Rod Fuller is shown in these pictures in the latest equipment for those who like water-skiing with a difference. It is a ski-wing, designed and made by John Dickenson for the Grafton Water Ski Club. The ski-wing is something new and its design has been registered by Mr Dickenson. The wing, about 18 feet in length, will soar to a height of 70 feet. Its construction is rather unusual and, despite the frail look of the wing, it soars like a kite. The ski-wing was made from light timber and plastic, of the type used for covering bananas. It was made in a few weeks and donated to the ski club by Mr Dickenson. It will be one of the highlights of the club's water-ski carnival next Sunday. A water-skier straps himself to the wing and is pulled behind a speedboat until air-borne. It operates in similar fashion to a kite, but is much more risky to operate than the box-type kites formerly used behind speedboats. In the top picture, the Crown Hotel forms a background.
— The Daily Examiner of 21 October 1963
I put this data up on a personal website, along with other low-quality photos and a technical drawing of John Dickenson's invention.
For several years, my website article on Grafton's "ski wing" evoked no reactions whatsoever. Then a hang-glider pilot from New Zealand, Graeme Henderson, stepped into the arena and started to publicize John Dickenson's historical role. Henderson had found a Canadian article of May 2004, published in the Cloudstreet magazine of the BCHPA [British Columbia Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association], which mentioned Dickenson's pioneering work.
The article in question [display] was written by Mark Woodhams.
My first encounter with Graeme Henderson was somewhat abrupt, in that he appeared to be criticizing the content of my innocuous web page about John Dickenson and Rod Fuller. The issues at stake were slightly technical. Since I knew little about hang-gliding, I promptly deleted my offending web page. In spite of his blustery manners, I congratulate Graeme Henderson today for having played a dynamic and efficient role in gaining recognition for Grafton's pioneers, shown in this recent photo alongside a replica of the historic wing:
The latest news is that John Dickenson's place in hang-gliding history has just been recognized officially by the highest instances, through an award from the FAI [Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the world's Air Sports Federation]. Here is the citation:
FAI Hang Gliding Diploma
John Dickenson invented the modern hang glider at Grafton, Australia. It was flown on 8 September 1963. John built scale models to determine design concepts, until a full sized glider was towed behind a speedboat. He incorporated the control bar into the airframe by designing the A-frame to distribute flight, refining this further when he invented the pendulum weight-shift control system. John developed the piloting techniques, and taught all the early pilots, including Hang Gliding pioneers Bill Moyes and Bill Bennett, to fly the wing. John Dickenson’s invention has been copied by every manufacturer globally, with few minor changes for over a decade.
This is an enormous honor for Dickenson, Fuller and Grafton. The city's Big River made it possible—through Dickenson's inventiveness and Fuller's courage—to concretize the myth of Icarus. I would like to suggest that Grafton might look into the idea of a twinning operation with the town of Saint-Hilaire-du-Touvet [not far from where I live], which is the hang-gliding capital of France. Click [here] to see their website concerning the fabulous Coupe Icare. Ten minutes ago, I was talking on the phone with Jean-Paul Budillon, who suggested that his hang-glider friends of Saint-Hilaire-du-Touvet would no doubt be delighted to receive John Dickenson as a guest of honor for next year's Icarus Cup...