ST. PAUL, MINN. — Since last month’s column, I’ve been to the USHGA board of directors meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah. As usual, the large group of directors invested many hours of their time — all unpaid, volunteer work and they pay most of their own travel expenses! If you want more details, ask your regional director or read articles elsewhere in this magazine. ••• However, my focus at these meetings is as chair of the Publications Committee. Often, this committee’s work is obscure but this time, the committee recommended and the full board blessed an idea that will affect everyone in Yooshga, including both hang gliding and paragliding pilots. The work involved a plan to combine our two magazines into one. • Now, before I make someone angry, let me stress that you will see articles in both magazines surrounding this change AND members will be given a chance to provide their thoughts. The controversy over the waiver some years ago taught the board a lesson (see, democracy can work) so members will be asked for their comments. • Of course, this already occurred once in the combined test issue a couple years back. Members were solicited for their opinion then, too. However, that was then and this is now, so when you are asked, please respond to the inquiries. It’s YOUR magazine and the most visible member benefit. Speak up! • My own thoughts are that the combination of magazines makes lots of sense. It can also help USHGA market hang gliding and paragliding to newcomers, something needed throughout aviation. I encourage you to read the explanatory articles and to state your feelings. But I hope you’ll give this idea a chance. My committee debated this over our longest session since I became the committee chairperson oh-too long ago. We think we did the right thing. Now, we ask your thoughts but also your support. ••• Altair is back! Of course, you knew this as it has been reported earlier. But recent words from proprietor Steve Schuster confirmed the new developments. He wrote in late October, "We are the new reps and the builders at this time. John [Heiney] is here at this time teaching me all he knows about building them and servicing them." He goes on to say, "We are planning to continue building the same great gliders… and hoping to add a larger Saturn and a single surface [glider] next year, and after that, a light topless." Sounds like things are happening and that the Schusters are excited about their venture. Altair info: Birdy0959@aol.com. ••• Icaro has news of a new glider. Pilot extraordinare Manfred Ruhmer has "slightly modified the sail of the MRX 2001" and the company is proud to introduce a "new model for the year 2002 called MR700 & MRX700 World Record Edition." They note the new derivations were temporarily called the MRN2 and MRX2. MR700 is called their "basic version," while the MRX700 is "the competition version with Bainbridge cloth." Each is available in two sizes, 13 and 14 square meter (140 and 150 square feet). • Icaro also notes that, "from January onwards… the Laminar 12ST will be replaced by the Laminar 12MR." All newly developed hardware on the MR700 will be applied to this new model as well. The company also boasted that "all our hang glider models are entirely made out of the best tubes available, produced in 7075 aluminum alloy by Alumenziken," a well respected Swiss factory. "We are convinced that this alloy is the best material for our product," says Icaro. Of course, 7075 is also widely used on U.S.-based designs. With the new models percolating through their production line, they state, "Starting from now, the MR and MRX 2001 models will not be produced anymore." However, they will continue supplying spare parts and all related services. ••• Flytec, the instrument and accessories company, has some cures for your wintertime blues. Specifically, they have some new Blueye Goggles that are no goofy-looking eyescreens. They look more like totally-hip sunglasses that fit snugly and use an elastic band in lieu of the usual sunglasses construction. Boss Steve Kroop writes, "Their refined contours combine the innovative ‘vac-u-air flow system’ with sensational form to deliver an exceptional sporting accessory …and they look cool, too!" He continued explaining, "The frames are made from soft Santoprene which provides a rugged and comfortable fit. The lenses are made of impact resistant polycarbonate treated with FX2 anti-fog coating providing excellent eye safety, fog-free vision, and 100% UVA and UVB protection." They come with a second pair of lenses and you can change them quickly and easily. Colors include Rose, which Steve says is optimal for cross country flying thanks to their cloud-clarifying ability, or you can have Yellow, Blue/Clear, Mirror, or traditional Smoke colors. He says you can put on a full face helmet over the Blueyes — as they form fit to your face — and that they’re quite durable so long as you don’t go dragging them around on the ground. They sell for $80; dealers may inquire. • Flytec also has a second generation racing pod for instruments. The company reports, "The two most noticeable differences will be the cost and the instrument installation. Retail is expected to be around $150, down about $100 from most of the pods currently available." The other big change is that when you want to install the Flytec 4000 series instrument it will be removed from its standard housing, "thereby making the pod sleeker, lighter and more aerodynamic." • Finally, Flytec is trying to help top pilots Bo Hagewood and Paris Williams attend the Australian contests this winter. Selling a Flytec shirt for $15, all proceeds will go to the two pilot’s travel costs. Flytec wants to help "two most affable, financially challenged hang gliding waifs" stay tuned up for the 2002 contest season. Of course, they’re both Flytec-sponsored pilots. However, as demonstrated by their support of the World Record Encampment and the springtime contest at Quest Air, Flytec has stepped up to the plate with significant sponsorships for all who attend, regardless of what glider they fly. • Flytec goodies should be available for Christmas gifts. Info: 800-662-2449 or firstname.lastname@example.org. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930; please note my new e-mail address of News@ByDanJohnson.com… but you can still use CumulusMan@aol.com for the foreseeable future. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN., — Good words continue to flow for Joe Greblo’s Dockweiler Beach Reunion Fly-in. Joe reported nearly 400 people were present and about 150 qualified as genuine-article hang gliding pioneers. From all accounts, a great time was had by all. Perhaps even more amazing — considering the FiftySomething age range of many who attended — was the flying. Yep, pilots hooked themselves into all manner of antique wings from standard rogallos to bamboo-and-plastic models and gave ’em another try on the gentle slopes of the Pacific right off LAX airport. ••• A new model several tried was Wills Wing’s new training glider, the Condor. This is a big boy, at a whopping 330 square feet (30.7 sq. m.). The Texas-sized glider has other interesting specs: span is 39 feet, yet it weighs only 53 pounds; stalls at only 13 mph, while sustained max speed is 32 mph; pilot weights run a very broad spectrum from 100 to 265 pounds. Weight is kept down by using 7075 tubing throughout the airframe and battens (control bar and kingpost are 6061). • Wills gave a lengthy description of the new behemoth which included, "Condor 330 is a special-purpose training glider designed for first solo flights by hang glider students under direct instructor supervision, at very low altitudes." Dockweiler’s 35-foot high sand dunes certainly qualify. WW elaborated saying it can "easily achieve flight in little or no wind at very low groundspeeds from a shallow slope." However, they also caution that "Condor is intended for use in still air, or in very light winds which are very smooth and uniform, without appreciable gusts or thermal activity." • Condor is designed for solo flight and will be sold only to instructors. Wills didn’t say how they intend to prevent usage they don’t condone, but with today’s focus on faster-and-further, a glider with a top speed of 32 mph won’t find a market in the X-C crowd. • Perhaps one of the more amazing aspects of the Condor is a comment from Rob Kells that WW may make this design available to other manufacturers. In my 26 years in hang gliding, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard such an offer. Wills has long been a promoter of healthy growth; their Condor is intended to help bring new participants into the sport and this offer seems to show that clearly. Info: 714-998-6359 or willswing.com. ••• Speaking of new gliders… First, a little fresher news on AirBorne’s new Climax, received after last month’s column headed to the printer. Rob Hibberd, a honcho at Airborne, writes that on their second pre-production sail, "there are only minor modifications to complete before we start work on the [smaller] 144 size." A number of pilots have flown the Climax now, AirBorne says, and their opinions include: "excellent roll response, slow stall speed, excellent sink rate, easy to land (large flare window), and a sail fit that is second to none." Undoubtedly these are enthusiastic AirBorne supporters, but my recent experience with their improved Streak wing (for powered trikes) so impressed me that I can believe good things about their hang gliders. More info at: airborne.com.au. ••• A factory newsletter from the Italian producer of the Laminar gliders says, "In the past years we had slightly modified our gliders always looking for improvement; but this year Manfred Ruhmer has really managed to make a difference. What he developed and applied on his own glider did not only prove to be excellent in competitions, but it also came out to be suitable for all advanced pilots!" Due to their satisfaction with Manfred’s work, Icaro has decided to implement these changes on all of their topless gliders. They say the new model "performs greatly but is still easy to fly with the VG-off; with the VG-on it will become a real racing machine, though!" Icaro says it is starting the production of the new model. • Out with the old to make room for the new. Icaro also said that "the old ST models will not be produced anymore," though they will continue supplying spare parts and all related services. The STs will be replaced by the new Laminar MR in its two versions: Laminar MR 2001 (the Basic version) and the Laminar MRx 2001, what Icaro calls, "the competition-Matrix version." Each of them will be available in two sizes: 13 and 14 square meters or 140 and 150 square feet. • The newsy Icaro letter also bragged about their changes to the swivel tip saying the smaller swivel version, "also has its own compensator; this is the biggest novelty of the MR2001!" The tip has a larger movement range in flight. It is connected with a cable and a pulley to the central part of the cross bar. When the VG is on, the tip lowers and when it is off, it rises. Icaro claims this, "optimizes your glide and safety features in flight." They add that this happens automatically when you pull your VG on or off. • Importer Rich Burton of AV8 says, "The new basebar is beautiful. It has the traditional Icaro grip and very clean corner brackets." • Naturally, all this isn’t free. Icaro reports that the price will be "slightly higher than last year’s due to the new materials used on this glider" Info: email@example.com. ••• Take that new glider south for the winter! Jeff Hunt writes, "We are now beginning to make arrangements for this season flying in Valle de Bravo, Mexico. Sound warm and inviting? Pilots can ask about his packages and services at 512-467-2529 or firstname.lastname@example.org. ••• You’ll need accessories, too. U.S. Aeros boss, GW Meadows, announced, "Just went live yesterday (11/5/00) with what I think is the first e-Store in hang gliding. By e-Store, I mean with shopping cart and everything." The site is "being updated all the time," he adds and says he’ll be adding more in the future. Go to the e-Store at www.justfly.com. ••• Corrections Dep’t: In October I reported that Rich Burton was the importer of the Tenax. In fact, he has the rights to the Manfred Ruhmer version of Tenax. • The USA distributor for all the other Woody Valley harnesses is Greg Black’s Mountain Wings. The MR Tenax is a future product that has yet to become market ready. Meanwhile, Mountain Wings has invested heavily in all other Woody Valley harnesses which are in production and for sale now. More info: MtnWings@Catskill.net or woodyvalley.com. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
