ST. PAUL, MINN., — Wallaby and Quest are done with their big contests and each event will surely generate stories in our favorite magazine. But, given this column’s focus on products, I surveyed the glider brands used by competitors. • In the Wallaby Open, Wills Wing had a slim lead with 26% of the field, closely trailed by Aeros with 25%, Moyes with 22% and Icaro with 15%. Largely unknown to Yankee pilots, UK’s Avian brand made a small mark at 6%. Airwave had a minor 3% and La Mouette even smaller at 1% of the field of 68 flex wing pilots. • In the Atlantic Coast Championships the next week (but without exactly the same participants), Aeros lead at 31%, followed by Wills at 26% of the field of 54 flex wing entrants. Well below these two leaders were Icaro at 15%, Moyes at 13%, trailed even further by Altair at 6%, Avian and Airwave at 4% each and La Mouette with 2% of the total. ••• Among rigid wing gliders, AIR’s Atos was undisputed at better than half (55% at Wallaby and 53% at Quest). Flight Design’s Ghostbuster did credibly well at 30% and 35% respectively, trailed by Brightstar at 13% and 12% and Guggenmos with 7% at Wallaby and no entry at the ACC. ••• Adding both contests and looking at just the four clear flex wing leaders, Aeros comes out on top with 28% of the total of both fields, followed closely by Wills Wing at 26%, then slipping to 18% for Moyes and 16% for Icaro. ••• Since each contest was loaded with foreign pilots, I resurveyed to see how Yankee pilots selected their contest wings. Again Aeros won at Wallaby with 38% to Wills Wing’s 30%, followed by 18% for Icaro and 10% for Moyes, and 3% each for La Mouette and Airwave with no Altair gliders entered. At the ACC, Aeros did even better at 36%, followed less closely by Wills at 28%, Icaro at 15%, Moyes at 9% Altair at 6%, Airwave at 4%, and La Mouette at 2% of the field of 47 Yankees. Notably different, Wallaby had only 59% American pilots entered in the field of 68 flex wing pilots, while the ACC had 87% U.S. competitors. ••• I’ll leave the figures to speak to you however they do, but remind you that these are contest pilot wing selections, not choices of the general U.S. flying community. However, a number of lower placing pilots were not the so-called "circuit pilots," so the percentages could somewhat reflect the overall purchase decisions of U.S. HG enthusiasts. ••• At the ACC, competitor and e-mail writer Davis Straub did an informal survey of varios in use by the competitors. With my paraphrasing, he writes, "I would say that the number one choice was Flytec. The next most popular, and quite popular it was, was the Tangent (built by Chris Arai, one of the top US competition pilots). Next came the Ball Graphics Comp with a class of pilots that love the big screen and advanced functionality of the Ball GC. The Brauniger IQ/Comp had the least number of adherents, perhaps 4 to 6, though I understand that pilots in Europe and other countries are much more likely to use Brauniger varios." For the full text, go to Straub’s web site at DavisStraub.com. ••• As I watched all these hot pilots fly at Wallaby, it stoked my flying interest as well. My time available to fly hang gliders has decreased due to a heavy work load and other responsibilities… like many HG pilots. One time when I flew at Wallaby, my old friend Malcolm offered me my choice of gliders. I chose a Wills Wing Falcon 195. Jones teased me asking why I’d pick a trainer glider, wheels and all, when I could have anything I wanted. My reply was that I knew I could successfully land the Falcon whereas I had concerns about a bladewing with no wheels, given my shortage of very recent experience. I no longer hate to admit I’m not a hang gliding skygod. For whatever it’s worth, I skied out in the Falcon, topping even the hotshots, though I didn’t try any cross country flying. I had a ball on the Wills trainer and never regretted my choice. ••• With this thought in mind, I want to interject a personal desire of mine. For several years I’ve been asking various people to develop a piece of HG equipment. A market might exist (I can’t be the only one who wants one), but unfortunately I don’t possess the skills to create it so I’m asking for help. To date, my efforts have fallen flat. Either I’m off base or others haven’t seen its appeal. • What I want is a soaring trike. Before you no-motor types sneer, what I’m talking about is a trike that has no engine and is not intended to have one. I believe that if a trike-type package was designed to be very smooth (read: drag efficient), it could become a harness replacement for those of us concerned about landing high performance gliders. • Imagine a fiberglass body, perhaps with an aluminum or steel frame, that hooks up to any hang glider. Wheels could be designed into the trike so that they provide almost no drag but allow roll-on landings. By towing from the front of this hypothetical soaring trike, aero tows might be child’s play (as my experience with the SuperFloater proved). • "Won’t control bar wheels suffice," some have asked me? No! I have yet to see a truly low-drag set of wheels, and besides, the hang glider control frame was never designed to handle landing loads. In the event of a hard landing, I don’t want the wing airframe compromised. • A soaring trike could allow an instrument panel, so these devices don’t hang off the control bar. And a ballistic parachute could be hidden out of the airstream. It would be flown seated, but aging pilots could actually come to prefer that. Lots of powered trike flying experience tells me this posture of flying is comfortable and, frankly, flying seated (supine?) plus having some structure around you is safer. • I’ll save further explanation for my "rigid hang gliding harness" after I hear of any interest in helping to create such a contraption, but to add a little incentive to those of you with builder skills, I’ll put $1,000 on the line to pay (partially?) for one if it meets my desires. That won’t hardly pay for all the development, but it’s a start-up fund. Are you up for it? ••• 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. — Time is growing short! Perhaps by the time you read this, FAA may have issuedtheir new rule called Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft (SP/LSA). • Why should you care? Well, perhaps you don’t. If you fly solo in your hang glider or paraglider and are not towed aloft by a tug of some kind, you may continue to operate under F.A.R. Part 103 as blissfully as ever. However, if you’re one of the many who enjoy aerotow launches, you may be impacted by this rule. • The good news is… the trio of Jayne Depanfilis, Mike Meier, and Bill Bryden have been pursuing actions on the new rule and have the matter quite well in hand. The issues of two-place flying have been addressed and face few obstacles. Aerotowing, however, is less certain. Operations such as Lookout Mountain Flight Park have been fighting local battles with adversaries who brought FAA into the picture. Solving this problem may take more time to resolve. Fortunately, at least in a somewhat longer term, good news also exists. • I recently had a conversation with Bill Bryden on this subject. Bill has been front and center, with Jayne and Mike, in negotiations with key FAA people and the ASTM standards-writing process that is at the heart of the aircraft side of the new rule. (Sport Pilot refers to pilot licensing which is being handled solely by FAA. Light-Sport Aircraft certification is being handled by a group of industry leaders under FAA’s watchful eye. ASTM is the organizing body helping industry create “consensus standards” for certifying aircraft of many kinds — fixed wing aircraft, weight shift, powered parachutes, sailplane-type gliders, lighter-than-air craft, and gyroplanes.) • Bryden addressed concerns that towing is in jeopardy. Facts on the matter take two directions. Effort has stalled on a plan hatched with key FAA person Sue Gardener to issue an altered exemption to allow aircraft like the Dragonfly to keep flying. USHGA’s current exemption for aerotowing specifies only a Part 103 ultralight, that is, one which weighs no more than 254 pounds empty. That, regretfully, does not include the Dragonfly. However, while that effort has slipped into unknown territory, the long term view is encouraging. Though SP/LSA was originally released as an NPRM with towing specifically excluded, discussions and plenty of public comment brought about change in FAA’s thinking. Therefore, ASTM groups writing standards for fixed wing aircraft and trikes added tow equipment standards. (The chair of the fixed wing group is Tom Peghiny, a longtime hang glider enthusiast whose company makes a tow-capable ultralight.)Pilots of tugs will have to show a Private License — the Sport Pilot license does not allow towing — but this should not sharply limit the number of powerjocks who can fly these machines. So, except for a delay during release and full implementation of the rule, aerotowing does not look threatened, though this spring and summer may have some challenges. ••• After resigning from BRS parachutes late last year, I started doing marketing on an independent basis. My newest client is EAA — the folks who put on that giant airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin — and this may bring some benefits for the USHGA and hang gliding and paragliding. EAA, with 170,000 members and therefore some serious clout in Washington DC, might be tapped to assist USHGA with regulatory issues. In fact, USHGA’s Executive Director, Jayne Depanfilis, and Regional Director, Bill Bryden, have frequent contact with this leader of recreational aviation. And now that I’m in EAA offices every other week, I may be able to further tighten that relationship. In the meantime, I’ve discovered other connections to hang gliding and paragliding. ••• Paul Hamilton, the hang gliding/paragliding video production czar, has convinced the EAA to carry a selection of his tapes or DVDs. While he still offers plenty of HG or PG videos, Paul has branched out into other aircraft. After doing so he says, “It took me two years to finally get EAA to handle my products.” EAA has a large merchandise operation so Paul’s sales should increase. He adds, “We just released the www.sport-pilot-training.com web site to help pilots get going.” But while Paul’s Adventure Productions company has entered the powered aircraft arena, he remains a free flight enthusiast. Here’s how he ended a recent note: “Keep up the pressure on the manufacturers for nanotrikes, and get USHGA to support soaring trikes with wheels!” Soaring will include such vehicles in the future, I think, and Paul will be ready for them, too. FMI: dial (775) 747-0175 or visit www.pilot-resources.com ••• Speaking of towing, work continues on Alan Chuculate’s Paratug, the powered aircraft he’s building to aerotow paragliders. Alan wrote in mid-March to say, “We’re running behind schedule as you probably guessed.” Alan’s essential talent, Floyd Fronius, “has been delayed fabricating our custom light trike because his music career has been blossoming with both local gigs and in the recording studio. The construction has been steady but slow and we currently project completion later this month.” Despite the tunes emanating from Floyd, Chuculate expects to be flight testing in April. He promises, “I’ll keep you posted on the status of our flight testing.” • Although Paratug progress is temporarily slowed, a revised wing has been evaluated for handing changes with a 550-pound load plus it’s been used for tandem hang gliding with experienced pilots and novices. In the noisier end of Paratug’s development, Alan writes, “We’ve abandoned the small engine approach.” While testing with a loaner trike powered by a Kawasaki 340 cc, Chuculate’s team found only marginal improvements when he tried different propellers. So he purchased an MZ 202 engine that puts out 60 horsepower. Floyd started building a custom trike in March to accommodate the bigger engine and prop. • Alan’s only real competition for the Paratug is Bobby Bailey’s Biplane Dragonfly. Chuculate once hoped to meet the 254-pound weight limit to comply as an Part 103 ultralight but that idea appears to be melting away with the switch to the more powerful engine. The irony is that Paratug’s delayed development may dovetail nicely with the SP/LSA rule announcement mentioned at the start of this column. If so, keeping the weight down may not be the imperative it was at earlier stages of development. ••• 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. — By the time you read this, the Wallaby/Quest tow meets have recently concluded. Last month I hinted at some non-Florida tow meets. Each has its own spin on the competition theme. ••• Raven Sky Sports announced a tow competition set for the week of June 7 to June 14 or 15 and in mid-March USHGA’s board awarded sanction for a Class “B” meet. Business owner, Brad Kushner, has hired David Glover to perform as meet director. • Raven has four Dragonfly tugs to use for the Midwest Regional Hang Gliding Competition and they’re inviting more. Situated near Chicago and Milwaukee, pilots from all over the midwest may be interested. Free camping is available with low-cost motels nearby. “Our local pilots usually score a handful of 100+ mile flights every summer,” reports Kushner. Landing fields are plentiful and the operation generates good reports from visitors. FMI: 262-473-8800 or firstname.lastname@example.org ••• Traveling east you arrive at the home of the recently announced Dragonfly Cup, a season-long event to work around midwest weather fluctuations. Summertime conditions are more variable here than on the coasts or the desert. Dragonfly Cup pilots will fly from Cloud 9 Field in Michigan, base of the Draachen Fliegen Soaring Club (DFSC). They’ve been preparing for some time and have arranged over $6,000 worth of prizes from sponsors including Wills Wing, Moyes USA, Flytec USA, High Energy Sports, AV8/Icaro, and Cloud 9 Sport Aviation. • Spokespilots Tracy Tillman and Lisa Colletti say, “The large cross-country meets that have been hosted by our friends in Florida and Texas over the last five years are a great example of the popularity and success of aerotowing as a launch format.” Yet midwestern clubs have struggled to run valid meets. Poor weather