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How a water skiing stunt in 1963 made aviation history

Email Grafton hang-gliding pioneers: Boat driver Pat Crowe honoured 55 years on ABC North Coast By Catherine Marciniak

Posted September 09, 2018 05:30:00

Video: Grafton hang-gliding pioneers (ABC News) Map: Lismore 2480

Fifty-five years after the first flight of a hang-glider in a water skiing stunt on the Clarence River at Grafton in New South Wales, the boat driver Pat Crowe has been awarded the 2018 Hang Gliding Diploma by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale.

It’s the culmination of 12 years of research by hang-glider pilot Graeme Henderson.

Mr Henderson was determined to prove that the very first flight of the modern delta wing hang-glider happened at Grafton.

The mission began when he saw a photograph of John Dickenson testing a half-size model of his new design for a kite.

“He wanted to build a flat kite and what he came up with just accidently, with a whole string of little inspirations, became the template for tens of thousands of hang-gliders around the world”, Mr Henderson said.

The successful first flight was on September 8, 1963.

Man attached to a small glider sitting in a river Photo: This photo of John Dickenson testing his half size model of his new kite design inspired Graeme Henderson to research the history of hang-gliding in Grafton. (Supplied: John Dickenson)

Paul Green, President of the Hang Gliding Federation of Australia, said that it was “a pivotal moment in aviation history, that took three men to make it happen”.

“All of them were critical.

“John Dickenson’s design was absolutely critical that was the start of it.

“The courage of Rod Fuller [the pilot] who had the courage to jump onto this thing, he must have had some trepidation.

“But it had to be controlled by the man driving the boat on the ground.”

Breakthrough in modern hang-gliding

It could be argued that the history of hang-gliding goes back to sixth century AD China with men being tied to kites.

However, the first major development happened when Germany’s Otto Lilienthal, known as the ‘flying man’, made and flew the world’s first gliders in the 1890s.

“He was the first person to fly”, Mr Henderson said.

Man flying a very early glider just above the ground and a small hill. Photo: Known as the “flying man”, Germany’s Otto Lilienthal built and flew the first gliders in the 1890s. (Wikimedia public domain. )

Otto Lilienthal made more 2,000 flights of 250 metres but was killed in 1896 in a glider accident, when he lost control and broke his neck.

“In those craft you hung basically by your arms and you moved your legs to shift the weight, and it’s very ineffective and eventually that cost him”, Mr Henderson said.

The invention of the flexible wing was the next significant development with NASA testing a design by aeronautical engineer Francis Rogallo as part of their research on space capsule recovery.

NASA didn’t end up using the Rogallo design, but its simplicity did inspire hang-gliding pioneers like Mr Dickenson, who adapted the design for his stunt kite.

The breakthrough made by Mr Dickenson was his design for the pilot’s control system.

“The pivotal moment for this form of aviation was when Mr Dickenson realized if you put a frame beneath the wing, and made it independent of the wing, then you could control movement around two axis, pitch and roll.” Mr Green said.

Man in hat under hand made blue hang glider Photo: This replica of John Dickenson’s hang-glider was made by Graeme Henderson and like the original, the sails are made of the blue plastic used in growing bananas. (ABC North Coast: Catherine Marciniak)

The epiphany for this design came when Mr Dickenson was pushing his daughter on a swing and she asked him to swing her sideways.

“Everyone else had tried to versions of weight shift had swung the legs, but once you attach the harness to the centre of gravity and swing the whole weight of the pilot, suddenly the control problem was solved”, Mr Henderson said.

Water ski stunt makes history

Mr Dickenson, Rod Fuller and Pat Crowe were all members of the Grafton Water Skiing Club and had a reputation for performing stunts at their carnivals.

Inspired by photos they’d seen in magazines of water skiers attached to kites being pulled behind speed boats, they decided to make some kites for their next carnival.

Woman sitting on a man's shoulders who is water skiing. Photo: The Grafton Water Skiing Club were known for their stunts at their regular carnivals. (Supplied: Fuller family archive)

Mr Crowe and Mr Fuller unsuccessfully had a go at making flat kites. However, Mr Dickenson had a bigger vision.

“A kite flies because of the high pressure of air underneath it and that pushes it up into the air”, Mr Crowe said.

