ROD Fuller once skied through a burning trail of petrol and oil which had been lit on the Clarence.
ROD Fuller once skied through a burning trail of petrol and oil which had been lit on the Clarence.

Hang-gliding world in awe of history-makers

byEmma Cornford.

WHEN Graeme Henderson walked into the Clarence River Tourism Centre this week and was introduced to Rod Fuller, he stopped in his tracks.

For a moment the member of the Northern Rivers Hang Gliding Club just stared ? then he extended his hand to the man who had flown the world's first completely developed flexible-wing hang-glider, back in 1963.

"It's an honour," he said in awe, shaking Rod's hand and bowing his head a little as one would to a hero.

Straight-talking Rod would deny it, but to those in hang-gliding circles he is a hero, along with his old friends John Dickenson and Pat Crowe.

When Rod flew that first hang-glider, designed and built by John for the Grafton Waterski Club's Jacaranda Festival display, he made world history.

"For thousands of years mankind has wanted to fly, and the special thing about this is that John's design really was so simple," Graeme said.

"It could have been built for thou- sands of years, by the ancient Egyptians or the Chinese, but it wasn't. It took John Dickenson to build it, Rod to fly it and Pat to drive the boat. It's an amazing achievement."

It is an achievement that Graeme, along with Clarence River Tourism, the Clarence Valley Council and the Grafton Chamber of Commerce, wants to commemorate.

At the moment there are plans for a memorial display or float at this year's Jacaranda Festival, as well as the placing of a memorial plaque near the Clarence River.



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