Happy Birthday, Francis Rogallo!

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Francis Rogallo, the NASA aeronautical engineer widely known as the father of modern hang gliding, was born on January 27th, 1912. He eventually celebrated 97 birthdays, but one in particular stands out, in 1974. Just a few years after his retirement from NASA, hang gliding as a sport was truly taking off, and Rog, as he was known to nearly everyone, was invited for his birthday to what was supposed to be the “First Annual Rogallo Meet” at Escape Country, a premier hang gliding site near Trabuco Canyon, Ca.

Despite careful planning by organizer Kas de Lisse, the meet was a bit of a wash. Fog descended onto the mountain, and the ‘Fogallo’ meet was punctuated only by a few intrepid airmen making occasional flights into the mist, (“onward through the fog!”), guided to the landing area by shouts and amplified music. And the tales of the mud that weekend were reminiscent of Woodstock.

What was truly noteworthy was simply Rog’s presence. Most of the pilots knew his name, but his face was anonymous enough that he could wander through the assembled gliders unrecognized, many of which were varieties of what were known simply as “Rogallo Wings.”

Francis&GertrudeRogallo

Maralys Wills, matriarch of the famous hang gliding Wills Wing family, described him beautifully in a piece she wrote for Groundskimmer Magazine:

 

“He was the tall man wearing the Russian Cossack hat; at close range, with his head cocked slightly in an attitude of listening, his eyes sparkling and an almost impish smile on his lips, he gave the impression of a tall leprechaun. One could see him throughout the day, observing with wonder the fruits of his earlier imagination. Francis Rogallo, whose birthday the meet was honoring, seemed almost removed from the arena of kiting. It was as if he had turned the switch, and then the machine had gone off and done its own thing.”

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Rog saw an incredible variety of designs at that meet, most of which were based on the flexible wing he and his wife Gertrude invented in 1948. After all the years of trying to get recognition for the possibilities of their invention, the tall, leprechaun-like man must have felt an almost disconnected sense of wonder at what had become of his idea. The machine had gone off and done its own thing, and people all over the world were learning to fly with simple, inexpensive wings–what he had always hoped would happen. He knew what was possible as early as 1949, when he wrote in an article for The Ford Times, “Imagine the thrill of carrying such a glider in your knapsack to the top of a hill or mountain, and then unfurling it and gliding down into the valley below.”

 

Happy Birthday Rog, and thanks for letting us all “imagine the thrill.”

FrancisSmiling

 

Written By Billy Vaughn, Francis Rogallo Historian

If you are interested in making a donation to The Rogallo Foundation, which supports educational opportunities involving aerodonetics and low-speed aerodynamics, you can click here!

Picking out a kite? Let us help!

There are so many different kinds of kites in the world that we couldn’t possibly list them all. There are certain constants among all them, though, that might help folks who are looking at 200-300 kites in a well-stocked kite store–Kitty Hawk Kites, as an example–and are wondering what to buy.

There are four basic kinds of kites—single line, single line fighter kites, dual line stunt kites and quad line stunt kites. Within each type there is an infinite selection, but those are the basics.

Single line

This is the most basic kite and what almost everyone thinks of when they imagine flying a kite with a child. A single line attaches to the kite, run into the wind and the kite goes into the air.

Three basic frames—diamond, delta and parafoil. The classic diamond is actually the hardest to get into the air; either the parafoil with no frame, or the delta are the easiest to fly.

Rachel's Kite

Two line Stunt Kites

A fun, fun kind of kite to fly. The flight of the kite is controlled by two lines that allows the flyer to maneuver the kite up, down, across the horizon, figure 8s, just about anything imaginable.

Most two line stunt kites are delta shaped—actually look a bit like a miniature hang glider—but there are also dual line parafoils that generate tremendous lift and power.

It generally takes about an hour or so to get comfortable controlling a stunt kite. The time is very well spent.

 

Quad Line Stunt Kites

The Revolution quad line kite.

The Revolution quad line kite.

When Revolution Kites brought out their line of quad line kites back in the 1990s, it was, well . . . revolutionary. But here’s a historic footnote: look at a photograph of the Wright Brothers flying their 1901 kite and they are controlling it with four attachment points.

Nonetheless, quad line kites really got people thinking about new stunts and new ways of doing things. Remarkable in their maneuverability, and surprisingly easy to master.

Revolution is still making their frame kites. Ram air quad lines are great power kites; kiteboarding kites use quad line controls.

Wacky Weather? Welcome to the Outer Banks!

Beach in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

The Outer Banks was once considered simply a summer destination for weary vacationers looking to get away from the hustle and bustle that is everyday life and unwind at the highly regarded beaches of the OBX.

During the last half decade or so, travelers have been flocking to the area not only during the sizzling summer months, but also during what is considered the offseason, which is otherwise known as the fall, spring and winter seasons.

With mild winters and a rather pleasant fall and spring, the Outer Banks has been transforming into more of a year-round vacation destination. These barrier islands enjoy around 200 sunny days each year, with a year-round average temperature hovering around 70°.

Wind is an everyday constant on the Outer Banks (the Wright Brothers came here for a reason), and can range from gentle southwest breezes to strong northeast storm winds.

Outer Banks Seasons

Summer

Ah, summer! If you’re staying on the Outer Banks during the summer months, expect average lows from the mid 70°’s to highs near 90°, depending on the time of the summer. During this time of year, average temperatures can climb to 85°, but even on the hottest summer days, you can expect a slight to moderate ocean breeze to help keep you cool even though the temperature is scorching. In the summer, the wind typically blows out of the southwest and picks up speed in the late afternoon.

Fall

Considered by many year-round area locals to be the best time of year on the Outer Banks, vacationers should consider a trip to the area if they’re at all interested in spending the day outdoors enjoying cool ocean breezes and temperatures in the lower 80°’s in September and mid-70°’s in October. Easily the busiest time of year for events on the Outer Banks, consider planning your trip around the Outer Banks Seafood Festival, OBX Brewtag, Mustang Music Festival, Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival, or the Duck Jazz Festival.

Winter

During the winter, temperatures are usually cool, though the wind can make it feel colder. Temperatures during the day usually hover around the lower 50°’s, with nights averaging in the upper 30°’s.

Spring

Typically a very mild season, temperatures during the spring months can be very unpredictable. Average daytime temperatures are normally in the upper 60°’s and lower 70°’s

Jennette's Pier in Nags Head, North Carolina

Outer Banks Average Temperature, Precipitation & Wind Chart

The weather readings below reflect the average temperatures (degrees Fahrenheit), wind velocity (MPH), and precipitation (inches) from Cape Hatteras, NC. These temperatures have been provided by The National Weather Service Newport Office.

outer-banks-weather-chart

North Carolina’s Outer Banks: A Destination Any Time of Year

Thank you for the recent feature, Sara Kendall, of the Epicurean! “Spanning over 200 miles in a string of narrow barrier islands, the Outer Banks is an ocean haven anytime of the year. The locals refer to them as OBX, and millions of people make these islands their vacation destination. Looking to book a winter retreat or plan next summer’s getaway? The Outer Banks is a fabulous choice no matter the time of year you decide to venture to the ocean breezes.” http://www.epicureancharlotte.com/travel/

This Article from the Charlotte Epicurean on just a few of the reasons why the OBX is so special hit the nail on the head! We have so much to do here and a ton of great dining options! What are you going to choose to do today?