St. Paul, Minn. — Again with the motor news…? These little contraptions are making quite a… how nicely can I put it? — “joyful noise.” The vote is now history. As I write this in late September, the count has not been made but trends pointed toward acceptance. • Time to take a breather and then move on. Let’s realize that we only have a few hundred of these motor guys. Some flying sites will have to work out compatibility issues, but for the most part powered harnesses, powered paragliders, and nanotrikes allow flight from places closer to home. When they do fly in the company of unpowered hang gliders or paragliders, they are among the quietest of ultralights as their engines have commonly been developed in noise-sensitive Europe. • This column will continue to track the field. But these tiny rigs are simply engines on hang gliders or paragliders and the wings still fly the same (they may even have similar wing loading through the use of larger wings). So, I’ll still be looking for news among unpowered hang gliders and paragliders. If you’ve got some… well, you know the drill. ••• After last month’s review of some soaring trikes on display at the giant Oshkosh airshow, I have one more update. At this event, with 15,000 aircraft on the grounds, many are spectacular showplanes. Nearly all of these are judged for the quality of craftsmanship in building or restoration. Teams of judges, often themselves experienced builders, swarm around the best planes evaluating them so carefully that even such minutia as bolt positions and decal straightness are intimately examined. Those who win are astonishing works of the builder’s art, commonly taking thousands of hours to complete. • Among those feted at the big show was Steve Rewolinski’s nanotrike, which EAA called simply, “Soaring Trike.” Steve’s effort garnered him the prestigious Ultralight Reserve Grand Champion award. Rarely do soaring machines of any kind qualify for this honor and Steve should be beaming that big smile of his. Congratulations to him for putting a hang glider in the ranks of flying machines celebrated at Oshkosh. (Despite the brouhaha over powered harnesses, powered paragliders, and nanotrikes, I believe Rewolinski’s “soaring trike” is indeed a hang glider as it had a Laminar MR700 wing atop Steve highly streamlined creation. He intends it for soaring flight and has often used it that way.) ••• Still thinking of soaring news at Oshkosh… Last month I mentioned a new hang glider tug. Tentatively called “Breese AT,” the new entry is built by M Squared of Alabama. Proprietor Paul Mather is a three-decade veteran of the ultralight industry, 17 years of which were at Quicksilver Aircraft. Naturally his models bear a significant likeness to those from the company he left. Paul stayed with an airframe shape he knew and beefed it up for larger engines and harder work, like training …or towing. • The story develops as former Second Chantz parachutes owner — plus hang glider and paraglider pilot — John Dunham, approached Mather and M Squared. They struck a deal where Mather will built the customized rig and Dunham will market and distribute it. Dunham is already very familiar with M Squared airplanes as he leases one he owns to TV production studios as a filming platform. He explains, “I’ve been working with Paul to develop a new aero tug to compete with the Dragonfly. We will be doing flight and hang glider tow testing in Alabama, and then I will be flying it around to all the Florida parks to show it off. I’ll be the exclusive marketing agent to the HG community.” • In explaining his request to M Squared, John said that he wanted it to be, “…based on the M Squared Breese single place design with the two-place, single surface, slow, strutted wing, a Maule type tow hook release under the rudder, tundra tires, and a specially-built 670 Rotax… almost 100 hp at the same weigh as the 582.” • About his hybrid model Mather is convinced, “She’ll climb all day at 25 mph while towing a hang glider. The climb angle is a real eye opener.” The M Squared model is reportedly lighter than a Dragonfly which explains some of its impressive performance. Another reason is the low-speed single membrane airfoil (a direct derivative from the Quicksilver hang glider of the 1970s). As of Oshkosh, Mather had starting test flying but towing had not been accomplished. Some adjustments are likely to get the tow angles and releases perfected, but these tasks shouldn’t unduly slow progress. • With about 50 operating, no new tug will overtake the Dragonfly anytime soon. But choices are always good. John told me, “I plan on marketing it for around 25 grand ready to fly, including a BRS 750 VLS [vertical-launching emergency parachute] system.” FMI: email@example.com.• Neither Mather nor Dunham have overblown expectations; they only hope to sell a few a year. But since M Squared is a viable enterprise in ultralight aviation, a few extra sales a year are useful if the development cost isn’t too high. ••• Of great relevancy given the powered harness and paraglider debate is Seagull Aerosports’ unpowered Pod Racer. This engine-free, substitute-for-a-harness is still a trike and one that does not allow for foot launching; it is designed to be towed. Perhaps such a soaring trike doesn’t interest you but it’s hard to argue the Pod Racer isn’t a hang glider. What is it otherwise? It isn’t an ultralight; it has no engine. The tandem rigs used for instruction at most towparks take off and land on wheels all the time yet we still think of them as hang gliders. Tow launches so important to modern flying often start (and sometimes end) on wheels. Are we so attached to “foot launch” that the Pod Racer would be disregarded? My point is not to create extra static in an atmosphere crackling with tension over the powered harness or paraglider. Yet the Pod Racer is coming. How will we regard it? …Next month, a return to some unpowered information. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930. E-mail to News@ByDanJohnson.com or CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN. — Tucks and tumbles and tails and winglets. What’s happening out there? Rigid wings had good showings at recent competitions and their participation in places with stronger conditions has revealed the value of a fixed tail. Aeros has also fitted sleek winglets to their Stalker 2. My guess is more controlling surfaces are headed our way. At last summer’s Worlds approximately a third of the rigid wing pilots flew with tail-equipped wings. Some pilots have even made the normally fixed tails moveable. Alex Ploner reportedly installed an electric servo motor on his tail which allows him to set the angle of the tail for climb and glide. At minimum, tails cause a damping of control bar movements which helps in distance flying by reducing fatigue. It isn’t clear if the tail alters the likelihood of the glider tucking or tumbling but contest pilots have said they’ve been helped with a higher confidence level. Recently at a large ultralight airshow in France, I saw a trike flex wing that had controllable surfaces fitted; controllable surfaces seem destined for experimentation on flex wings if for no other reason than their acceptance on rigids. Going all the way, we arrive at the stick-controlled Swift. Is their popularity growing? According to a Q&A session with Brian Porter, US Airsports Net (usairnet.com) reported the following exchange which began with their question: “Approximately how many Swift gliders are there in the US?” Brian answered, “The exact number of Swifts in the USA is unknown to me. Bright Star produced around 60 Swifts over a two year period. Many of these Swifts were shipped to Europe. On the other hand Aeriane also has produced even a greater numbers of Swifts, some of which have been shipped to the USA. Twelve Swifts [were] expected to be shipped into the country to participate in the… World meet in Chelan.” Even a couple hundred Swifts can’t be considered a large segment of the market. On the other hand, it’s arguably the most successful stick-controlled hang glider ever made. Rigid wings don’t rule the roost, though. Flex wings still dominate recreational and contest flying. For those who have traveled by airline in the last year, the process has become burdensome (putting it euphemistically). If you try to take your hang glider with you, it can be even more challenging. One German producer, Finsterwalder, has long addressed this problem with their Fex line of gliders that pack down to a mere six feet — you can actually carry it back-pack style. Actually, all Fex models break down to your choice of 6, 12.5, or 18 feet. With new U.S. representation we may see more than the occasional odd example. Using Thomas Finsterwalder’s “bayonet-style telescoping fittings,” these designs break down readily to the short length with an assembly time that adds only 5-10 minutes over a conventional wing; and no tools required. They possess German DHV certification and are available in five models: Speedfex (top of the line, high performance), Airfex, Funfex, Perfex (good for training use), and Lightfex. The latter is claimed to weigh less “than most paraglider bags,” or more specifically 43 pounds. It is the lightest of the Fex line but they all feature surprisingly low weights. You may find these gliders worthy of further investigation. FMI: FexAmerica.com or call 760-752-9755. Another glider of interest to non-competition pilots is the newly offered Seedwings Shadow. Though the brand name is familiar, this is not the Seedwings from the USA. It the European version and the Shadow is sold in the USA by JustFly who positions it as an “intermediate” glider. Like JustFly’s Aeros line of gliders, Shadow is reasonably priced at $4,395 and deliveries are said to be fast (“4-6 weeks”). Proprietor GW Meadows says the wing has “a virtually perfect combination of performance and ‘ease of flight’.” Three sizes are available: 133, 146, and 158 square feet. Lots of info is available on their Apple-inspired Website; in fact, you may have trouble deciding between JustFly’s broad line. But isn’t this how shopping should be? FMI: JustFly.com or call 252-480-3552. John “Ole” Olson is again taking up residence in Mexico. He will move from his U.S. base way up in the northwest corner of America (north of Seattle) to a point south of Puerto Vallarta, a familiar resort destination. About 100 klicks southeast down the west coast of Mexico, one arrives at Colima. Since his 1989 Mexico Safaris, Ole has become “ Mexico’s original gringo guide,” not missing a season. This winter, he’ll again locate at the old airfield in Colima’s Antiguo Aeropuerto. Olson says he will “begin work on a flight park named Rancho Deluxe.” Foot launching will be the order (and his personal preference) this season, but eventually he hopes “to offer towing from the runway, too.” He expects to be operational by the first week in December “when the flying season really kicks in,” and he’ll remain in his Southern home until the end of March. He provides the gliders, the guiding, and the Spanish language. Mexico provides the sunshine and thermals. If you want to get the flavor of flying in Mexico, I recommend you go to the following site, where entertaining writer Ole spells it out in colorful detail: www.learntoflytrikes.com/WeFlewMexico.htm So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930. E-mail to News@ByDanJohnson.com or CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN. — Of course, nearly all the news in the last month has focused on the War on Terrorism. Each of us sees this through our own eyes. We cope with the events in millions of individual ways. A logical way for many hang glider or paraglider pilots is to fly. Many of us find a quiet peace in the air. But in a time of national emergency, officals must make decisions. Among those was the grounding of the entire American aviation fleet, an action that has never occurred in the history of aviation. Naturally, hang gliders and paragliders were included in the grounding. • Led by our capable CEO, Jayne Depanphilis, your USHGA office kept in regular contact with other hang gliding leaders, plus those from the U.S. Ultralight Association, to get word from the FAA regarding the ban on flight and its subsequent lifting. On September 20th, only nine days after the attacks, Jayne said, "I now have it in writing from [FAA official] Mike Henry… that USHGA can operate/resume all aspects of Part 103 outside of Class B enhanced airspace." For those unfamiliar with sectional charts, Class B is controlled airspace around major airline hubs; the "enhanced" part of the new ruling means to-the-ground, rather than the upside-down wedding cake look of normal Class B airspace. • Thanks to Jayne, her staff, and other leaders for their steady efforts to allow us to return to flight. I also wish to add my personal condolence to all who lost loved ones in this unimagined horror. ••• Just before this tragedy, a Grandfather Mountain reunion proved a memorable event. Several anecdotal reports I received told of a great time atop the east’s must rugged mountain. • My former partner at Crystal Air Sports, Tom Phillips, wrote "It was like a time-warped dream… with wuffos asking questions and watching in awe as Sky Gods from the past dove off a rock the size of a kitchen table with a hastily cobbled 2×6 lumber extension." Tom wondered how many other pilots would have made the event had there been more notice. Indeed, I only heard about it from Kitty Hawk’s John Harris at the Oshkosh airshow mere days before it occurred. • Names like Burke Ewing, Terry Sweeney, Tom Peghiny, Tom Haddon, Jeff Burnett, Doug Lawton, Bubba Goodman, and Pete Knebel joined contemporaries like organizer, GW Meadows. At night, old movies and modern computer presentations were enjoyed along with talks by Harris, Meadows, and the Hugh Morton family. Many hoped it would become an annual thing. I see it as the east coast version of Joe Greblo’s Dockweiler Beach reunion. ••• Music was also part of the Grandfather Mountain reunion. Only this wasn’t just any old music; it was hang gliding music. Yup, fer sure, dude! More correctly, it was — and I quote — "Songs That Only Hang Gliding Air Junkies Understand." An entire CD, "Pelican Tunes" is surprisingly listenable with newly recorded cuts. Or, you can simply enjoy the humor of LA artist, Michael Helms. You’ll recognize the melody behind every song but the words have been, uh… creatively altered to make a fascinating parody. Order at the eStore of justfly.com for only $9.95. I found easily enough smiles listening to the album to be worth ten bucks. Matter of fact, I can’t pry it away from my wife (a one-time HG pilot herself), so be sure to listen to it before loaning it to your flying buddies. ••• With no more Millennium gliders forthcoming Brian Porter has been piloting his Swift (also a Brightstar design for those who’ve forgotten). In fact, I understand Brian is marketing the now-European-made Swift in this country. He has also done very well in contests with the slick wing. Of course, he did well in his Millennium, so the impressive performance of the Swift isn’t all of the reason for his success. • Some pilots feel this glider — and perhaps all the rigid wings — hardly represent the hang gliding we always knew. Add paragliders into the mix and clearly, "hang gliding" has diversified in various ways. So, is the Swift a true hang glider? • In the same vein, try to puzzle the coming Pod Racer from Mike Rigg’s Seagull Aerosports. Racing pilot Davis Straub refers to the Swifts in competition with him as "space ships." What will pilots think of Rigg’s fully enclosed soaring trike with its retractable wheels? Of course, it won’t have the small cross-sectional area of a tight-fitting pod harness, but it may be clean enough to compensate in other ways — for example, all instrumentation and a rocket parachute will be enclosed as will be most of the base tube. Will you still be "hang gliding," in a Pod Racer… especially as it isn’t intended for foot launcing? • Another interesting note is the mountain launch of a gorgeous Italian "ultralight" motorglider called the Silent. It is also built without an engine and one recently launched "effortlessly" from a mountain slope to the surprise of observing hang glider pilots. • As with the Millenniums, Swifts, ATOSes, Stalkers, and Ghostbusters, Mike’s coming Pod Racer and perhaps even aircraft like the Silent may redefine what we call hang gliding in much the way paragliders did in the 1990s. Perception, not rule definitions, directly affects what pilots buy. Witness the 20% turnout of rigids at contests to see that this isn’t the marginal rigid wing market of the 80s. And with the number of paragliders at over 60% of the number of hang gliders in America, it’s clear that hang gliding is redrawing its boundaries. ••• In closing, Wills Wing is now the distributor for Airwave Paragliders in the U.S. This news comes from Marcus Villinger who for many years imported lots and lots of WW-brand hang gliders into Europe. After many changes — including Villinger taking over the remains of the old Airwave company from England, to include their paragliding line — now he is selling to his old supplier. Obviously they know each other well and Airwave is pleased to have Wills Wing and their 45 paragliding dealers across the USA. Info: 714-998-6359. