Local News

'Father of hang gliding' has died

Posted September 3, 2009 7:07 p.m. EDT
Updated September 3, 2009 7:19 p.m. EDT

— Francis Rogallo, known as “the father of hang gliding,” dies Sept. 1 in Southern Shores. He was 97.

Rogallo, with his wife Gertrude, invented a “flexible wing” flier that was the precursor of personal flying machines like the hang glider, paraglider, ultralight aircraft and kiteboards.

He was born in Sanger, Calif., and graduated from Stanford with a degree in mechanical engineering and aeronautics.

In 1963, NASA awarded Rogallo the highest cash award to date for his generosity of freely giving the government the use of his patents. He was inducted into the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 1987, and on May 11,1997, the NASA Langley Research Center recognized Rogallo “for many contributions to flight.”

Rogallo is survived by his children, Marie “Bunny” R. Samuels, Robert S. Rogallo, Carol R. Sparks, and Frances R. MacEachren. A funeral service is planned for Sept. 20 at All Saints Episcopal Church in Southern Shores. Prior to the service, mourners can celebrate his legacy with a kiting and hang gliding fun fly at Jockey’s Ridge State Park.