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Skywacker History

Call of the Skywacker

Call of the Skywacker

Here's a delightful tale about how it all started. If you read nothing else here, you should read The Call of the Skywacker

Early Skywackers

Early Skywackers
The founding members of the Skywackers were flying as early as 1974. They flew hard and partied hard. Learn more about the birth of our club and the sport of hang gliding: Early Skywacker History

Big Walker

Big Walker

Big Walker Mountain has a central place in Skywacker history. The launch by the chair lift, mentioned by Randy Newberry in Boo Waa Call was the first of 4 launches along the 30 mile ridge that is Big Walker Mountain. The owner of the 4th launch and LZ has taken over management of the site, which is open and welcoming to all. See Flying Big Walker for more info about flying there. See History of Big Walker for the nearly 50 year history of this great site.


WW Richards

In the early 1980's the Roanoke Valley Hang Gliding Association was an extremely active group of fliers, with sites all over the Roanoke Area. "WW" (Wayne William) Richards was their leader, instructor, Go-To-Guy for glider repairs, and Regional Director.

Then, within one year in the late 1980's, it all came to an end. This very active group seemed to simply fade away.

Blacksburg Area

Clover Hollow Training Hill

One of the first hang gliding Instructors in the 70's was Jim Zell, who introduced many to their first flights. He was followed by Chris Norloff, who worked out of Wayne Sayer's Blue Ridge Mountaineering Store in Blacksburg. Richard Cobb taught many students on the famous Clover Hollow Training Hill in the mid 1980's: Blacksburg and Clover Hollow



After the unexpected demise of the RVHGA, a few remaining pilots over the whole SW Virginia area formed the Southwest Virginia Hang Gliding Association in the late 1980's, with the name reflecting the wide range of area from which the pilots came, which included all the old Skywackers that were still flying.

In the 1990's Paragliders and Paragliding arrived, and in 1999 the club voted to adopt our Paragliding brothers, and the club name was changed to the current Southwest Virginia Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association

Eagle Rock

Eagle Rock NW 2003

By the 1990s, if not sooner, most of the Roanoke area sites had been lost to development or lack of use, with a few sporadic flights for awhile at Roanoke Mountain. With an increasing number of paraglider pilots in the local flying community, even Roanoke Mt faded away as there were no LZs reachable by paragliders.

In the early 2000's the first flights were made from Crawford Mountain, near the town of Eagle Rock, and the Eagle Rock site was born. Eventually there were paraglider-friendly launches on both the NW and SE sides, and Roanoke area pilots again had a local site to fly. See Eagle Rock History for more info.

(updated January 3, 2024)

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