“When you get the angle right and the balance right, it will sit there.

“John’s idea was that it should actually fly.”

When Mr Crowe arrived at the river to test Mr Dickenson’s kite with the new triangular control system there had already been three failed attempts.

Mr Fuller, the pilot, said he would not go up with anyone but Mr Crowe behind the wheel of the boat.

When Mr Crowe opened the throttle, Mr Fuller lifted the nose of the kite and shot straight up, sitting over 40 metres above the water to the full length of the rope.

Man flying a hang glider above a river Photo: The first flight of Dickenson’s glider with its new design for a control system took place on September 8, 1963 on the Clarence River at Grafton. (Supplied: Fuller family archive)

Mr Fuller was signalling Mr Crowe to bring him down, but Mr Crowe knew that this wasn’t possible without putting Mr Fuller in danger of plummeting into the river.

“I couldn’t slow the boat down too much because it could just suddenly stop, as if I hit a sandbar and if that happened l knew Rod would be in trouble”, Mr Crowe said.

“The fall from that height is not real funny”.

Then Mr Crowe was confronted with another challenge — the bridge across the Clarence River.

“I turned around in a big curve that took me past the face of the bridge and he slid out over the bridge, and I got him back over the far bank safely”, Mr Crowe said.

By this time pilot Mr Fuller had relaxed into the flight, there was a small ripple in the sails and Mr Dickenson’s new leverage system was giving him the control he needed to actually fly the kite.

Over the next few years with the help of his water-skiing mates, Mr Dickenson refined his design making it more lightweight and reliable.

He teamed up with Bill Moyes in Sydney and together they released an improved design to the world.

“The rest is history”, Mr Henderson said.

Young man in an Australian Air Force uniform. Photo: Boat driver Pat Crowe had been interested in aviation since he was a young man. (Supplied: Pat Crowe)

Boat driver is celebrated

Fifty-five years after the flight, Mr Crowe has been awarded the 2018 Hang Gliding Diploma by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale for his role in making modern hang-gliding history.

Mr Crowe has had a love of aviation since he was a young boy flying model aeroplanes and he spent his national service in the air force as an engine fitter.

“He knew a thing or two about flying”, Mr Dickenson said.

The inventor and the pilot have both previously been honoured for their contribution and Mr Green said the recognition of Mr Crowe was fitting.

“All three men are regarded by us in the world of hang-gliding as the holy trinity, but the success of the first flight depended on the boat driver.

“The whole future of hang-gliding was sitting up behind that boat driven by Pat Crowe , he had that package of the pilot up in the air, and he had to get him up, keep him up, turn him around and get him down.

“That was all up to the mastery and consummate skill of Pat Crowe.”

Elderly man holding a framed diploma with another man in the background. Photo: Pat Crowe receives the 2018 Hang Gliding Diploma by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale for steering the first flight of the modern hang-glider from behind the wheel of his speed boat. (ABC North Coast: Catherine Marciniak)

Mr Crowe said he was extremely proud of what he and his mates achieved in what really was meant to be a one-off stunt.

“I’ll always be very proud of what we managed to do here, and proud that it was here on our river, our beautiful river,” Mr Crowe said.

Topics: science-and-technology, sport, air-transport, lismore-2480, grafton-2460

Contact Catherine Marciniak

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Caitlin Foord scores a hat-trick as Matildas thump Chile

Email Matildas thump Chile 5-0 as Sam Kerr scores goal, Caitlin Foord nets hat-trick

Updated November 13, 2018 22:05:58

Photo: Caitlin Foord bagged a hat-trick in the Matildas' 5-0 win. (AAP: Darren Pateman) Map: Newcastle 2300

Australia's women have turned on a stunning second half to earn a 5-0 win over Chile in Newcastle, firmly putting their recent woes behind them.

After a tight and hard-fought opening half, the Matildas belatedly found their rhythm with a four-goal salvo inside 17 minutes in front of a bumper 12,649 mid-week crowd.

Caitlin Foord stole the show, setting up Sam Kerr for the opener seven minutes after the break, before scoring two of her own.

External Link: Matildas v Chile summary

Substitute Emily Gielnik netted with a superb finish, before Foord completed her hat-trick in the dying minutes.

