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The History of Hand Launch Gliders

The history of hand launch glider (Age of Javelin) 1976-2000. Tell us what you know.

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Hand launch gliders are an amazing segment of the RC hobby. It is true flying at it's best. Lets delve into it's hitory!

User Alexandre Lopes kicks the thread off:

Hello to all,

Long ago, I read everything you could about the history of the HLG, always find myself with a smile on his face to the stories I read. I know that many of the pioneers of hlg, are members of the rc groups. I would leave the open space, so that the old eagles tell how tasks were progressing in competitions as well as gliders. It would be interesting to count the period 1976 (first contest) until 2000, this year Dick Barker would change the history of the sport with your design UpLink for discus. If you experience these years and know some history, share your story. If anyone has video or photos from your personal collection, share it!

Sorry for my english, I'm writing with the help of a translator ...

From the reports I've read, the first championship hand launch glider happened in 1976 with gliders of different sizes.

Alexandre

Brasil

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Credit: Mark Miller of Isthmus Models

These pictures were sent in by Taylor Collins from the "first" Hand Launch contest at Cal State Dominguez Hills College in L.A...... circa 1976....

CD Dave in his "pulpit"....on top of Rick Norwood's camper. Yes....He really did conduct the pilot's meeting from up there....probably so nobody could inflict physical pain on him....Photo and text by Taylor Collins

Dave Thornburg in his custom designed Contest Director's shirt.... imprinted with replies to all of the contestant gripes ..... "Can't do", "No Way", "Bad Break", "So Sorry", "Too Bad", "Tough Luck"....Photo and text by

Larry Jolly with the first prototype of his Icarus. This was specifically designed for the H'L contest.... later kitted as a general purpose 2 Meter thermal ship.....Photo and text by Taylor Collins

Dave about to launch the ORIGINAL Prototype Sunbird..... Yes, the CD flew in the contest... and got his tail kicked.....Photo and text by Taylor Collins

2nd Place winner Rick Pearson & CD Dave Thornburg..... Photo and text by Taylor Collins

Blaine Rawdon, the ultimate winner of the contest..... He flew a 110" Mirage of his own design......Photo and text by Taylor Collins

Mike Reagan, of the San Fernando Valley Silent Flyers club... with his Paragon...... Nobody had little bitty Hand Launches back then....except for Thornburg, of course.....Photo and text by Taylor Collins

Bill Nibley, another San Fernando Flyer... with what I THINK is a Craft-Air Drifter..... Photo and text by Taylor Collins

3rd Place winner Chris Adams & CD Dave Thornburg.....Photo and text by Taylor Collins

SEE! I told you Thornburg ran the pilot's meeting from the top of that camper....Photo and text by Taylor Collins

The motley crew....standing (left to right) Mike Reagan, Chris Adams, Blaine Rawdon, Rick Pearson, Dave Thornburg......kneeling....Joe Wurts, Dick Odle (designer of the RO-8).....Photo and text by Taylor Collins

The whole fam damily......where it all started......Photo and text by Taylor Collins

Last edited by Jim T. Graham; Sep 13, 2013 at 01:00 PM.. Reason: The History of Hand Launch Gliders

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Old Sep 11, 2013, 01:11 PM
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Joined Apr 2009
344 Posts
Great stuff, keep it going, that looks like a vw camper to the right of the one D. Thornburg is sitting on, mines a 78 seen here on recent dlg outing.
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Old Sep 11, 2013, 02:43 PM
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Thermaln2's Avatar
Reno Nevada
Joined Oct 2007
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Heck, I'm in those pictures!!!!

Lost the darn contest because I was the first person in a HLG contest to no keep my battery charged or switched out, even though I had the extra Battery in my pocket.

Still Have the plane TOO.
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Old Sep 11, 2013, 03:15 PM
Retirement is good
United States, CA, Huntington Beach
Joined Jun 2011
378 Posts
Fond Memories

Second to last picture references my RO8. Total gas bag but not a bad HLG for the time, fully turbulated, 4.2 oz/sf (heavy by todays stands!), but floated on a frog fart. Won the 2M 1979 Western R/C Soaring Championship launching off a winch! Tippy tap, tippy tap, tippy tap... something about strength to weight. A true multipurpose design... (LOL)

This will be an interesting thread...
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Old Sep 11, 2013, 03:54 PM
Turn down for what?
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United States, IN, Indianapolis
Joined Feb 2004
14,418 Posts
I'm not sure if I qualify as an old eagle. I started flying hand launch in 1994, entered my first hand launch contest in 1996.