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930. Please note my new e-mail address of News@ByDanJohnson.com… though you can still use CumulusMan@aol.com for the foreseeable future. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN., — You know, it seems like quite some time since I wrote about a new flexwing hang glider but in this month’s "Product Lines," I’m pleased to tell you about a new topless entry. It’s AirBorne’s new Climax 154. First some specs: area is 154 squares, span is 34.1 foot, AR is 7.6, nose angle is 127-133 degrees, and it has 90% double surface with 32 battens, a weight of 77 pounds, and recommended pilot weight of 155-275. AirBorne says it takes only 10 minutes to assemble and packs down to 17.4 feet (short pack to 12.8 feet). Well, the specs don’t differ much from any other topless, so let’s look a little further. • The company has already found success with their entry-level Fun, intermediate Sting II, and recreational Shark. As principal Ricky Duncan said, "The only product missing from our range was a truly high performance glider." Besides the obvious removal of upper rigging, they reversed prior AirBorne patterns and went with the more widely accepted elliptical tip and changed their older Shark cam-VG system to allow a tighter VG full-on setting. They claim "much lower operating pressures, which also minimizes the amount of rope flopping around in the breeze." Their cam-VG system does not require the crossbar to be pulled aft which AirBorne feels better preserves the shape of the airfoil to hold down trim speeds and maintain more conventional pitch forces. The Aussies believe trim speeds rise on many topless designs while pitch forces decrease and they consider both of these to be "design problems." In addition, Duncan feels the sprogs and tip dive devices work better with their cam-VG system. • AirBorne’s Climax sail uses an "improved Mylar pocket arrangement" that smooths airflow around the leading edge to the lower surface. This works in conjunction with new double nose ribs because, "Tests have shown us that leading edge deformation starts at the nose during higher speeds." Early flight testing was "exciting" and they should be nearing certification as you read this with production commencing next month. They won’t sell the glider until certification is complete and expect to set a price in November. Info: fly@AirBorne.com.au or see their website. ••• AirBorne’s entry may be tardy but necessary, at least according to a review of contest results among flexwings. Betihno Schmitz reports that average contest speeds before topless gliders (that is, before about 1998) were around 25 mph. Whereas, in meets he’s examined since, the average speeds rose to 30-32 mph, an increase of better than 20%. He believes this increase is a result of pilots seeking to reduce their drag while increasing their effective wing loading. Schmitz doesn’t see that such reduction in drag is worthwhile on gliders with upper rigging, normally shaped downtubes, and wires routed to the conventional control bar corners. Some contest pilots employ small changes like attaching the wires halfway down the downtubes and Schmitz thinks these tiny drag reductions can actually help when paired with a cleaner topless wing. ••• We run from the very latest to the oldest… Some called it the "Geezer Fly-in," but whatever the name, the assembly produced, as Mike Riggs put it, "not a dry eye in the area." Many of the Who’s Who of hang gliding history gathered at Joe Greblo’s "Reunion Fly-in" at Dockweiler Beach. This’ll surely make a story in our favorite rag, but it certainly sounded like an amazing gathering that I wished I could’ve attended. Over 300 luminaries or ex-luminaries did go and the one day event was heralded as a huge success. The list of old timers was lengthy and impressive. ••• Mentioning Mike Riggs (Seagull Aircraft boss from the 1970s), I want to add that the fly-in gave him additional feedback on his new soaring trike, inspired by my writing — or whining — back a few issues ago. The amount of mail and messages I’ve received on this idea suggests it could be a big market success and Mike got more positive strokes for his work at Dockweiler. He’ll call it the "Pod Racer," a nifty play on the latest Star Wars flick and the company name will be… ha!, you guessed, Seagull. While out west, Riggs was encouraged to make the Pod Racer into a family of designs to include a simple Sport Pod model with less streamlining, fixed gear, more openness, and maybe less weight. Joe Greblo, who’s been interested in Mike’s work for months, asked for a two seat trainer version. But the first one will be the full-on Pod Racer with retractable gear, full windscreen (with openings for arm movement to allow full control bar range), an integral BRS parachute, faired trike/wing attachments, and a welded steel internal structure plus a plastic body that should resist dings and dents. "It should have front-plate drag not much more than a clean prone pilot," contends Riggs. I know I’m pumped by his work. If you are too, you might dash off an e-mail to Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org. ••• One of the responses I got was from Kamron Blevins, proprietor of North Wing Design. Many of you should know his name but for those who don’t, Kamron has been building hang glider wings for nearly two decades. I’ve flown several of his wings (on trikes) and I’ve been tickled pink with the handling. He’s now branched into powered trikes which I’ve also flown and liked. One of these, he says, could do duty as a soaring trike if built without an engine. It may not be the highly faired Pod Racer that Riggs is building but he certainly ought to be a player and he’s already got a well established production facility. Info: 509-886-4605 or email@example.com. ••• A "former skydiving champ turned movie stuntman turned movie writer turned movie director," Guy Manos is a name that may endear itself to the hang gliding community. He says, "I wrote the Wesly Snipes movie ‘Dropzone’ and just finished directing my first feature… another skydiving based action flick called ‘Cutaway’ staring Stephen Baldwing, Tom Berenger and Dennis Rodman." He made money for the studio on these so he adds, "Hollywood is anxious for me to do another movie." He says they never want you to stray too far from what you know so he’s trying to prepare a script to re-make ‘Skyriders,’ the hang gliding movie from the 70s starring Wills Wing gliders and James Coburn. I wish Guy success as this was a neat movie back when and, professionally done in modern style, might provide quite a publicity boost for our sport. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org. ••• After being USHGA’s Executive Director for over six years, Phil Bachman resigned. He cited personal reasons and family for his departure and will help the association through a transition period, but he bid farewell only a month before the fall board of directors meeting. Over the years I’ve enjoyed my contact with Phil and certainly wish him well in the future. The fall board meeting will update directors on plans to replace Bachman. ••• Well, more news is waiting but room is gone once again. • So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
St. Paul, Minn. — The buzz continues over power and USHGA. Actually, most of the racket appears to be emanating from a vocal few while most pilots are either ambivalent or fence sitters. • Invited to vote, hopefully all pilots studied the USHGA position and then expressed their interests. Ten years ago, in 1993, USHGA accepted all APA (American Paragliding Association) members into our club. The assimilation worked with few problems. Now the same decision is facing us with power for soaring. You got your voting card. Did you send it? We’re all waiting for you… ••• Executive Director Jayne Depanfilis writes that one reason to think carefully about HG&PG power in USHGA is because FAA is all-but advising the association to take these aviators under our wing. • With that in mind, Jayne asked if I’d go listen to the new FAA administrator speak at the Oshkosh airshow in late July. Here’s some highlights of her talk. As expected, none of her remarks focused on hang gliding as Part 103 operations are unaffected by the new rule. • Brand new FAA boss, Marion Blakey, spoke at Oshkosh on July 31, 2003 in a session called “Meet The Administrator.” While she started with issues related to general aviation pilots, Blakey soon got to Sport Pilot / Light Sport Aircraft (SP/LSA). Reporting that she’d signed off on the new rule for FAA the day before generated the loudest applause of her speech. Listeners overflowed the large forum in which she spoke, many keen to hear about Sport Pilot. However, except to confirm sign-off on the final version of the rule, Blakey revealed little. • Experiencing deja vu? Yes, FAA already sent this rule off to OMB (budget) and DOT (transportation) before but that was the proposal. Now, FAA’s sent the final. When Blakey stated that the process would take 6-12 months some experts felt she didn’t “spin” her message well. Could this long-overdue rule still be a year away? With 90 days allowed to each agency, OMB and DOT “should” have the rules back to FAA for public issuance by February 1, 2004. As the man who once pushed Part 103 through FAA’s bureaucratic machinery, Mike Sacrey was more upbeat. “This puts the [SP/LSA] rule within field-goal range,” he commented. • Blakey reported that 4,300 responses had been received to the proposal, a large figure compared to other NPRMs. Of that outpouring, a significant percentage came from the hang gliding community regarding towing. Congratulations commenters; you were heard loud and clear. ••• Nanotrikes at Oshkosh! These lightweight structures use powered paraglider engines and are aimed at hang glider soaring pilots. They are closer to a powered harness than a conventional powered ultralight trike. No less than four models were shown, two of them brand new. • Seagull Aerosports’ Pod was the only fully enclosed nanotrike. Mike and Linda Riggs showed their Escape Pod, the powered model, with an almost-identical but engine-less Pod Racer to follow. I wrote about this quite a bit last month so I will only add that my excitement continued when I saw the actual Pod. For years, I’ve been seeking a soaring trike which minimizes drag and weight. Seagull’s Pod series is an elegant answer. It displayed in mockup form as final details prevented a finished, flying product. But it was good enough for me to hand over the $1,000 (deposit) check I’d promised in this column years ago. FMI: 952-473-1480 or Mike@fly-seagull.com • Lookout Mountain Flight Park had on their space the PowerLite imported from Australia’s Airtime Products, also the supplier of the Explorer Powered Harness. Their’s is a minimal trike that looks more refined than any other nanotrike entry. It was even smaller and lower than LMFP’s own SkyCycle, displayed with some new features like side storage bags. Powerlite uses the same engine selected by Seagull for their Pod — Cors-Air was first developed for powered paragliders. LMFP’s SkyCycle uses the well-proven Zenoah and their carriage looked like it could handle harder use than the tiny Powerlite. Logically then, you might start with a SkyCycle and move up to a Powerlite. FMI: 706-398-3541 or email@example.com • Or you might consider Steve Rewolinski’s one-off soaring trike. Steve smiled that big grin of his and hinted at possible production by a local business currently producing powered parachutes (Skymaster). It seems a good way for a fully-employed Steve to deal with inevitable interest. His is a competition-pilot-designed trike with all streamlined tubing, hand-deploy parachute, and a suprone posture. A narrow pod between his knees had room for instruments and some limited storage underneath the faceplate. With his MR700 Icaro hang glider doing the lifting, Steve’s nanotrike climbs about 600 fpm, he reported. He added that he’s already logged many engine-off hours soaring this rig. • In successive columns I’ll write more about each of these nanotrikes because every single one of them is aimed at soaring flight. I’ll also tell you about a new hang glider tug unveiled at the big show. Summary: looks good with a lower price than Dragonfly. ••• Wrapping up, I’m pleased to say USHGA again displayed at Oshkosh. It proved a good year to return as the giant airshow enjoyed its best attendance in three years. Working the booth steadily was Brent Mueller, USHGA’s summer marketing intern, who said many people tried out the slick hang gliding simulator provided by Raven Sky Sports. As for most vendors, this doesn’t necessarily translate into revenue (or memberships), but it gave hang gliding a highly visible presence at a week-long event that draws nearly a million flight-oriented people. • USHGA’s booth space was made possible by Brad Kushner who purchased the location. Naturally he also promoted his towpark which is conveniently located only a couple hours away. FMI: 262-473-8800 or hanggliding.com ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930. E-mail to News@ByDanJohnson.com or CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
