ST. PAUL, MINN., — Congratulations to Kari Castle who won the Women’s World Meet 2000 in Beotia, Greece in the last full week of June. I expect a fine article will enter the magazine pages but here’s a little numerical overview of the meet as released by the FAI. • The international meet drew 31 competitors from eight nations, including the USA, France, Germany, Australia, England, Japan, Russia, and Kazakhstan (showing surprising strength with four pilots). America and Germany each had six team members, France and Japan had five, Russia and the UK had two plus the lone Aussie pilot. • They flew nine Icaro gliders (32%), followed by eight Aeros (29%), five Wills Wings (18%) and one each (4%) of Moyes, La Mouette, Solar, Seedwings, Bautek, and Guggenmos. Wings for three pilots were not identified. • In five tasks ranging from 42-70 km (26-44 miles), the German team came in first (with 6 scored pilots), followed by France (5 pilots), the U.S. (6), Japan (5), Russia (2), Kazakstan (4), Australia (1), and the UK (2). The number of entries swayed the final team score as the individual scores were added, so the Russian team of two women actually did quite well to finish in fifth place. • Kari’s Wills Wing victory for Team USA was followed by Patricia Cameron in 10th (Aeros), Claire Pagen in 13th (Wills Wing), CJ Sturdevant in 22nd (Aeros), Judy Hildebrand in 23rd (Aeros), and Carol Sperry in 26th (Aeros). It’s great to see a full contingent of female Yankee pilots! ••• Brazilian Nene Rotor is offering a new version of his Tenax harness. Details weren’t released but further refinement is noteworthy enough that several were reportedly to fly in the Spanish Pre-World Meet just ended. One evaluator expressed that "It’s a specialty harness that I wouldn’t want to fly in for more than a short competition." Regardless if other Tenax users agree or not, the point remains that new harness design is driven by the competition pilot’s desire for the cleanest system possible. As we once saw glider designers take more risk than today, some worry that that this drive for aerodynamic cleanliness could go too far. • However, capitalism rises to demand and the Tenax probably wasn’t the only new sleeker-than-ever harness at the Spanish meet. Moyes’ Contour and Aeros’ Racer are both rumored to have new models in development and the relatively new M2 must be included in this race. ••• Miami hang gliding entrepreneur, James Tindell, just bit a big bite buying land west of Miami and beginning work toward his own aerotow flight park. With some investor help, Tindell purchased 90 acres and has already cleared 60 acres by removing trees and making a perfectly flat LZ. Situated near the town of Libell, he says the site will be convenient for many south Florida pilots. As-yet unnamed, the new tow park is an hour from Fort Lauderdale, 1:40 from Miami, and only a hour from Fort Myers and its neighboring beach cities. Foreign visitors to Miami, South Beach, and other south Florida destinations may also appreciate a nearby flight park. In contrast, the drive to Wallaby or Quest is several hours. "We have XC potential in all direction and no airspace issues," says Tindell, adding that the site has been properly zoned for "heavy" recreation, meaning that the noise from tugs will never present a problem. • "We’re one of a very few operations offering all forms of launch training: platform (land and water), aerotow, and foot launch." James explains the latter is done on flat ground but he regularly hosts groups of new would-be mountain flyers to the Chattanooga area. • Tindell expects his Dragonfly tug by September and hopes to start operations at that time. More info: 305-285-8978. ••• A few months ago, I reported that onetime contest skygod, Joe Bostik, was re-entering hang gliding. (BTW, Joe came in 13th at Wallaby, not bad after the time he’s been away. He did not compete in the ACC.) The old timers keep popping up as I had a visit at BRS from Michael Riggs. Ring a bell, anyone? Come on, it’s only been 20 years or so. Mike was the head man back at the old Seagull. Those curvy leading edges and plenty of other shapely ideas were his brainchildren. Two decades ago, the toy industry grabbed this creative engineer and eventually that brought him to the Minneapolis area where Tonka Toys is HQ’d. After years of only dreaming about getting back in the flying business, he’s got his chance. A successful advertising executive, his wife encouraged him to go pursue his dream. With that kind of support, he jumped at the chance. He came in to show me his extensive plans for a legal Part 103 ultralight that will dazzle the buzz crowd at next year’s Sun ‘n Fun I predict (and I’ve seen a few ultralights). But of even keener interest to soaring enthusiasts is the version of the plane that will become a motorglider. It’s too early for details or phone numbers but I liked what I saw and Mike’s tailless, hang glider heritage shows through clearly. More as it unfolds. ••• In fact Riggs was one of several talented people who contacted me about my interest in an unpowered soaring trike. I heard from a dozen people on the