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FIRST FLIGHT - By Bob
In 1971 I had
been involved in water skiing and the club here in London, Ontario, Canada had
two water ski kites and we were towed behind ski boats at about thirty miles
per hour weaving back and forth across the wake in the air. These were called
flat kites and did not have a lifting airfoil so we were always attached to
the towline which was 120 feet long. We could do tricks like swivel around the
control bar, hang from our knees and many other tricks.
In the summer of
72 Bill Moyes, famous Australian Delta glider pilot and manufacturer did a
tour, flying his new delta shaped glider and sure enough, he did a
demonstration at our fairgrounds to the amazement of the 100,000 spectators
throughout the week. Well shortly after that , Tom McClatchy, a ski club
member bought the first delta wing in our area from Michael Robertson, Moyes
dealer near Toronto.
It was amazing,
Tom flew and released from the tow boat and always glided to a great landing
on trick skis on the lake. Well, that was something I really wanted to do so I
asked Tom if I could try it sometime and sure enough he said yes, real soon.
Well it seemed like I waited a long time before Tom gave me the OK.
One weekend a group of the regular skiers were at Wildwood Lake
and Tom had his delta wing set up just sitting there on the grass while he was
down the lake a ways with his girlfriend, maybe having a picnic and my other
friends said hey Bob, Tom said you could try it so let's take it for a spin.
Well it didn't take much encouragement and I was tied into the glider and my
friends were towing me along on the water and I gave the signal for more speed
and WOW, I was way up there before I knew it and what a great feeling. I
stayed attached to the boat all the way down the lake (about two miles) when
we passed Tom and his girlfriend and they were quickly in pursuit screaming to
me, "you are going to kill yourself" and as I flew back to the dock
at the cottage, I released and glided down to a perfect water ski landing.
Well that had to be the most exciting moment of my sports activities.
I was so thrilled that I convinced my wife that I should purchase
one of these new wings and we were off to Toronto to meet Michael Robertson
and pick up a new Moyes 14 foot leading edge 150 square foot glider. This was
the Cadillac of gliders at the time and had a glide angle of 3 to 1 and
seamed like it went forever. I was so excited and flew that new glider on
every occasion possible. Oh what a feeling!
Thank you to
Bill Moyes and all the other great developers of the sport for giving me the
opportunity to fulfill the dream of free flight.