills Wing dealer, and I didn't want to ride on his coat tails, so I wanted to be a dealer for another brand. I wasn't aware at this time that Wills Wing and Sunbird were the major competitors for performance gliders in the LA basin and that I was about to move the rivalry from California to Texas. Gary was reluctant to even sell me a glider until he had determined that I could fly well enough to not kill myself on one of his gliders. He went to Sylmar with me to let me fly a Sunbird standard down and watch me land. Since I had just come from the Cypress Gardens bank and crank meet, I flew down and whipped off a few 360s then landed. Gary was greatly relieved that I survived the 360s. At the time, though I didn't realize it, a 360 was considered an advanced maneuver and a number of well considered pilots had been killed attempting 360s. Thus, I had just demonstrated competence in an advanced skill and was therefore thoroughly qualified to be a Sunbird dealer. There were other qualifications, of course, such as was I willing to instruct new pilots and could I afford to buy a glider. I bought a Lime Green Sunbird 18 ft 82-90 standard. What all of this mean was that the glider had 18 ft leading edges and keel, and an 82 nose angle with a sail cut to a 90 angle. Sunbird's Gary Valle was a mathematician and figured out how to cut the sail to compensate for the bending of the leading edge in flight so that the sail was pretty much wrinkle free and didn't flap in flight. In fact, the Sunbird gliders were reputed to have the finest sail shape in the industry. Virtually every Sunbird glider performed as well as the specially modified custom gliders built by a few specialists. So I was highly pleased to be flying a Sunbird.

Jack Hinson and I were both interested in towing our gliders. He had a Wills Wing standard and I had a Sunbird standard, neither with any provisions for tow. So Jack got me to design a control bar from aluminum which was very strong to withstand the rigors of towing and had a Schweitzer sailplane release on the front to tow from. At this point, Jack decided to go into production on this towbar, but was not prepared to give me anything for the design. At this point, we came to a sudden parting of the ways. I agreed to let Jack sell my design for Wills Wing gliders, but I would design and build models for every other brand.

The major innovation that I had was to be able to build a custom sized curved corner control bar out of heavy aluminum to replace any size or shape control bar and make it fit perfectly without changing the geometry of the glider which was heavily dependent on the control bar's hole positions. Pretty soon, a number of manufacturers were purchasing my bars for towing their gliders in competitions and I was selling a number of them to individuals too. At Cypress Gardens, in 1975, I showed up with a large Sunbird short keeled standard, only to see Greg Mitchell use one of my towbars to win flying a Seagull III.

Hang gliding was changing rapidly. Sunbird and Wills Wing were coming out with new models about every six months. I was going broke buying new gliders and trying to keep up. Sunbird and Wills Wing seemed to be going down different paths in their development when suddenly, both Sunbird and Wills Wing came out with new designs at about the same time that were nearly identical. A friend of mine who spent time at both factories told me that he had watched the two companies design almost the same glider independently and was afraid that each company would try to hang him for passing secrets to the other. The designs were both aimed at out-performing the Roy Haggard Dragonfly design which was being built both by UP and Moyes, and the Sunbird and Wills Wing flying teams were hot after each other in competition. Delta Wing Gliders had by this time hired a really good designer and all of the factories were producing designs which pushed the state of the art. There was a new generation of glider coming out every year. This impacted us in Texas in that we were struggling to keep up with the new designs which took more and more care to tow and were much harder to tune and fly.

While all of this was going on, John Rozier and I went to Oklahoma to check out a possible hang gliding site at Buffalo Mountain near Talihina. We found a place that had potential if only there was a launch ramp. Buffalo Mountain was actually a ridge 6 miles long and 1200 ft vertical decent facing into the prevailing wind. Word got around and soon a group of Texas pilots including John, Jack Hinson and myself went there and began building a ramp. The property owner, from whom we had neglected to ask permission, came by, and amazingly, bestowed his blessing. By mid-day, we were ready to fly, and as the discoverer of the site, I was first to launch. I flew down with my Sunbird standard which with no lift didn't even make it to the highway a mile out from the mountain. Pretty soon, we were coming to Oklahoma as often as we were going to the lake and after a while several hour soaring flights there became commonplace.

Meanwhile, we also had flown at a number of other hills in Texas, but lost them one by one, not because of abuse, but because the property owners as a general rule just didn't want us there because of the liability risk. There were several that were lost due to abuse. Some pilots couldn't understand why a rancher wouldn't want a pilot's giant four wheel drive truck cutting donuts in his pasture and frightening the cows.

Buffalo Mountain was in Southeastern Oklahoma, but in the western part was Mount Scott. We flew there several times before the manager of the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Preserve decided that hang gliding was not consistent with the goals of the Preserve. We, however, had heard of a hill northwest of there called Longhorn Mountain. It was a V shaped ridge facing SSE and NNW and about 2 miles long. The shape of the hill produced excellent lift, and flights there led me to call it Torrey Pines of the Plains. Certainly, it was on the plains. This ridge poked up out of pretty flat ground, and thus the winds came too it relatively undisturbed. It was steep, and although it was only 300 ft high, one could soar it on a good day 500 to 1000 ft above the top. It had another nickname. Cactus Hell. It was covered with rocky terrain and cactus, and hard as hell to walk up. Hiking up this hill with anything but calf high boots was a guarantee that your ankles would be covered with spines. In addition, the hill was supposed to be the residence of numerous rattlesnakes, so the high top boots could conceivably be more than just protection from cactus. Over the years as hang gliders and accessories moved into the realm of 100 lb. walking up the hill with a glider became a team effort.

Ironically, the hot hill site in the Dallas-Fort Worth area where I was, was the Trinity River levee. Several miles long, and about 30 ft high, it was the place where most hang glider basic training took place. Over the years, we had had a few better spots, but they were created by highway construction, and ceased to be after the highways opened up. The levees were as high as some of the ridges at, for instance, Marina Beach in California, but there were no really successful attempts to soar them. I figured out that for a small ridge to be soared, it would have to be on a lake or the ocean as the wind gradient over the land was too extreme for the lift band to be wide enough to soar.

Because of this dearth of nearby soaring sites, we continued to spend most of our time at the local lakes. While the local hang gliding community was not opposed to towing, we were very cautious about towing over land, a very justifiable attitude as we had some very spectacular crashes into the water from tow, which on land would have be the end of us, but into the water were only moderately painful. It was clear that there were some unknowns involved in towing over the water too, as I lost several friends to towing accidents in the water. My trip to Cypress Gardens for the world meet had become a yearly trek, and on my trip in 1977, I saw a payout winch. I immediately had to have one and quickly bought the prototype winch from the company building it. Very soon, it was mounted in the back of my boat, and we were ready to go searching for thermals over the lakes. We were quickly towing to altitudes up to 2000 ft, but we seldom found a soarable thermal over a lake as we didn't know where to look. Reserve parachutes weren't common in those days, and we sure weren't flying with them at the lake. One of my most memorable boat tow flights, I did find a good thermal, and soared to about 3500 ft AGL, then flew back to the launch area with 2000 ft, to spare.

This flight confirmed my belief that soaring from tow was possible. I had been offering the price of a hang glider tow conversion kit as a prize for anyone setting the hang gliding XC distance record from tow, but with only faint hope that it would be done. This flight proved it possible. For the next 11 years, until 1990, hang gliding XC records were set from mountain launches and primarily in the Owens Valley. On July 3, 1990, Larry Tudor broke the 300 mile distance barrier. While he started in Hobbs, New Mexico, and ended in Elkhart, Kansas, he launched from tow, using the designed in Texas, Jerry Forburger ATOL system, and 95% of his flight was over West Texas terrain.

Today, my venerable payout winch, the one I bought in '77 at Cypress Gardens, is operating from a trailer doing duty for platform launch using principles developed by Jerry Forburger and others. I do all my training using a stationary winch built from a motorscooter and using tow methods which I developed here from information I read on the internet. My circa '81 ultralight is serving as a aero tug and I no longer have a boat. As it was in 1972 when I started, 95% of hang gliding in Texas is done from tow and if I want to fly the mountains, I go to California or Colorado. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

 

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