idea, all of whom were complimentary of the concept and had some interest in seeing/helping it occur. Because he is close, talented, and has some time for the project (especially as it relates to his powered aircraft plans), Riggs is one good choice. No work has started as I still hear from someone every few days, but I’m gratified by the interest. • I don’t know how many others might agree, but one e-mail writer expressed wonder that I’d want to drag around the weight and bulk of a trike. In fact, the comment wondered if middle age had hit me particularly hard. Gee, after breaking each of my legs in 33 years of flying, yeah, maybe it is aging that drives me to a more comfortable flight posture. Still, such a rig doesn’t have to cut performance drastically. Several of those responding to my call said they see a chance for a properly designed trike body to generate little drag. Add a bit more wing area to the equation — after all, you won’t have to support the wing on your shoulders — and perhaps total performance won’t be much lower than a state-of-the-art harnessed pilot on a smaller wing. • I’ll save the details for a future column, but thanks for all the comments… yeah, even the age-related crack. It shows you’re reading. ••• 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. — Have you been noticing the change to your magazine? Some pilots have had loud discussions about those changes yet many members have said little (as is common). You’ve been seeing the work of new art directors after a hard push by leaders to spark the magazine’s look and feel. Other major changes are ahead (more next month!) lll Are you ready for the combined magazine? Every other country I can think of has, for a long time, integrated their magazines for hang gliding and paragliding. The USHGA board of directors has worried through this decision with great care (I’ve a had a front row seat). It won’t please everyone; no decision ever does. But it will be the future. s The good news is, art directors Aaron Swepston and Tim Meehan have given each magazines a snazzier look. Most members to whom I’ve spoken seem enthused about the changes. Even those who weren’t sure about the new appearances are coming around (though a few resist assimilation of “that other sport” into “their” magazine). Hang Gliding and Paragliding are each a little thin; the combined issue will give some needed heft to the magazine. Newsstand operators often judge a title by its thickness as they know customers perceive value by quantity when they evaluate new magazines to buy at the bookstore. For $3.95 you can get a 150-200 page periodical so a 50-60 page magazine appears to offer less value. Don’t forget, the magazine is a “product” for USHGA and it isn’t hard to simply disappear on a newsstand with 500+ magazine titles. s I also wish to give a welcome to Washington state consultant, Dan Nelson, as well as a mention to longtime publications supporter (and computer guru), Steve Roti. These folks, working with Swepston and Meehan and the office staff, have been able to make some big changes that they hope you’re enjoying. lll At the beginning of November, 2002, Tom Peghiny was welcomed into the EAA Hall of Fame. Luminaries from all segments of sport aviation joined several hundred well wishers at a formal evening ceremony in Oshkosh, Wisconsin to honor those who have contributed so much to recreational aviation. A true pioneer, Tom is one of the winningest hang glider contest pilots ever. His design of the Kestrel hang glider in the late ‘70s revolutionized the sport with its double-surface, shaped-rib, short-chord configuration. A teen-aged vice president of Sky Sports — once the east coast’s largest builder of hang gliders — Tom later worked with Electra Flyer and Seagull Aircraft. When Tom presented his acceptance speech he focused on his early years, which were consumed with hang gliding. Peghiny’s focus these days is on powered ultralights. However, he remains an active hang gliding enthusiast flying at Morningside Flight Park site. In recent years he’s been helping his son Jeff to learn hang gliding. With his partner, Spark Lamontange (another hang glider pilot), Tom runs Flightstar and H-Power, two leading enterprises in light powered aviation. Congratulations to a deserving nominee, Tom Peghiny, now a permanent member of the EAA Hall of Fame. lll Returning to more product-oriented news, I’ve been giving periodic updates on the effort of Mike Riggs. From his days building thousands of Seagull IIIs Riggs now returns with Seagull Aerosports. He and his wife Linda attended Peghiny’s Hall of Fame affair, giving me a chance to get caught up on his Pod developments. The new “harness-with-wheels” concept — I hesitate to call it a “trike” as that suggests the wrong image — is kicking into higher gear with Riggs’ acquisition of a shop near his home. His company is now housed at 2415 W. Industrial Blvd., Long Lake, MN 55356. The phone is 952-473-1480 and fax is -1481. He expressed confidence about having a first product by 2003’s earliest airshows and in time for the new soaring season. lll You don’t need to wait until