In July 1973, after a background in military parachuting and freefall, Jim Taggart made his first hang glider flight. He subsequently became a founder member of the Thames Valley Hang Gliding Club where he was listed with membership Number One. Right from the beginning he was a natural and, in those early days, soon became known as one of the foremost exponents of the sport in UK and Europe. He had considerable influence on the development of the sport and the setting of training standards in the UK though the British Hang Gliding Association. In the mid-70s he was also involved in competition at international level and was the UK CIVL delegate from 1976 to 1978.
While serving five years in Germany Jim inspired many others to take up the sport. He formed an Army club, arranged flying trips and took part in competitions. He also lobbied support from everyone possible in his drive to get hang-gliding officially recognised in the Army and it was mainly due to his efforts that the Army Hang Gliding Centre was set up at Sennebridge in April 1981. As Chief Instructor there he then worked day and night to get it expanded into the Joint Services Hang Gliding Centre. Since then thousands of service men and women have attended courses there and continue to do so today. It was during this period that he worked with the BHGA to ensure the training standards set at Sennebridge were adopted nationally and was a member of the BHGA Council. This work did not go unrecognised and Jim was awarded the MBE in the Military Division of the 1983 New Years Honours List.
In August of that year, at the age of 41, Jim Taggart was killed in a hang gliding accident at Hay Bluff.
Jim's enthusiasm for hang gliding was enormous and he gave a lot back. He was in the sport at a time when great advances were being made and embraced each new development with that enthusiasm. His son Mark is understandably confident that, were he still alive, he would also have taken to the new generation of Class 2 gliders and endeavored to push the performance boundaries. For this reason Mark generously provided a permanent trophy in his father's name for the longest winning flight in the championship each year and also donated prize money to give the new UK Class 2 Championship a kick start. It had originally been Mark's aim to award the trophy for a national title and when the British Hang Gliding Series started in 2002 the trophy was re-designated for the champion.
Winners have been:
2000 Jason Prior (Class 2) 2001 Jason Prior (Class 2)
This trophy was re-designated for 2002 onwards to Class 1 British Open Series Winners