NASA at 50 -- 1961: Flexible Wing Design Used for Hang Gliders
A person preparing to take off on a hang glider

The information in this series was accurate as of the original publication date.

Audience: Educators
Grades: 6-12


This set is part of the Discovery Education "NASA at 50" Series. Each set includes a video clip, an audio clip and a teachers guide. This episode introduces Francis Rogallo, a NASA engineer whose design for the flexible wing became the basis for modern hang gliding. The program details how Rogallo designed the flexible wing for the Gemini and Apollo space programs. Although NASA did not use the design, the flexible wing's low cost and simple construction allowed flying to become a recreational sport. Downloadable versions of the videos are captioned.

After viewing the program and participating in discussion, students will be able to:
  • Explain how a flexible wing works.
  • Describe how hang gliding has become a recreational sport.
  • Identify why NASA was interested in the flexible wing design.

Classroom activity: Students use a graphic organizer to compare and contrast the structure and uses of parachutes versus flexible wings.

> NASA at 50 -- 1961: Flexible Wing Design Used for Hang Gliders →
Duration: 4 minutes 54 seconds


Discovery Education 'NASA at 50' Series