ST. PAUL , MINN. — Wills Wing was surely pleased by the recent performances of Nene Rotor who won the Brazilian Nationals in his Talon, and by Chris Zimmerman, who won the US Open on a Talon. Jim Lee came in third on another Talon. lll About their topless entry, Wills Wing says, “After a lot of development and wide ranging experiments… production 2002 Talon 140s and 150s sport a significantly improved sail design, and several new features which are immediately apparent, including an extended tip chord and an extended double surface which fairs in the hang loop, enhanced handling and slow speed capabilities, and improved L/D across the speed range.” s In June I wrote about one of Wills Wing’s experiments seen at the 2002 Wallaby Open — variable reflex. This clever system showed promise but Wills said it “would require a significantly more refined execution in order to be viable on a production glider.” The U.S. member of the world’s Big Five hang glider manufacturers says that “a number of other, less visible experiments were also being conducted at the same time, and while none of these will see production at this time, we will continue to work on these and other ideas as we continue to refine and develop the Talon for the future.” lll Wills also performed evaluations of their Falcon Tandem glider. They flew it at Wallaby Ranch on a fixed-wheel setup with hook-in weights from 180 to 500 pounds (!). Even at these extremes, Wills says, “The Falcon Tandem does not exhibit the spiral instability seen on most previous tandem gliders when the payload goes over 400 pounds.” The company also reports that Ken Howells and Rob Kells foot launched and landed it in no wind at 440 pounds. They say the big tandem model “rounds out and glides in ground effect, rather than requiring a dive at the ground and an almost immediate flare like the Falcon 225.” Unlike the Falcon 225, the Fly 2, and Double Vision, Wills says there “is no ‘wall’ in the flare. The glider flares easily… almost like a Falcon flown solo.” s WW dealers also made observations. Michael Robertson of High Perspective has been making his living for years teaching hang gliding, and has thousands of tandems on all the available commercial tandem gliders. Robertson flew the Tandem at Wallaby, did some midday soaring with the big glider, and reported that he wanted one “as soon as possible.” Another experienced instructor, Rob McKenzie, says he’s logged more than 7,500 foot launch tandem flights. About the Falcon Tandem, Rob writes, “It is nice to finally have a tandem glider that performs well, has light and neutral roll response, and flares smoothly with full rotation without that feeling of pushing against a brick wall.” If you’re instructing tandem, sounds like you ought to demo the new trainer. s The Tandem is not the 225 Falcon 2 model nor is it Wills Wing’s hillside trainer, the Condor. Instructor or not, any pilot might enjoy this reasonably priced ($3,675) glider. FMI: willswing.com (then click on “Falcon 2”). lll In rigid wing news, La Mouette is making more ripples than I’ve noted for some time, with David Chaumet performing well on a Top Secret in several contests. Some observers felt it outglides and outclimbs some other rigid wings. Though Chaumet’s Top Secret had no new model designation, the previous examples did not appear to perform as well. Chaumet was said to be doing as well as Icaro’s Stratos and A.I.R.’s latest ATOS-C. Contest writer, Davis Straub, indicated, “This is the first time that another rigid wing glider has been able to challenge the ATOS as the top rigid wing.” At press time, no word on production changes for the Top Secret, but I’ll try to snoop around on an upcoming visit to Dijon , France , home of La Mouette. FMI: lamouette.com/pdelta1.html lll Reports of several tucks or tumbles have surfaced during 2002’s soaring season. While you might escape such mishaps by flying in milder conditions or places, some appear difficult to avoid completely including one at Tiger Mountain near Seattle . Even though Washington pilot Steve Becker’s parachute did not get out, he survived impact with the ground. Lessons: avoid strong conditions and make sure you’ve got a parachute (and that you’ve repacked it recently). s You might also consider one of Mike Riggs’ Pods when he gets them ready for the 2003 season. Damage to wings resulting in parachute deployments often involve the pilot falling into — and breaking — the glider. But a conventional, non-rigid harness may not be your only choice next year. s Riggs recently signed documents on an SBA Loan and his Seagull Aerosports company plans to start production of the first retractable-gear pods by fall of 2002. The concept of a sleek soaring trike (or “pod” in Seagull parlance) was spurred by my own interest so I’m in line for for one of the first models. Presently, Riggs won’t accept your money, yet the first 20+ Pods are already spoken for, figures Mike. Interest in this new style of “harness” appears to be growing steadily. FMI: firstname.lastname@example.org Next month: tucks and tumbles and tails and winglets. Rigid wings are adapting controllable surfaces. Will flex wings also go this route one day? s So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset , St. Paul MN 55118 . Messages or fax to 651-450-0930; please note my new e-mail address of News@ByDanJohnson.com… but you can still use CumulusMan@aol.com for the foreseeable future. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN., — For the first time I can remember, in 22 years of writing "Product Lines," my column had to be substantially changed after it left my desk (or, these days, my computer desktop). News from Peter Radman of Altair cast doubt about the future of the newest American hang gliding producer. Fortunately for Peter and the old organization, the news improved… • Radman wrote on August 26th: "Basically my original news was that Altair was ceasing operations. The update is that Altair has sold operations to [a new company called] US Altair, led by Steve and Marcia Schuster who are continuing to manufactuer the Predator and Saturn from facilities in Calfornia. A second company, Altair Industries LLC headed by Ivan Mrazek will continue to market the ATOS from facilities in Utah." Peter didn’t want to say more as he "no longer has any vested interest beyond personal interest." However, he added, "I see this as a positive development. Both operations are streamlined from the original Altair, Inc." He says the original company invested heavily in establishing itself and its gliders in what Radman calls "an extremely competitive market." The two operations, US Altair and Altair Industries, don’t have to support the "heavy overhead carried by the original Altair," he explained. Those investments combined with lower-cost imported gliders to make it tough going for the Utah-based glider maker, Radman indicated in earlier correspondence. • Peter didn’t offer contact information for the Schusters, but to reach Ivan Mrazek, call 801-814-3812, or e-mail to email@example.com. With the continuing success of the ATOS in Class II meets and in cross country flying, it seems Altair Industries has a future. Thanks for your efforts, Peter; good luck Ivan plus Steve and Marcia. ••• After the dust settled from the Hearne Texas U.S. Nats, I was able to glean some stats of interest relative to the gliders flown. Now, unlike the Florida meets of this spring, this meet was much more "American," that is, way less foreign pilots. A solid meet, the Lonestar Champs had mostly good task days and a good-sized field of 80 pilots, 22 of which flew (28%) flew Class II rigid wings. Congraulations to Class I winner Paris Williams, flying his Icaro Laminar, and to Class II winner Robin Hamilton on a Swift (not a Millennium). • I looked at what everyone flew and here are the results of my tallying. Moyes and Icaro tied for the most gliders flown at 28% of the Class I field. Next was Wills Wing at 21%, Aeros at 9%, La Mouette at 3%, and a three-way tie for fifth (2%) between Altair, Seedwings, and Airwave. Among rigid pilots, A.I.R.’s ATOS again swept easily, with exactly half the field. Flight Designs (either Exxtacy or Ghostbuster) had 23%, Brightstar had 14% — and won the meet — followed by Guggenmos at 9% and Aeros (Stalker) with 5%. ••• News from FAA… concerning proposed new rules often referred to as "Sport Pilot." Some reverberations within the hang gliding community are inevitable. Change is afoot, and that can be a scary thing with big government. Reading federal government proposals is even duller than reading some computer manuals, but the information contained may be important to pilots. • One problem that remains unresolved is the proposed no-towing provision. In conversations with rule writers, I found them largely unaware of the major impact that aerotowing has had on hang gliding. Their concern about commercial towing of other objects by powered aircraft spurred the no-towing language. When made aware of the difference as early as the February Air Sports Expo in Indianapolis, FAA presenters indicated that they wouldn’t change the proposal but instead would wait for the comment period. • The rule ain’t a rule yet! At the big Oshkosh airshow which concluded in August, even Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta was unable to make the big announcement. An anticipated easy trip through the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) proved otherwise (it’s still at OMB as of early September). Despite his special appearance and a reported call made every 10 minutes from his executive jet enroute to the big show, no announcement was made… still a "no-go." Even with pressure from a big shot, OMB obviously remains unsure about the financial side. • Background politics: Mineta, a Bush appointee, came to (hopefully) make the announcement. The expected announcer would have been FAA boss Jane Garvey, but she’s a Clinton appointee and if there was good news to be announced, it was going be done by a Bush man, gol’ dang it. Indeed, I don’t recall seeing Mineta at Oshkosh before. • But the GOOD NEWS is that Part 103 is not changing, period. So all non-towed hang gliding is in no jeopardy from the new rule. Neither are genuinely light-weight soaring trikes or powered paragliders. But those who tow, or support towing, better plan to write your government rep when the comment period opens. [Disclaimer: This has only been a little FAA news and is neither official nor complete.] ••• Finally, in a rare personal note, I’d like to congratulate my friend Malcolm Jones and his lovely wife, Linda, on the arrival of their new baby named John Arthur, who joins daughter Lauren. In time, perhaps little John will take over his dad’s successful flight park in Florida. Congratulations to the Jones family. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN., — Another new world record. This time it is Davis Straub in the news with a stunning 347 mile flight on August 9th! Of course, both Dave Sharp’s ATOS flight reported last month and the new one this month are Class II gliders when the record they broke was Larry Tudor’s in a Class I, but nonetheless, these things are still "hang gliders." ••• Straub flew his ATOS for 347 miles or 555 kilometers. Only three weeks after Dave Sharp hit 311 miles for a record, Straub’s effort also came as a result of the now-so-aptly-named World Record Encampment. As with Sharp, Straub flew north in favorable conditions from the far southern Texas town of Zapata. You can read the entire trip report and see maps and altitude plots on his website (DavisStraub.com) but a few points are worth highlighting here. • Lift developed so that he could fly from 10 am to 8 pm, 10 hours of prone (whew!). For a great deal of the flight, he says he rarely got over 7,000 feet but that in trade he enjoyed flying in warm, moist Gulf air. Between thermals he reports speeds of 55-60 mph. The difference in a 35 mph average speed shows that he had to climb a lot (within the 7,000 ft. range). However, Davis willingly accepted this turn of affairs as it also came with less hard bounces and broken-up air. At 260 miles out he got to 8,000 MSL in better thermals. But way out at 320 miles — already having grabbed a new mark — Davis writes that he "got lucky, found a cloud, pure luck." Finally with smooth air and all clouds disappearing, he relied on "plenty of wind and heat on the ground." Gliding another 20 miles he landed at a farm near Sterling City, Texas. Needing witnesses for this achievement of flight, Davis "cut the flight a little bit short and landed at 347 miles." • While Davis thanked various people, he wrote, "Gary Osaba is the person most responsible for making it possible for me to set this record." The respected weather guru provided assistance in weather forecasting plus it’d been Gary’s suggestion to use Zapata in the first place. Ah, the age of computers and the Internet. Osaba performed all services from home in Kansas. Congratulations, Davis… and Gary. Jobs clearly well done! ••• Several contests sparked summer 2000. I feel confident you’ll see reports in the magazine, but my usual focus is on the gliders being flown. The Lone Star Champs had 32 flexwings while the Lakeview Nats had 50 flexwings and these two U.S. meets compare to the smaller but prestigious World Speed Gliding Champs in Mt. Olympus, Greece with 20 pilots — where, unusual in foreign contests — the U.S. contingent was the largest. At the latter, GW Meadows and Ken Brown honed their speed gliding talents and were predicted to look good at the Colorado Red Bull Wings Over Aspen speed gliding event (though that week appeared to be weathered out as this went to press). • Surveying all participants in the two U.S. meets of 82 pilots, I found Wills Wing on top with 32% of the combined field. They did especially well at Lakeview where they had 38% and a win by Bo Hagewood on a Fusion. Aeros was a fairly close second at 29% continuing their hot selling ways under boss GW Meadows. Popular contest pilot choices then followed with Icaro at 14% and Moyes at 13% in a tight competition for third place. La Mouette (4%) and single entries from Airwave and AirBorne filled out the field. • Compare this to the choices in Greece where regular winner Manfred Ruhmer took another first place. However, GW Meadows (as a competitor this time) and Ken Brown placed 4th and 5th respectively. • Among gliders flown by this speedy crowd, Aeros took a convincing 40% the field, followed distantly by Seedwings, Icaro, Wills Wing, Moyes, and UP. A lone Airwave competed. The field is too small and the contest too esoteric to judge much but one thing seems clear. The Ukraine organization called Aeros is very much alive and well on the world market. • Among rigid wings, Brian Porter continues to notch up wins in his Millennium followed by a number of ATOSes, sprinkled with a couple Ghostbusters, Exxtacys, and an Ixbo or so. It is also true that the number of rigid wing competitors are still not equaling the flex entries. New products take time to percolate through the market, but various factors appear to be holding back faster rigid penetration: sharply higher prices and the good relative performance of flexwings in well-matched contest tasks. • Among Yankee contest gurus destined for the U.S. World Team, Jim Lee still reigns, followed by hot new star, Paris Williams, Mike Barber, Glen Volk, Jersey Rosignol, Chris Arai, Bo Hagewood, Kari Castle, Steve Rewolinski, and Richard Sauer (this list is not intended to be an official ranking). • A.I.R. has released a small ATOS. According to early reports from Dave Sharp, the mini-ATOS has 125 square feet, a 37.5 foot span, 11.3 A.R., weighs 68 pounds, and accommodates a pilot weighing 112-198 pounds. It packs down over two feet shorter than its larger sibling and has one less rib with scaled-down flaps. Spoilers are said to be nearly the same size but with a different shape. Overall? It’s "quicker handling," says Dave. ••• The Oops! Department has a couple corrections: • First, though Seedwings’ Bob Trampenau appreciated "the plug in your column" the e-mail address was incorrect. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org (I’d forgotten the second "s"). • A second geek was mistakenly giving credit to Nene Rotor for the Tenax harness. Brain fade… of course, Nene makes the Rotor harness bearing his name (duh!). • Tenax is made by Woody Valley who also offers a Manfred Ruhmer version with personal touches much like on his Laminar MR2000 glider. The Tenax is marketed by AV8 in the U.S. Info: email@example.com ••• Hey, lots more news but outta room till next month. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
