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By magentabluesky
#403945
Heroes in Hang Gliding: Rob Kells

There was something special about Rob Kells. To say he was a people person would be an understatement. He was gifted in social skills. It was like Rob Kells was on a mission to see what he could do for people. It was not like he would ask you what he could do for you. Just in a normal conversion with Rob, he would figure out what your needs were and even before you knew yourself what you needed, he was figuring out how he could help you.

I only ran into Rob Kells a few times and yes he was not going pass up an opportunity to be giving.

I was flying a Wills Wing Alpha 215 at Hidden Valley just west of Temecula in August 1980. There was a light breeze and soaring the ridge was marginal that day. I had a few flights and they all went the same, launch was followed by sinking about 20 to 30 feet below ridge line and slowly scratching back up only climbing 20 to 30 feet above the launch with just enough altitude to make a top landing.

Between flights the Wills Wing Test Flight Gang shows up with a bunch of virgin gliders and three or four factory test pilots. Rob Kells asks me “How is the flying? I reply honestly, “Marginal, but I was able to top land each time.” They have a discussion and are not real excited about the prospects of not being able to top land. If they have to do bottom retrievals it will be a long day test flying all those gliders.

I told them, “Here watch, I’ll launch for you.” I would be their wind dummy for the day, and as before after scratching on three or four passes I was 20 to 30 feet over but never getting really high.

The Wills Wing Gliders came off the trucks and they began setting up. When they were ready to fly, I got out of their way and top landed. In no time all the gliders were test flown and everybody top landed.

Rob started a conversation with me asking me how long I had been flying and where I had I been flying.

I replied I had been flying hang gliders for six years and was going to college in Prescott Arizona. This spring I had been getting some altitude at Mingus Mountain and was just back in California during summer break.

Rob then asked me what my Hang Rating was. I told him I had never been signed off even though I had been a member of the USHGA for about two years.

Rob’s instant reply was “We are going to fix that right now. You’re an H-3.” He then went to the cab the truck, pulled out some paper work and we started filling in the blanks. He said there were plenty of guys out there like me that had been flying for years but were not rated and they (USHGA) were trying get them their appropriate rating for their skill level.

The thing was I had not even asked Rob to sign me off. I had not even thought about it, but Rob in his own unique way took some time out of doing the company business to get to know me and take care of my needs as a hang glider pilot.

Was I somebody special to Rob Kells? I think everybody was special to Rob Kells. That is the way Rob Kells approached life.

Rob Kells, the Hang Gliding Community Misses You.

Wills Wing Remembrances of Rob Kells

Rob Kells R.I.P. Aug 9 HG.Org
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By Roadrunner71
#403946
Well I was talking to my Wills-Wing Dealer Dan Fleming one day and Dan I talked about my buying a Wills Wing 225 Falcon. Well Dan called Rob and ordered me my first Glider. I was soon in Heaven. I had so much fun flying mythat Falcon! I remember one Day out at our local Coastal flying site Fort Funston. Well Rob was doing a demo Day. I asked Rob: "Rob do you have the coolest job or what? Rob replied: "Well some times it gets old stuffing Battens some times. But yea, I am pretty happy"


I miss both Dan, and Rob. They were both Good Guys.
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By miraclepieco
#403947
Rob was certainly the most outgoing of the Wills Wing triumvirate. I was so impressed that he always remembered me, no matter how long it had been since I'd last seen or spoken to him.
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By jlatorre
#404537
I only met Rob once, when I was working for Pacific Windcraft and was demo'ing gliders at Marina Beach. Rob was there, too, demoing the latest Wills design (it might have been the Duck). The winds were light, and we ended up sitting on the beach and smoking cigarettes. I knew he was from Syracuse, New York, where I was born, and we talked about upstate New York.

I just heard today that we've lost Dan Buchanan last June. Another guy who was a great inspiration and quite a showman. He used to visit the Pacific Airwave factory when he was in town for the Salinas Air Show. I'm bummed.

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