IN THE history of modern hang gliding, three men held the fate of the sport in their hands.

They were John Dickenson, the inventor of the modern hang glider, Rod Fuller, first man to fly it successfully, and Pat Crowe, driver of the boat that towed it.

This Saturday, on the 55th anniversary of the birth of modern hang gliding, which took place on the Clarence River, Mr Crowe is set to be honoured with a hang gliding diploma from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the world body of air sports.

Images from the first successful flight of a modern hang glider, with Rod Fuller the passenger of Pat Crowe, who was driving the boat towing the glider.
Images from the first successful flight of a modern hang glider, with Rod Fuller the passenger of Pat Crowe, who was driving the boat towing the glider. Contributed

An avid hang glider himself, Graeme Henderson is helping to organise the presentation on Saturday, at the Crown Hotel from 10am, overlooking the very spot where the historic flight took place.

"This is very special because it's the first time that all the authorities in Australia and the world have recognised all the details of what happened in 1963," Mr Henderson said.

"It was a new type of wing and aircraft, and it all happened in Grafton. Very few people would know the significance of that flight, and I've been fighting since 2006 to get the story out. Quite literally every book written about hang gliding has been wrong about the history, everyone has tried to claim it, but the fact is that modern hang gliding and modern aviation was born on the Clarence River."

The first public exhibition of the 1964 Mark 3a Dickenson Wing will also take place on Saturday. Mr Henderson said this was the oldest modern hang glider in existence, in the world, and the third glider that John Dickenson built in Grafton and the first glider that he sold. The glider has only been taken out of its protective bag once, in 2009 for the purposes of verification since its last flight at Stradbroke Island in 1972, and this will be its only exhibition in Grafton, or anywhere, outside of a suitable museum.

Images from the first successful flight of a modern hang glider, with Rod Fuller the passenger of Pat Crowe, who was driving the boat towing the glider.
Images from the first successful flight of a modern hang glider, with Rod Fuller the passenger of Pat Crowe, who was driving the boat towing the glider. Contributed

"Modern aviation and flying has more to do with this glider than the Wright brothers do," Mr Henderson said.

The hang glider will be unwrapped at 10am tomorrow morning. For more information contact Graeme Henderson on 0497 921 991.



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