Reimar Horten started to develop a small minimalist foot-launched sailplane in the very late 1940s from an idea he was already toying before WW2 started. Built by its eventual test pilot, the Argentine Rogelio Bartolini, this “Alita” was only a bit bigger than the later classic Rogallo-wing hand glider. Completed in 1953, the first Piernífero due to its high wing loading proved to be useless when foot-launching was tried. Towed by a car it showed good average performance, but also some lack of stability. Furthermore, the pilot’s legs safety appeared to be quite questionable during landings. Two improved longer-winged Pierníferos followed: one remained uncompleted (Xb) and the other unbuilt (Xc).
Even the way it was road carried was stunning. National Air and Space Museum.(NASM) photo.
Definitely not as practical as Rogallo’s, but boy, was it cool.
Drawing: Peter F. Selinger.