St. Paul, Minn. — At this fall’s meeting of the USHGA board of directors debate will continue regarding the inclusion of powered paraglidersand powered hang gliders in our national club. This debate won’t go easily or swiftly. Many pilots of either wing type feel engines don’t belong in USHGA or at their flying site. Yet the popularity of these flying machines is growing and they are more like us than powered ultralights. • Last month’s story about the Minnesota pilots exceeding 10,000 feet of vertical gain might not have happened without the Mosquito powered harness allowing those pilots find thermals. Besides, the old questions exist: Doesn’t the tow vehicle have an engine? Don’t we have to drive up to most mountain launches? Ironically, the Mosquito engines may use less fuel to get pilots up than a monster 4×4 often used at mountain sites. • So, perhaps you won’t be surprised to read that editor Dan Nelson has asked me to include more power coverage in this column. For even longer than my work to create “Product Lines” I’ve been involved with powered aviation. I communicated back to Dan that I did not want to have only powered coverage, but that I’d watch developments closely and chronicle them in this column. With that in mind… ••• I can hardly contain my excitement! A product I’ve been hoping for and waiting for is almost ready. Michael Riggs of Seagull fame (two decades ago) plans to show his Escape Pod at the Oshkosh airshow in early August. He’s been working seven days a week for months. It isn’t quite ready to fly, but it’ll turn lots of heads at the big event. This is the fully enclosed “pod” for hang gliders with fully retractable gear and in-flight adjustable hang point. With only a single “mast” connecting pod to glider, the pilot will have wide-open visibility. Flown seated like most trikes, Riggs believes the frontal area will only be a bit more than many hang glider harnesses. The Escape Pod is the powered version with its powered paraglider-type Cors-Air engine fully enclosed aft of the pilot, separated by a sound-deadening bulkhead. Also in this area will be a BRS rocket parachute system. Kevlar straps connecting BRS to the top of the wing will hide in a special channel on the aft side of the mast. Next month, I’ll provide more details and in the future, I’ll probably write a flight report… because I’m going to the show with my checkbook to be the first buyer. • Now, for those silent flyers who don’t want to hear anything about powered hang gliding, the Pod Racer is not far behind. This model of Seagull Aerosports’ line will not have an engine. It was my original request and is still what I find the most exciting aspect of Riggs’ endeavors. But look at the logic: the soaring season dwindles as fall stretches on and the giant Oshkosh airshow in August gives a better chance to show off a powered aircraft. Come next year’s Sun ‘n Fun airshow, Mike will feature both Escape Pod and Pod Racer. Even more importantly to the hang gliding and paragliding crowd are the twin Florida contests where Mike can truly show off the Pod Racer …a coming-out party. Hooo Boy! I predict an interesting season for Seagull Aerosports. I know I’ll be doing more hang gliding with a Pod Racer for rent at places like Wallaby or Quest or Brad Kushner’s towpark in Wisconsin. At home I hope to catch thermals after motoring aloft in an Escape Pod. FMI: 952-473-1480 or Mike@fly-seagull.com ••• Speaking of flight parks, welcome another one to the fold. New Hampshire’s Morningside, run by long timer, Jeff Nicolay, added aerotowing to their many activities as summer began. Most HG pilots don’t have objections to the noise a tug makes — though some neighbors do. Morningside was enlisting signatures to turn back some pockets of resistance. To help or FMI: www.flymorningside.com (has a terrific launch page I watched from beginning to end!) ••• Still on towparks, Kushner’s Whitewater, WI operation called Raven Sky Sports has kept up with Wallaby and Quest Air very well (considering he doesn’t enjoy the year-round weather of the Florida enterprises). Now he’s keeping up in a new way, offering wireless high-speed Internet service to those who visit. FMI: www.hanggliding.com ••• Just when you though you’d heard everything about towing, along comes aerotowing a paraglider.Oz Report (davisstraub.com) had a short story on what participants believed was “the first ‘successful’ aerotow of a paraglider behind a Moyes-Bailey Dragonfly.” They used close to 1,000 feet of line and a “drag device” to keep tension on the line. Dragonfly designer Bob Bailey was able to tow Dave Prentice to 250 feet. More experiments are planned. • Hans Bausenwein of Germany indicates that he has a paraglider pay-out winch intended to be mounted on the towplane. Submitting to the Oz Report, Hans says, “This little payout winch only weighs 44 pounds, has a Kevlar drum and an exact means of setting the thrust. It has a guillotine to cut the rope in an emergency. The drum has 2,000 feet of 3 mm spectra line. The unit even has a DHV certification.” • Neither project represents the first aerotow of a paraglider. Frenchman Gerard Thevenot of La Mouette tried this in the mid-90s but gave it up. • Also, in February of 2000, Albuquerque powered PG pilot Eric Dufour towed an unpowered PG at the end of 100 feet of line. They report climbing to about 200 feet but landed for safety reasons. Their web report says, “Eric knew it could be done, but technically, it is dangerous.” ••• Another fixed wing tug is coming. I’ve been asked not to say too much about it yet, but players I know in the ultralight industry are preparing a tug to compete with the Dragonfly. I hope to see the first example at the big Oshkosh airshow starting shortly after this column is submitted. More next month. ••• Finally this month, Scott Heiple started a mail order business doing sail repairs, carbon repairs, and custom carbon fiber helmets. His specialty is leading edge repairs and replacements. Since he’s kept his overhead cost low, he says he can do carbon fiber work beginning at $400 plus shipping. This kind of work is not widely available, so those of you with carbon in your hang glider might want to look at his website: www.geocities.com/franknaxis2001. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930. E-mail to News@ByDanJohnson.com or CumulusMan@aol.com THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN. — Results are in from the World Record Encampment. In short it was not the year most hoped for due to the massive rainfall Texas sustained. The bad weather was north of Zapata, but it significantly affected those hang glider and paraglider pilots who had converged on the south Texas town. Many pilots had traveled a long way, some internationally. Many got skunked. lll However, some records were set and FAI has already approved a few. s In a “joint flight,” both Pete Lehmann and Mike Barber were awarded the Straight Distance to a Declared Goal record of 516 km (322.5 miles). Lehmann flew a Wills Talon 150 and Barber flew a Moyes Litespeed 4. s Paraglider pilots were perhaps the most celebrated of the 2002 Zapatans since two pilots managed record on successive days (before the rains started). Dave Prentice flew his Ozone Proton GT Small for 386 kilometers (241 miles) earning a Straight Distance record. s Dave’s time in the limelight was for a mere 24 hours. Though it had not received sanction at press time, Will Gadd started an hour earlier the next day flying his Gin Gliders Boomerang Medium and set a new (as yet unofficial) world paragliding record at 423 kilometers (263 miles). • Another record that gained quick approval was Bo Hagewood’s Speed Over a Triangular Course of 100 km at a record 42 km/h (26 mph) on his Aeros Combat 2. s Congratulations to all. lll From across the big pond come results from European Hang Gliding Championships. No one will be surprised to hear Manfred Ruhmer won it, but perhaps you’d like to see how the Euros choose their gliders. The results differed a bit from the big Florida meets last spring. s One thing remains the same: Moyes stayed solidly on top, with an impressive 34% of the field. They had nearly a 10-point lead on the next contender which was Icaro (25%). Another good notch back was Aeros at 18% of the field of 99 flex wings. s Those were the big three and the closest to them was La Mouette at 7%. Trailing even further was Wills Wing at 3%, AirBorne at 4%, and a smattering of others including Avian, Seedwings Europe, Airwave, UP, and three of a glider called the Carl Haman Relief Quasar. lll Special focus was given to the Chelan Worlds Women’s competition where 20 pilots were registered. Kari Castle easily maintained her position at the top of the stack, followed by Claire Vassort in second. Manfred Ruhmer won Class 2 and Christian Ciech won Class 5. s Do women choose the same or different gliders from men? Well, 20 is hardly a valid sample size and contest pilots don’t necessarily fly what the rest of us do. But surveying the gliders selected by female pilots at the Chelan meets a similar distribution. Moyes holds the lead at 35%, trailed somewhat evenly — and distantly — by Icaro (15%), La Mouette (15%), Aeros, AirBorne, and Seedwings Europe (10%). No female was registered on a Wills Wing. lll In glider news, the rigid wing crowd was again enjoying some excitement in the northwest USA. The Chelan meet had 41 Class 5 rigid wings (with control bar) registered and ten Class 2 (faired) rigid wings. Among these, the Swift Light was attracting lots of attention. s After San Francisco’s Brightstar licensed the design to Belgium’s Aeriane, the glider got more complex and heavier. A fully faired motorglider version was introduced some years ago. s But now, with Manfred Ruhmer flying one at the Quest meet and with him returning to Chelan on a Swift Lite, it appears the Belgian company is finding new interest from the hang gliding community. s The Oz Report, which covers the contest scene in depth, published comments from various participants flying the Swift Lite. A recent edition asked, “The big question… how is the Swift Light different than the Swift? Robin Hamilton, who has been flying his [original] Swift a lot lately, said that the Swift Lite has much better response,” due, he says, to lighter wings and the addition of rudders. The cage is shorter which makes it quite a bit easier to foot launch. Swift Lite can fly slower and pilots felt that it would be quite a bit easier to foot land, though Davis asks, “What’s the point when you’ve got that nice wheel?” Manfred Ruhmer said that he really enjoys flying it, feeling the Swift Lite provides pilots with “much better viewing than the Swift.” My experience flying the Swift confirms an obstructed visibility from the high performance rigid wing. lll Tails are gaining a toehold on rigid wings. Tails aren’t new; hang gliders have used them on and off for decades. Now A.I.R.’s ATOS is sprouting them. According to Web writer, Davis Straub, his ATOS V-tail “works with all ATOSes and the Exxtacy.” Regarding flight characteristics, Straub writes, “The glider now feels rock solid. No longer does it move around in pitch. I’m astounded by the difference.” The fitting, a sleek looking composite construction, sells for close to $400 but is getting good reviews. According to Straub, the non-articulating, lifting surface “dampens roll and pitch” somewhat “increasing bar pressure.“ He summarized with this comment: “It is hard to belief that these changes have made such a dramatic improvement in the feel of the glider.” lll So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930; please note my new e-mail address of News@ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN., — When they first named it the World Record Encampment (WRE) last year, the name seemed a little pretentious. Then, lo and behold, with help from weather technocaster, Gary Osaba, records were set. The 300-mile barrier that had alone been the domain of Larry Tudor — who’d, impressively, done it twice — fell not once but twice. • Dave Sharp held the record for mere days before Davis Straub smashed through to log his now-recognized World Distance Record of 347 miles. Both flew rigid wings and Straub was able to retain the title for a whole year. (Are we talking "Internet time," or what? Used to be records stood for years, even decades. No more…!) ••• As this year’s WRE started anticipation was high. Last year, others whispered about and Straub waxed enthusiastic about breaking the 400-mile barrier. Davis was sure it’d be done. The 2001 edition of the WRE started "normally" in the heat-baked terminology of Zapata, Texas — an obscure location now thrust onto the world’s radar owing to the flight accomplishments in 2000. • Indeed, as reported here last month Mark Poustinchian flew to a new world record distance of 369 miles. Alas, like Dave Sharp’s short-lived record, Mark’s mark was only to survive mere days. Then, all hell broke loose. Or at least enough thermals broke loose to allow even longer record flying. ••• After Poustinchian’s flight, the Zapatans hit a wall for a short while, with flight of "only" 200 miles and more. What qualifies for a remarkable flight in some locations may be nothing special out in the vast deserts of southern Texas. Though many personal bests were achieved, much more was expected after last year’s feats and Poustinchian’s flight earlier. For those of us following these exploits, the wait didn’t seem long. • Of all the pilots involved in the WRE’01, one arrival made me sit up and pay extra attention: present World Champ and winner of many contests, Manfred Ruhmer. I was surprised and intrigued to discover he set personal bests out in the desert, with flights well below the 200-mile mark. Guess I just thought he’d already done longer flights given his incredible competition record. At only 147 miles (for his then-longest flight) I wondered if I’d overblown the excitement of his arrival at the 2001 WRE. But wait…! • Indeed, the 400-mile mark fell, and again, it was Davis Straub and his ATOS basking in the limelight. But, somewhat unbelievably, his 650-kilometer flight was not the longest. Ruhmer, whose flight distances had been increasing steadily, finally smashed through the 300- and 400-mile barriers to set a new benchmark for the world of hang gliding. In his flexwing (Icaro, of course), Ruhmer blasted off an amazing 435-mile flight — actually a calculated 700.8 kilometers great circle distance, using the measurement preferred by the FAI. Manfred flew for ten and a half hours and averaged better than 41 mph! STUNNING! My congratulations to all these literal leading edge pilots, even those with mere 200-mile flight! ••• A sidebar to the whole tale suggests that although rigid wings seemed to have owned the record convincingly and once appeared to be the darling of all superlong distance flyers, Ruhmer proved the flex wing — in especially talented hands, anyway — can keep up with the rigids in overall accomplishments. • By now the Zapata "season" has passed, but I don’t doubt that a WRE 2002 will be held and I can only imagine what to expect from it. ••• On the subject of the World Record Encampment, I was pleased to hear from Davis Straub that my article about the 2000 WRE in KITPLANES magazine was read by Lew Adams, an independent TV producer whose work has appeared on the Discover channel (a world-wide cable favorite with many millions of viewers). After discourse with Straub and Osaba, Adams reported that NOVA "has confirmed… commiting to about 50% of the total film budget of $400-500,000." According to Adams, this should be enough for him to create a documentary about setting records in Zapata. At that point, according to Osaba, Adams and NOVA would then be in a strong position to seek a co-sponsor to finish the film editing, background, [and] special effects." Gary continued, "The focus is a one-hour, prime-time piece to be distributed domestically by NOVA with international distribution by the BBC and National Geographic." What fantastic coverage! Such a show could bolster growth in hang gliding. ••• In closing this month, a sad note. Peter Radman of Altair, producer of the John Heiney Predator and Saturn designs and distributor of the ATOS, wrote to say, "This note is to inform you that [on] August 1, 2001, Altair, Inc., ceased operations and is no longer involved in hang gliding manufacturing, sales, or distribution." Bummer! Another U.S. producer bites the dust. The list of American manufacturers is becoming a rather short… from what Bill Bennett once counted (in the mid-1970s) as more than 300 builders of hang gliders. • However, the good news is that "…a member of Altair’s management, Ivan Mrazek, has established his own company, Altair Industries, LLC, and will continue to distribute the ATOS and supply spare parts for the Saturn and Predator," wrote Radman. To contact Mrazek, call 801-814-3812, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. With the continuing success of the ATOS in Class II meets and in cross country flying, it seems Altair Industries has a future even if the flex wing part of the operation is focused only on replacement parts. Thanks for your efforts, Peter; good luck, Ivan. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN., — We have a Brand New World Record! Of course it has to be verified (or homologated) by authorities but Dave Sharp flew 311 miles (501 km) on his A.I.R. ATOS on July 19, 2000. Sharp and several others have been HQ’d in the unlikely-sounding spot of Zapata, Texas for the World Record Encampment. This boondocks location is estimated by weather guru and soaring technowizard, Gary Osaba, to be the most likely place in the U.S. for a record flight. He’s done well supplying weather forecasts to help meet directors plan cross country tasks, and it turns out he was right on the money again. • Oz Reporter and X-C enthusiast, Davis Straub, reports on his website (davisstraub.com) that on Sharp’s record distance flight, he also "took a FAI sector photo of Barksdale, Texas at 200 miles to set the world record for distance to goal for Class II gliders. This is the first time a foot-launched glider has been flown to the diamond distance." • It’s been a while coming but the straight line distance finally betters the Class I record of 308 miles set by Larry Tudor on a Wills Wing Ram Air. Sharp’s ATOS flight also bests the Current Class II record of 405 km (253 mi) by Ramy Yanetz of Israel. • A fascinating aspect of Dave’s flight achievement is that he did this on a "beater" ATOS. Actually one that had been damaged in shipping, Peter Radman of Altair (ATOS importer) declared it "almost unrepairable." He elaborated saying that they spent two weeks fixing broken D-cells, ribs, a broken keel and patching holes in the sail. Assembled from parts Altair had or cobbled together Radman adds, "It was never meant to leave the shop. It was pieced together to test the repair that was done on the d-cell… Far from the ideal glider one would want for setting world records don’t you think?" • Indeed. And congratulations, Dave! ••• Surveying the gliders chosen by the competitors at the 2000 PreWorlds in Spain, a couple interesting facts arose. As is common at European venues like Spain, Icaro did very well, but they did not dominate, nor even lead the parade. Among 78 Class I pilots, the sleeper was Moyes, whose Australian gliders came in at a convincing 36% of the field, a full 10 points ahead of the next closest brand. Icaro came in second at 26% of the field. What surprised me — since this name hasn’t shown up strongly in competitions for some time — was the very strong third place finish of La Mouette, whose Topless was flown by 21% of the contest pilots. It speaks well of La Mouette sales to the Spanish market. • Trailing well behind was Aeros at 10.0% (the Ukraine brand has had a higher percentage of entries entries in many recent meets). Way back with a minor presence were Wills and Bautek at 3%, and Seedwings and UP with a single entry each. • Congratulations to Betinho Schmitz (1st) and Gerolf Heinrichs (2nd) in their Moyes Litespeeds. ••• Most of the big contest names were at the recent European championships. Pilot choice of the Icaro Laminar dominated here with six in the top ten and many more clumped throughout. A few Moyes Litespeeds and Aeros Stealths were listed and here or there a La Mouette Topless or other European brand you may not even know. Not a single American name showed up near the top. • You may find this Interesting given the love of American aviation products among many Europeans. Once America lead with hang glider developments, but now it appears we are but one nation among many. One occurrence I can observe, however, is that Team USA is doing better at establishing new airparks. Of course we have the land (in some locations) that Europe doesn’t. Even while we fight against loss of any mountain flying site, we do create more tow-based operations. ••• Since I mentioned James Tindell of Miami Hang Gliding and his new tow park last month, I again wish to draw attention to the southern Wisconsin airpark operation of Raven Skysports (www.hanggliding.com). Raven SS is based near Whitewater, Wisconsin which is west of Milwaukee and an hour or so from the huge Chicago metro area. Brad Kushner’s operation is frequented by many central/northern-states pilots. He operates four Dragonfly tugs, a trike tug plus other equipment. • Even newer operations include another Dragonfly-based tow operation at the Superior, Wisconsin airport (very close to Duluth MN) and Ray Leonard and partners’ development in Nevada. Since flatland soaring and cross country potential are now well documented, many veterans see the future of hang gliding in the tow park, a place which can offer launches and good flying plus amenities that are tough to duplicate on a mountain top or remote LZ. (Remember, both Dave Sharp’s recent achievement and Larry Tudor’s of some years ago started from flatland, tow-launched flights.) • If this towpark phenomenon is real, then America continues to blaze new trails. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
St. Paul, Minn. — High times in Minnesota… a story about great thermals up here in the southern Tundra. In late May this year, a group of Minnesota pilots had flights that may have set a record for the midwest. Bruce Bolles, who formerly worked with me at BRS parachutes, related events of this surprising day. • Bruce’s Flytec logged a gain of 10,460 feet from the landing area. He could’ve gone a bit higher (one pilot did) but at that height the temperature was 21° with a 30 mph wind chill equating to something like zero. Bruce had gloves on but none of the pilots expected such huge altitude gains so they weren’t dressed for the occasion. Minnesotans are keenly aware of factors like wind chill, so Bruce wisely elected to go down to warmer altitudes before he sustained frost bite damage. “I couldn’t feel my nose or thumbs,” he recalls. Other pilots Ralph Karsten, Paul Kilstofte, and Bill Manual — all made it to the five-figure mark.••• An important part of this story is the use of Mosquito engines on Woody Valley harnesses. While many pilots in the west and elsewhere around the country disdain powered hang gliders, it may be time for an new sense of tolerance. • “We don’t want anything to do with #@*&€ engine noise [either],” Bruce emphasizes. “We use the power to launch up to a couple thousand feet and then we shut down.” He admits that if the powered pilots get outfoxed by a dud thermal, they can restart in the air and try again. However, he notes that they also enjoy the luxury of landing, grabbing a sandwich and a soft drink, and then relaunching, all without the need for a tow plane and pilot or other trappings of towing. • “Everybody’s got them,” says Bolles, referring to his core group of active hang glider pilots. “After the first one arrived and we all saw what it offered, everyone ended up buying a machine from Bill Fifer” of Traverse City Hang Gliders. With ground truck tows, a mile-long road only yields about 1,000 feet and this won’t assure you get into steady lift in the midwest. The group contemplated a Dragonfly, but then you need a place to keep it, fly it, and you must have a pilot. Such talk died when the Mosquitos began arriving in the northern state. Interested in Mosquito? FMI: 231-922-2844 ••• Power isn’t just happening in the flat midwest. Moyes of America boss Ken Brown recently informed me he’s the new national distributor for the Doodle Bug powered harness from Flylight Airsports in England. This different rig allows you to fly suprone inside the bar after normal foot launch. “More comfortable for long flights,” is one advantage says Brown of the feet-first posture, plus a “change of view.” Ken adds, “The handling is very predictable and controllable.” About his Mosquito, Bolles said the engine-off handling was virtually identical to an unpowered hang glider, so obviously these second-generation suppliers of powered harnesses have figured things out well. Ken believes the Doodle Bug can climb under full power with greater stability in turbulence than prone powered harnesses. Additionally, the space formed by a rear fairing — to lower drag and ensure smoother air to the prop — can contain “a glider bag, sleeping bag, or even a light tent,” says Flylight. A two-gallon fuel tank is also contained inside. Even during a full power climb the 14-hp Radne Rocket engine (same as on the Mosquito) consumes less than a gallon an hour. At cruise this drops to a half-gallon an hour, giving the rig 2-4 hours of operation. • Ken concludes, “The Doodle Bug can be used on the Moyes Sonic 190, Litesport 148 &160 and Litespeed 146 & 156 with no modifications.” Doodle Bug has been fitted to a wide variety of brands and models says Flylight. FMI: 530-888-8622 or email@example.com ••• Regardless how you get aloft, we must all come down sometime. When we do, we need reliable wind indicators. One of the most dedicated suppliers is Hawk AirSports with their popular Windsok line. • Boss Bruce Hawk recently announced a new office manager, Joe Harper. “A whizz on computers and in manufacturing and business management, Joe will streamline the company and provide superior service and quality,” says Hawk. “His new web page design for www.windsok.com will enable easier on-line ordering of the entire product line.” Hawk AirSports offers both permanent and portable models. FMI: 800-826-2719. ••• Many of you can remember the Attack Duck, Wills Wing’s oddly named high performance glider of its day. Now bid welcome to the Attack Falcon. “The PX05 mylar sail ‘Attack Falcon’ caused quite a stir at Wallaby,” says Wills Wing, referring to their spring bash last April at the Florida towpark. Available in the 195 and 170 sizes for $3,650, Attack Falcon includes the Litestream control frame including streamlined aluminum base tube, PX05 mylar in the top surface behind the leading edge panel, and your choice of sail colors in selected panels. “The Attack Falcon looks really cool; they fly great, and the Litestream frame puts the glide over 10 to 1,” exclaimed Wills! • Team WW also brought and flew their 20,000th and 20,001st gliders at the spring event. The new wings displayed well alongside Chris Wills’ original 1973 U.S. Nationals-winning standard hang glider — serial number 35. WW brand has come a long way, and I’m pleased to see Chris still involved with the company (as an owner; he’s a physician who branched out into ultralights and a GlaStar homebuilt). ••• Raven Sky Sports, the midwest’s largest towpark went live with version 2.0 of their website in mid-May. Grab another look at www.hanggliding.com. Proprietor Brad Kushner says, “This is the first really significant update to the site since the mid-1990s.” ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930. E-mail to News@ByDanJohnson.com or CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN. — Well, diver fans, the combined May issue of HG/PG has been seen and we’ve gone back to separate issues until a final decision is made. The voter cards are in and mostly (but not fully) accounted for at this time. I won’t spill the beans about the exact count (as it isn’t done yet) but I can tell you that the early votes were heavily (76%) in favor of combining. Total votes at press time were around 10% of the membership base suggesting the issue didn’t strongly motivate pilots. So, the other 90% of you evidently thought it was a good idea and/or that it would happen anyway. No decision has been made — nor will one be made until a full analysis has been done and blessed by the board of directors. s USHGA Executive Director Jayne Depanfilis gave board members a review of the effort to announce this combined issue and its vote. She feels that many steps were taken to NOT surprise the membership with this idea. She also emphasized that “every opposing letter received was printed” in the magazine though not many were received. Maybe some who would’ve written opposing letters felt it was a done deal. If so, they were wrong and failing to act cost them a chance to make their point. I watched all this from an insider’s position and I feel USHGA handled it quite fairly. s No definitive word yet on what members think of the magazine’s new art design, however, lots of words have been flowing in e-mail discussions. As with much art, some loved it, some hated it. lll The 2002 edition of the World Record Encampment is underway as you read this, in fact, I hope the electronic press already has word of a new record (and, hopefully!, no mishaps). Again, Steve Kroop’s Flytec company is sponsoring WRE‘02 and has supplied two tugs for the event plus prizes worth several thousand (if record setters fly with a Flytec vario). One of the two tugs that will be present is the Super Tug or — because I feel it’s more to the point — the Turbine Tug. This amazing invention of Quest Air’s Russ Brown is its turbine engine. Yup, not a mere Rotax-914 Turbo, but an actual turbine — in reality an APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) as used on most jetliners. I’ll have more on this in a future installment as I’m working on an article for Kitplanes magazine. I think the powered flying world needs to know what the lil’ ole hang gliding industry is able to do… well, at least what a rather motivated Russ Brown can do. The new “Sport Pilot” rule currently has a line barring turbine engines so the Turbine Tug has an uncertain future as a towplane. But such a cool development can’t remain hidden away in some remote flying location. Meanwhile, the Turbine Tug has been doing duty towing gliders and Kroop says it is a dream to tow behind, with no vibration coming down the towline — as is discernible with piston engines, he says. lll Let’s ponder for a minute hang gliding’s Big-Five manufacturers. I’ve heard from a few folks who, apparently not following the brand name game too closely, were surprised at the distribution of these top wing builders as represented in April’s aerotow meets. Based on contest pilot choices — which may not match purchases by rank-and-file pilots — Moyes of Australia presently has the lead, followed by Wills Wing of the good ole US of A, followed by Aeros of Ukraine, then by A.I.R. of Germany, and finally by Icaro of Italy. Currently, no country dominates as sometimes occurred in hang gliding history. s In the ‘80s La Mouette had a huge share of the market and reportedly produced 1,800 gliders a year. Of course, the French outfit is still very much a player though the French Nationals recently ended with no French gliders among the top five flexwings (3 Litespeeds, a WW Talon, and a Laminar). s A decade or more ago, British pilots were top of the roost, regularly winning competitions with tightly-organized teams. Yet today British gliders compose a small fraction of competitors and their much-vaunted team concept seems to have given way to individual stars. s American brands were once more prolific but have narrowed sharply as our favorite sport matured and became increasingly globalized. Once, the U.S. invented the industry and composed some of its primary brands. Remember names like Seagull, Sky Sports, Electra Flyer, and UP who once sold cutting edge gliders (Seagull III, Kestrel, Cirrus, and Comet)? All gone today. s Despite keeping my eye on this for decades and recognizing the global market concept, I’m still amazed that the Big-Five are each from a different country. And note that one of the Big-Five is a rigid wing; a new fact as best I can recall. Who can guess what will happen in the next decade? s Following these Big-Five are Flight Designs of Germany and La Mouette of France. With smaller-yet shares of the market we find AirBorne of Australia, Avian of England, Altair of USA, and Guggenmos of Germany. lll Among American companies, the obvious leader is Wills Wing. Other current players have niche roles although boutique designers like Bob Trampenau occasionally devise concepts that are ultimately purchased or co-opted successfully by the Big Five. No gliders from Seedwings, Altair, or North Wing were seen at Florida’s major contests. lll So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930; please note my new e-mail address of News@ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN., — Hoo-yaa! Another, yep, ANOTHER new world record was set at what is being called the 2001 Flytec World Record Encampment (thanks to generous support from Steve Kroop’s instrument enterprise). On June 28th, Davis Straub, reporting from the South Texas site of Zapata wrote, "Mark Poustinchian flew 369 miles for a new world hang gliding record." Flying an ATOS after parting with his Ghostbuster, Mark flew a mere 10 klicks short of an even 600 kilometers. Very nice job, Mark! ••• The big 2001 World Meet (with 139 pilots!) is history. Naturally, Manfred Ruhmer won again, leading a trio of Austrians who came in 1-2-3. The highest placing Yankee was Paris Williams in 11th place. More details next month. ••• Before I get to other news, however, I’d like to make a clarification. It seems some Aeros fans read my words much differently than I intended last month. Because I admire what the Ukraine company has achieved, I feel the need to add a few more words. • Despite many good things I’ve written about Aeros in Ukraine, GW Meadow’s American distribution company, U.S. Aeros, the Stealth series, and their beautiful Stalker rigid wing, some Aeros enthusiasts interpreted my July 2001 column text as unflattering to Aeros. Exception was taken to my comparison of Aeros to Wills Wing, which operates a state-of-the-art factory. Of course, it remains true that Wills Wing is better established and has done well for decades. The company can therefore afford the latest in sail making gear and airframe production facilities. Aeros makes do with much less in the way of fancy equipment and lacks the magical California address. • Yet it’s obvious, based on their international sales success, that Aeros makes the most of the facilities they have. In comparison to other Ukrainian companies I visited on my brief tour, the Aeros plant is actually quite proper. They don’t own the building they’re in, so improvements are more functional than cosmetic. Their sail loft and other facilities appear well suited to the production of quality wings and airplanes (they also build the Sky Ranger ultralight, which I recently evaluated in Ultralight Flying! magazine). In the end, most companies are judged by their people, and in this regard, Aeros indeed brings strength to hang gliding. • Regrets to anyone who interpreted my words as negative. ••• Now on to news elsewhere in hang gliding. USHGA leaders have met in recent weeks to decide the association’s participation in the management of the Air Sports Expo. In case you just returned from another planet, this Expo is the combined air sports event where we rub shoulders with the sailplane guys, ultralight pilots, R/C modelers and other organizations. I’ve been very enthusiastic about this development as I believe it to be one of the best air sports marketing ideas I’ve seen in… well, maybe forever. • So you can imagine that I was delighted to hear of concrete action. US Ultralight Ass’n chief, John Ballantyne, presented a proposal to form a new, independent corporation called Airsports Expo, Inc. Like any startup, some funding is involved to get it going. However, the investment represents a modest use of USHGA resources and is balanced by the event’s ability to generate revenues. It could even become a money maker. After many successful years, EAA derives a substantial percentage of total annual revenues from their one-week-long Oshkosh AirVenture airshow. • A tentative Airsports Expo budget was developed and while the future is tough to predict, it looks promising. Prior events in Knoxville, Albuquerque, and Indianapolis over ’99-2001 give some good information on which to base forecasts. Even if the expectations are off, the dollar exposure seems minimal for what it might do to spread the word to the public that air sports like hang gliding are fun. If you support growth for our sport, plan to help move this idea forward… that’s my suggestion. • One biggie — the newest group to add its support is the American Modeling Association or AMA. Russ Locke writes, "They are coming to the table as enthusiastic participants. This is a huge group, on the order of 170,000 members." Added to SSA, USUA, and USHGA, the total rises well beyond 200,000 total members represented. A group that size can make events work! The next Expo takes place in Ontario, California. I’m going; you? Check USHGA.org. ••• Wills Wing has now broadened their Talon line with a 140 size aimed at pilots hooking at 160-215 pounds (though certified weight will probably be 135-225 lbs). WW says that pilots under a body weight of 160 pounds may prefer the 140; larger pilots should go for the 150. Pricing and options are essentially the same as I wrote in last month’s column about the larger Talon. • Wills also observed the departure of Paris Williams from Team WW. He’d been a sponsored pilot and was made an employee since December of last year, "so that he could help out with production, prototype glider assembly and flight testing during the times in between competitions." Williams had flown the Talon in the Florida meets but was switching to Icaro brand, according to Steve Kroop. ••• Though he isn’t a Wills Wing dealer, Mountain Wing’s Greg Black is enthusiastic about the WW Condor 330. "What a great trainer," he exclaimed! "We can make anyone fly it on flat ground in no wind. Now, no student goes home without flying because the wind was not blowing… it is a great confidence builder." Pretty kind words from a guy who competes with local Wills dealer, Paul Voight. • Mountain Wings also announced their new launch on the Ellenville Mountain. "It is cleared and real big," writes Greg. They plan two ramps and two natural launches. Black secured a 10-year lease with option to buy and it has been insured by USHGA’s site insurance. The controlling club is the Northeast Air Sports Ass’n, or NASA. In addition to the mountain launch, a full flight school, and the Condor, Mountain Wings is very active in towing plus ultralights. You can find a lot of air sports in one place. Info: 845-647-3377 or firstname.lastname@example.org. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to Dan@ByDanJohnson.com. • Previous "Product Lines" columns will be available at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
