Morning Glory Clouds of the Gulf of Carpentaria

Cmac - Chris MacDonald


Chris McDonald

Regret to inform you that CMac died on the weekend.

Good sir,

        good little gathering for CMac and a good send off... the pall bearers were a worry - one buggered back, one dicky knee, one short of a full quid, one sus shoulder and one offensively hearty cheerleader... yes, you can still count, one PB pulled out at the last and Horse didn't get his fetlock to the coffin on time. Ah well, at least we didn't drop it. Wonderfully matched in height we were too.

Under CMac's house was a flying museum... thirty years of HG development, perfectly blueprinted (the originals showed more detail for the swing seat than for the kite), as well as various experiments in flight, production models of some of CMac's designs (his company was called McDonald Hovering), land yachts, anything requiring wind and sails and XC.

Twenty-five year old blueprints in CMac's perfect draughting hand were more poignant than all the preacher's words. Even the moment when someone (probably Chris, being an engineer) realised that a larger diameter spar carried more load than a thicker wall section for the equivalent gain in weight...the measurements were crossed out from 5 1/4 inches to 7 1/4 inches in a different colour. CMac not only designed all his own gliders for twenty years and built them himself, he was one of those originals who were inspired by the Popular Mechanics article (1962) which showed the inflatable wing for the Gemini spacecraft (the Rogallo design) that kicked off Dickenson and Moyes in Oz and the Wills brothers in California. That meant he had to teach himself and figure it out at every step of the way.

It's so easy sign up with a school, get your ticket and choose a glider from any number available, all safe and predictable and built to certification standards. CMac also wasn't just one of the first, he was also one of the best... he held the Qld record for a long time and his name appears on virtually every trophy in Oz.

Ah well. I discovered a few things about him today that I didn't know before... for example, that he had a PPL with 4-seater endorsement. I'd been expecting to spend a lifetime (mine) storing up the little clues Chris dropped from time to time and putting them all together at the end to challenge him with the whole. Instead we got a full biography today, and talked to a lot of people from other parts of Chris's life. So I got to find it all out, in one day...damn. Ah well.

Chris McDonald wrote many witty and thoughtful articles for Skysailor, but always used noms de plume. He holds the hang gliding record for the Morning Glory - 165km - set on the very first flexwing flight.

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