Lake Macquarie History

Rick Duncan World Hang gliding champion

Rick Duncan World Champion Hang glider.

Rick Duncan is one of Lake Macquarie's most notable sportsmen, excelling in hang gliding. He is one of only two Australian world champions in the event, winning the championship in 1988.

photo: rick duncan, 1988 world hang gliding champion

The Duncan family, Kevin, Ann and their sons Shane, Russell and Rick were keen water skiers and after Kevin heard about the new sport of hang gliding, the entire family were soon hooked. At the time, hang gliding involved being towed behind a boat. The Duncans subsequently helped in the pioneering of foot-launched hang gliding, which was essentially running and jumping off a hill.

Rick competed in his first international competitions at age 14, and in the World Delta Wing Cup Florida in 1974 was placed 5th, despite being 5 years younger than the next youngest competitor. In February 1976, the Australian hang gliding championships were held for the first time at Mt. York in the Blue Mountains. They served as qualification for the first world championships staged in Kossen, Austria the same year. Brother Shane qualified, with all the Duncan family supporting him at the world championships. A late withdrawal saw Rick secure a place, finishing 3rd in the Standard class.

In 1983, Rick and Russell were selected in the Australian team for the World Championship at Tegelberg in Germany. Led by Steve Moyes, who was the individual World Champion, the Australians won the team gold, with Rick taking 4th spot overall and Russell a reserve. Rick competed in the 1985 World Championships in Kossen, Austria and was part of the Australian team which placed 2nd.

After winning a number of local, state and national championships, Rick headed into the 1988 World Championships at Mt. Buffalo in Victoria. The championships featured some very difficult weather conditions - torrential rain mixed with hail, wind, thunder and lightning. He was trailing until midway through the final round, but finished strongly to be a decisive winner. His final score was 9256, a clear winner from Bruce Case of USA on 8595 and fellow Australian Steve Moyes, the 1983 World Champion, on 8591. Brother Russell finished in 25th place in the final. The Australian team were also the World Champions.

Later that year in Killarney, Queensland Rick won the Australian Championship.

photo: rick duncan sportsperson of the year medal

Apart from his numerous championships, at a local level Rick was awarded the Lake Macquarie Sportsperson of the Year in 1987 and is honoured in the Hunter Academy of Sport's Hall of Fame.

The Duncan brothers operate Airborne Australia at Redhead, makers of hang gliders, microlights and gyroplanes.


Clifford, K 1999, 'Taylor's address highlight of team training - Academy Notes : Juniors in sport', Newcastle Herald (Australia), 20 Apr, p. 63

Watson, C 2012, '31. Riding the wind - THE HUNTER Glory days', Newcastle Herald (Australia), 21 Jun, p. 25

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