A form of unpowered flight envisaged by Leonardo da Vinci centuries ago is currently winning an increasing following amongst sports enthusiasts in the United States.
GV Glider pilot runs off edge of steep hillside and starts gliding
GV Men unloading gear
GV & SVs Pilots checking gliders watched by crowd (3 shots)
GV Glider over
TS FROM Glider travelling towards edge of cliff and glider airborne (3 shots)
GVs Pilot crashed into bushes (3 shots)
GVs Glider descending and landing (4 shots)
GV Glider landing
Initials BB/1656 TH/MR/BB/1707
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Background: A form of unpowered flight envisaged by Leonardo da Vinci centuries ago is currently winning an increasing following amongst sports enthusiasts in the United States.
It's called hang-gliding -- because the pilot literally hangs in the air, strapped to a single horizontal dacron sail, with a wingspan of up to 30 feet (10 metres).
Five enthusiasts demonstrated their sport in Massachusetts recently. They literally took a running jump off an escarpment of Mount Greylock and then -- dodging high-rise threes and inquisitive birds -- floated down into the valley a thousand feet below.
The gliders, which look like large kites, provide one of the cheapest forms of flying. Each one costs a mere 300 to 600 dollars. Skilful use of air currents and thermals can enable the hang-glider pilots to stay aloft for hours. The U.S. national duration record stands at 12 hours.
Enthusiasts say their sport is safe. But hang-gliding does have one sinister aspect. Even though it's still a minority sport, nineteen pilots have been killed during the last three years.
SYNOPSIS: Cost is a big incentive for hang-glider pilots. The equipment can cost as little as three hundred dollars. And at that price, it's a fast expanding sport, despite the dangers.