This object is on display in the Boeing Aviation Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
Bill Bennett and his Delta Wing hang gliders played a significant role in promoting hang gliding into a popular sport enjoyed by thousands of people worldwide in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Bennett's first gliders were actually manned kites, such as the Model 162. He based these designs on a flexible wing pioneered by Francis Rogallo. This inventor developed his wing while working for NASA during the early 1960s. The space agency wanted a controllable recovery system for Gemini and Apollo capsules (see NASM collection) as an alternative to unguided parachutes. The difficulties the agency experienced trying to recover the Mercury capsules (see NASM collection), and the near tragedy that followed Gus Grissom's splashdown in July 1961, no doubt encouraged NASA to develop alternative capsule recovery systems.
Bennett produced ten different models of the Rogallo hang glider. Each was named for the length of the keel bar in inches, or the overall length of the aircraft. The initial tow-kite models were called the 162, 174, 186, 198, and 210. The kites with longer keels had larger weight capacities. The Model 162 could safely support a maximum pilot weight of only 59 kg (130 lb), while the Model 210 could accommodate a pilot weighing up to 113 kg (250 lb).
Gift of Bill Bennett.
Delta Wing Kites and Gliders Incorporated
Country of Origin: United States of America
Wingspan: 5.2 m (17 ft 4 in)
Length: 4.1 m (13 ft 6 in)
Weights: Empty, 31.8 kg (70 lb)
Gross, 90.8 kg (200 lb)
Inventory number: A19840711000