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I just watched that Video regarding Wills-W-Wing Gliders. watching the Video got me remembering to way back to way back to when I drove down to Southern California where I took a Tour of Wills-Wings factory.. They are great Guys. I got to know Rob-Kells. I really liked Rob. I think that I made a wise choice by choosing a 225 faLcon as my first Glider.

I'm fortunate in that I'm about 15 minutes from WW. Way back in the day, I was even closer and sometimes I would go by after dinner and see if Bob Wills was working late. I stopped in a few times and we had great conversations about gliders and design ideas. I alway renjoyed Bob's company, either at the shop or at a flying site. One reason I quit hang gliding in 1979 was because I missed his presence on the hills so much.

My favorite memory of Bob was my standing directly below him as he hovered motionless about 15 feet above me at
"Little Norco". We carried on a whole conversation about problems I was having with their new "Swallow Tail" design which I was flying at the time. The ultimate outcome of that conversation was an exchange (+$300) of gliders from my Swallow Tail to his personal prototype SST which he had flight tested in Hawaii. I grew to love that SST and flew it until it was no longer airworthy. It would be a historic HG if it was still here but I traded it to a guy who made a land sailer sail out of 1/2 of the glider. :(

I'm hoping to get some help from WW on my HG Basic Trainer, (Puffin) construction project. However, they are very busy (a good thing) now, so it looks like that is not "in the cards".

See photo of my 1st flight in my SST.
Dec 1975, 1st time flying Wills SST @ Norco.jpg
Dec 1975, 1st time flying Wills SST @ Norco.jpg (175.72 KiB) Viewed 1211 times
Until it was closed to entry, there was a larger hill in the vicinity of the smaller hill (about 1/2 mile away. Norco is the nearby town although the property is actually in Riverside, CA. Little Norco was a small, about 50 feet high, a steep, bowl shaped, hill that served many early HG pilots as their training hill. However, on many afternoons it would become soarable not only because of its bowl shape but also because it was aligned with a pass in the Santa Ana mountains, a few miles away, that "funneled" the afternoon coastal wind directly toward the hill. A typical day would start with no wind and then gradually increase throughout the day finally reaching 12 to 15 MPH by early afternoon and then remain steady until dark.

Unlike most of the good training hills in SoCal, which got turned into houses and shopping malls, Little Norco is still there exactly as it was in the 1970's. I think it is now part of a nature preserve operated by the city of Riverside. There is an "official" RC model airplane field about 1/4 mile away from the front of the hill. The hill and its LZ are posted no trespassing now but ATV's do sneak in there from time to time and go up and down the hillside. It would be fantastic if some local HG pilots started working toward getting this historic site open to HG again. It would not be compatible with PG because of its small size. One PG would occupy the whole site or LZ.

BTW - Getting blown back over the hill led to some injuries because there was a substantial rotor on the backside. And a few nasty bounders here and there.

That was probably more than you wanted to know, but hey, I'm an engineer and we always want the all of the data. :)

I've attached a photo of me flying my Eipper FlexiFloater there in 1974. This photo shows much of the steeper part of the hill and it still looks like that today. I visited the site in 2012, with some of my old photos to compare, and even many of the rocks are still in the same places.

I loved that little "play" hill. Even when I was flying high mountain sites, I would go to LN about once each month just for a relaxed "play day" with my glider. I didn't need a driver, just fly down and walk up as many times as i wished and sometimes with sustained flight. Very similar to Dockweiler Beach but with about twice the height and more a concentrated lift zone.

Flying my Eipper at Little Norco 1974.jpg
Flying my Eipper at Little Norco 1974.jpg (373.85 KiB) Viewed 1101 times
User avatar
By TjW
Little Norco is under the Class D airspace for Riverside Municipal, so it wouldn't just be property issues.
Also, someone beamed out of there one day to multiple thousands of feet. I don't know if the Riverside GADO somehow got wind of this, but it wasn't long after that the Riverside PD helicopter was shooing people away.

It was a fun place to train people, though. I remember watching Bob Wills launch an SST there using no hands.
Put on the seatbelt, stuck his foot on the basetube and his neck at the top of the bar, levered the nose up, stood up as the glider pulled up, leaned just a little into the ropes, and took a couple of steps. He was 15 feet in the air before he used his hands.
From what you say, I wonder how the RC folks get to fly there. Probably an altitude restriction placed on them. Maybe the same thing could apply to HGs? I think it would take some local Riverside area pilots, trying to open it, to get anywhere with the city and the FAA.

I never heard of anyone getting to any significant altitude from that hill. That is amazing that someone did! I'd like to hear more of that story, certainly a good job of working up from a very low start. I wonder who it was?

User avatar
By TjW
It's pretty near the edge of the class D.

In general, model aircraft are supposed to stay below 400' AGL, though in my experience other places they often don't.

It's possible that some responsible entity could work out some sort of arrangement with the airport. Notifying the tower when operating, and staying below 400', say, would allow training there, and would cover most of the soaring flights that I recall.

If you could have a Gator there to haul gliders back to the top, it would be great.
I don't recall anyone ever getting more than about 50 feet above the hill, including me, in pure slope lift. So there would have to be a restriction on everyone to not thermal up more than a couple of hundred feet when a thermal does come through. It would be tough to enforce that.

I sure would like to see this historic site open to HG again. It's a perfect training hill as well as a fun HG play hill and most of those are gone in SoCal now. There used to be an RC slope soaring model glider club operating on the hill but they are gone now. Many years ago i talked to one of those RC glider guys ( probably in the late eighties or early nineties) and he told me that they had orders from the property owner, that permitted them to operate there, to run off any hang gliders that would show up. :(

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