For more than two decades, students experienced the thrill of flight with the University of Lowell Hang Gliding Club. Founded in 1974 by a pair of faculty members, Bill Blood and the late John Kelly, the club combined classroom instruction on safety and the mechanics of gliders with weekend flying lessons on small hills around the area. Club participation satisfied students’ one-credit physical education requirement (when that was a thing).
“We had a good bunch of kids,” says the now-90-year-old Blood, who worked as an engineering lab technician at the university from 1966 to 1996. “They never seemed too nervous. We’d start them on flat ground so they could get the feel for it and then work up to hills.”
For 12 years, the club hosted an intercollegiate hang gliding meet over Columbus Day weekend in Claremont, N.H. The annual event drew hundreds of competitors from schools across the U.S. and Canada, including MIT, the University of Maryland and even Northern Essex Community College.
The hang gliding club was ultimately grounded in 1996 due to liability concerns. Blood, who lives in Londonderry, N.H., recently loaned a treasure trove of club-related photos, videos and documents to the UML Libraries Center for Lowell History so that they could be digitized. View the collection