From the time of the ill-fated flight of Icarus to the turn-of-the-century pioneers of the sport, such as Otto Lilienthal, Octave Chanute and John Montgomery, man has attempted free flight in just about every phase of modern history. As the Wright Brothers continued their pursuit of powered flight, they honed their flying skills in "hang gliders". After their famed Kitty Hawk flight, the world became increasing interested in the technological advances of powered flight, leaving hang gliding for another generation.
The great bird will take flight above the ridge... filling the universe with awe, filling all writings with its fame..." - Leonardo da Vinci
Drawing from the ideas of Leonardo da Vinci, Otto Lilienthal, and the Wright Brothers; Mr. Rogallo, an aeronautical engineer for NASA, created the first flexible wing in the late 1940’s. The wing was unique in that it was inexpensive and easy to build and although it could be deployed like a parachute, it could also glide forward and be steered. The original wing had a glide ratio of 3:1 which meant that for every foot it dropped it would fly three feet forward. The design was revolutionary at the time and although it was used by NASA and the military, it would eventually become famous for its original intent – foot launched personal powerless aviation or hang gliding.
The history of paragliding...