spring to go flying, though. Wallaby Ranch is running a special right now. The “World’s First Aerotow Flight Park” is celebrating its tenth anniversary with a series of “10s.” For example, they say, “It is with pleasure and gratitude that we offer 10-dollar tows from Christmas through January. We want to thank our friends from all over the world for a decade of solid growth. It is your loyal support that made Wallaby Ranch a success.” FMI: email@example.com or dial 1-800-Wallaby (925-5229) lll The Florida tow park will just be getting revved up for a later event. Wills Wing’s 30th anniversary celebration, is scheduled for the Ranch March 25-30. The SoCal hang glider manufacturer invites you to “come celebrate thirty years in the hang gliding business.” Wills says they are “going all-out!” Planned are seminars, demos, parties, and prizes. lll Wills Wing is offering some wintertime bargains on variometers to help you psych-up for a new season. Their imported Brauniger AV Pilot vario/altimeter, is just $375. Wills states, “The audio is sensitive, and the sink alarm is user programmable for threshold, and offers two different tones.” AV Pilot displays digital and graphical climb and descent rates plus altitude and time in digital with a 50-flight memory. Mounts for hang gliders or paragliders are available. s Want to spend lots less? Try the audio-only variometer Brauniger Sonic for $189. Its three-position switch allows you to select lift-only, lift, and sink and the Sonic comes with a two year warranty. s WW-brand has a deal on a new helmet for spring. Get rid of your stinky old one and grab a Charly Air Control Helmet right now for $79. Wills says the imported helmet “uses a highly effective shock absorbent foam to achieve the European Standard EN966 — Hang Gliding and Paragliding Helmet Certification.” Said to have “extraordinarily light weight and minimal size,” the Charly helmet features a removable chin guard designed to protect the pilot when towing — if the tow line is released under high tension with subsequent recoil. FMI (at their redesigned Website) willswing.com lll Outta room once again. s 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. — Please bear with me as I use all of this month’s column on something that has little to do with products, the usual focus of this column. I’ve been doing this bit of writing for Hang Gliding magazine for a long time (“PL” finishes 24 years with this issue), but one man has been even more long lived. lll After 25 years on the job, Hang Gliding editor Gil Dodgen handed off all his duties to Dan Nelson, a new paraglider pilot with an editorial background. Gil started with USHGA’s magazine with the January, 1978 issue. For those with weak memories or those too new to hang gliding to know the past, an extremely brief history lesson is in order. s In 1978, the Big Three of hang glider building in the USA were Seagull, Electra Flyer, and Wills Wing. We had other prominent Yankee brands like Sky Sports, Bennett Delta Wing, Eipper-Formance, Ultralite Products, Manta, Sunbird, Highster, and CGS Aircraft. Rigid wings were made by companies like UFM, producer of the Easy Riser that wowed pilots with its amazing performance and steep $900 price tag. Another was the Quicksilver, made by Eipper, though it wasn’t a powered ultralight in those days. s While many pilots wore wrist altimeters and used Makiki varios, which needed no batteries, Wills Wing introduced their integrated Chad Flight Deck; it occupied ten times the volume of a Flytec instrument and offered less functions. s The Price harness was a leader with its stirrup concept that was replacing knee-hanger harnesses. A few companies were starting to promote back-up parachutes, but pilots weren’t sure they helped. s Wills Wing stunned their competition with full page ads stating, “We test fly every glider we make.” Of course, HGMA had only recently come into existence and test flying every single glider off a producer’s line was not common practice. s FAA’s Part 103 was still four years in the future and some saw a dark cloud of government regulation altering free flight. From then to now — a period of remarkable development — Gil Dodgen was this magazine’s editor. lll Gil has seen the hang gliding industry through an entire generation. He has edited the magazine during a time free flight schools went from one-day training classes, after which you learned by yourself, to sophisticated organizations with ground schools, lesson plans, and training glider fleets. s He has been at the center of activities that saw 99% of pilots doing mountain launches to aerotowing that today comprises as many as half of all launches in the United States. s Well into the second decade of Dodgen’s reign as editor of USHGA’s flagship Hang Gliding magazine, paragliders arrived on the scene. While paragliding has never become as popular in the USA as it has in Europe, it still made great inroads to the American flying community and contributes substantially to USHGA’s membership and financial health. s Gil has survived several challenges including my own Whole Air magazine which once vied (unsuccessfully) to take over the leadership of Hang Gliding magazine. Throughout Gil’s long tenure, USHGA has seen ups and downs of generous proportions. At times he acted as the anchor for an association that went adrift in its direction and management. Even with the recent art direction and other changes, Gil Dodgen was the hand on the tiller and he leaves Hang Gliding magazine in fine shape and the Association in an upswing. lll However, USHGA leaders wanted something different from the magazine. The organization’s new Executive Director enlisted new art directors, one for Hang Gliding and another for Paragliding. As these two titles are combined, a further reshuffling will occur and USHGA leadership felt it was time to have a new editor in charge of the new Hang Gliding & Paragliding magazine that will debut next issue. Thus, the Executive Committee took steps to replace Dodgen and a new chapter in USHGA history is beginning. lll Gil Dodgen is a very bright fellow likely to rise to the top elsewhere. He is the author of a world-class artificial-intelligence computer program and is a concert-quality pianist who speaks French fluently. s The editor’s job Dodgen has filled so faithfully is not an easy one. Almost single-handedly, Gil produced years of the magazine. About a decade ago, he enlisted an art director who added a new look to the magazine and helped Gil with production duties. When USHGA took over from the American Paragliding Association, Gil added Paragliding magazine to his schedule. Very few people among the membership know how much work this is. But as a testament to his efforts, the task has been done in recent months with four or five people playing a role (though not all of them full-time). s Many Southern California pilots know Gil personally and virtually every member is well aware of his name, but much of his work for the Association’s magazine has been behind the scenes. He’s done gritty stuff like chasing down writers and photographers for material and checking their submissions for spelling, grammar, and content. He’s done tough stuff like handling irate letter writers and has negotiated even more difficult maneuvers trying to satisfy the USHGA office and a 25-person board of directors which has changed notably over the years. He helped the magazine win a Maggie award and has brought much to Hang Gliding and Paragliding. s Yep, after 25 years, a veritable icon of hang gliding in the USA will step off the stage. I’ve worked with Gil pretty closely since joining the USHGA Board of Directors 20 years ago. In my role as an aviation writer, Gil’s work has had value to me that others don’t see; many other contributors also found him a resource. s At the outset of this column I said I wasn’t going to write about products. Yet USHGA’s most visible product is Hang Gliding magazine, so this column has indeed been about a product… a product made immensely better by the steady hand of Gil Dodgen. Gil, I salute you for a job well done for a long time. I can think of no better way to say thanks than to note the indelible mark Gil has left on me and thousands of other USHGA members. Best of luck to a good guy as he takes his leave of the editorship of your favorite magazine. lll 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 vote is in! Members voted yes on both initiatives, overwhelmingly (84%) so on the towing question but convincingly (62%) on the powered harness (HG & PG) question. Now, as politicians advise after elections, we must consolidate and move forward. Griping about the results, if you took a not-winning position, no longer benefits anyone. • I doubt we’ll experience many problems from powered harnesses for three reasons: (1) not that many of them flying… a few hundred, realistically, and many of their pilots respect silent-flyer sensibilities; (2) most powered harnesses won’t show up at flying sites. They don’t have to… they can launch almost anywhere. Plus, clubs running sites always have had and still do have the right to make their own rules about who can launch and land on property they control; and, (3) powered harnesses find their best demand from pilots who otherwise must travel to mountain sites or towparks. • Regretfully, the status of nanotrikes (lightweight trikes intended for soaring flight) in USHGA remains uncertain, but they’re an even smaller segment at this time so their operation shouldn’t cause any major case of hiccups. ••• It was a real pleasure for me and several other USHGA board members to observe fellow hang glider pilot, Dudley Mead and his team practice launching an authentic reproduction of a 1902 Wright Glider ( FMI: wright-brothers.org). On October 6th I got to burn many digital photos of Dudley and KlasOhman getting their highest flights ever (30-40 feet AGL). • Klas, a Navy jet jockey, tended to land on the skids (probably as the Wright brothers did) while Dudley reflexively lowered his legs to foot land the 120 pound glider. “Old habits die hard,” Mead kept saying. • Much like windy cliff launching, Wright Glider pilots need help to get airborne. With someone positioned at all four corners of the