Seeking to end a three-match winless run following their unexpected 3-2 loss to Chile on Saturday, Matildas coach Alen Stajcic made three changes.

First-choice central defender Alanna Kennedy replaced Laura Alleway, after some recent defensive woes.

Matildas striker Sam Kerr points her finger after scoring a goal Photo: Star attacker Sam Kerr opened the scoring for the Matildas on 52 minutes. (AAP: Darren Pateman)

Newcastle Jets' fullback Gema Simon also started allowing Chloe Logarzo to play in a more forward role, leaving veteran Lisa De Vanna rotated to the bench.

Reserve goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold, who came in for regular No.1 Lydia Williams, kept scores level after denying Chile forward Daniela Zamora with an important block.

Australia began with their usual high tempo approach but, unlike in Saturday's match at Penrith, they had little to show for their endeavours.

Any hopes Australia had of steamrolling their opponents early as they did to Brazil at this venue last year soon dissipated as the well-organised Chile once again belied their lowly world ranking of 39.

External Link: Matildas v Chile match stats

Logarzo could have broken the deadlock only to head over, while Kennedy directed a header onto the base of the post four minutes before halftime.

The second half was a different story.

Tameka Butt had two half-chances in quick succession and then the floodgates opened.

Foord picked up the ball in midfield and ran with trademark pace at the defence before releasing Kerr for a comfortable finish past exposed goalkeeper Christiane Endler.

External Link: Matildas v Chile chalkboard

Two minutes later Foord deservedly had a goal of her own, firing home impressively from an acute angle after Logarzo's square ball caused havoc.

The pressure valve had well and truly been released.

Midway through the half Foord took advantage of some hesitancy to pounce on a poor touch from Endler to finish coolly from outside the penalty area.

External Link: Matildas v Chile heatmap

Gielnik made it two goals in two minutes as she finished a sweeping move with a perfect left-foot finish.

Chile created a couple of late half-chances but the night was all about the Matildas.

Foord completed her hat trick two minutes from time and could have had another but for a scrambling save from Endler.


Topics: soccer, sport, newcastle-2300, nsw, australia, chile

First posted November 13, 2018 19:01:31

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Mepham ruled out for Wales decider with Denmark

Chris Mepham has withdrawn from the Wales squad for the Nations League clash against Denmark on Friday.

Sheffield United's Kieron Freeman has been called up to replace him for the Denmark game at Cardiff and next Tuesday's friendly with Albania in Elbasan.

Wales can secure top spot in League B's Group D with victory over Denmark, which would qualify Ryan Giggs' side for the Nations League play-offs in March 2020.

A Welsh victory would also hand Ireland an outside chance of avoiding relegation from the group ahead of their must-win encounter in Aarhus.

Brentford defender Mepham pulled out of last month's high-profile friendly against Spain and the Nations League tie with the Republic of Ireland after picking up a knock in training.

Mepham has played four times for the Bees since the last international break, but it is understood he has suffered a recurrence of the unspecified injury that ruled him out last month.

Press Association Sport understands Mepham was ruled out after having the injury scanned and has returned to Brentford for treatment.

Mepham, 20, has impressed since making his international debut at the China Cup in March.

The London-born centre-back started both Nations League games against the Republic and Denmark in September.

Blades defender Freeman was drafted into the Wales squad for the Dublin clash last month.

The Nottingham-born 26-year-old has played at under-17, under-19 and under-21 level for Wales but has yet to make an appearance for the senior team.

Meanwhile, the Football Association of Wales have declared that Friday's potential group decider at the Cardiff City Stadium is a 33,000 sell-out.

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Award-winning wheelchair racer Kurt Fearnley to focus on life off the track

Email Kurt Fearnley to focus on teaching career after being named NSW Australian of the Year By Chloe Hart

Posted November 13, 2018 14:57:02

Photo: Three-time Paralympic gold medallist Kurt Fearnley, named 2019 NSW Australian of the Year in Sydney. (ABC News: Jean Kennedy) Related Story: Last turn of the wheel brings Kurt Fearnley's career to a fairytale close Related Story: 'We don't live and die around an election': Kurt Fearnley wants funding certainty Related Story: 'Our sport was born out of hope': Kurt Fearnley's inspirational Don Award speech Map: Carcoar 2791

Capping an extraordinary year of accomplishments, Kurt Fearnley has been named NSW Australian of the Year for 2019. But now, Australia's most famous wheelchair racer says his focus is on regaining balance in his life and his passion for teaching.

