Skywackers — The Original Skywackers

SW Virginia Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association

Some Skywacker History

1970's Skywacker Patch
The 'Wackers have been around since the 1970's, and have gone through some changes over the years.  The above patch was from the 70's, and was sent in by Wacker Jack Stephenson.  For a good introduction to the early history, check out the Call Of The Skywacker, written by Randy Newberry - once voted President for Life.  Randy recently received the first ever Boo Waa Award awarded by the Skywackers.

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Randy Newberry Training Hill Flights

Randy Newberry on the McPeaks training hill, east of Bland, Virginia, flying his Chuck's Glider Supplies Spitfire.  November 1976.  Who needs battens, luff lines, or wheels?
Clinch Mt Flyin - 77

The Wackers make an appearance at a Fly In at Clinch Mountain, Tennessee, Fall 1977

Upper photo:  Don Walters, Wisconsin; Jackie Bob Mustard, Bland, VA; ???; Pat Mitchell, Bland, VA; Fred Straccia, Massachusetts;  Kathy Sink, Bland; ???

Lower photo: Randy Newberry at the Fly In with his Spitfire

East River Mountain

East River Mountain was once a popular Wacker flying site, with a launch overlooking Bluefield, West Virginia.  There was a K-Mart to the left which commonly generated the Blue Light Special house Thermal.

Upper Photo: 15 degrees and getting colder as Randy flies his trusty Spitfire in December 1977

Lower Photo: Charlie Duff (local radio DJ) landing on the new 4-lane, while it is still under construction in the late 70's (photo by Duane Caldwell)
Randy at High Rock - 1978

Randy Newberry preparing to fly from High Rock on Big Walker mountain, April, 1978.  His Boy Scouts are along to witness the event.  John Muncy, Randy, Mark Newberry, Paul Dillow, ??
1978 News Cliping

This is a news clipping from October, 1978 about a 27 mile flight on Big Walker Mountain.  5 pilots made the flight: Mark Kenyon, Dave Higgenbothem, Randy Newberry, Fred Straccia, and Rodney Pendry.  Jim Zell, Art Hale, and  Mike Agee started the flight, but were forced to land before the Rt 100 Gap.
Group shot at ER Mountain
East River Mountain, Winter 1978.  Tom King, Blacksburg, VA; ???, Hillsville, VA; Rodney Pendry, Beckley, WV; Don Walters, Wisconsin; Dave Higembothem, Point Pleasant, WV (deceased); Randy Newberry, Bland; Susan Jackson, Hillsville, VA; Greg Lemieux, Ohio (deceased); Art Hale, Blacksburg, VA; Don Riley, North Carolina; and making a special appearance - in the trees - Fred Straccia of Massachusetts on a Stratus 5
Skywacker Party House

Randy Newberry's house in Bland, Virginia, was long the Skywacker Official Party House (and Randy was once voted President for Life).  Many are the tales from those days, such as the passed-out pilot who awoke to find himself in a full body cast.

Top photo: Mike Anders, Bluefield, WV; Randy; Rodney Pendry, Beckley, WV;  Dave Walsh, Durham, NC - Winter 1979

Bottom photo:  Randy getting the Birthday Treatment, Sept 11, 1981
Tip Rogers

Having only one leg did not prevent Tip Rogers from flying.  English Mountain, Tennessee, Fall 1981. "I recall it was a very switchy, gusty day.
No one was in a hurry to go, all waiting on someone else to wind dummy,
setting around whining.  Tip, hopped up as soon as he was set up, hooked in
and made a perfect launch.  There was no backing out for the rest of us
then.  I don't believe there was one good launch among <the rest of> us." - Randy Newberry

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