Glider’s lower wing, grasping an interwing strut, the quartet runs to launch the old-time reproduction. As Dudley and other pilots took their turns flying the tricky-handing wing, the launchers in early October were often hang glider pilots and USHGA board members. Kenny Brown, Paul Voight, Davis Straub, and Bruce Weaver (among others) took enthusiastic runs down the sand dune. On a “Tether” call from the prone pilot, the trailing edge runners dropped off leaving just the two leading edge pullers heaving ho until the pilot shouted, “Release.” ••• Returning to nanotrikes, the market leader is surely Lookout Mountain Flight Park with more than 150 SkyCycles in customer hands. An upgraded model, SkyCycle X, incorporates numerous improvements at no increase in the $5,500 cost of the trike carriage. The sum includes a 28-hp Zanzottera or a 22-hp Zenoah G-25 engine. The hang glider wing is extra, of course, but many HG pilots own at least one that might be used for the nanotrike. Upgrades to the X model include improved ground handling by lowering the C.G. and increasing the wheelbase, a more inclined seat, and side carry bags. Lookout added, “The rugged, aerodynamic, cantilevered rear landing gear has been retained.” • LMFP is also representing the even-tinier Australian-built PowerLite nanotrike. FMI: 877-426-4543. ••• As many know, Matt Taber is adept at finding ways to help Lookout Mountain Flight Park succeed. In addition to the nanotrike line, Matt has started selling powered, two-seat trike ultralights. Matt’s foray into conventional ultralights represents the only powered company I know of that is directed solely by hang gliding businessmen. U.S. Aeros boss GW Meadows, long established as a successful importer of the Ukraine-made hang glider line, contracted with Taber to market the Aeros brand of trike ultralights. • In addition to hang gliders, Aeros supplies somewhat heavier wings for use on numerous trike brands. Aeros builds the French-designed Sky Ranger fixed wing ultralight under contract, and GW reports that the Ukraine company is well along on a fiberglass ultralight sailplane. In this wide line the team of Meadows and Taber saw an opportunity. Given Aeros boss Alexander Veronin’s good relationship with GW, expanding the U.S. Aeros line made sense. • The Velocity trike is already known to American ultralight pilots as the Venture, a name given by its former importer. Of special interest to non-powered HG pilots is the Velocity’s capability to perform hang glider towing. ••• In other motor news, paragliding guru Alan Chuculate has completed preliminary flight testing of a lightweight trike specially designed to aerotow paragliders. His stated goal for the Paratug is, “being able to aerotow solo paragliders at 23 mph and at 25 mph when tandem.” • Chuculate uses a modified Wills Wing Condor, the large wing built by the Southern California leader for slope training. The HG builder isn’t comfortable with the use of their Condor on powered aircraft but Alan had always planned to change it. He redid elements of the airframe using 7075 tubing and plans to upgrade the sail to stouter cloth. “It’s fair to say Condor was just a starting point,” Alan says. • I’ll have more on Chuculate’s Paratug in successive columns as it represents a ground-breaking effort to bring paragliders into the world of aerotow parks. Meanwhile, FMI: firstname.lastname@example.org ••• Finally, at the fall 2003 USHGA board meeting, nearly everyone came out of their seats and dashed to the window when well-known British pilot, Ben Ashman, flew over the beach at Kitty Hawk in his suprone powered harness, the Doodlebug. Ben has flown a Doodlebug across the English Channel, so a little jaunt from a local airport to the beach was no great cross country. Yet I found it fascinating to observe the keen interest from many pilots who have no intention of flying with power. Kenny Brown’s Moyes America enterprise is importing the rig. FMI: email@example.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. — The USHGA board of directors met in mid-October and some interesting news developed. Though “just a bunch of hang glider pilots,” this group often amazes me with the level of its professionalism. Don’t forget that around 30 persons volunteer their time, pay their own expenses, and work long hours to direct the association’s business — backed up by a paid but equally hard working headquarters staff. This fall finds USHGA in admirable shape with membership up and finances in good condition. At a time when I know most of aviation — from recreational flying to the airlines — to be suffering, this performance is more than satisfying and I hope all members appreciate it. lll Work of the board will appear in the magazine in various ways, but I’d like to note three actions that I believe members will find of interest. s First, the magazine will go to a combined publication with the March 2003 issue. The idea was tested. Members voted (overwhelmingly in favor), and it has been settled. You’ll start getting a magazine with both hang gliding and paragliding coverage… just like the rest of the world has been