Alvin Russell

Alvin Russell

Three years in hang gliding doesn't seem like much now but to appreciate the contribution of Alvin Russell to the sport it is necessary to remember the intense pace of development that was the norm 25 years ago. When Alvin started flying in 1973 there were no clubs, no international competitions, no formalised training schemes, no clear requirements for schools or instructors. By the time of his death in a flying accident late in 1976 everything was in place and he had usually played a part in developing it.


Alvin was a complex personality. His background was in motor sport and music but once he became involved in hang gliding he became completely addicted, devoting every minute to it - even to the extent of continuing to fly with a leg in plaster. He founded the Long Mynd Club, imported Bill Bennett's range of Phoenix gliders, flew in every possible competition in Britain, pioneered overseas visits to alpine sites, advocated Sports Council support for our teams and correctly predicted their success if it were to be forthcoming, took up the post of BHGA Training Officer (for less than £20 per week!) and aided Brian Milton in setting up the League. He probably did much more besides.

Alvin was among the top British Pilots, always testing the limits of both weather and gliders. He died in Ireland on a relatively unfamiliar aircraft which he may have rigged incorrectly and his loss was felt as a body blow to all enthusiasts at the time.

The Alvin Russell Trophy was initiated in 1977 as a result of subscription from friends and colleagues throughout hang gliding and is awarded annually to the British National Champion.

Winners have been:

1977 Brian Woods 1994 Michael Stephens
1978 Keith Reynolds 1995 John Pendry
1979 Bob Calvert 1996 Gordon Rigg
1980 Bob Calvert 1997 Gordon Rigg
1981 Johnny Carr 1998 Allan Barnes
1982 Bob Calvert 1999 Steve Cook
1983 Bob Calvert 2000 Gordon Rigg
1984 Michael Carnet 2001 Gordon Rigg
1985 Graham Slater 2002 Gordon Rigg
1986 John Pendry 2003 Justin Needham
1987 Michael Carnet 2004 Gordon Rigg
1988 Robert Whittal 2005 Richard Lovelace
1989 Jes Flynn 2006 Gordon Rigg
1990 John Pendry 2007 Gordon Rigg
1991 Bruce Goldsmith 2008 Grant Crossingham
1992 Bruce Goldsmith 2009 Dave Sheilds
1993 Peter Harvey 2010 Dave Matthews
2011 Gary Wirdnam
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