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Delta Wing Phoenix Viper 175

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Display Status:

This object is on display in the Boeing Aviation Hangar room at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Collection Item Summary:

Bill Bennett was a trendsetter in hang glider design throughout the 1970's. He founded Delta Wing Kites and Gliders in 1969 to build and market boat-towed kites, such as the Delta Wing Model 162 (see NASM collection) piloted by water skiers. These kites used a wing design invented by Francis Rogallo. They contributed to the rapid growth of hang gliding around the world because they performed reasonably well, cost little to build, and they were easy to transport. By the late 1970s, Bennett's standard Rogallo designs became obsolete and modified Rogallo wings began to appear. These hang gliders were relatively safe, high-performance aircraft capable of performing loops and wingovers.

Throughout the 1970s, Bennett designed and sold a succession of popular hang glider models, including the Phoenix and Mariah series (see NASM collection), and the Lazor. In 1980, Bennett introduced another upgraded hang glider, the Viper, with a stiffer, more aerodynamically efficient wing structure but without a significant increase in overall airframe weight. A pilot could assemble the Viper as rapidly and easily as pervious Bennett designs. This model was designed specifically to appeal to competition pilots or individuals with a 'Hang 3' glider pilot classification, an advanced skill rating. The lower wing fabric now extended from the leading edge more than half-way to the trailing edge and covered 57 percent of the lower wing surface area. Bennett devised new methods to stiffen the leading edge and he abandoned the cumbersome, drag-inducing leading edge deflexor cables used on earlier models such as the Phoenix VI.B (see NASM collection). Bennett also did not used the drooped wingtips seen on the Mariah. The Viper flew with other innovations including a new, lighter sail material, and a split keel. The designation '175' refers to the area of the wing in square feet. Bennett sold the Viper in 1981 for $1,795.

Collection Item Long Description:

Bill Bennett was a trendsetter in hang glider design throughout the 1970's. He founded Delta Wing Kites and Gliders in 1969 to build and market boat-towed kites, such as the Delta Wing Model 162 (see NASM collection) piloted by water skiers. These kites used a wing design invented by Francis Rogallo. They contributed to the rapid growth of hang gliding around the world because they performed reasonably well, cost little to build, and they were easy to transport. By the late 1970s, Bennett's standard Rogallo designs became obsolete and modified Rogallo wings began to appear. These hang gliders were relatively safe, high-performance aircraft capable of performing loops and wingovers.

Throughout the 1970s, Bennett designed and sold a succession of popular hang glider models, including the Phoenix and Mariah series (see NASM collection), and the Lazor. In 1980, Bennett introduced another upgraded hang glider, the Viper, with a stiffer, more aerodynamically efficient wing structure but without a significant increase in overall airframe weight. A pilot could assemble the Viper as rapidly and easily as pervious Bennett designs. This model was designed specifically to appeal to competition pilots or individuals with a 'Hang 3' glider pilot classification, an advanced skill rating. The lower wing fabric now extended from the leading edge more than halfway to the trailing edge and covered 57 percent of the lower wing surface area. Bennett devised new methods to stiffen the leading edge and he abandoned the cumbersome, drag-inducing leading edge deflexor cables used on earlier models such as the Phoenix VI.B (see NASM collection). Bennett also did not use the drooped wingtips seen on the Mariah. The Viper flew with other innovations including a new, lighter sail material, and a split keel. The designation '175' refers to the area of the wing in square feet. Bennett sold Vipers in 1981 for $1,795 apiece.

By the mid-1980s, Bennett's designs were lagging behind gliders sold by other manufacturers. Delta Wing Kites and Gliders went out of business in 1989. Bennett donated a Viper and several other Delta Wing models to the National Air and Space Museum in 1984 but nothing is known about the flight history of this specific Phoenix Viper 175.

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum

Manufacturer

Delta Wing Kites and Gliders Incorporated

Credit Line

Gift of Bill Bennett.

Dimensions

  • Wingspan: 9.7 m (32 ft)
  • Length: 2.5 m (8 ft 3 in)
  • Weights: Empty, 34 kg (75 lb)
  • Gross, 134 kg (295 lb)

See more items in

National Air and Space Museum Collection

Country of Origin

United States of America

Type

CRAFT-Aircraft

Inventory Number

A19840713000