Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

High Honour for Aviator; Gold FAI Award to Grafton's Almost-Forgotten Hang-Gliding Pioneer

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

High Honour for Aviator; Gold FAI Award to Grafton's Almost-Forgotten Hang-Gliding Pioneer

Article excerpt

Byline: Kate Matthews kate.matthews@dailyexaminer.com.au

IT'S OFFICIAL: The inventor of the modern hang-glider, John Dickenson, has been awarded aviation's highest award, putting Grafton firmly on the world map as the birthplace of hang-gliding.

Mr Dickenson is the 2012 recipient of the distinguished FAI Gold Air Medal awarded by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, which recognises the role he played as the engineer of the hang-glider, then known as the aski-winga, which debuted in Grafton in 1963.

Now living in Sydney, Mr Dickenson said receiving the award was very important to him and finally gave recognition to the role he, and Grafton, played in what was to become the prototype of the hang-glider as we know it today.

aIt feels fantastic,a Mr Dickenson said.

aBut there are two local heroes in this story, Rod Fuller and Pat Crowe, and I'm desperately sorry that my good friend Rod, recently deceased, is not here to see it.

aRod was a man of cool courage and was the first to get it in the air, although I and others had tried to do so,a he said.

Mr Dickenson said his mate Pat Crowe was equally important to the success of that first flight over the Clarence River, driving the boat with aconsiderable skilla.

However the event that revolutionised aviation was almost overlooked by history as news of the first flight failed to reach Sydney and it was not until 2006 when former champion cross-country hang-glider Graeme Henderson took up the cause that the world began to take notice.

aThis is the first time hang-gliding and paragliding has been recognised at this level in FAI,a Mr Henderson said.

aThis award is the a[approximately]biggie'. Now we have the recognition for John, the rest should fall into place.a

The first flight was made over the Clarence River during Grafton's Jacaranda Festival on September 8, 1963. …

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