and low pilot turnout often resulted in cancellation of meets. So the Dragonfly Cup runs from May 15 through September 1, 2003. • To the DFSC, Cloud 9 supplies two Dragonfly tugs — a 115-horse Rotax 914 turbo and an 80-hp Rotax 912 — flown by Cloud 9’s Lisa and Tracy Tillman. DFSC has an arrangement to use the very nice, private facilities owned by the Tillmans. FMI: dial 517-223-8683 or DFSCinc@aol.com ••• Let’s jump back down to Florida to show how flightparks are competing for your business. It won’t make much difference to pilots who don’t use computers but if you’re addicted to your laptop, you’ll be delighted to hear that wireless high-speed connections are available at your favorite Florida flight park. Talk about “hot spots!” • E-zine writer Davis Straub glowed about new developments at Quest, “We’re looking forward to [a] flight-park-wide wireless network with [a] high speed DSL connection. I heard from Malcolm [at Wallaby Ranch] that he’s also in the wireless network business and I look forward to bringing my portable his way.” • On a related note, Davis himself became a news item when he began soliciting donations from readers of his near-daily Oz Report, an entirely on-line publishing effort. You don’t have to send money, but he’d appreciate it. Recently he toyed with, but decided not to have advertising. FMI: davisstraub.com. Oz Report focuses heavily contests and distance flying and this month, so does “Product Lines.” More on that below. ••• Meanwhile, thinking of the Florida flight parks, I remind you that the two vigorous competitors agreed to combine forces and allow USHGA to send in a “co-sponsor” bid to the FAI and CIVL. Alas, by a single vote, again!, Team USA lost. Australia won the bid for the 2005 World Meet. ••• So, the twin flightparks may not host the Worlds, but now, they’ve begun to compete to give you money. Yup, all you have to do is pick one of several goals to vie for a tidy sum of cold, hard cash. • After Mr. Flytec, Steve Kroop, heard Malcolm Jones’ offer for long distance single surface flights from Wallaby Ranch he upped the award if you use Flytec instruments and fly from Quest. Campbell Bowen brought Quest’s award a dollar ahead of Wallaby’s and then it started to cascade with counteroffers that probably still haven’t quieted down. Each park’s offer is subtly different and the prizes have changed often enough that you’ll need to contact each for the latest details. • But you could win $1,000 for a 100-mile flight in a single surface glider. You can add prize dollars for distance beyond the century mark or by using Flytec. And $2,000 is available for a 300-mile flight on any glider from either park. FMI: Wallaby.com or questairforce.com ••• Do you notice how much writing in magazines and on the Web involves competitions? How do you feel about it? Even here in “Product Lines,” I get caught up in the excitement. The newest wings and latest gear tend to show up at these events. Equipment used by contest pilots later ends up in the recreational flyer’s hands. For that and other reasons, contest coverage is worthy and should properly account for some share of the reading available. • Yet in my recent run through various Websites where reader feedback is available, one theme dominates. Based on an unscientific survey, substantially more readers want additional articles aimed at “novices” or about flying techniques and choices. Sometimes it seems we have all become expert hang glider pilots with decades of experience seeking higher-further-faster to keep our interest stoked. Fortunately I think (hope?), that isn’t completely accurate and many who read Hang Gliding magazine or various Websites want how-to or product information, despite the glamour of competition. • The subject of competition focus isn’t over. But next month, I promise I’ll return to product news.••• 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. — My opening segment should start, “Once upon a time, there was Escape Pod, Pod Racer, and Porky Pod…” You’d probably be baffled (though perhaps intrigued). I’m referring to the Pod series from former Seagull hang glider boss, Mike Riggs. I’ve unabashedly promoted this project since it came from my challenge for a true “soaring trike.” u Pods are sleek fuselages to house pilots attached to hang glider wings. Their goal is to offer more comfort, low drag and light weight, and a rigid attachment to the glider. You fly seated/supine — and have a full enclosure. Think of a powered ultralight trike except one with all the draggy bits pulled inside. Escape Pod and Pod Racer (and surely Porky Pod, too, when it’s ready) will feature fully retractable tri-gear, in-flight C/G adjustment, and a molded clear plastic canopy that fits smoothly to a composite body. A positive aspect is the rigid connection to glider, such that you can never fall into the wing, possibly preventing broken gliders after a tumble or tuck. u The schedule for Seagull Aerosport’s first offering has now been set. Mike reports he’ll first answer ultralight motorglider demand with the Escape Pod. This variation will have a fully-faired engine and folding prop to make it self-launchable. Riggs calculates weight at 85 pounds but it should be vastly cleaner than anything seen to date. Riggs says he’ll present his first Escape Pod at the Oshkosh airshow in late July. u The UNpowered, under-30-pound Pod Racer designed specifically for hang glider pilots will follow once Escape Pod production starts. These things won’t be cheap but for some pilots, the Pods will be answers to longtime requests. u Riggs has been in touch with North Wing and Wills Wing to assure their gliders will work with the Pod series. He’ll work with other brands, too Info: email@example.com lll At a visit to Wallaby Ranch just three weeks before the big “Wallaby Open” competition in mid-April, preparations were well underway. The competition field has been enlarged to 110 pilots, “up from 60 the first year of the ‘Open’,” says Malcolm Jones. If you haven’t been to Wallaby recently, you’ll be amazed how much more land is cleared and smooth. u In addition, Jones stuck his neck out even further, buying an additional 250 acres of land mostly to the east of the current premises. This increases Wallaby to 500 total acres, giving a generous barrier to neighbors who might one day complain if they were next door to ultralight engines and boisterous pilots. I gulped on hearing this as I envisioned how much how it raised his mortgage payments. I suspect he may one day profit handsomely from this investment — indeed, huge warehouse buildings have been built only a couple miles away where once existed only unused “swamp land,” much that like Malcolm and his team have transformed into the ‘Ranch. But until he may cash out, Jones has preserved a major chunk of Florida for the exclusive use of hang gliding. Who couldn’t love that? u Wallaby was expecting a big month in April — all historical as you read this. The spring month started out with Wills Wing Demo Days. WW-brand always throws a good party, participants say, and this year was no exception. u On the same days, members of the Sailplane Homebuilders Association brought ultralight sailplanes of several descriptions, a logical follow-on to renewed interest in flying the two SuperFloaters at Wallaby. u Directly after this gathering, the big Sun ‘n Fun airshow in nearby Lakeland began, followed immediately by the Wallaby Open and then Flytec’s Championships at Quest. WHEW! Good times in central Florida. lll The reason this news is history relates to the combined May 2002 issue of HG/PG magazines and its arrival early in the cover month. As you’ve read elsewhere in the magazine (and in earlier issues), this is “only a test.” You are asked to participate in the final decision. Please do so! u To bring your issue to you early in the month, the late deadline enjoyed by easy-to-edit “Product Lines” was moved up two weeks. This edition was turned in on March 20th at Editor Gil Dodgen’s request; that’s how long it takes for a high quality magazine to turn from electronic page layouts to printed books, delivered by the post office. Though it may seem a long time, six weeks is much less than many magazines. One title I write for requires material three and a half months ahead of cover date. u True, the Internet offers near instantaneous publishing but some USHGA members do not use the ‘Net — believe it or not! — and good ol’ paper still has enormous appeal to many readers. Notice the Web has not scuttled magazines or newspapers in other fields (with a very few exceptions). So, enjoy your on-time magazine! lll Interest continues to build for the 2002 World Record Encampment, that way-south Texas gathering which has produced world record flights two years running. Many will merely follow the action via Internet and other sources, but some want to be participants. FlytecUSA is once again sponsoring the World Record Encampment. Two sessions this year are planned running from mid June to mid July. About twice as many people will be let into the 2002 event. Flex and rigid hang gliders, paragliders, and ultralight sailplanes will attempt new world records. To register, go to flytec.com and click the WRE button. Questions: firstname.lastname@example.org lll So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930. My new e-mail is: News@ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN., — Aeros U.S. importer GW Meadows reported that the Aeros rigid wing Stalker has now passed all tests by the German DHV airworthiness certifying organization. He adds, "Only paperwork is left before the DHV certificate will be granted," though he adds that the documentation will take "at least till May." This proves that even though it isn’t a government agency (DHV is sanctioned but private) the german counterpart to our HGMA can certainly act like a bureaucracy. Congratulations to Aeros and good luck to GW. ••• I’d been communicating with GeeDub to ask his advice on visiting the Aeros factory. After the German Aero 2001 airshow, I plan to fly to Kiev for a look at this east European success story. Amazing, really. As I toured the former Berlin wall last year, I reflected that only a dozen years ago places like the Ukraine remained veiled behind the old Iron Curtain. In the space of half a generation, capitalism has started growing like a weed in many of those countries. Though the morph from communism is still causing pain, a few companies like Aeros have figured out the game and have even been able to penetrate that bastion of capitalism, the USA. ••• Maybe a trip to Kiev isn’t your style (and it won’t be mine either if they don’t sent the mandatory visa pretty darn soon) but France has all sorts of appeal. "Any pilots who want to come and fly in the South of France, are welcome to stay at our house," say Arna and Bruce Goldsmith. Intriguing houses in Europe are often named and so’s this one: Chateau-de-Max, in deference to its artistic designer. Goldsmith says, "We have bed and breakfast facilities for [about $20] a night and also a fully fitted apartment available for rent for just a few days or weekly." Chateau-de-Max is located near six excellent flying sites featuring easy access plus guests can obtain advice from veteran Euro pilot, Bruce Goldsmith, about flying conditions and where to fly. Info: www.chateau-de-max.com ••• Flytec showed off their new Alti-Knife at the recent board of director meeting. It’s a nifty Swiss Army knife concept for the digital age with a built-in altimeter. Hikers may also like the gizmo. • Fellow Mac user, Steve Kroop, beamed when he told me about the new 4020 instrument that should now be available. With its translucent blue case it looks like a mate to the iMac and I say why not? Hey, it was a big hit for Apple. It also features much larger barograph memory — 128 hours worth… think you can sustain that long? Plus the iBlue 4020 comes with full customizable audio so you can select the tones you want, a bundled and enhance FlyChart (formerly a $75 upgrade), and the blue box can record and post polar performance data. Price was not expected to rise. Excellent! Info: 800-662-2449. • Flytec also noted that 2000 was one of the best in their history. ••• Gerry Charlebois is about to embark on a video excursion, involving flying in the Sierra Nevadas and Yosemite. Using trike ultralights to lift paragliders to mesas or to aero tow PGs and HGs, they figure to fly in places with more challenging access. Strong interest in Paul Hamilton’s Monumental Triking music video has inspired Charley-boy. He’ll work with Paul again, and they’ll be joined by paraglide guru Andy Whitehill, base jumper and film maker, Tom Sanders, plus, according to Gerry, "Jim Zeiset is also trying to be involved." Knowing both Gerry’s photo and Paul’s video prowess, they may produce one heckuva video. Info on the aerial tour: email@example.com ••• In closing this month, I’m pleased to update you on the only U.S.-built rigid wing, the Raptor, now in its 2 Plus version. Developer/manufacturer Matt Kollmann says he has enough interest in the "hard wing kits" to keep him busy and that a "collapsible [foldable] Raptor has been put on the back burner for now." Of course his pace isn’t blistering — only one kit every three months — so keeping busy means something different than it does for Wills Wing. But that may change if American pilots become more aware of his work and success. • Changes in the 2 Plus model include a one-foot lengthened keel which moved aft the keel fin which Matt says "seemed to eliminate the yaw oscillations" completely. His hard wing model can use lighter ribs and because it "eliminates the weight of the sail," it is now much lighter overall. The savings were employed to make the spar even stronger and the 75-pound wing can now carry a 350 pound hook-in weight! In an exciting statement to soaring trike enthusiasts, he says it’s tough enough that he can now experiment with mounting the Raptor 2 Plus on a lightweight trike. He’s also planning a lightweight trailer to haul the wing. • Despite his achievement, Matt recently tried and was unable to get an established HG manufacturer interested in producing the Raptor 2 Plus. In his exploration of potential partners he reports, "Existing [glider] manufacturers seem to fall into one of two categories. Either they are hurting from the rigid wings and don’t have the capital to invest or they haven’t been hurt bad enough and think the rigids are just a fad and will pass." He adds, "There is also a fantasy that the topless gliders will perform as well as the rigids." • Though Kollmann was unable to find an interested builder, he says many pilots who flew the wing were impressed, "so the Raptor kits have started selling." Info: mKollmann@insight.rr.