ST. PAUL, MINN. — April means spring flying just about anywhere in the USA! In this year of the American-hosted World Meet, let’s pray the weather gods see fit to send us abundant thermals. ••• As we enter THE SEASON our attention turns from the new gliders and other major equipment to accessories and other goodies. This month we’ve a interesting selection …but first, a couple international stories that should catch your attention. ••• The big Israeli company, APCO, announced a new world record flight. No, not in one of their hang gliders. Instead two pilots flew 281.50 and 278 kilometers in Apco Astra 30 paragliders. Even when you convert these flights to 176 and 174 miles, this accomplishment deserves attention. The paragliding 200 mile barrier may be broken before long. Alex Louw and Andrew Smith performed these flights at the end of ’92 in South Africa. The flights were documented and FAI filing has been done. Bravo, fellow aviators! ••• Perhaps more amazing is APCO’s reward. The company had offered a $10,000 cash prize. When’s the last time you heard of that kind of money for a single flight? ••• Up in merry old England, the properly stuffy bureaucrats in the British equivalent of the FAA have finally chosen to evaluate aerotowing. While most other countries have been moving for years, the Brits don’t want to be accused of a knee-jerk response, I guess. This should provide some, ah, stimulus (in ClintonSpeak) to aerotug designers. The CAA already certifies British trikes… to some VERY demanding standards. Since they’ll force this certification on the tugs that companies like Solar Wings are preparing, two things will follow: (1) the aircraft will be strong, airworthy vehicles that could break new ground technologically, however, (2) we ordinary humans may not be able to afford them except maybe as clubs. The expense of meeting such government-mandated certification is quite high. Nonetheless, I applaud their entry to the development of this form of towing. ••• Back in the USA, our FAA is stepping up enforcement against so-called illegal ultralights. (Actually, the FAA says, they aren’t illegal ultralights; they’re really "illegal airplanes.") Failure to have the proper credentials could cost you a bundle. Some powered ultralight pilots have already been fined. So much for our "kinder and gentler" FAA, huh? If you’re operating an aerotug, get legal or fly it at some risk. Executive Director Bruning and Dennis Pagen drafted a good petition that may fix the problem, but these government things take time. ••• Goodies time… Southwind HG announces development of a new full race helmet. A Kevlar/carbon laminate with PVC foam liner, the helmet weighs just two pounds. Periphery vision is said to be superior among full-face helmets. A hang gliding-specific design, the original "Brain Bucket" has logged a couple years airtime with positive feedback from owners. "They like the cush fit, light weight, and quality," says proprietor Bob Schick, operator of the SLC-UT outfit. They report working with the Snell Foundation to establish a specific standard for hang/para gliding helmets. Info should be ready for presentation to HGMA/USHGA by June. Both the Brain Bucket and BB Full Race are available in S-M-L with colors and customizations. Call 801/359-6036. ••• Sail Wing HG out of Little Rock, AR (you know where that’s at now, huh?) offers custom camouflage-colored glider bags. I suppose they’ll hide well in the woods while you secure a ride back… hope you can find your glider later. Oh, they have "regular" colors as well. All bags feature a full-length zipper with reinforced ends. But true long-distance flyers will opt for their X-C bag, a water-repellent, four-ounce Nylon bag for $70 (which includes the shipping). You can get their standard bag for $80 (also post-paid). It’s made from a water-repellent eight-ounce Nylon. Since these are custom bags, get your measurements and call 501/663-3166. ••• When you’ve landed, a fresh T-shirt may help get a ride back. A couple creative Canadian guys in the desktop publishing biz have prepared some new HG/PG designs. They’re sharp, different, big designs on both front and back. And somehow, they claim to be "one size fits all." Hmmm? Clever stuff you haven’t seen before. Good sense of humor, too. Call 416/770-8293 (test the U.S/Canada free-trade pact). ••• Last, a bit more serious, a British instructor has written IBM-compatible software to provide an HG Ground School course. Using an ordinary PC, except with a mouse, the program looks complete and simple to use. It might offer a modern way to learn the bookwork end of hang gliding. If interested, dial the following: 011-44-202-483-847 (remember, they’re about 6 hours ahead). ••• Outta space. So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Msg/Fax to: 612/450-0930. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine