Attendee stories

Postby JoeF » Wed Apr 06, 2011 10:58 pm

Attendees of the Otto Meet 1971 are being asked to write their stories. So far to start we have Neil Larson's story and Frank Colver's story. These will be posted in this topic series.
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Frank Colver

Postby JoeF » Wed Apr 06, 2011 10:59 pm

Otto Meet 1971 attendee story
by Frank Colver
I'm already listed but I thought I would "check in". I attended with my son Matt and his friend Ernest with their bamboo and plastic HG. As shown below they won the Youngest Flying Team award. I was "crew". I had not built a glider but I went on to design and build the Colver Skysail. This design was inspired by Richard Miller's Conduit Condor at the meet. Richard and I became good friends and my first successful flight in my Skysail was from a hill near where he lived, in Vista CA. He was present for my wonderful day since I had taught myself to fly on this higher performance glider with which I bashed the ground many times before I got it right. It would have been much easier to learn to fly on a standard Rogallo!

After I decided that my Colver Skysail was no longer airworthy (due to all that ground bashing; the Colver Skysail burned up in the fire that destroyed the original San Diego Aerospace Museum). I went on to fly an Eipper FlexiFloater, a big 20' "standard" Rogallo (largest in Eipper's product line). I displayed this HG at the recent 40th anniversary meet at Torrey pines CA. My next HG was a Wills Swallow Tail and lastly I owned the original Wills SST prototype that Bob Wills had flown (stress tested) in Hawaii. I flew that HG a lot, soaring mountains and sand dunes alike until I switched from hang gliding to a foot launched, single place, hot air balloon of my own design and build (Piccard envelope).

In addition to building and flying HGs, I designed and manufactured the Colver Soaring Instruments variometer. The original prototype for that instrument was used by son Matt and also Taras K in the first Annie Green Springs contest at Sylmar CA. Taras commented, after his amazing high altitude thermal flight that day, that he had to start using my vario to find sink so he could get back down to land. I estimate that about 5000 of the varios were sold before it went out of production. I also displayed the only one I now still own at the Torrey pines 40th anniversary meet. I estimate that about 5000 of them were sold over the product lifetime. I often see them on control bars in old photos and movies (spotted one in the photo gallery in this month's, April 2011, HG&P magazine). As far as I know it was the first aircraft instrument to be designed and manufactured exclusively for hang gliders. It was so sensitive it would indicate the change in air pressure when the toilet was flushed next to my testing room or someone walking across the wood floor. I continued to use mine during the years I was flying my balloon.
~Frank Colver  April 6, 2011

Taras Kiceniuk
 Ernest Feher
 Matt Colver
 Annie Green Springs hang glider meet in 1973
 Colver Skysail
 Dick Eipper, Richard Eipper, Eipper Formance Inc.
 foot-launch manned balloon, single-place
 Piccard envelop
 Crestline Soaring Society
 My Garage
 original Wills SST prototype
Richard Miller's Conduit Condor
Fire at the San Diego Museum
"In 1978 two devastating fires struck Balboa Park. On February 22, fire destroyed the entire San Diego Air & Space Museum (then called the Aerospace Museum) collection when the Electric Building on the Prado burned down. Two weeks later the Old Globe Theatre (the original 1935 building) burned down."
Conduit Condor by Richard Miller
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Neil Larson

Postby JoeF » Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:01 pm

Otto Meet 1971 attendee story
by Neil Larson
Now 40 years ago May 23rd -- I was soon graduating from a local Southern California High School. It was a warm Spring Sunday morning. Perhaps because I was the middle child or perhaps because I was a High School Senior, at any rate my parents both agreed to escort me for a family drive to Newport Beach. It was a pretty big deal because I was without my own means of auto transport, actually my Mom had persuaded Dad to do this favor for his son, at any rate we drove down the San Diego Freeway into Orange County. I did feel awkward because the reason for the trip to Newport Beach was practically impossible to explain to my Father. I had begged them to make an afternoon family outing so I could attend the special event that day, all I knew was what had been told to me by my Hawthorne High School friend, Tom Valentine.
Tom was an avid sailplane pilot who subscribed to the Soaring Society of America (SSA) magazine Soaring which displayed a small ad in the back for a upcoming hang gliding meet. Up to that point in human history there had never taken place such an event as was too occur on a Pacific-facing hillside in Newport Beach. But to find the exact manner of verbally communicating to my parents, what a hang glider was. The only reference my father could possibly have had was if he had seen one of a half dozen odd issues of Popular Mechanix or Science & Mechanics or Popular Science over the past 10 years with articles about homemade one-man flying machines or light weight homebuilt gliders. What was about to occur-what I finally convinced my Mother of-was the sincere truth that, indeed, if they went to this "thing" they would not be sorry; and I guaranteed them it would be worth the time, gas, and effort to make this trip.
Along with the SSA magazine Tom had shown me the night before in his garage was a hand printed "flyer" announcing this event-so it had to be true. Of course my father-being of the right wing affiliation-was more-or-less resigned to think this was some wild crazy hippie experience that would be an utter waste of time.
On the drive down to Newport Beach. I sat in the back of the Ford leaning up over the front seat feeling like the tail wagging the dog, because if this turned out to be a farce and wasted Sunday afternoon ...believe me: I would not hear the end of it.
After several vain attempts to locate the site of what should be many people on a hill somewhere near Fashion Island Mall , we managed to find our way along a rough spot on the road-a gravel unpaved level section of what is MacArthur Blvd. Eureka ...Yes! The event was a reality; we could see a hillside of tall dry grass dotted with persons and an assortment of "winged" contraptions. As my father parked along with a growing mass of onlookers, I couldn't wait to get out of the car. My overwhelming desire to get a closer look at these airships and find my buddy Tom was quashed all at once when Mom said, ..."Neil, you don't go up there you'll only be in the way; I don't want you getting hurt."
Dad nodded in agreement, so I was relegated to standing in the dust watching the Flying Circus at a distance of perhaps 200 yards.
That was the day, the day which now is recognized by the international aviation community as the beginning of the sport of modern hang gliding. The hand-printed mimeographed handbill/pamphlet which gave a complete after-action report of the event in great detail by editor Joe Faust, one of three men responsible for the vision and foresight to dream up this event ... "Never can there be another First Modern Universal Hang Glider Championship ---opening to the world a refreshing renewal of that relentless desire of man, woman, and child to fly freely into the ether that is our home--all the purity of intention commensurate with the historic significance of the big event...
So it happened that I was one of about 1,000 persons to witness this mostly unrecognized event in the history of aviation, of human flight, and of modern technology; it was to be known as- The Great Universal Hang-Glider Championships -Celebrating the 123rd Birthday of Otto Lilienthal -Sunday May 23rd 1971.
Keeping with the counter-culture spirit of the times when Sit-Ins & Be-Ins and spontaneous Hippie gatherings were common place, this location had been selected at a last minute in an attempt to avoid being entangled in a bureaucracy of formal red-tape permission and legality. The actual handbill flyer gave Capistrano Beach as the original site of an upcoming man-kite meet, with the preface and stipulation that last minute changes may force this event to be moved to a more suitable location.
Looking back and knowing my father as I do, it is a miracle that he agreed to sponsor this outing at all. What remains is the fact of the matter with the evidence of that event. The Los Angeles Times for Monday, May24, 1971 carried photo of pilot from San Luis Obispo: John Hancock flying during the event on the cover of the morning issue.
Later the Vol. 141, No. 2, February 1972, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Magazine printed a seven-page (pp. 286-292) article with photos and a detailed story Happy Birthday Otto Lilienthal! This coverage sent the joyful celebration around the world.
Far-and-away the best report is carried in an archive edition of Low & Slow magazine, the publication of the Self-Soar Association (S-SA) - edited by Joe Faust. This is a part of a PDF document set of six DVD's sold by the USHPA/USHGA as a complete magazine Collection 1971-2004.
We have a comprehensive list of those who received the tangible written certificates of award handed out and signed by Jack Lambie, Lloyd Licher, and Joe Faust, the three organizers. About half of the flying man-carrying aero-craft launched or present on that hill were derivations of Jack's "HANG LOOSE" design bi-plane hang glider, which he was selling plans through the US mail at the time for $3.00 a set. Jack, a part-time middle school science teacher, had used the biplane as a summer school student participation project the year before.
Several of the entries in the event were either students Jack instructed or from those with plans purchased and mailed out. I visited Jack Lambie, over 12 years later, in 1983; he had a large box up in his garage with stacks of ready-to-mail plan sets for the Hang Loose. He told me even after three address moves, people still contacted him to buy Hang Loose plans.
Now we have come 40 years; the world has passed by what occurred on that Buffalo Hills Estates slope overlooking MacArthur Blvd. In 2008, I took a drive up to walk around through the wonderful peaceful residential park atop that hill. Knowing I was probably the only person who attended the "Otto Meet" of 1971 to go back to that location since the Fly-In.
I send this story because it is my great hope that the memory of such an important historic event will now be brought to the attention of those living in Newport Beach City. It is my desire to establish a respectfully designated tribute marker that will recognize the historic place and perhaps a simple stone marker of granite will be placed nearby that hillside to give honor and dignity to such a worthwhile celebration of flight and human endeavor.
*** I have much more interesting details and background information concerning the Otto Hill Fly-In of 1971 :: The Great Universal Hang-Glider Championship Celebrating the 123rd Birthday of Otto Lilienthal on Sunday, May 23, 1971.
~~Signed: Neil Larson, USHPA Charter Member #24, and first SCHGA Historian, United States Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association #24.
Happy Birthday, Otto Lilienthal!  
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine , Vol. 141, No. 2.
Publication: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine feature article
Title: Happy Birthday, Otto Lilienthal!
Date of publication: Feb. 1972
Pages: 286-292 (seven pages with photographs)
Contributor(s): Hawkes, Russell (Author)
Collison, James (Photographer)
Subject(s): Lilienthal, Otto, Aircraft, Aviation, Experimental aircraft, Hang gliders, Recreational aircraft, Sailplanes, California;Newport Beach, California
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