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., — The season is on and the flow of pilots is southward as I write this in very early April. In just days, right as the Sun ‘n Fun airshow concludes, competition activity will explode at Wallaby Ranch one week and Quest Air the next. And maybe it’s just a fresh season, but some old timers are showing up. ••• Joe Bostik is back! Former national champion and longtime successful competition pilot, Joe has been busy in his life as an airline jet jockey and family man. However, he’ll attend the Florida meets and will again be flying for Wills Wing as he did in his "former life." Joe, his wife, and two children live only a hundred miles south of Wallaby making the dual contest event an easy reentry point. Good luck, Joe! ••• Among other HG contest personalities, Icaro’s unbeatable, Manfred Ruhmer responded to talk he was becoming interested in highly faired rigid wings. He said, "This year I will, for sure, continue flying flex wings and even maybe next year." However, he admitted he is working with Felix Ruhle on a cage-faired version of the ATOS. Ruhmer indicated he did not expect to invest much time in the project in 2000. ••• That’s fine, perhaps, as the lead time for the popular rigid wing from the German A.I.R. company is now reportedly 10 weeks backlogged despite recent efforts to pick up production with more molds working to make the exotic leading edge D-cells. Rigid interest is continuing in the new millennia with Flight Designs also happy with production that is reaching higher levels propelled by strong demand for their GhostBuster. ••• Another old friend, Joe Greblo wrote to say his shop Windsports is "doing great with the timely reopening of the old Playa Del Rey training hill." Joe says they only missed six days all winter. "It’s truly the most efficient beginner training hill I’ve ever heard of," he says. It doesn’t hurt that this site is near a popular beach, next to a busy highway, and adjacent to an active bicycle/skating path. • Joe’s been busy elsewhere, too, helping another large shop owner, Bay Area denizen Pat Deneven, erect a "horizontal cable-assisted training system," complete with stationary winch to control level flight. Greblo says it is his variation of my cable simulator that ran for years at Crystal Air Sports in Chattanooga. ••• Speaking of winches… a most interesting contraption was brought to my attention by Kevin Cosley. He is the owner of a unique winching system, built by my fellow USHGA Board member, Ed Pittman. Called a "bidirectional step towing" winch, the system is composed of a stationary drum winch on a trailer (slick enough by itself) and a pulley pole which you attach to your SUV or other heavier vehicle. Then using dual drums and basically towing from each end of a field, you can be power-step-towed back and forth to thermal height. Earlier step towing systems require the pilot to fly downwind and tow the line with him, losing altitude all the way. Then you turn back and are progressively towed higher with each "power stroke." In the Cosley system that Ed built, you are towed under power both directions. Kevin says that in their 2,300 foot field, they tow to 1,500-2,000 feet using this system. The whole shebang is well documented on Kevin’s web site at www.geocities.com/kpcos/index.htm. Endure the Geocities ads that keep popping up and I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you see, certainly if you’re into towing as a launch system. Windows users (only, unfortunately) can also see videos on the site. ••• Another entry in the "powered hang glider" field is the North Wing ATF soaring trike. ATF stands for "Air Time Fix," and that’s what these machines do for some pilots. Those who attended the Air Sports Expo in Albuquerque last March could examine one closely. A stout yet light trike, the ATF indeed appears to be built by a hang glider pilot for a hang glider pilot… yeah, even if it does have an engine and prop. Boss Kamron Blevins has shown an eye for these things and I hope to fly one at Sun ‘n Fun in a few days. Meanwhile, info: 509-886-460 or at NorthWing.com. (By the way, North Wing’s local dealer in Albuquerque raved about the customer service he receives from Kamron.) ••• Airwave Gliders, now headquartered in Austria, reports concluding six months of hard work moving all the old UK factory gear from an interim facility to their permanent one in Stubaital in Tirol (where the Stubai Cup is held). They have a new 6,500 square foot factory right in the middle of four good flying sites. Now that GW Meadows has added this brand to his list of interesting imports, American sales are sure to follow. Info: Airwave-Gliders.com or call 252-480-3552. ••• Got some entries in the Oops! Department. First, GW Meadows new business is not called Thermal Riding Machines, but rather Thermal Riding Vehicles. • And in another case, the Flytec varios boss, Steve Kroop set me straight on so-called Y2K problems. No problem exists on the 4000 series (my mention in the 3/00 "PL" had to do with operator reset error not Y2K, it turns out), however, the 3000 series does have a minor bug. The software doesn’t provide for century rollover, numerically. At the end of 1999, the 3000 units reverted to 1900. To correct the century error, "You merely reset the time and you won’t see the problem for another 100 years," Kroop said. • Steve also mentioned the Flytec challenge: for any official world record flight, he’ll return the cost of a Flytec used on the flight. That’s worth a few hundred in sponsorship dollars. Info: 800-662-2449. • Third, I failed to mention that Greg Black’s Mountain Wings is the importer of Woody Valley harnesses like the Tenax I wrote about in 3/00. ••• Outta room! So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
St. Paul, Minn. — It’s almost spring, even up here in the southern Tundra. But in Florida, they’re already hot to trot. THIS is the big month of tow park competitions, made all the hotter by the vigorous business competition between Wallaby and Quest. With their different styles they make an interesting contrast. Both have become vital to hang gliding in the US of A. s As the dueling meets approach, I want to mention that Wallaby was still inviting volunteer help for their April 20-26 contest as this issue went to press. Contact them at 1-800-WALLABY (925-5229) or firstname.lastname@example.org. The same may apply to Quest a week earlier (April 12-18). FMI: 352-429-0213 or email@example.com. lll Wills Wing has reached a milestone achieved by few in aviation going all the way back to the Wright Brothers and beyond. Out of hundreds of aircraft companies of all types, few can say they’ve produced over 20,000 flying machines. WW has! Though they must have taken extra time to count carefully, Wills test flew the 20,000th and 20,001st gliders on December 9th, 2002. The news was released in mid-February, 2003. The round number went to a Falcon 2 195 (one of my personal favorite gliders) followed by a Talon 150. I don’t know if they planned it that way, but Wills Wing’s achievement is well represented by those two designs, in my opinion. s Never ones to sit still for long, the world class builder announced their latest model. Introduced as the 100-Year Celebration of (powered) Flight begins to find traction nationally, Wills unveiled the “U2.” Not intended for use in spying on that evil guy in Iraq, Wills Wing’s new U2 is a just a fun glider, one the company calls a “Ultra Performance Intermediate Hang Glider.” I guess they think it flies pretty hot while being friendly to those with medium experience. I’ll look forward to a flight but you can get a ride soon after you read this issue of HG&PG. A 160 size is out now with a 145 to follow “shortly.” Wills describes the U2 as intended to be “a very light-weight glider with performance approaching that of the much heavier, more expensive, and more challenging competition class wings.” The 160 tips the scales at 68 pounds, showing the effort WW put into keeping weight down. It sells for $4,495 with deliveries pegged at 6-8 weeks as this issue went to press. FMI: 714-998-6359 or willswing.com. s Wills also announced price revisions for their top-of-the-line topless model, the Talon. In order to employ their internal reduction pulley system, Wills will now offer the Talon only with their Litestream control bar. Talons will no longer be available with the “regular” control bar, and the price will rise $200, to $5,875, to cover the more expensive bar. Another option, a Mylar trailing edge, adds $150 but then Wills supplies their Slipstream bar at no extra charge. s WW gives a nod to folks like me (and quite a few others, obviously) who like the idea of wheels on their gliders. But WW’s are good for streamlined bars making them rare among wheel packages. The smoothly integrated hardware allows a four-inch diameter UHMW wheel to be fitted using the existing basetube corner bolt. The package is clean enough and small enough that Wills feels it won’t add enough drag to offset the savings from their streamlined basetubes. Wills Wing continues to offer the small Hall wheels or larger Finsterwalder wheels but their new ones are aimed at the performance market. They sell for $140 a set. s If you’d like to fly a new WW glider, and if you live in Florida, and if you got this issue as early as the last couple months, then you might want to head to the Florida Ridge Flight Park, way down south near Miami. On April 4-6, Wills will roll out their entire line for qualified pilots to demo fly. They’ll have a whole celebration with prizes, BBQs and more. Contact James Tindle at 863-805-0040 or firstname.lastname@example.org. lll Not all flight parks pursue competitions. One other Florida flight park is happy just give pilots a lift into the sky. s Gregg and Diana MacNamee run GrayBird AirSports located in Summerfield, Florida (an hour or so north of Quest and Wallaby). Recently, the MacNamees hired western expert, Ray Leonard, to establish paragliding at their facility. “We now offer club flying, PG towing, training, thermalling clinics, XC and equipment sales related to paragliding, in addition to our HG and ultralight services.” With an upcoming Florida PG competition (at another location), GrayBird’s 500-acre site offers a less congested place for competitors to practice. FMI: 352-245-8263 or email@example.com. lll U.S. Aeros has announced a new import from their Ukraine supplier, one that will appeal to those who like to travel on airliners with their wing as checked baggage. Discus “B” model is a modern hang glider that breaks down without tools to only seven feet. U.S. Aeros is even working on a “rigid carrying case” to protect the wing in transport. (Of course, with many airlines now charging for luggage weights over 50 pounds, you may get hit with another fee, but it’ll still be less than truck shipment and you’ll arrive with your glider.) Discus B comes with popular features like VG, curved tips, and internally supported washout tubes. Discus is available in a 148 size now with a 138 and a 158 coming later this year. The 148 model weighs only 65 pounds and is rated for a pilot weighing 150-215 pounds. As with most gliders sold through the Just Fly enterprise, the Discus B is reasonable at $4,295. FMI: 252-480-3552 or firstname.lastname@example.org. lll Hey, outta room again. Next month, two new tow competitions… 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. — A new soaring season approaches and we are now in the month when two major contests will again dominate the news in hang gliding. After several years, the Wallaby and Quest meets have grown beyond their American base. These two season openers now influence the entire world of hang gliding. lll And another de facto annual event has been slated again. The 2003 World Record Encampment that produced two years of record flights in the flatlands will occur again in Zapata, Texas in two sessions. A first session June 15-28 and June 29 to July 12. We’ll hope for more big things from the far southern tip of the USA. If you’re interested in participating, communicate to email@example.com. lll By press time, the move of Betty Pfeiffer’s High Energy Sports should be complete. This longtime vendor to hang gliding (and to ultralight powered parachute producers, by the way) has been stable in its old location for a long time. But progress keeps happening. Betty writes, “I have been pretty busy. I am in the process of moving the shop to 1081 Shepard Street Suite A, Anaheim, CA 92806. My new phone number will be 714-632-3323. Fax is 714-632-6622 and E-mail Betty@highenergysports.com. My old phone number will work for a short time.” The e-mail address is also different than the AOL one many of used for her, so, customers, please note these changes. lll Speaking of parachutes, the king of hang gliding importing, GW Meadows, reported that his JustFly operation has added a new product line. “I’ve picked up the Metamorfosi line of ‘chutes. The Conar [model] HG reserve is a patented design with high internal pressure with small size.” High internal pressure is another way of saying the canopy is small — thus highly loaded — but boss Angelo Crapanzano is a longtime guru of hang gliding emergency parachutes with over 250 “saves” to his credit. He’s learned the fine points of these canopies very well and has a long track record. I’ve been in the parachute game myself for 15 years and he was an oldtimer when I arrived. As if to prove its worth, Meadows notes that such world champion pilots as Manfred Rhumer and Robbie Whittal are “firm supporters of this canopy.” GW also indicated that the Conar utilizes a special round, braided bridle for “twist resistance.” Metamorfosi canopies are German DHV certified. Info: JustFly.com or dial 252-480-3552. lll Actually Metamorfosi is having a good run of penetrating the American market as they also enlisted major U.S. paragliding supplier Superfly. “In keeping with our philosophy of providing the most state of the art technology for the US Paragliding population, we have received the exclusive distribution rights for Metamorfosi paragliding reserve parachutes in the USA,” says Superfly. They say that the Metamorfosi PG line is characterized by “super re-enforced parachutes with paragliding specific packing and deployment bags that are both light and compact.” While they also sell DHV-certified parachutes from Gin and Firebird, they feel “Metamorfosi is the obvious choice for those that demand what is absolutely the most high end reserve parachute available.” More info: 4superfly.com. lll I wrote last month about Davis Straub’s use of a parachute when his ATOS broke after a sudden dive. He expressed concern over the descent rate of his little 16-gore ‘chute. In response, his Oz Report got a reply from Metamorfosi boss, Angelo Crapanzano. As part of his remarks to Straub, he wrote, “In my web page I do suggest to choose a size which will give you an equivalent height of 4.25 feet, with a maximum for a young athletic pilot of 5.5 feet. The ‘equivalent height’ is the height of a jump, which is equivalent to your sink rate under canopy. I do prefer to speak about equivalent height, instead of sink-rate, because it’s much easier to visualize it and is linear with the impact energy. If you fall from a double height you’ll hit twice as hard the ground.” Check the chart for yourself at metamorfosi.com, then click the Conar button. lll After going head over heels, Davis says he will have a tail on his new ATOS in time for the Wallaby/Quest events this month. A.I.R. has several tailed ATOS gliders flying but tails for hang gliders are hardly new. Well over two decades ago, the Seagull V used a tail and of course the even older Quicksilver (hang glider not powered ultralight) had a tail as did other designs. Bill Bennett Delta Wing Kites experimented with them and other companies also looked into the idea. u All of this work attempts to impart a higher measure of stability on our hang gliders. The idea never caught on and maybe it never will. Some industry leaders — Pearson from Wills Wing and Holtz from Icaro — doubt that tails are particularly effective. This has do with several technical points but also factors in the downwash from a wing in flight. u Therefore tails laid right on the keel aft of the wing center section may be more decorative than aerodynamically potent. To address that particular issue T-tails are coming. A British pilot has an early leg up on the T-tail concept with rather expensive carbon fiber version that weighs under 30 ounces. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org. lll So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930; please note my new e-mail address of News@ByDanJohnson.com… but you can still use CumulusMan@aol.com for the foreseeable future. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN., — At Wills Wing’s 28th birthday celebration last month, pilots were able to fly their new curved tip competition glider. Unlike many earlier WW developments, this one isn’t a secret… to the contrary, they’ve showed it around at meets in the hands of WW team pilot, Paris Williams, who has been working with designer Steve Pearson to create it. Named the, uh… well, they haven’t named it yet, so it’s merely their new comp glider. • Referring to the new curved tips, WW isn’t sure a performance advantage exists but they say, "There seem to be some general differences in qualitative handling characteristics, though that area is largely a matter of personal pilot preference." • Unable to duck pilot interest in performance, Wills says that Williams’ experience in meets, "indicates that the performance gap between Manfred [Ruhmer’s] personal glider and our latest prototype is closing rapidly." The Pearson/Williams team has produced an amazing nine prototypes in four months. • The company is not projecting a release date or final configuration details, but they did say the airfoil "is significantly different." It has two extra top surface ribs, a single nose rib, two sprogs, and two transverse battens per wing. They also say, "The VG is a new cam system with a much larger range, so it goes both looser and significantly tighter." Price is projected at $5,900. If you’re inspired and want to help name it, write to email@example.com. ••• At their 4th "annual" Wallaby Ranch birthday party, Wills also showed the production versions of the Eagle 145 and 180. Added to the 164, WW now has three sizes of their new beginner/intermediate glider. All sizes retail for $3,475 which even includes your very own WW ballcap. Wills refers to the new series as "the perfect move-up glider for Falcon pilots," and adds that it has "a greatly expanded performance envelope at higher flying speeds." • Eagles feature: double surfaced wings with a buried crossbar, Mylar leading edge inserts, a speedbar basetube, and kingpost hang system, ••• Wills also announced their distribution of Nene Rotor’s new "Kick Ass" harness. Saying they think Nene raised the bar on streamlining and comfort, they add that it "allows you to lock in the desired pitch angle" addressing their concern that too many single suspension designs give a feeling of balancing on a ball in pitch. Intro price is $995. Info: willswing.com or 714-998-6359. ••• GW Meadows reported that the Aeros rigid wing Stalker passed all tests by the German DHV organization. He adds, "only paperwork is left before the DHV certificate will be granted, but this is most probably going to [take until] at least May," proving that even when it isn’t a government agency (DHV is private but sanctioned) the organization can act like a bureaucracy. Based on the warm reception the sleek wing received at the Air Sports Expo in February, I expect you’ll see one of these at a site near you soon. • Meadows also observed — knowing my fascination for survey info on gliders flown — that at Australian competitions this winter, this Aeros brand did quite well. Of course, in their home country Moyes dominated with 40 of 66 wings — 31 of which were the newest Litespeed model. But in the rest of the field, Aeros came in next with nine Stealths, "even more than AirBorne" notes Meadows with pride. AirBorne is also from Australia as most readers know and featured eight gliders. Wills Wing had four entries, Icaro had two, and LaMouette one. The remainder were older gliders and one ATOS. Info: justfly.com or 252-480-3552. ••• Italian parachute producer, Metamorfosi, has introduced their new canopy called the Conar. Boss Angelo Crapanzano says, "a new design (patented)… gives incredible performance, even compared to the best pull-down apex." He reports that a test by France’s Vol Libre magazine showed the Conar 18 to have thebest sink rate even when contrasted with much larger canopies. • Angelo says that he believes Metamorfosi is the "oldest non-stop manufacturer in the world" specializing in HG and PG reserve parachutes. His backup systems are flown by Robbie Whittal, Tomas Suchanek, and Manfred Ruhmer. Metamorfosi is represented by Thinredline or Mario Scolari in the USA. Info: metamorfosi.com (click the English language button). • Crapanzano also confirmed that the popular Bassano meet has now finally been canceled after a game of go/no-go for some months. Ironically, dates of this meet dictated the later start to this year’s Wallaby Open as organizer Malcolm Jones tried to accommodate all the Euro pilots who wanted to fly in both top meets. ••• In closing, many of you have been very kind to ask about my website, specifically when this sucker will be going live! Well, I’m at work on it with a new webmaster (also a hang glider pilot!). The change of webmasters set me back several months and opened my eyes to just how big a project this really was. Whew! With millions of words and thousands of photos, it is a much bigger job than I thought at first. It will all be accessed by database, instead of being static web pages. This will be very good for searching, updating, and more, but adds to the overall structure. I hope to go live by spring (but don’t hold me to that promise). • A good addition to the effort, though, will be the presentation of many of Dennis Pagen’s hang glider pilot reports, which also can be accessed in that same searchable database. I’m pleased and proud to have Dennis join me, and visiting hang glider pilots will enjoy his evaluations of most modern gliders. No, really… it’s coming, uh, soon! • While you wait I’ll tease you by suggesting you watch for my upcoming new ad. Besides being time for a change, the "content" should surprise (and delight?) you. ••• 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., — Late-breaking news includes the 2000 U.S. Nationals now being slated for Lakeview July 16-22. GW Meadows, the contest organizer, broke the news which was then confirmed from several sources. More news as it unfolds. Info: 252-480-3552. ••• It’s spring in America and all spotlights are turned on Florida where meets at Wallaby and Quest dominate the buzz. ••• Of late, reading Davis Straub’s Oz Report — which dwells heavily on competition — makes some enthusiasts wonder if Moyes sponsors the webzine (they don’t). The Lightspeed’s contest prowess has filled many online paragraphs. However, recent news of the Mexican Millennium Cup revealed Laminar started off 2000 well. Though neither was the winner, in both Mexican and earlier Australian Bogong Cup competitions we saw strong finishes by Wills’ Fusion and Aeros’ Stealth. Huh! Here in the new millennia, if one ignores rigid wings (sure!, just try), all we seem to hear about are Moyes, Icaro, Wills, Aeros (in no particular order, thank you). Of course, other fine brands just haven’t shown up as well in new-century contests — Seedwings, Altair, La Mouette, Bautek and others come to mind quickly — but the Big Four seem to be garnering all the flexwing attention… for now. Since they’re the latest and greatest, the focus has been on Lightspeed and Manfred Ruhmer’s signature MR 2000 ST that represents the state-of-refinement for the Laminar model. For those who want regular contest updates: DavisStraub.com ••• In any event, just when you think you have it figured, along comes that old curve ball. Icaro star, Manfred Ruhmer, icon to the flex wing hang gliding set, has been spotted flying an ATOS with a cage. A cage in this case means a structure to which a fairing can be fitted. Obsessed with reducing drag, and given Icaro’s representation of the ATOS, Manfred’s experimentation may not be so surprising. Think this alleged defection has any implication for flex wings? As always, buyers make final judgment. ••• Yet most marketing remains aimed at flexwings. Icaro says they decided to offer a glider very similar to Manfred’s because they viewed this as "better than having a lot of pilots, with not enough knowledge in tuning gliders, playing around with their wings trying to ‘tune’ them and actually making them unsafe." Comparing the MR 2000 to their Laminar ST they list the following points: a mylar oversurface; an undersurface with one extra flat batten and two extra cloth ribs to help better maintain its shape in flight; a longer VG range that allows you to reach higher speeds; lower sprogs, corresponding to the longer VG range; and a slightly modified batten profile. • Manfred says, "The handling of the MR 2000 is just as good as a regular ST; but it offers a better glide ratio and it is much easier to reach higher speeds. Of course, you must be an experienced pilot, with enough flying hours," he cautions. Icaro does not recommend it for a pilot who is not interested in competition. ••• Regardless of what Ruhmer flies at Wallaby (see below), several reports say at least five European Swifts (fully faired, no doubt) will compete in the Wallaby Open later this month. I’ve seen these beautiful wings built by a Belgian licensee of Brightstar’s original foot-launched sailplane and they are quite the works of composite art (they’re also priced to match). This should add considerable spark to the contest. ••• Speaking of the Wallaby Ranch and their big spring extravaganza, the contest may be — as the airlines so euphemistically call it — "overbooked." The contest and site have evidently gotten so popular that meet officials have suggested that they may limit entries to 80. At one report, they had over 120 pilots on a list. If you want to be attend this year, you’re probably out of luck, but try contacting Laurie at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m going for the first couple days and hope to have more views in the 6/00 "Product Lines." ••• Those of you interested to see what Ukrainian builder, Aeros, is doing with their ominously-named Stalker can see a video on the U.S. Aeros website at JustFly.com. Importer GW Meadows says the glider’s performance evaluations are showing excellent results. Later this month, one or more may arrive for the spring competitions in Florida that have proven to be true season-opener events that draw out new equipment from the U.S. and abroad. I’ll try to update this with more news on the new rigid wing next month. • Aeros also has a "totally new, not just upgraded" Stealth Combat for 2000, say Meadows. One interesting feature is in-flight adjusting sprogs that actuate when you pull on the VG (they lower). But for those weekend warriors who don’t participate in contests, GeeDub advises the Stealth 3, aimed at recreational pilots. It does not use the dropping sprogs. • Meadows enterprise, now rebadged as Thermal Riding Machines, reports cutting a deal to import Speedwings gliders. These are produced by the former Seedwings Europe and add to TRM’s offerings from Aeros, Airwave, and now Speedwings. U.S. Aeros has turned into a vigorous importer enjoying considerable success. You have only to note the number of Stealths flying in the USA to realize this. Lots more info is available on their website and I’ll have more next month. You can even use the telephone, if you’re into that voice thing. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or faxes to 651-450-0930, or send e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com …but until further notice, do not try to leave news on ByDanJohnson.com as the site is not yet fully functioning. THANKS!
