Skyhook Safari Powered Hang Glider
Skyhook Safari powered hang glider built by Len Gabriels and used by him for a 1979 attempt to fly from London to Paris, sponsored by Blue Bird Toffees.
This is a Skyhook Safari powered hang glider. It was designed by len Gabriel and used by him in an attempt to fly from London to Paris.
Len Gabriel was born in 1926 and became interested in hang gliding in 1972 after reading an article in the children's magazine 'Look and Learn' about the sport in America. At the time he was engineering director of Frastans, a company that produced machines for making wallpaper, and so had the skills and finance to investigate designing and building his own hang gliders when his request for a set of plans for an established design was met with a refusal .
He set up Skyhook, and soon began to look at developing of powered hang gliders.
In 1979 Gabriel was asked by Brian Milton to develop a power hang glider for a proposed flight from London to Paris. The flight was to be sponsored by Bluebird toffees. Gabriel built a Skyhook Safari single surface wing powered by a 123cc McCullough 101 engine. This gave a cruising speed of about 25 mph, with fuel for about 2 hours and 15 minutes flying.
Milton suffered a broken arm in a crash following a test flight in Wiltshire, and Bluebird toffees asked Gabriel to make the flight instead, on 27 August, 1979.
The flight across the Channel was uneventful, but there were problems with the French authorities who had not granted permission for the flight beforehand. Gabriel continued as far as Abbeville at which point it seemed that the French Gendarmes were determined to delay his progress indefinitely. News reached Gabriel of the assassination of Earl Mountbatten. This confirmed that there would be no media coverage even if he did manage to resume his flight on to Paris, so the flight was aborted.