doing for years. As with other board deliberations, you’ll read more about this as the date approaches. You can also consult your Regional Director for his or her thoughts. s Secondly, both big Florida airparks (Wallaby and Quest) will — with sponsorship and direction from USHGA — bid to host the World Meet in 2005. While this seems a long way off, it is a major event that will draw the best pilots in the world to come to the USA. The matter had its share of controversy but the request to the international body, CIVL, should move forward. I know I’ll want to go to Orlando to catch some of the action. You, too, perhaps? s Thirdly, a simmering debate heated up regarding powered paragliders and powered hang gliding harnesses and whether these machines should in some way be embraced by USHGA. The discussion ranged from “Hell, no!” to more thoughtful approaches though all leaders are keenly aware this issue can be divisive. Nonetheless, at the October board meeting board directors heard eloquent presentations on the subject. No decisions were confirmed but this issue is not likely to go away. After all, many of these pilots use the auxiliary power to get altitude for soaring flight — though they sometimes simply drive around in smooth air. And, it was observed, with aerotow launches comprising some 30-40% of all launches in the USA, power is already part of the equation. lll One of the neatest things that happened as part the board meeting was a special event commemorating and thanking all the presidents of USHGA since the beginning. Not every president was able to make it but most were. Each man contributed something that lead your association forward and they deserved the recognition and applause. lll One person in the audience at Wallaby Ranch was Sue Gardner. For those that have forgotten, Sue is the pivot person in FAA’s new proposed rule often called “Sport Pilot.” I’m aware she has been taking powered trike lessons in her new home of Alaska, but she’s not hesitant to try free flight. In fact, at Quest Air, Gardener went tandem in a hang glider, and, as ex-prez’ Bill Bryden put it, “She LOVED it!” Good for Sue for being an open-minded FAA official and good for the Quest and board folks who arranged her flight. lll Thinking about how hang gliding is surviving the aviation recession, I had a chance to visit with longtime Canadian entrepreneur, Michael Robertson. His High Perspective operation is having a banner year. “I don’t know about a hang gliding decline but we’re kicking ass up here!” He says his boat tow operations doubled this year and had done so last year as well. Michael’s boat towing experience goes back to 1965 with the old flat kites. Like most big schools, he’s been offering tandem instruction for more than five years. s Robertson has also created his own glider pontoons which are built like a surfboard with a foam core and a fiberglass shell. “Two people can actually climb up on the glider and hook in. Waves don’t cause a problem and you tend not to get wet due to the long outward-curved bow,” Michael says. s Robertson runs two full-time operations not far from his base in Toronto and plans to open another operation next year. All locations except the boat tow operation use hydrostatic winches which allow step towing. To maintain his high standards, Michael trains all his own instructors. FMI: www.FlyHigh.com lll At the board meeting, I spoke with David Glover about yet another successful towpark, this one in Wisconsin. About the site’s operator, Glover said, “Brad Kushner is doing a great job and has built a flight park operation that provides an excellent blueprint for flight parks that might be created in other parts of the U.S.” David feels Kushner didn’t have some of the advantages of the Florida flight parks, but “through hard work and drive, Brad has built his business from the ground up. Anyone who wishes to replicate this effort ought to talk to Brad,” added Glover. s When I indicated I’d be writing something about Raven Sky Sports and the aerotow park operation, Brad said, “We’ve been working to bring aerotow hang gliding to Midwest pilots since August 15, 1992,” making the Wisconsin Hang Gliding Club among the oldest of aerotow operations in the United States. His business “offers flying and lessons from 7:30 a.m. until sunset, seven days a week.” He uses “four Dragonfly tow planes and four T2 tandem hang gliders on landing gear with modern over/under harnesses.” Not totally dependent on aerotowing, Kushner also has seven grassy training hills (facing all wind directions) for foot-launch and foot-landing training. Also offered: locked glider storage; camping; clubhouse; discounts at all local motels; close-by mountain biking trails, fishing holes, and swimming pools. Brad reports summer temperatures are usually in the 80s, seldom in the 90s. He also says his location offers “A+ cross-country potential with hay fields as far as the eye can see.” The Wisconsin Hang Gliding Club has over 200 members. FMI: www.hanggliding.com lll 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. — 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!