St. Paul, Minn. — Welcome to a new era for your magazine. After two tests and two surveys of the membership, USHGA has launched its new combined magazine. s I touched on this last month as I congratulated Gil Dodgen for his 25 years of service. But the magazine you are holding is indeed the most significant physical product of USHGA. Hope you’re enjoying the new look. lll These magazine changes come amid another sweeping change in American light aircraft operation. FAA is expected to release its new Sport Pilot and Light Sport Aircraft rule in the summer or fall of 2003. Many European powered aircraft makers are paying very close attention to this development as they see a golden opportunity to enter the world’s largest aviation marketplace. True, hang gliders and paragliders are well protected from the heavy hand of the law by virtue of the USA’s simple Part 103 rule which will NOT change. But the tugs which lift so many hang gliders into the sky will eventually have to conform to the new rule… that is, they will have to become certified aircraft under rules being chosen by consensus of current manufacturers. USHGA officials submitted a detailed response to FAA’s rule proposal and have had many personal meetings with regulators. This solid effort appears to assure the future of aerotowing in the U.S. s Now the Sport Pilot / Light Sport Aircraft rule is approaching critical mass. The new consensus standards are being decided by powered ultralight producers and most are not particularly hang gliding- or paragliding-savvy. However, our lightest end of American aviation won’t be left in the cold. s USHGA attended the most recent ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) meeting in Florida. ASTM is a private organization that helps industries establish common standards. They don’t create standards; they help manage their development. ASTM is best known for helping to standardize auto fuels worldwide. EAA enlisted their help and most participants are pleased at their organizational skills. According to Executive Director Jayne Depanfilis, “Mike Meier, Bill Bryden, and Jim Zeiset [attended]the ASTM subcommittee meeting at the Fantasy of Flight Museum, near Wallaby Ranch, in Florida on January 28th and 29th.” Jayne was also part of the entourage. Given the background work and the in-force attendance of this critical meeting, association leaders are hopeful. “USHGA expects the existing fleet of aerotow launch vehicles to become certificated as Experimental Light Sport Aircraft,” says Jayne. Newly-manufactured tugs will eventually have to meet standards being devised now by industry groups as mandated by the proposed new law. Depanfilis adds, “We have been asked by the FAA’s technical expert concerning Light Sport Aircraft, Sue Gardner, to develop our own standards for such aircraft.” lll At the ASTM meeting, The FAA wished to meet separately with the USHGA, U.S. Ultralight Association, Aero Sports Connection, EAA, and the U.S. Powered Paragliding Association, to discuss the next steps for the implementation of the new Sport Pilot rule. “This will be the first time that each of these industry leaders will be together at the same time to discuss this rule,” asserted Jayne. s In gatherings solely with USHGA leaders, FAA wants to discuss adoption of the association’s standards for tandem hang gliding. lll Returning to product news, GW Meadows writes that his lead team pilot, Oleg Bondarchuk from the Ukraine, “has just won the first two big meets of the year. This guy is kicking ass. He won more meets than anyone last year. He’s having an incredible 14 months and we hope he’ll keep it up into the Florida meets.” s Oleg flies the Aeros Combat 2, which GeeDub says is “the same glider that any pilot can order from us.” You may never be as good as Oleg but you can operate the same equipment and that may get you a little higher and a few miles further down the course. s You can also get the Combat 2 on a special deal. While the auto companies are offering everyone and their neighbor 0% loans to buy cars, hang gliding enterprises like JustFly can also make deals. See what you think of this one: The 2003 U.S. Aeros Victory Sale. They’re selling Combat 2s for $4,495. GW suggests you compare that price to the competition. He says it is as much as $2,000 less… for a glider that is proving itself a winner. FMI: 252-480-3552 or go to JustFly.com. lll Though spring and the famous Florida meets are coming, it is still winter in most U.S. locations and most of us can’t go hang gliding — comfortably anyway. Of course, you can travel to a place where it’s warm (Florida, California, Texas, Mexico, etc.). Or, you can go hang gliding right now if you have Internet access. s Of all places, the Disney Website has a hang gliding game. And you know what? I actually had to pay attention to things like thermal generators, in-flight conflicts, and glide estimates. I only played it for a few minutes while preparing this column and never got to the higher levels. But it was kinda fun and I was warm and cozy in my house during all flights. If you crash — which happens frequently at first — you are always saved by your ejection seat-like parachute system. Since I work for BRS parachutes, I loved this ending, despite the pilot saying “Ow!” when the parachute reaches the ground. (However, those of you who have been through a parachute landing know “Ow!” is a fairly appropriate statement when feet meet terra firma.) Disney’s hang gliding game is free, so to have a bit of fun this winter, go to: http://disney.go.com/games/hang/index.html 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. — FAA released the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) generally referred to as Sport Pilot. I won’t dwell on this as I’ve recently written about the new rule. But please watch Hang Gliding magazine and ask your USHGA leaders for advice on responding during the Comment Period — which is now open. lll Foreigners have done well at past U.S. Nationals. Now some Yankees turned it around. Congratulations to Mike Barber (Moyes Lightspeed 4) who came in first in the “Combined Open” category at the Australian Open in January. He finished second in “Class I Open” behind Ukrainian Oleg Bondarchuck (Aeros Combat 2). u Then, in the Australian Nationals, Paris Williams (Laminar St14) took the top spot in Class I. Davis Straub (ATOS 145) finished first in the “Overall” category. Good goin’ Yanks! lll Speaking of top Ukraine pilot Bondarchuck, U.S. importer, GW Meadows, writes, “With Oleg doing so well in the competitions in Australia, I’ve had lots of calls and e-mails from customers wanting the ‘low down’ on the new Combat 2.” Among changes from the earlier model, GW reports Combat 2 incorporates a slightly different sail cut, airfoil, span wise sail tension, and rib distribution. U.S. Aeros says it utilizes a “completely different cloth on the leading edge, which allows for more reliable shaping throughout the speed range of the glider.” u Based on factory testing and Oleg’s contest experience, GW reports, “Handling is improved, as are the landing characteristics.” He says that a big difference on Combat 2 is the availability of the “micro-drag” control frame which utilizes the Wills Wing upright profiles mated to Aeros’ new modern corner brackets and their own carbon speedbar. Pitch testing has been done and Combat 2 passed with “flying colors,” reports Meadows. More info: email@example.com or 252-480-3552. lll While we’re talking about pilots who did well in the Aussie contests, the story gets exciting. Near the end of January, Davis Straub wrote in his OZ Report that, “I was flying [ATOS 145] straight and level when instantly my nose went straight down and the glider picked up a whole lot of speed in less than a second. I had no control of the glider at this point and couldn’t believe the speed or the forces upon me.” Kraig Coomber was flying nearby and said that “the tuck and the break of the wing happened as one event.” u After successfully deploying, Straub recalled, “I was dreading coming in so fast, but happy to have a parachute (even if it was 16 gore).” u One European pilot hearing of Straub’s experience wrote: “I asked [local expert] Henry Helmich from Parasail [about canopy sizes]. He works for the army, making and folding parachutes and he makes parachutes for the Dutch and German hang gliding market. He was very clear. The difference in opening time for a larger or smaller ‘chute for your weight is in tenths of seconds, if measurable at all. The only thing that really counts is that the ‘chute is dry and recently folded. ‘Chute material absorbs moisture from the air, which makes the material stick to each other and folding it regularly keeps the material fluffy.” (From my perspective as a marketer of emergency parachutes, you don’t really care how fast the canopy opens as much as how much altitude is consumed before opening.) Davis got the message. He wrote: “Lesson — get a twenty-gore chute.” lll Wills Wing is pleased with their new computerized sail plotter. “Nine years ago, in conjunction with our move to a new, expanded facility, Wills Wing installed a state-of-the-art, computer-controlled Autometrix sail-cutting machine.” Wills reports the use of this precise cutter/plotter has given them the ability to produce prototype hang glider sails and harness designs directly from computer design files. u “We’ve replaced our original machine with the highly upgraded Autometrix AutoCut 7000 model,” says Wills. The new unit features repeatable accuracy to within ten thousandths of an inch over the entire surface of the fifty-foot by five-foot table, says Wills. u Factory test pilots become aware that “dimensional variations as small as sixty thousandths of an inch over the thirty-two foot span of a hang glider can yield perceptible changes in flight characteristics, so this level of accuracy is a matter of practical importance in hang glider manufacture.” Info: WillsWing.com or call 714-998-6359. lll Alerted by U.S. distributor, Rich Burton, I looked on their Website to see news of Icaro’s new rigid wing. Rich says the new wing was “developed by Christian Ciech and Manfred Ruhmer.” In early February, the first pitch test work done by the German DHV proved successful. So far, the new rigid wing is unnamed. They are considering Astron, Dynamic, Orbital, Stratos. If you want to influence the judges, go to Icaro2000.com. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-721-0701 lll Titled after the Kitty Hawk Kites annual event of the same name, Hang Gliding Spectacular is dedicated to Michael “Hollywood” Champlin (who happened to give editor Jim Palmieri his first book sale). HGS is a 247-page book with 70 individual stories. Though I didn’t really expect it, I found myself flipping pages to yet another story. “There I was…” stories are legendary in hang gliding. Once in a while such tales are fascinating but usually they’re somebody else’s experience that get long in the tooth rather quickly. Those in HGS were quite readable, I felt. The $24.95 book is also unusual in offering a CD with the printed volume so as to provide video clips, many photos, and illustrations. Info: Skydog@rev.net or 540-772-4262. lll So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930. Please note my new e-mail address of News@ByDanJohnson.com… but you can still use CumulusMan@aol.com for the foreseeable future. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN., — It’s history by the time you read this, but at the time of writing I was looking forward to seeing the Stalker in person at the Indianapolis Air Sports Expo, that gathering of sport aircraft of many types. The Aeros Stalker is a long time coming perhaps because it features numerous differences from other rigid wing designs. ••• Importer GW Meadows says Aeros has a full roster of competitive gliders for the new year, of which the Stalker is just one. He says, "The Stealth Combat is currently available in the 154 size, but a smaller size is currently being worked on at the factory." He believes that Combat is not only tops in performance, but is very user friendly as well. Aeros says the glider completed and passed the German hang glider certification tests. Combat uses 7075 springtip ribs, a Matrix top sail, in-flight self adjusting sprogs, and the Ukrainian producer says their reflex system supports more of the trailing edge of the glider. GW indicated, "We will be marketing this glider to not only the serious competition pilot but to the serious cross country pilots." U.S. Aeros recommends the Stealth 3 with conventional Dacron sailcloth for recreational cross country pilots. ••• But lots of excitement surrounds the rigid Stalker (reported here in January 2000). On a recent trip to the Ukraine, Meadows wrote, "After seeing the Stalker, I had perma-grin for days. This is truly the most beautiful wing I’ve seen mounted on 2 downtubes." Of course, he’s biased but based on the construction and changed control surfaces and their linkages, this does sound like a truly different rigid wing. • Putting a finer point on it, U.S. Aeros says, "The trailing edge consists of flaps, ailerons and spadds. Flaps and ailerons are self explanatory, but the SPADD (SPlit Aileron Drag Device) is a new feature. It is a device attached out at the very tip of the trailing edge that produces an extra amount of drag for the inside wing." Aeros claims that the spadd helps the pilot coordinate the turns better and I could easily agree based on my experience with flying spoileron-equipped aircraft in conjunction with ailerons. The aileron deflects upward on one wing and the spadd also deflects upward. Yet an additional part of the spadd moves downward below the wing to produce a little extra drag in that area, drag which is complimentary to the turn (like a spoileron). It doesn’t take much out at the wingtip. Stalker’s ailerons are conventional in that they operate differentially meaning that they do not move up and down the same distance. This helps regulate the drag produced by control deflections and is on every three-axis aircraft. However, the spadd also deflects on an accelerating scale as the aileron is used more fully. For last second corrections on final, this extra authority may be appreciated. On whole, the Stalker seems well enough thought out to overcome the delay in its introduction. I should have more for you next month. Info: justfly.com or 252-480-3552. ••• Speaking of new designs, Wills Wing is flying an early prototype in competitions, breaking tradition with their usual close-to-the-vest development of new gliders. The new wing is topless with curved tips. So far unnamed to my knowledge, the proto was flown in a couple Australian competitions by highly-ranked Paris Williams. I can’t recall hearing about a WW development glider sighted at a meet before. Reports from those who saw it gave WW credit for a polished early prototype. Williams was reportedly pleased with the design at this stage. ••• You can ask questions about it at the company’s 28th Anniversary party, again held at the Wallaby Ranch, March 14-18, 2001. The big builder says, "This will be the fourth year that world renowned Wallaby Ranch has hosted the Wills Wing party and demo days." Visitors are invited to fly Falcons, Ultra Sports, Fusions, two new sizes of the Eagle, and the new curved tip competition glider. The huge Condor trainer is evidently staying on the beach sites; it may be inappropriate for aerotowing (though the Wallaby team could probably figure a way to tow almost anything). Info: WillsWing.com or 714-998-6359. ••• The FAI blessed the longest-ever "straight distance" flight by Davis Straub last August, only days after Dave Sharp’s also-stunning flight of 311 miles — at least he’s the first man ever to fly past 500 kilometers. FAI in Paris ratified Straub’s achievement in Class O (oh, not zero) in Sub-class O-2, meaning a hang glider with rigid primary structure and with movable control surfaces. Since FAI records in metric the 347 miles got translated to 559.7 kilometers — Sharp’s was 502.8 km. Attaboys, Davis and Dave! You furthered the credibility of hang gliding. ••• Top Czech pilot, Tomas Suchanek, set a flurry of records in Australia at the end of last year. He’s reported to be occupied with flying and selling sailplanes these days, but it appears he still has the edge needed for cross country flying. Tomas entered the books late last year with a "speed over 100 km triangle" hitting 40 km/h (25 mph), "speed over 300 km triangle" where Suchanek hit 45 km/h (28+ mph), and a "speed over 50 km triangle" where he blazed along at 46 km/h (almost 29 mph). He also took a record for 25 km, and the longest of all, a distance over a triangle award. Suchanek racked up 357 km (223 mi) and averaged 45 klicks all the while. Dang! • Looking at the two long flights, I think averaging nearly 30 mph in a flight of 200+ miles is pretty impressive. All Tomas’ flights were flown on a Moyes Litespeed 4 and took place at the recent Moyes World Record Expedition at Wilcannia in Western NSW-Australia. Another pilot Attila Bertik of Hungary, flew a Moyes Litespeed 5 to a "Speed over 200 km triangle" hitting 41 km/h or close to 26 mph. Congratulations to both pilots for excellent flying. Info: 530-888-8622 or FlyaMoyes@aol.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., — As a spring soaring season creeps ever closer, another new harness called the Tenax has been introduced by Woody Valley. Italian Ignazio Bernardi claimed the popular Euro harness had a 30% share of the pilots in the last World Meet in Monte Cucco. Woody Valley also has offerings for recreational pilots (the RS2), but the new Tenax is aimed precisely at the competition pilots who want the very least drag. Indeed, aerodynamics and ergonomics appear to be the push among all state-of-the-art harness makers. • Tenax features a "redesigned body shape" to improve comfort and drag reduction while also making entry easier. Tenax also has some internal pockets to help cleanliness but also has external access for two cameras, a radio, a drag ‘chute, and an emergency parachute. According to Bernardi, it is also "possible to install a ballistic parachute" (though this is not something with which U.S. maker BRS is familiar). Several American dealers represent Woody Valley. Check with them to see more of the European brand’s line. ••• I find it almost ironic to report that the only Y2K bug problem that seemed to directly affect hang gliding (so far as I’ve been informed anyway) involves Flytec instruments. According to a few users, the Flytec 4020 and 4030 (but not the 3030) reset at the 2000 rollover so that recording occurs on a 1-second interval. As this apparently limits barogram recording to 2.25 hours, those wishing to track longer flights may be frustrated. The fix is simple enough: check the interval used for recording and reset to another time, for example, 15-seconds. Some users also reported an error in the Alti 1 max height figure. Flytec is aware of these minor errors and can surely address them through software adjustments. ••• You have only a few days to plan your trip if you want to attend Wills Wing’s 27th birthday celebration this month. As they’ve done before, WW-brand will truck out a load of demo gliders for your soaring pleasure. In concert with Wallaby Ranch manager, Malcolm Jones, a major shindig is forecast. Central Florida enjoys good cross country weather this time of year… plus pilots can visit two other airparks: Quest Air, only a few miles to the north, and Graybird Airsports, up by Dunnellon — on your way into the state. Both are within reasonable drives, or good X-C flights. Call Wills Wing (714-998-6359) or Wallaby (914-424-0070) for details. ••• Speaking of flight parks, Austin Air Sports, created by Texans Steve Burns and Gaynelle Roach, is now based at the Hearne Municipal Airport. Burns’ involvement dates back to the late ’70s and after teaching his father to fly, the two of them report training over 4,000 students. Moving to Hearne on July 1 last year, AAS operates two Dragonfly tugs plus a trike. By the time you read this, "we will have two additional trikes," says Burns. Hearne has general aviation traffic but it’s light they report. Being an old military base, one runway is 7,200 feet long, which allows winch tows to 2,000 feet AGL. The airport sits on 600 acres, "with rolling farm land in every direction." More info: AustinAirSports.com or call 409-279-9382. ••• For those that aren’t into towing or who live a good distance from the growing list of airparks, more powered hang glider choices are arriving. Shorten it to "PHG" to skip the mouthful and consider that such contraptions include powered harnesses, like the Mosquito and even more established Minimum; superlight trikes like Lookout Mountain’s SkyCycle or Cosmos’ Samba; plus Australian John Reynold’s "nanolight" Thistledown (a personal project). In the last month or so, I’ve become aware of three new offerings: the Booster, Doodlebug, & Explorer. All are commercial products available for purchase. • The Booster comes from Pegasus Aviation, the UK’s largest builder of powered ultralight trikes. The company also has a hang gliding history and combining the two capabilities explains their entry. The power system is housed in a composite half-tube that can be added to many modern harnesses and then removed if unpowered flight is preferred. The sleek looking appendage to your harness ends in a folding prop to further reduce drag. Info: PegasusAviation.co.uk/pegframe • Flylight’s Ben Ashman, also of the UK, produces the Doodlebug which has the pilot sit supine above the control bar. You foot launch and then assume the seated position. The unit is said to be "beautifully finished," and a small front-end fairing is optional to keep your toes warm and drag reduced. Info: FlyLight@zetnet.co.uk • A Mosquito clone called the Explorer is being produced in Australia. Info: ffa.com.au/airtime/index3 • Finally, yet another variation is awkwardly-named Nargfly. This is unlike all the others, with a large, slow-turning prop in front of the pilot and the engine mounted on the front side of the control bar/keel junction. It still foot launches and lands but this is quite a different animal that I’m guessing will have slow acceptance because of the spinning thing right in front of you (a folding prop can’t work, for example). For those who’d like to look at all these PHGs, see the British site: www.woodleydowns.demon.co.uk/Manufacturers.htm • None of these machines come particularly cheap, but add up the cost of towing or maintaining a mountain-worthy vehicle and perhaps $5-9 Grand doesn’t sound too bad. I’ll do some further investigating on all these new powered machines. If they don’t turn you on (as I admit they do me), then skip this news and enjoy your quiet soaring. However, interest sent my way is keen enough that I’ll continue to track development details. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Message or fax to 651-450-0930. Send eMail to CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN. — More news seems to surround power and hang gliders or paragliders.
Why? Well| first, it’s winter. Less flying occurs, at least in the northern latitudes.
So pilots are talking about gear and powered harnesses and nanotrikes
are part of the discussion. Secondly, expressions of interest by soaring pilots may
be a result of USHGA gaining member approval for adding these machines to the mix
(nanotrikes are not presently included; only foot launched aircraft). Add one more
fact, the steadily-increasing age of HG&PG pilots, and no one should be
surprised that discussion includes power (and wheels). With that in mind, I like
to dispense with one item right now.
Corrections Dept.: In August last year, I wrote about some spectacularly high
flights accomplished by Minnesota pilots using powered harnesses for their initial
launch into huge thermals. I also said, because that’s what I understood, that all
four pilots reaching 10,000 feet AGL used NRG Mosquito harnesses sold by Bill
Fifer of Traverse City Hang Gliders. In fact, only my reporter, Bruce Bolles,
used that brand. The other three pilots, Ralph Karsten, Paul Kilstofte, and Bill
Manual, flew Airtime Products (of Australia) Explorer powered harnesses. My
apologies to Airtime for this error. While Bruce corrected my information he also
wanted to observe two things. The Mosquito is powered by the Radne Rocket engine
and so is the Explorer. Some owners feel the Mosquito is a more refined product while
the simpler Explorer offers a good cost savings (current price differential may be
even greater with the euro soaring high compared to the dollar).
Airtime also makes a nanotrike. I wrote about the Powerlite a few months ago
and the down-under company continues to develop their products. The 88-pound
nanotrike is a low-slung affair which gives it a better center of gravity
during ground operations). Airtime is now offering a new pod and new wheelpants for
their Powerlite. The cleaning up of nanotrikes is underway by several manufacturers
and is leading toward a new class of powered machines with much lower drag. FMI:
North Wing announced late-stage development of a new, as-yet unnamed nanotrike,
downsized from their ATF (Air Time Fix) very light trike. Proprietor and designer,
Kamron Blevins says the new machine will weigh 70 pounds and will offer
a zip-up fairing, kind of a refashioned “suprone harness,” explained Kamron. It will
feature electric starting, retractable aft main gear, will pack down to only 4.5
feet and can be carried on your shoulder in its bag. The
trike chassis is well along; Kamron was flying it in late December. A specially-designed
wing will follow in February and the entire nanotrike ought to be ready by April.
FMI: (509) 886-4605 or northwing.com
It isn’t just companies that are developing trikes. I’ve heard from two individuals.
“For the past four years, I’ve been on exodus from hang
gliding, but have recently got permission to get back into the sport,” writes Paul
Donahue. He’s flown with auxiliary power system on hang gliders for some time,
so it was logical to again pursue that direction. “Cliff launching is the ultimate
for me, but it is very tough to beat the independence of a power system.” He reentered
the sport too late to vote for the inclusion of power in USHGA but is obviously pleased
it went that way. He’s working on a minimal power system that he says is “a cross
between a Minimum and a Mosquito.” He’s not ready to announce anything but he let
me in on some details and it sounds intriguing. If his plans flesh out as expected,
it may be another fetching entry in the powered harness/nanotrike segment.
Robert Crowell is another home inventor. I’ve followed his efforts for some
years and he continues to refine a basic approach to a faired light trike. He started
with a Foxbat, a lighter powered trike harking back to the old Manta days so naturally
it has a Fledge’ wing doing the lifting. In late 2003 he was flying with his “bubble
pod” which fully encloses him in see-through plastic. A tiny opaque fabric nose
pod extends under the belly but all the remaining fairing offers a clear view. He
enjoys staying warm during wintertime flying in Boone, NC and said speed range
increased better than 10%. “All I had to do was remove the pod for one flight
to really notice the performance difference,” says Crowell who notes he also got
much colder. When he’s done flying the Lexan sheet can lay flat under his trike in
the bed of his truck. Two ties and four bolts allow reattachment to the Foxbat in
six minutes, Robert reports. Interesting stuff and I wonder what continued developments
we’ll see in the next couple years.
Mid-Winter Rumor Dept.: Last fall some rumors surfaced about this magazine’s
former editor. As I knew him quite well, I wanted to verify their accuracy and give
some feedback to readers as appropriate. Gossip suggested Gil Dodgen was very
unhappy with the way he parted company with USHGA. Given a rather abrupt departure
after 25 years, who could blame him? However, gossip is often unreliable and, in
fact, Gil’s doing very well. He writes, “I’m working for an aerospace research company
designing flight-computer software for a precision-guided airdrop system. It is extremely
interesting, rewarding and intellectually stimulating work, and I’m working with
a very talented and motivated team of aeronautical, mechanical, electrical and software
engineers.” Now, it turns out many readers should know some of Gil’s work mates.
Several have come from the hang gliding ranks. Roy Haggard, Tom Price, Dave
Cronk, Roger McCracken| know any of these guys? You should if you think you know
anything of hang gliding history. Gil preferred I didn’t publish his work address,
but anyone who wishes to contact him may do so at GilDodgen@cox.net
Well, that’s it for chilly February. So, got news or opinions?
Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930. E-mail
to Dan@ByDanJohnson.com or CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN. — As you read this, the 2002 Air Sports Expo is happening. Hope you made it. This event — a rare traveling indoor air show — has great potential for new enthusiasts to find hang gliding and paragliding, I believe. Of course, they may also find sailplanes, ultralights, aerobatic aircraft, R/C models, and more since the show features all these elements of sport aviation. u EAA has a magazine called “Sport Aviation.” Yet their coverage isn’t what we might call “sport aviation”(unless you consider homebuilding an aircraft a “sport”). Conversely, the Air Sports Expo features the kind of flying that’s done strictly for fun, for sport. Some of those EAA aircraft are 200-mph transportation alternatives. Building and flying them may also be for sport, but the aircraft themselves can serve a purpose of transport. Nothing wrong with that, but it isn’t what we do (nor is it what sailplanes, ultralights, aerobatic aircraft, or modelers do). u So, this is the one-and-only show that caters to the true-blue fly-for-fun crowd. If you didn’t make the 2002 event I hope you’ll consider it next year as the country goes nuts over 100 years of powered flight. Many have groused about hang gliding not growing or about a slowdown in paragliding growth. The Air Sports Expo is only one part of a solution, but it is a solid one that also puts us in a kind of partnership with other for-sport-only flying groups. As the show travels around the county, it opens the door to those trying to find us. Seems like a heckuva idea to me. lll As the Air Sport Expo was going on (and understand, I’m writing this before the event occurs), another momentous event in “sport” aviation was happening. As this column went to press, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had finally released FAA’s new proposed rule — often referred to as “Sport Pilot.” u I wish to recommend that you get out your September 2001 issue of Hang Gliding where you’ll find an article and a sidebar about this new rule (page 19). Joe Gregor did an excellent job of detailing the new rule as we know it at this time. He covered the history and listed the implications of the new proposal. u That proposal has now been released from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) where it had been delayed for some months. The events of September 11th added a significant delay in the issuance of the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) but that’s history now. In early January, OMB sent the proposal back to FAA for them to issue the NPRM (possibly by the time you read this — though such predictions have proven wrong in the past). lll It’s too soon to get out your “Dear Congressman or Senator” letter pad just yet, but please keep your eye on the magazine and USHGA Website for advice from association leaders. When the time does come, you need to get involved! u The two main areas of concern (in my humble opinion) are the lack of a towing provision and the uncertain nature of our exemptions for two place operations. u Now, the basics of Part 103 under which the majority of hang glider and paraglider pilots fly is not threatened. If you foot launch, the NPRM may not seem particularly relevant. But remember, federal regulations nearly always grow and are rarely retracted once implemented. u Originally, towing had been included. But due to FAA’s concern about “commercial activities” in sport aviation, the ability for sport aircraft to tow others was removed. In the draft document FAA presented months ago, towing hang gliders was not be allowed! As Joe Gregor properly describes it, this may deliver a “crippling blow” to the towparks that are responsible for so much activity in hang gliding. u The other areas of concern involve the two-place exemption for tandem training. Again, Gregor did a good job of identifying why FAA wants to stop exemptions. Such “loop holes” in the rule are intended to be temporary fixes but should not remain in place year after year. Yet this is exactly what has occurred with both our towing and tandem exemptions. Both are in some jeopardy within FAA’s proposal. u As Gregor and sidebar writer Bill Bryden reported, the proposals we’ve seen so far may not be identical to the NPRM when it is released. However, proposals often become NPRMs largely intact, so be ready. You don’t need to act just yet, but BE PREPARED! u “A USHGA Committee or Special Task Force has been created to address the USHGA’s position on the Sport Pilot License,” reported USHGA Executive Director, Jayne DePanfilis. This task force includes Bill Bryden, Dennis Pagen, Mike Meier, Matt Taber, Steve Kroop and Jayne. This is a solid group and we’ll all await their advice. lll Finally, the news this month surrounds a blur of mail among the USHGA board of directors and staff. The subject is the possible combining of Hang Gliding and Paragliding magazines. Association leadership does not want this to be a forced issue and is trying hard to assure members can express themselves before the action may be taken. u Jayne proved herself a good listener. Hearing from many board members via a vigorous e-mail exchange, Jayne melded the best ideas together and I think no member will feel he or she was not informed. Look carefully at the March and April issue. The test issue will be May and then we’ll revert to two magazines (for a short while, I hope) to give members a chance to digest it all. As I’ve written before, I’m in favor of combining but I’m only one of more than 10,000 who need to think it through themselves. All anyone can ask is an open mind. lll Yeah, OK, “Product Lines” was kinda light on the products this time. I felt the above news was worthy, but I’ll get back to the stuff that usually appears here next month. lll So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930. Please note my new e-mail address of News@ByDanJohnson.com| but you can still use CumulusMan@aol.com for the foreseeable future. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN., — Aeros is finally getting ready to show their new Stalker rigid wing entry after much design work and generating considerable market interest. U.S. Aeros, the Yankee distributor for the low-price producer, will show the Stalker at this month’s Air Sports Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana (7-10 Feb.). The show will present lots of aircraft from sailplanes to ultralights to aerobatic machines, plus RC models, powered parachutes, and, of course, hang gliders. Typically hang gliding enjoyed a good turnout at these events. • I believe the Air Sports Expo has the potential to be a powerful marketing tool for all the air sports and I encourage all midwest pilots to try to make the event. Contact fellow organizer, David Newill, at 317-873-2262 or go to www.soar-indy.dhs.org • If you attend you can examine the Aeros Stalker up close and personal. To date, only a private web site has let dealers (and the odd reporter) have a first glance. It appears to me to have more genuine aircraft-type construction with a riveted aluminum keel and solid linkage to its ailerons. And, yup, they’re ailerons not spoilerons, in another departure from most rigid wings (although before Icaro got involved with the ATOS they prototyped a rigid wing that also used ailerons). I liked what I saw and am looking forward to the in-person viewing. You, too? If you can’t make it to Indy, visit JustFly.com or call 252-480-3552. ••• Apparently Wallaby Ranch and Quest Air have largely (though not totally) settled differences about their spring contests after a vigorous USHGA board of directors Competition Committee debate last fall. The twin meets will once again make a compelling case for pilots to travel to the Sunshine State in April. • Steve Kroop is organizer of the Quest meet and also Flytec USA boss… hmmm, this just might be a reason the event is called the Flytec Championships. "The meet is almost half full," reports Kroop in very early January. With a limit of 90 pilots, over 40 have put down their $100 deposit. Steve adds, "And this doesn’t include the standard U.S. competition pilots." For example, neither Flytec Team’s own pilots nor the Aeros Team is included in this count, so room will very quickly become sparing. • Why should YOU go? One reason includes the whopping $10,000 prize money. But doesn’t that always go to Manfred Ruhmer and other top pilots? No, not this time. Flytec plans to offer a Best New Competitor Prize that will see cash and an award. Another prize for the Most Improved Competitor will also assure some cash goes to other than the top dogs. Register to compete at QuestAirForce.com. (I had trouble getting the page to load; if you do also, call the number following.) • Finally, for motorheads that will attend the Sun ‘n Fun event, the Flytec Champs at Quest start the day after the giant airshow ends. Get directions from Quest at 352-429-0213. ••• I had contacted Kroop about his new instrument pod. The Flytec pod is a sleek long container that houses your choice of a 4000-series Flytec vario or the 3050 model. Further out on the pod is room for a Garmin GPS model 12, 12 Map, 38, or 40. Unlike the slightly older La Mouette pod, the Flytec model completely houses the instruments and plants the Flytec ASI sensor out in front. • It can be mounted with the standard Flytec mount or a special knuckle piece can be added for those who wish to securely bolt on the pod using their control bar corner bracket bolt. • Flytec’s new pod sells for $235, substantially more than the La Mouette one, but it’s more pod and comes with a special bag (since it won’t fit in the standard Flytec bag). By fully enclosing the instruments, Steve Kroop says, "All the wires are contained, including the GPS interface to vario and the ASI to vario. Nothing can come unplugged and you can’t catch a wire when launching or landing." Info at 800-662-2449 or Flytec.com. ••• Greg Black wrote late last year to breathe a sigh of relief. "It has been one of the best years in a long time, even with the 100-year record rainfall." He noted that, "Hang gliding activity has once again passed paragliding with twice as many students and glider sales." For the previous three years Mountain Wings records showed that paragliding was the more requested type of recreation flying at the New York state flight operation. Greg and his staff are very pleased about this, adding "We are kicking butt with hang gliders this year. Thank God!" Good for Mountain Wings. I haven’t heard from other flight schools, but we can hope the slow growth of hang gliding interest may be accelerating. ••• Not every pilot has a roof rack for his vehicle and even if you do, what happens when you rent a car while traveling with your glider? One way to solve this vexing dilemma is to get a HandiRack. The device consists of two inflatable tubes that fasten to any auto or SUV and can carry up to 175 pounds, good enough for at least a couple gliders. By using air-filled construction, the rack can be exhausted and stored conveniently in your trunk (or luggage) and can be reinflated with the included HandiPump so you won’t exhaust yourself. The inflated tubes also spread out the load so your roof can handle the weight and your rental car shouldn’t see scars that cost you money. • The company describes HandiRack as a "highly elasticized PVC inner tube protected by an exceptionally tough nylon laminated PVC outer layer." They say this will prevent premature deflation, a concern of many male hang glider pilots. Seriously, it looks like a nifty product for carrying all sorts of things. See photos and get more info at www.users.bigpond.com/bsf/. In the U.S. try calling corporate parent, Delcor Industries, at 303-979-7175. ••• Outta room 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., — Bits and pieces are floating around in the aftermath of a new millennium and celebrations of grand style around the globe. It’s a good time of year to catch up on details before a new contest and soaring season begins. ••• Why did Aeros name their new rigid wing, "Stalker?" Aeros is the maker of the Stealth topless hang glider, which has achieved amazing U.S. market penetration. To explain the choice of names for their new rigid glider — which conjures a negative image for many Americans — Aeros identified "Roadside Picnic" as a popular novel with a mystical theme. In the book "Stalker" is the main character, idealized as "Neither hunter nor militarist, he’s just trying to survive, to understand, to learn… fearless and courageous, a pathfinder, an explorer, looking for happiness." OK, very positive and perhaps very appropriate for a new high-perf glider, but the name is still odd for American consumption. ••• More so than I’ve observed with other recent introductions, Moyes’ new Lightspeed appears to be enlivening Moyes’ participation in competition gliders. "They aren’t for everyone and while the Litespeed does have some vices and handling quirks the overall package is pretty good. It has significantly better glide performance than the CSX," in one pilot’s opinion. Though reportedly not possessing the CSX’s very light handling the Lightspeed is said to improve on the popular Xtralite. Given Litespeed’s sweep of the Brazilian Nats and good performance in the Down-Under Nats, some observers felt "Moyes has erased Icaro’s lead with the Laminar." ••• Speaking of the Laminar, the Italian producer has new models for 2000 and Yankee distributor, AV8, placed orders for six of the MR versions the last week of December 1999, I’m told. Several of the new wings will apparently be at the Wallaby Open in April. Icaro also said they have improved their parts and service department and according to one insider, customer response "has been encouraging." ••• Otherwise though, the depths of winter seem quiet with glider development news (excepting Moyes, for whom it is summer). Not much horn blowing can be heard. After generating so much interest in the last few months, even rigid wing builders appear intent on producing their gliders rather than bragging about them. So as the new millennium gets underway product news is more focused on accessories. ••• Brazilian Nene Rotor has reportedly found an American representative. Wallaby Ranch tug pilot, Carlos Bessa, referred to the Ranch e-mail address for pilots to contact him about this well-regarded harness. Info: email@example.com. ••• According to web writer, Davis Straub (www.davisstraub.com/OZ/), Rohan Holtklamp has a new harness design where the parachute is placed inside the harness behind the neck. Without knowing the means of extraction, this sounds like an unusual place to locate a product that is only needed after the feces hits the fan. (Not to say we haven’t seen even weirder ideas.) ••• Straub’s Oz Report also spent days on the subject of dented leading edges on the new series of rigid wings — when carried on racks with insufficient padding in the right places. Solutions were offered by many experts and even a new product resulted. High Energy Sports, run by veteran Betty Pfeiffer, now makes a special cross-country cover bag that used a closed-cell foam to help reduce denting these precious wings. Info: Bettp@aol.com or see ad. ••• With a "new & improved" version of his "Selected Works," hang gliding artist Bob Rouse has made presentation of his fascinating designs more professional. The new 119-page, 8.5 x 11 book (with many fold-out pages of larger dimension) includes color photos of his unusual — "bizarre?" — designs. While these are not even remotely intended to be marketable aircraft, Bob does actually build AND FLY! these gliders. Though I’m no designer and have no ambitions of replicating any of Rouse’s work, I nonetheless found his new volume to be of intense interest… although this is quite clearly art, and not everyone agrees that a given type of art is appealing. Though Bob isn’t trying to become a publisher, he’d like to sell a few of his books if for no other reason than then he might "go part-time at my day job" (he’s a sailmaker for sailboats) and dedicate himself even more to his art goals. Other artists have created excellent portrayals of hang gliding in various mediums, but Bob is the only one I know of in the entire world to make hang gliders themselves the art. I may be the only one who likes his stuff, but I admit to being fascinated by the sheer volume of effort and creativity he shows with these glider designs. That he is brave enough to go fly them gives them legitimacy that others speak about but rarely actualize. Go, Bob! For those who want more info on his book or his work, Rouse now has e-mail at: Bob.Rouse@beginners.net. He adds: "I have created a website about my design-work that covers some of the projects within the book ‘Selected Works’." He says the site has "a lot of color images — many that are not within the book — and will provide you with a few moments of entertainment." The URL is: http://users.ev1.net/~flexwing ••• While crowing about artistic expression, I want to say a little about the website I’m advertising in this magazine. Since 1976 I have been flying and writing reviews of aircraft plus penning some columns like this one. Now that the digital age is fully upon us — and thanks to my good friend and internet impresario, Cliff Whitney — I have decided to place every article I’ve ever written on the Internet. Found under the site name www.ByDanJohnson.com, it is our ambition to create a light aviation portal where lots of newbies can find out about hang gliding, ultralights, and other light aircraft. More of my stuff revolves around powered aircraft, but we expect to have plenty of material of interest to HG pilots. With my own work, we’ll have nearly 1,000 articles or columns and literally hundreds of pilot reports, plus we hope to interest other HG writers to join the effort. The site is still under construction — this is a pretty big undertaking — but you can go to the home page and leave your e-mail address. After the site opens (hopefully later this spring), we’ll notify all who left their names that the site is up and running. It will have liberal free areas and great depth available to those who want to become site members. ••• 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. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN. — Happy New Year, glider fans. Once again a new year brings wintertime
chills, at least for us northerners. So, this month I have some warm-up ideas
to get you in the mood for a new soaring season.
Mexican Flying Tours are in full swing for HGs and PGs. Cold weather flyers take
note of temperatures in the 80s with plentiful thermals and authentic Mexican food.
One outfit calls the experience a “Mextravaganza.”
Super Fly Paragliding Mexico Tours 2004 treks to the famous Valle de Bravo
site in central Mexico. At it for eight years, Super Fly takes you to fly three sites
in seven days during January and February. PG gurus Jeffrey Farrell and Chris
Santacroce are leading two tours in January and one in early February for pilots
with P2 ratings or better and a minimum of 50 flight hours.
They’ll handle the language, pickup and delivery from Mexico City airport, offer
5-star lodging in “a new, secure, classy, and clean hotel,” local club memberships,
XC retreival in air conditioned vehicles, and in-flight coaching by radio. FMI:
firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-255-9595
For winter 03/04 FlyMexico has new features to firm their success from previous
years. Their hotel, Meson del Viento celebrated its first anniversary last June telling
you the property is new. They’ve also got new windsocks, new transport vehicles,
and now they offer tours to Veracruz and Oaxaca.
Basic winter packages in and out of Mexico City are priced at $895 for PG
pilots and $1,095 for HG pilots including a wing to fly with many choices
available. A non-flying companion can be added for $295. Returning customers can
take another 5% discount. FlyMexico offers lodging, ground transportation, guiding,
retrieval, plus radios if needed for coaching and other gear you may need. FMI:
email@example.com or 800-861-7198
HGMA has a new website. Look for yourself, but one aspect of the site that
truly amazed me was a pull-down list for all the glider models ever certified
by HGMA. You scroll for a LONG time before hitting bottom. Reviewing glider
names is a trip through HG history; most designs are no longer in production.
HGMA president Mike Meier told me the list currently represents some 428
certification packages and about 280 glider models. (Note: some packages submitted
were for changes to previously-certified designs.) Certifying all these gliders and
someone reviewing their documentation represents literally decades of work. A highly
efficient Wills Wing, for example, says it can certify a glider in about 75 man-hours.
This includes vehicle testing — for certification only, not development work
while designing the glider — and preparing the documentation. They’ve done it many
times so they’ve become very fast. Let’s assume an average of only 100 hours per
package (probably not enough), the body of work is the same as four full-time
employees working non-stop for five years or one full-timer on the job for 20
years! Whew! Another alphabet-soup organization (ASTM)
is working on standards for the new Light Sport Aircraft that FAA has proposed. One
unit of this group is dealing with HG/PG tandem flying and aerotowing tugs that will
fall under the new certification system. As people observe the work of this large
organization, many including myself marvel at how efficiently a much-smaller HGMA
has performed a similar task over the years. The success of the program is highly
respected by FAA. FMI: www.hgma.net
Most hang glider pilots and magazine readers know Gerry Charlebois. His photos
have graced these pages, and he’s worked with videographer Paul Hamilton on motion-picture
productions. Now the iconic pilot from Hawaii’s beautiful Kauai has outdone himself
with a face-paced and fascinating look at extreme sports on the paradise island.
HG&PG readers will focus on the many spectacular flying scenes in “Extreme
Kauai” but I was equally drawn with some superb white-water kayaking, petting
of sharks, aerobatic kite surfing, and big-wave sailboarding. No question, this video
is a heart pumper, a defibrillator attached to your TV.
As “Extreme Kauai” is a DVD, extra scenes are available and many of
these are about flying, for example, a powered hang glider over Hawaiian waterfalls.
I watched the whole thing for more than an hour’s worth of entertainment with good
production values. My guess is you and your flying group will thoroughly enjoy it.
But its real value may be that it presents hang gliding (and trike flying)
in a good light along with other thrilling sports. I imagine lots of non-pilots watching
this, during which they’ll be exposed to a healthy dose of the reasons why we pilots
like doing it in the air. FMI: firstname.lastname@example.org
It is much mellower than “Extreme Kauai”, but the Tennessee Tree Topper DVD produced
by club president Dan Shell should prove popular during cold winter months. “A Hang
Gliding Cross Country Guide to the Sequatchie Valley” employs a Cessna
to give a tour of sample cross county flights from sites owned by the famous southeastern
flying club. The DVD provides topo maps, GPS coordinates,
specific legs of XC flights in addition to aerial views of the countryside
while flying cross country. Pilots with less experience in going a distance may genuinely
appreciate this preview. Shell’s is available for a modest $20 and will help new
and experienced XC pilots get ready for the next TTT event. FMI: email@example.com
In closing, here’s an update on a subject that I’ll continue to cover: Alan Chuculate’s
Paratug. Aided by North Wing Design, he reports that vehicle testing of
the big glider derived from Wills Wing’s Condor “was successful without destruction.”
Pitch stability with washout tubes came out good. Load testing also went well. “The
airframe was loaded to nearly 2,000 pounds at 45 mph,” says Alan. Later, the wing
was bolted to one of North Wing’s light trikes and proprietor Kamron Blevins took
a first flight under power. Alan wants to give credit to Floyd Fronius for
help in fabricating the airframe and during vehicle testing. FMI: firstname.lastname@example.org
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. — Welcome to a new year of soaring. While much of the country endures cold winter weather, spring thermals make for pleasant thoughts. ••• According to early reports, Moyes is preparing a new glider called the Litesport. Parlaying the popularity of their topless, high performance Litespeed, Moyes will reportedly build the new Litesport with a kingpost. Naturally it doesn’t offer the performance of their top-of-the-line model, however, Moyes competition star Gerolf Heinrichs is planning to compete on a Litesport in the (now summertime) Australian contests. At least he’ll fly one in the Australian Open, though observers say he’ll return to the Litespeed for the Aussie Nationals later in their season. Keep updated at MoyesAmerica.com where you can also find a detailed and well-presented tuning guide for the Litespeed. • An interesting sidebar to this story are numerous comments I heard at the October USHGA Board of Directors meeting where a surprising number of highly experienced pilots commented on their enjoyment of flying “simpler gliders,” like the Wills Eagle and Falcon. It appears a new interest is developing for gliders you can set up quicker, that aren’t as heavy, that launch well in any breeze, and can be landed almost anywhere (by an experienced pilot). I sampled a couple Falcons and found I got most of the same grins from the flights. • On the other side of the spectrum are a number of cross country hang glider enthusiasts who have started flying sailplanes. When flying in big western air some report feeling “safer” in sailplanes. Given the “graying” of the hang gliding populations, such changes — in both directions — seem inevitable. ••• Next month USHGA will participate with other sport aviation associations at the Air Sports Expo. The maturing event that draws the fly-for-fun crowd will occur in Ontario, California at that SoCal city’s convention center from February 7-9 (Thurs/Fri/Sat). Having attended the last Expos in Knoxville, Albuquerque, and Indianapolis, I’m confident you’d enjoy attending. Since the event is being held in a stronghold of our sport it should be an easy drive for many — though the Ontario airport a stone’s throw away has scheduled airline service for those who must travel further. ••• Speaking of dates, the board meeting finally settled the contentious affair between Wallaby Ranch’s spring contest and the championships at Questair now sponsored by Flytec. An annual competition of its own, the board committee settled the matter by awarding Wallaby their desired dates this year while in 2003, Flytec will get first choice. Both want the event to immediately follow the nearby Sun ‘n Fun airshow which draws huge numbers of pilots and some extra tugs. This year Wallaby’s Open will be held April 13-19 and the Flytec meet will follow on April 21-27, giving competitors a short break between the two XC racing events. Info: Wallaby.com or 1-800-Wallaby, or at QuestAirForce.com (a site with a fresh new look that loads quicker). ••• Wills Wing unveiled their new streamlined aluminum base bar and it’s a beauty, IMHO. The carbon versions are exotic looking but I find the sleek shiny shape of the aluminum more visually compelling. Both do a similar drag-reducing job, testing shows. Combined with WW’s Slipstream downtubes and their curvaceous corner brackets, the new control bar looks somewhat like a single piece of formed aluminum. Info and photos: WillsWing.com. ••• Some bummer news about flying sites. My old friend Warren Puckett reports that the well-known “ Buffalo Mountain, Oklahoma launch is no more.” The threat of lawsuits moved the landowner to not renew the lease. Fortunately, the news improved when local pilot Mel Hair bought 40 acres on the brow and “is starting a new launch about three miles away.” A top landing area is also available. Warren added, “You would be amazed how similar it is to Lookout Mountain (TN/GA)” except it’s only five miles long. Local clubs are raising money to assist the land purchase. Puckett and others think the 2:1 slope to the LZ makes it acceptable for paragliding flights as well. ••• The famous San Diego area sites of Laguna, Horse Canyon, and Big & Little Black are all in some danger. State land agencies are trying to buy more area. A water treatment plant is going in near Little Black. And others are seeing the effects of population growth in the area. Work to keep sites open and add new ones is a constant effort that needs strong club actions and leadership. ••• Some places don’t have these problems. The towparks are often on owned land or securely leased land. One successful site is Brad Kushner’s towpark at Twin Oaks Airport near Whitewater, Wisconsin. Brad has built quite an operation to tap the immense population around Chicago and Milwaukee. • Coming up March 9 & 10 is his annual ‘chute clinic. High Energy Sports boss, Betty Pfeiffer, is coming for the fifth year in a row. Each event is one day long, so two clinics are planned and Kushner says that typically 40-50 pilots attend each day. Info: Call 262-473-8800 or write email@example.com. ••• By next month I should be able to give my reaction to Jim (Sky Dog) Palmieri’s new book, “Hang Gliding Spectacular,” with “fantastic flying stories” and its own CD of photos, video, and illustrations. ••• 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!