As bad as I am at F3K (and I am bad) I was way way worse at javelin launching. So much so that I started flying tip launch in 1999 and never looked back. I don't have a lot of fondness for javelin launching.

I do look back in fondness of the people that I flew hand launch with in those days. There were a lot of great pilots, some of which like Bruce, Oleg, Jeff Carr, Joe Wurts, etc. are still flying DLGs and kicking butt. Guys like me who were bad at javelin are still bad at F3K.

Ryan
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Old Sep 11, 2013, 04:22 PM
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Looks like someone took all of the pictures and text from my Sunbird contest website.

www.isthmusmodels.com/sunbird
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Old Sep 11, 2013, 04:24 PM
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St. Louis, MO
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Hi Dick,

The RO-8 kit is still in the works. It will go great with the Mirage kits.

Mark Miller
Isthmus Models
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Old Sep 11, 2013, 04:33 PM
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Reno Nevada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rofly View Post
Second to last picture references my RO8. Total gas bag but not a bad HLG for the time, fully turbulated, 4.2 oz/sf (heavy by todays stands!), but floated on a frog fart. Won the 2M 1979 Western R/C Soaring Championship launching off a winch! Tippy tap, tippy tap, tippy tap... something about strength to weight. A true multipurpose design... (LOL)

This will be an interesting thread...
Hmmmm...were you lying to us back then???
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Old Sep 11, 2013, 04:59 PM
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Not mentioned but long time friend Dennis Brandt flew a Grand Esprit in Daves contest.. LJ
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Old Sep 11, 2013, 05:00 PM
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Brazil, São Paulo, São José do Rio Preto
Joined Jan 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Miller View Post
Looks like someone took all of the pictures and text from my Sunbird contest website.

www.isthmusmodels.com/sunbird
Mark,

Once a blues man said: "It is good to keep the roots alive, because it means better fruits for the future." This phrase applies well, to the magic of hand launch.

Thanks for letting the roots alive my friend!

I am fascinated by the story of hand launch, I am always researching, but it is very difficult to find information prior to the year 2000.

The only two documents that have video on the old HLG, is IHLG2000 and Joe Wurts on soaring (youtube). Are the two bibles I have learned a lot from these videos.

Edited the first page properly credited.
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Old Sep 11, 2013, 06:09 PM
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Alex,

I have a whole box of stuff dating back to before 1973 or so. There was a lot done back in Southern Cal, but there was also a lot done by the WhiteSheet group in England, as well as some all across the US. Dave's Sunbird was only the results of what he saw a lot of us doing at local contests with bigger ships. My ship was 66" and a great flyer.

When HLG was first being done, big ships were thrown. Joe was a youngster back then. Our group (the SFVSF) had a "nickname" for him back then. He was and still is very creative and one of the best minds out there. Back in those days few planes were composite. Most were built up, as was Richard's RO-8. Many used Blaine's Mirage airfoil, but the Mirage itself was one of the biggest , as well as most used in Thornburg's contest. Rick, Reagan, Koplan, Nibley still fly a lot, as does Larry. I know that Rick, Koplan, me, and even Shilling (that's for you Dick) are talking about attending Poway next year. We're old, but we still can fly! Now only if I can convince Blaine and Watson to show up as well.
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Old Sep 11, 2013, 07:33 PM
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Oh, the RO-8 is a glider? I was admiring the wrong model
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Old Sep 11, 2013, 08:35 PM
Retirement is good
United States, CA, Huntington Beach
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Miller View Post
Hi Dick,

The RO-8 kit is still in the works. It will go great with the Mirage kits.

Mark Miller
Isthmus Models
Hi Mark!

That would be great sport for nostalgia. Just use good wood, unlike the first time it was kitted... BUT I know you would!

The best, Dick
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Old Sep 11, 2013, 08:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryO View Post
Oh, the RO-8 is a glider? I was admiring the wrong model
Geeeeze Gary! All that time to put 224 lightning holes in the wing ribs and you didn't notice. Breaks my heart...
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Old Sep 11, 2013, 08:49 PM
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United States, CO, Fort Garland
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As a mid schooler in the early 80's the first group of guys I meet included Dave thornburg - he used to fly the sunbird (hl) and I watched every second ! What great memories.thats the reason I always wanted to fly a rc glider .
I flew in a hl contest in 4-hills in 1982 or3
Pilots included:
Dave thornburg
Buzz Avrill
Steve work
??
Steve flew a bird of time
Buzz had a cool solid wing (jedesky)? Poly 2ch
Dave -sunbird
I crashed a 2 m home build p.o.s
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