St. Paul, Minn. — I don’t intend for “Product Lines” to become a place where you read government regulatory updates (God forbid!) but I was in a place to hear some recent developments that I believe you’ll find of interest …some of you anyway. That place was Kansas City, where several ASTM groups gathered for rule-writing Committee Week in mid-May 2003. • At first, I shied away from this whole ASTM rule-writing business as it sounds dull and far from flying fun (and it is, believe me). But this is an historic opportunity to affect federal rule making that directly impacts hang gliding and powered ultralights (two activities that draw my focus). ••• OK, let’s say you’re interested as well — and you should be if towing or tandem flying is part of your hang gliding or paragliding. What the heck is ASTM* anyway? • ASTM has created a group, creatively called “F37,” that will help guide industry officials to build the new standards for Light Sport Aircraft. You probably don’t think that could possibly be of interest to you but your mind might be changed to know that F37.20 (the guys writing standards for airplanes; other F37 dot-somethings are working on weight shift and gyroplanes, etc.) are including aerotowing in their standard writing. Thus, this bunch of folks are working on standards that very directly affect aerotowing of hang gliders. The good news: USHGA leaders like Mike Meier, Bill Bryden, and Jayne DePanfilis speak out at ASTM meetings, last January and again in May… and will do so again more times this year. If nothing else, Meier, Bryden, and DePanfilis deserve your thanks for taking time from their other schedules to volunteer for this work. It’s a lot like serving on the USHGA board of directors, except attendees pay 100% of their cost to attend. • In addition to the USHGA contingent, the fixed wing airplane committee (F37.20) is chaired by Tom Peghiny, a longtime and highly dedicated hang gliding enthusiast. Where possible, I try to lend my voice to the pro-hang gliding/paragliding forces. (My business reason to attend ASTM meetings is to assure that parachute rules are included and properly done — as you may know my “day job” is for BRS parachutes.) These pro-HG/PG people can’t prevent all potential damage, but they will probably help make the aerotowing language as acceptable as possible. Certainly they’ll do better than FAA officials. And these industry standards are not FAA rules. They can and will be subject to change. Different than FAA rules, these standards can readily be changed if their provisions are not accomplishing the desired goals. • One cool part of this entire process is that FAA is hoping the Light Sport Aircraft industry-designed standards will set a precedent for other aviation regulations. In some ideal future, all FAA rules may be devised by industry. Gee, sounds like what USHGA/HGMA have been doing all along, doesn’t it? And, it’s worked quite well for us. * ASTM is American Standards and Testing Materials, except that they are changing their name to ASTM International. This large organization has 30,000 members in 110 countries. Worldwide auto fuel standards are a construct within ASTM showing the global impact of this organization — which is why they are going to the “International” name. ••• Talking with Wills Wing’s Mike Meier at the recent ASTM meeting, news also emerged of a possible change to Part 103 — though the agency had first said they would not change the rule governing hang gliding and paragliding (and that was — and still is — very welcome news for all solo flying of HGs and PGs). • However, FAA is determined to eliminate exemptions which would scuttle tandem operations for both HGs and PGs. FAA lawyers remind FAA rule-authoring personnel that exemptions are meant to be short-lived and used sparingly yet we’ve had a tandem exemption for many years. Now FAA is saying that they want to call tandem operations “Part-103 compliant aircraft with two persons hanging from it,” reports Meier. This semantical gymnastics is FAA’s way of saying tandem isn’t a “two-seat” operation — since no actual seats are part of the aircraft (hang glider or paraglider). In so saying, they can avoid forcing all tandem-flown hang gliders to meet Light Sport Aircraft rules… perhaps. This is a work in progress and the outcome is not 100% certain. • Meier also referenced the shut down of aerotowing operations at Lookout Mountain Flight Park — an event that must give nightmares to all the other professional flight parks. He feels that the uproar over this action may actually turn out to be a good thing… one of those make-lemons-into-lemonade situations. He hopes that actions at FAA will help “legalize” this important segment of our sport. • At the end of meeting, Meier, Bryden, and DePanfilis all felt good about what was accomplished at the Committee Week sessions. Certainly ASTM’s solid organization ability is helping to bring together quite disparate groups. FAA’s strong presence at these meetings and the chance for face-to-face interaction with FAA by leaders in and out of USHGA has every promise of bringing positive results. Without their work, I believe both aerotowing and tandem hang gliding or paragliding would have questionable futures. So I want to thank Mike, Bill, Jayne, and Tom Peghiny for their unwavering support of the kind of flying we all love. ••• OK, next month I promise a return to product news. This ASTM stuff was too compelling and too fresh to pass up for this issue of “Product Lines.” ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930. E-mail to News@ByDanJohnson.com or CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN. — The big Florida aerotow meets are now history. Oleg Bondarchuk performed well taking his Aeros Combat 2 to the top of both meets, an impressive accomplishment when flying against Manfred Ruhmer and a large field of talented pilots. u Yankee Paris Williams and his Icaro MR700WRE has also confirmed his position at the top of Team USA, adding a fine Second Place to his Third Place finish at Wallaby the week prior. Other great finishes by Americans included Glen Volk in 3rd on his Litespeed and Curt Warren in 5th also on a Litespeed. lll In fact, Moyes had itself a terrific representation at Quest. The Australian manufacturer mustered an even greater field at Quest (35% of flex wings) after holding the top position at Wallaby with 29%. Competition has always been a strong suit for Moyes and it seems to have a firm grip on that mantle as the 2002 season starts out. Virtually all Moyes pilots flew a Litespeed. u Wills Wing held convincingly onto the #2 spot among glider brands flown by competitors with 22%, slipping slightly from the week earlier Wallaby meet with 26%. u A notch down, Aeros beat out Icaro 19% to 17%; they reversed positions from Wallaby where Icaro had 18% and Aeros 17%. Of course, many of the contestants were at both these meets — though it wasn’t an identical roster; Moyes picking up 6 points proves this. u Trailing these top four brands among flex wing builders were La Mouette (France) and AirBorne (Australia) with 4% representations. No British gliders competed at Quest, in a big switch from a decade or so ago when England reigned supreme in hang gliding competitions. lll Christian Ciech (Icaro Stratos) beat Johann Posch (Atos C) and Alex Ploner (Atos C) in rigid wing class. American e-zine editor Davis Straub was the highest placing U.S. pilot in 4th, followed by Ron Gleason, Heiner Beisel, and Bruce Barmakian in 5th, 6th, and 7th, with all four of them flying an Atos C. lll The A.I.R. glider totally dominated the rigid wing field of 27 gliders with 59% representation. Flight Design models had 22% of the field and four other brands — Icaro, Aeros, Guggenmos, and Brightstar — had a single entry. u Rigid wings were about a quarter of all glider types and seem to have locked in a solid chunk of the market. However, with three times the glider count, flex wings still hold the lion’s share of wings being sold to competitors. DISCLAIMER: As always, this review may not match sales by manufacturers to recreational hang glider pilots. lll The Quest meet was again sponsored by Steve Kroop and his Flytec company. It was directed by former USHGA president, David Glover, who earned numerous complimentary remarks for his even-handed — and even fun — handling of an event that can easily turn contentious. u In fact, the two Florida meets went so well that some competition buffs are floating the idea of a World meet in Florida one day. Glover boasted: “[Quest] was the largest aerotow event ever in the history of the United States with 106 pilots and the largest collection of Dragonfly tugs ever! It was also 100% safe all throughout the week and had seven days of great flying weather.” lll While closely overseeing the performance of his Aeros gliders, U.S. importer GW Meadows also found time to make a video of the event. Glover reports that it “…brought the crowd down on the last night.” u Assembled at lightspeed with modern technologies (his Macintosh laptop and digital video camera), GW was able to “perform” his video to a rapt crowd on the last day of the Quest meet. It went over so well that Glover called to make sure I helped make this production available to the majority of pilots who couldn’t attend. All competitors got a copy but you can get one, too. It isn’t a “hang gliding video” with lots of dramatic flying scenes like Paul Hamilton produces. Instead, “Life is Good” will give you a feel for the event and the people at the Quest Flytec Championships. For a bargain price you can order a VHS video tape or a PAL (European VHS standard): $14, which includes shipping. You may also select a CD-ROM for $10 shipping included, or a DVD of the event for $24 postage paid. Call 541-683-5445 or e-mail Mark@StaffordVideo.com. lll After absorbing Utah’s former Soaring Center, the business became Cloud 9 Soaring Center. The big shop and school serves both hang gliding and paragliding and features a range of accessories. Always beefing up his line, C9/SC’s Steve Mayer announced, “We have added vario and GPS covers made of Plexiglas and designed to protect your gear.” Steve reports seven models to choose from that should fit most varios and GPS units. The covers sell for a modest $35. You can review what they offer at Paragliders.com or call 801-576-6460. lll So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930; please note my new e-mail address of News@ByDanJohnson.com… but you can still use CumulusMan@aol.com for the foreseeable future. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN., — Wills Wing froze the design of their successful Talon topless glider. Wills’ successor to the Fusion, Talon performed well in the twin Florida tow meets. Though owners like their Fusion gliders, the Talon is said to yield superior cross country capabilities. Understanding the main market, Wills wanted to keep it within range of a broad flying population. "Under intensive development since October of last year, the Talon — in the competition edition — offers true world-class performance right out of the box. From other manufacturers you can purchase a glider with the same name as the gliders that their top factory pilots are flying. However, as is well known (and fully acknowledged) on the competition circuit, you cannot purchase, at any price, the same glider that their top pilots are flying. With the Wills Wing Talon, you can," writes Wills Wing in their E-news. • They specify that comp pilots will fly Talons with optional carbon mylar LE inserts and full carbon control bars plus "competition thin" 5/64 inch bottom wires. Finally, they add that factory delivered gliders are tuned differently than contest pilots tune theirs. However, you can have it the full-blown way if you wish. • Talon 150 is offered two ways: a "Sport/Cross Country Edition," and the "Full Competition Edition." The Sport model retails for $5,450 and includes streamlined downtubes and speedbar basebar plus mylar leading edge and HTP trailing edge. Spring battens and an extended range cam VG are also standard. • The Comp model comes with the above and also has "Slipstream Downtubes and Carbon World Team Basetube." Of course, XC contest pilots tune their gliders differently than WW-brand production tuning, but Wills says they will, "be more than happy to tell you exactly how they tune them, and you can set up your glider that way if you want to." • The Comp model retails for $5,975 reflecting the cost of the optional extras. For both models you can choose custom colors for $300, carbon leading edge inserts for $150, and Sport model pilots might prefer the folding speedbar for $85. • Both models are 150 squares and have 33.5 foot spans, aimed at pilots in the range of 160-210 pounds body weight. Wills reports a 15:1 glide, 53 mph Vne, 70 mph dive speed, and 21 mph min sink speed. Info: 714-998-6359 or willswing.com. ••• I’m happy to see Wills standing tall with their new Talon and I wish them well. I’ve recently visited Aeros in the Ukraine, and I’m here to tell you there isn’t any comparison in factories. Wills is a true world-class operation with high-tech equipment and years of experience in a demanding market. Buying a Wills involves virtually no risk from a transaction standpoint, the gliders have excellent safety records, and WW-brand service gets high marks. Aeros turns out several wonderful products and personnel are deeply experienced in engineering and manufacturing disciplines. But they must make do with a facility that Wills left years ago and it will take the country of Ukraine a generation or more to become truly market oriented. • Yet no one can deny Aeros has made a huge splash in the market, doing well in countries around the world. Not bad for a populace only set free from Soviet Communist management a mere ten years ago (this August marks the anniversary of their new-found freedom). Labor rates that are a fraction of western standards allow them to employ many talented workers who are delighted to have a job. Wages will rise over time — remember when Japan was a second rate, low wage country? — but until then, those eastern builders will be pushing western manufacturers on price. I know this on a first-hand basis as BRS faces intense pressure in Europe from low cost producers. ••• Moyes is enjoying good sales, reports Steve Kroop in his role as airpark operator at Quest Air. Litespeeds are performing well in competitions and he feels this drives the recreational cross country pilot. Moyes got it right after their earlier topless CSX, expressed Kroop. • For those weekend XC enthusiasts looking to learn from the best, Quest will host clinics given by Paris Williams — who placed 4th in both the Flytec Champs and the Wallaby Open — and by Bo Hagewood who placed 18th, also in both meets. The clinics will focus on three development areas: general improvement of flying skills, customized for each customer; the advice will be given one-on-one. Step two includes beginning or intermediate cross country flying, and step three covers cross country racing for competition. Quest’s clinics will become available in September. Info: 352-429-0213. ••• Not to be left out of the manufacturer game, North Wing has support for their Illusion glider. Dan Guido of Susquehanna Flightpark in Cooperstown, NY indicates that he’s stocking and selling the intermediate model. "These are 7075 tubing [airframes] with some of the finest hardware I have seen in a while," he writes. "They will make great first gliders." • North Wing also added a two-place trike to their lineup. Of interest to HG pilots is the Apache’s towing capability. When flying the new trike with his Mustang 17.5 wing, several tows at Wallaby proved highly satisfying. Designer Kamron Blevins reported that with the Rotax 582 engine, Apache and Mustang produced 700 fpm climb rates. • And if you’ve missed it, North Wing also makes the ATF — or Air Time Fix — for HG pilots willing to do their soaring with a small engine package attached. I’ve flown both the ATF and Apache and enjoyed them. In particular, I prefer North Wing’s trike wings to most other brands. Since I’ve gotten to fly nearly every powered trike sold in the USA, that’s a statement I make carefully but deliberately. Info: 509-886-4605 or email@example.com. ••• Well diver fans, we’re once again outta room. So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!