ST. PAUL, MINN. — As happens every fall, you filled out Director ballots and survey forms in ’94. Office staffer, Greg Huller, laboriously went through 1,509 forms — a LOT of work, I know — compiling your responses to many questions. His review appears in the "USHGA Reports" section of this issue. However, I usually examine the numbers for product related info and this year is no exception. So, here we go… ••• The main topic of interest is glider brand market share. These days such analysis must include paragliders as well, though their brands are largely not American made. ••• In hang gliding, Wills Wing continues their dominance of the field, with 42.7%, up a skootch from 1993 (42.0%). Wills peaked in 1991 (at 43.1%) but is very solidly the number one producer. • PacAir jumped two points in the last year, up to 29.6% from 27.6% of the market. In the six years of my tracking of these numbers, this is a peak for PacAir and I cannot explain the spurt. (Congrats, PacAir’ers!) • In third place, UP slipped from 10.7% to 7.3% (possibly because new gliders have been in development for a long time… we’ll watch next year’s numbers closely). • Moyes continued a slow but steady climb to 7.1%, up from 6.3% last year, which was up from the year previous. • Seedwings dropped again, though modestly, from 3.7% to 3.6%. Recent resumption of advertising may help boost their share. • Delta Wing held tenaciously to 3.7%, actually up two tenths of a point from 1993 (possibly due to ASI’s manufacture of the Dream for tandem or towing; for 1995, this may change). • The "other" brands category held very steady (at 5.5% or a few over 500 gliders nationally) as it has for the last six years. Evidently some pilots will always choose "something different." ••• Regional market share differences are also interesting to note. National leader, Wills, has strength which has a distinctive western slant (WW is #1 in Regions 1-8) while PacAir is very strong in the east, winning regions 9-13 by solid margins. UP does their best in Regions 4, 7, 9, and 11. It might be called home-turf advantage, except for PacAir’s eastern strength. ••• We don’t know how all the above statistics will be affected by changing demographics of USHGA. With paragliding now well past 20% of the membership at large — defying earlier predictions — the mix is changing. ••• In the paragliding market share, Edel has become the clear leader, up almost two points from last year (22.9% of the market from 21.0%). • Pro Design, a sure second, slipped to 16.6% from 19.0% in 1993. • Wills-branded paragliders were in a solid third, but slipped from 11.0% in 1993 to 8.9% last year. • Another American, UP, also slipped a bit from 5.0% to 4.6% to tie in the 8th spot. Paragliders are served by more brands which probably explains why several top brands can all drop share points; more choices have arrived. ••• I make it a regular practice to examine statistics from other aviation activities. Such reviews tell me that paragliding is alone with sailplanes in American aviation where more imported than domestic aircraft are bought. American brands overwhelmingly dominate all other categories, both at home and abroad. ••• Hand-deploy parachutes took back some market share lost earlier to ballistic systems. Added complexity of ballistic units which leads to potential installation errors may have contributed to the decline. Cost is surely another factor. • Parachute repacking remained at about 60%, leaving me to wonder why 40% don’t follow the recommendations of their manufacturer. • Only one in eight had their ballistic system serviced. Most such devices don’t require annual service so 12.5% may not be low. However, since the longest service life is six years, the likelihood is many pilots are ignoring the manufacturer’s advice. The number obtaining service dropped 25% from a sixth to an eighth of reporting members. ••• Towing holds steady at a little over 20% of all launches, with ultralight tugs of various kinds increasing their share of total tow launches (23.5%, up from 18% in ’93). Platform launching from ground vehicles is still the most common, at 54% being more than double aero tow launches. ••• Concluding my review of Yoo-shga statistics, over a quarter of you say you’ll buy a different glider in 1995 with about a sixth of all pilots saying they’ll buy new and about one in ten choosing used. • The "new" purchase estimate is down from last year. Last year I calculated about 2,000 new glider sales. This 1994 survey suggests under 1,600 gliders may be bought new meaning industry sales could drop to $8 million from $10 million. Please be advised these are only rough forecasts which may have significant error. • The number of gliders owned by each member inched up 6% to 1.8 per member from 1.7 last year. ••• USHGA Regions continue to resize slowly. Region 2, including Central California and the Bay Area, remains largest at 17% of all members. Somewhat surprising, though, is the third largest Region 10 (Tennessee, Florida, etc.). Contrary to popular belief, the SE U.S. is only half a percentage point behind Southern California. ••• Well, nearly outta room again. Next month I’ll have news on Gerry Charlebois’s tandem/towing airpark in Hawaii; Dennis Pagen’s new book, "Hang Gliding Training Manual;" Ball’s 1995 version of the inexpensive M19e flight deck; and more. ••• So, diver fans, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Fax or V-mail to 612/450-0930. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine