John Dickenson

The inventor of the Modern Hang Glider in 1963


Main Menu
Photo Gallery

An article in Prime Time

February 1984


Like so many claims made by and about Bill Moyes over the years, this article contains many blatant distortions of the truth. Bill Moyes was nowhere near to being "the world's first hang glider rider", he was indeed well down that list. The account here of his meeting John Dickenson is not only inaccurate, it is a complete insult to John Dickenson, and also to Mike Burns who built the aircraft Bill Moyes bought and copied, an "improbable flying contraption' indeed.

Bill Moyes likes to promote Francis Rogallo's role and to diminish John Dickenson's role so as to make himself out to be a hero. Bill has repeated this story so many times he probably believes it, but it is not true. 

Bill Moyes came along to a day organised by and for others, and he was only allowed to fly after the others had finished flying.

While one person had re-broken his leg, (he was recovering from breaking it in a motorcycle accident a few weeks earlier. The break happened while water-skiing, before he got flying.) The story of multiple accidents has grown over the years but it has no basis in fact.

Also the story of the 13 km each way flight is a fantasy made up over the years. In some versions Bill Moyes even includes accounts of flying under power wires and the claim to have done the first free flight in a Dickenson Wing. These claims are not at all true although they have been repeated ad nauseam.

Bill Moyes was something of a natural pilot, but this is not an accurate account of his first flight, nor an honest account of his role in hang gliding. Like Bill Bennett, Bill Moyes was a self-promoter and showman; his role in the development of the sport was the same as Bill Bennett's role. It is a great shame that Bill Moyes never bothered to give John Dickenson his due credit, even referring to him disparagingly as Dr Cyclops many times.

Bill Bennett and Bill Moyes both contribute a large amount to hang gliding, but it is not nearly as much as the role played by John Dickenson who is the only man whose contribution was indispensable to the modern sport of hang gliding and the ultralight aviation industry that sprang from it.

Have a close listen to the two versions of the Rogallo, Dickenson and Moyes interviews on this site and you can hear Bill Moyes telling these stories on video.

Graeme Henderson 2008




All the material on this page is subject to copyright

Much of this material may only be reproduced with the written permission of the copyright holder.