In the Summer of 1976 one of the greats of hang gliding began to make his mark. With and unofficial record seven mile cross country flight Bob Calvert opened a new era of hang gliding. Quickly this new challenge of flying away from the hill in thermal lift took hold in the imagination of many pilots. The following year the British Hang Gliding League competition was run for the first time along the lines of a cross country event. Quite fittingly Bob Calvert showed the field how it should be done with a flight of eighteen miles on a Hiway Scorpion. Soon it was another notable pilot, Robert Bailey, who set a new record distance of twenty four miles. These two gifted pilots pushed the record in turn until at last on 8th April 1982 Bob Calvert flew over a hundred miles. On an Airwave Magic 2 he took off from Sarn in Wales and landed at Hindon in Wiltshire, a distance of one hundred and twelve miles.
Just as Calvert and Bailey had dominated the early days of cross country flying another pilot came to prominence at this time and was to set the standards for several years. John Pendry, a modest and talented individual was involved in the a Airwave company and used their products to great effect. In May 1984 he made a quite remarkable flight of one hundred and thirty miles along the South Coast of England from Ditchling to Colyton in Devon. This technically demanding flight showed off his talents of patience and superb flying skill.
With the lengthening of the distance record to such an extent it became the preference of many pilots and also task setters in competitions to go for goal, out and return and triangle flights. The irrepressible Colin Lark soon set an unofficial goal flight record from Combe Gibbet to Afton Down on the Isle of Wight ; a distance of forty eight miles. Since that time the stunts of the Early Birds; balloon drops or mountain hops have been carried to greater heights by Judy Leden, a pilot ever in search of a record flight or new extreme. New records have come in every sector (see www.homeusers.prestel.co.uk ) and with each season and ever higher performing gliders there seems no limit to the possible achievements of hang glider pilots.