Over his 25-year career, Fearnley has earnt three Paralympic gold medals, seven world titles and an astonishing 35 marathon triumphs across 10 countries.

"I graduated from teaching in 2005 and for the past 25 years it's been nothing but racing, for the next couple of years I want to focus on my family and continuing supporting and advocating for people with a disability," Fearnley told the ABC.

He is qualified as a PDHPE — Personal development, health and physical education teacher — but is yet to decide whether to work around Australia or locally in Newcastle.

The humble 37-year-old was shocked to receive the award at a ceremony in Sydney last night.

Fearnley's fairytale finish

For nearly 20 years, Kurt Fearnley gave it his all as one of Australia's most revered wheelchair athletes. In his last representative race, he showed all his most important qualities as he finished with marathon gold.

"Although I feel unworthy, I feel absolutely overwhelmed to represent my state down in Canberra and I will do everything I can to justify this moment whatever lies ahead," Fearnley said in his acceptance speech.

Born with lumbar sacral agenesis — missing parts of his spine and sacrum — did not hinder Kurt, who would crawl around paddocks and race his wheelchair with his siblings growing up in Carcoar in the NSW central west.

He dreamed of one day representing Australia in rugby or cricket.

"Dad saw me crawling around the fields playing footy while he watched the Oz Day 10K and saw these gladiators in wheelchairs and he picked me up ran me inside and he showed me what was out there for me," Fearnley said.

He describes himself as a product of a culmination of the kindnesses given by many people over many years.

Now he wants to share that positive message with others.

"When I look back you don't see the race wins, you don't see the medals, the medals are sitting in a huggies box in my kid's room.

"I see a principal who demanded that I received public education and fought for me and my family when we didn't even know a fight was there," he said.

"I see a teacher that told me I was more than a HSC mark and a coach that told me I thought I could be the best in the world and was willing to take those steps with me."

Australian Kurt Fearnley win's the men's marathon T54 at the Athens Paralympics in 2004. Photo: Kurt Fearnley refused to let a flat tyre ruin his chances at the Athens Paralympics – he won the T54 marathon gold medal. (REUTERS: John Kolesidis)

He has won 13 medals over five Paralympic Games, the Sydney Marathon 11 times, the New York Marathon five times and is a strong believer that sport offers opportunity for people with a disability.

The Novocastrian retired from international wheelchair racing this year, winning gold in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games marathon, silver in the 1500m and carrying the Australian flag at the closing ceremony.

Kurt Fearnley crosses the finish line at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast Photo: Kurt Fearnley crosses the line to cap the perfect end to his representative career. (AAP: Dean Lewins)

His achievements off the racing track include crawling the entire 96km length of the Kokoda Track, raising awareness for men's health, crewing the winning yacht in the 2011 Sydney to Hobart race and being awarded Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2005.

This year he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to people with a disability and for his fundraising achievements for Indigenous athletics and charitable organisations, as well as his Paralympic achievements.

The wheelchair racer also became the first athlete with a disability to win The Don Award in October and his acceptance speech advocating for greater opportunities for people with disability went viral.

Kurt Fearnley gives powerful Don award acceptance speech Video: Kurt Fearnley gives powerful Don award acceptance speech (ABC News)

Where to from here

The champion athlete is now looking forward to some down time with his two young children — aged four and one — and to return to teaching.

"From here I have the next few months to contemplate what being NSW Australian of the Year means, but foremost my goal is teaching," Fearnley said.

"Not only sport, but education is a pathway to improve people's lives all over the world."

His work with the Kurt Fearnley Centre in Nairobi, which provides education opportunities for African children, is also on his agenda.

He wants to continue as a board member of the Australian Paralympic Committee, describing the games as a jewel within the sporting crown, and will consider entering sports administration in the years to come.

"I will always strive to strengthen the movement for people with a disability," he said.

Topics: paralympics, sport, disabilities, education, carcoar-2791, sydney-2000, nsw, australia

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McIlroy’s Stateside focus to get back to his best

Rory McIlroy has revealed that he may not fulfil the requirements for European Tour membership next season as he looks to move back to the top of the world rankings and concentrate on winning more majors.

McIlroy said that he was taking the decision to play more PGA Tour golf throughout the 2018-19 season as it is non-Ryder Cup year.

To maintain his European Tour card, McIlroy needs to play four European Tour tournaments outside the majors and World Golf Championship events, but currently only has two on his schedule.

Players must be a member of the European Tour to be eligible to play in the Ryder Cup and, under new regulations introduced in January 2017, "players cannot be a European Ryder Cup captain or a vice-captain if they decline membership of the European Tour or fail to fulfil their minimum event obligation in any season, from 2018 onwards."

"I am starting my year off in the States and that will be the big focus of mine up until the end of August and then we will assess from there," McIlroy said ahead of the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

"If it were to be that I don't fulfil my membership next year, it's not a Ryder Cup year so it's not the end of the world"

"I guess my thing is that I want to play against the strongest fields week-in and week-out and for the most part of the season that is in America. If I want to continue to contend in the majors and to continue my journey back towards the top of the game, then that's what I want to do.

"Right now that is all sort of up in the air, but if it were to be that I don't fulfil my membership next year, it's not a Ryder Cup year so it's not the end of the world.

"I am always going to want to play the Ryder Cup, so if that does happen so be it and I will try and make the Ryder Cup team the year after."

McIlroy's decision will be a major blow to European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley, who launched the Rolex Series last year in an effort to prevent Europe's star names from flocking to the lucrative PGA Tour.

The eight events each have a prize fund of at least £5.4million, with the BMW PGA Championship moving to September and the Italian Open to October following the US PGA Championship switching from August to May.

"It is a big shift but I think it's good for a lot of reasons," McIlroy added. "It is good for the European Tour because they have events to shine.

"Wentworth is going to be in September, the Italian Open and a lot of the big events are going to be after the PGA Tour season, so they are going to be the biggest events and strongest events in the world that week which is a good thing."

47 events down. One to go.

— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 13, 2018

McIlroy's slim chance to win the Race to Dubai for the fourth time disappeared when he was unable to win last week's Nedbank Golf Challenge, but the Holywood native hopes a new driver can help maintain his incredible form at Jumeirah Golf Estates where he has recorded finishes of 3-5-11-1-5-2-1-9.

"I think back to the first tee shot at Augusta on Sunday; Wentworth on the final day; Akron, final day; Tour Championship, final day. The reason I didn't play better was because I didn't put the ball in the fairway, and the reason I didn't put the ball in the fairway is because I have this miss to the right with the driver," the 29-year-old added.

"Unfortunately, the new driver is only going to last a week because I have to get a new one next year again, but at least it gives me a better chance to win this week, I guess."

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Samcro and Faugheen could meet in Morgiana

Samcro and Faugheen could potentially clash in a high-class renewal of the Unibet Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown on Sunday.

Gordon Elliott has already confirmed his intention to send Samcro to the Grade One contest – in which he will bid to restore his lofty reputation, having surprisingly been beaten on his return to action at Down Royal.

Winner of this race 12 months ago, former Champion Hurdle hero Faugheen was last seen producing something like his brilliant best over three miles at the Punchestown Festival in April.

He is one of five possibles for trainer Willie Mullins – with Melon, Sharjah, Wicklow Brave and high-class mare Laurina all in the mix.

Punchestown Champion Hurdle victor Supasundae represents Jessica Harrington, with Samcro's stablemate Tombstone completing the eight entries.

Ruby Walsh will have the pick of the Mullins runners, and told Racing UK: "Samcro is going to run – we've left Melon, Faugheen and Laurina in, and I'm sure Willie will finalise plans in the week as to what we are going to take on Samcro with.

"The three of them worked this morning. They all seem to be in good form, and I imagine they'll work again on Thursday and see how they are on Friday morning.

"But they all seem to be in good old order. They're coming along and improving by the week, so hopefully this weekend will be a bit better than last weekend."

Asked about Melon, Walsh said: "He improved throughout the season last year. Obviously he fell at the same hurdle as Samcro at Punchestown, but he looks really well and is a fine, big horse. We're really pleased with him.

"Faugheen is in good order, too. I know he went to three miles last year, but he's in really good order at the moment. Willie said he was leaving him in, and I didn't ask any more questions."

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