Bill Bennett, Hang-gliding Pioneer, Died In Crash

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Bill Bennett, an Australian hang-gliding pioneer who helped popularize the sport in the U.S., died on Oct. 7 in Arizona at age 73, it was reported this week. Bennett was taking off with an instructor in a trike -- a powered ultralight with a hang-glider-like wing and weight-shift control -- at Lake Havasu Airport when the power failed and the aircraft crashed. The instructor, Drew Reeves, was also hurt. Bennet's company, Delta Wing Kites and Gliders, was among the first hang glider manufacturers in the U.S. The company helped develop the basic design of modern hang-gliders, added features such as emergency chutes and Mylar-coated sail cloth, and improved handling and performance. Bennett captured attention for his sport by breaking various records, launching from a hot-air balloon, and flying around the Statue of Liberty on Independence Day in 1969.