hang gliding

Sport of flying in unpowered aircraft that are light enough to be carried by the pilot. Takeoff is usually achieved by launching into the air from a cliff or hill. Hang gliders were developed by the pioneers of practical flight. In Germany, starting in 1891, Otto Lilienthal made several thousand flights before a fatal gliding accident in 1896. In the U.S. collaboration between Augustus Herring and Octave Chanute resulted in successful flights of a biplane hang glider in 1896. Modern hang gliding emerged toward the end of the 1960s. In the early 1960s enthusiasts in California were gliding down coastal dunes on homebuilt delta-shaped wings they had adapted from kite designs developed by Francis and Gertrude Rogallo. The Rogallos' kites had attracted attention because of NASA's interest in using them for spacecraft retrieval. By the early 1970s the sport had spread throughout the U.S. and into Europe. World championships in hang gliding have been held and records kept since 1975.

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