ST. PAUL, MINN., — Hoo-yaa! Another, yep, ANOTHER new world record was set at what is being called the 2001 Flytec World Record Encampment (thanks to generous support from Steve Kroop’s instrument enterprise). On June 28th, Davis Straub, reporting from the South Texas site of Zapata wrote, "Mark Poustinchian flew 369 miles for a new world hang gliding record." Flying an ATOS after parting with his Ghostbuster, Mark flew a mere 10 klicks short of an even 600 kilometers. Very nice job, Mark! ••• The big 2001 World Meet (with 139 pilots!) is history. Naturally, Manfred Ruhmer won again, leading a trio of Austrians who came in 1-2-3. The highest placing Yankee was Paris Williams in 11th place. More details next month. ••• Before I get to other news, however, I’d like to make a clarification. It seems some Aeros fans read my words much differently than I intended last month. Because I admire what the Ukraine company has achieved, I feel the need to add a few more words. • Despite many good things I’ve written about Aeros in Ukraine, GW Meadow’s American distribution company, U.S. Aeros, the Stealth series, and their beautiful Stalker rigid wing, some Aeros enthusiasts interpreted my July 2001 column text as unflattering to Aeros. Exception was taken to my comparison of Aeros to Wills Wing, which operates a state-of-the-art factory. Of course, it remains true that Wills Wing is better established and has done well for decades. The company can therefore afford the latest in sail making gear and airframe production facilities. Aeros makes do with much less in the way of fancy equipment and lacks the magical California address. • Yet it’s obvious, based on their international sales success, that Aeros makes the most of the facilities they have. In comparison to other Ukrainian companies I visited on my brief tour, the Aeros plant is actually quite proper. They don’t own the building they’re in, so improvements are more functional than cosmetic. Their sail loft and other facilities appear well suited to the production of quality wings and airplanes (they also build the Sky Ranger ultralight, which I recently evaluated in Ultralight Flying! magazine). In the end, most companies are judged by their people, and in this regard, Aeros indeed brings strength to hang gliding. • Regrets to anyone who interpreted my words as negative. ••• Now on to news elsewhere in hang gliding. USHGA leaders have met in recent weeks to decide the association’s participation in the management of the Air Sports Expo. In case you just returned from another planet, this Expo is the combined air sports event where we rub shoulders with the sailplane guys, ultralight pilots, R/C modelers and other organizations. I’ve been very enthusiastic about this development as I believe it to be one of the best air sports marketing ideas I’ve seen in… well, maybe forever. • So you can imagine that I was delighted to hear of concrete action. US Ultralight Ass’n chief, John Ballantyne, presented a proposal to form a new, independent corporation called Airsports Expo, Inc. Like any startup, some funding is involved to get it going. However, the investment represents a modest use of USHGA resources and is balanced by the event’s ability to generate revenues. It could even become a money maker. After many successful years, EAA derives a substantial percentage of total annual revenues from their one-week-long Oshkosh AirVenture airshow. • A tentative Airsports Expo budget was developed and while the future is tough to predict, it looks promising. Prior events in Knoxville, Albuquerque, and Indianapolis over ’99-2001 give some good information on which to base forecasts. Even if the expectations are off, the dollar exposure seems minimal for what it might do to spread the word to the public that air sports like hang gliding are fun. If you support growth for our sport, plan to help move this idea forward… that’s my suggestion. • One biggie — the newest group to add its support is the American Modeling Association or AMA. Russ Locke writes, "They are coming to the table as enthusiastic participants. This is a huge group, on the order of 170,000 members." Added to SSA, USUA, and USHGA, the total rises well beyond 200,000 total members represented. A group that size can make events work! The next Expo takes place in Ontario, California. I’m going; you? Check USHGA.org. ••• Wills Wing has now broadened their Talon line with a 140 size aimed at pilots hooking at 160-215 pounds (though certified weight will probably be 135-225 lbs). WW says that pilots under a body weight of 160 pounds may prefer the 140; larger pilots should go for the 150. Pricing and options are essentially the same as I wrote in last month’s column about the larger Talon. • Wills also observed the departure of Paris Williams from Team WW. He’d been a sponsored pilot and was made an employee since December of last year, "so that he could help out with production, prototype glider assembly and flight testing during the times in between competitions." Williams had flown the Talon in the Florida meets but was switching to Icaro brand, according to Steve Kroop. ••• Though he isn’t a Wills Wing dealer, Mountain Wing’s Greg Black is enthusiastic about the WW Condor 330. "What a great trainer," he exclaimed! "We can make anyone fly it on flat ground in no wind. Now, no student goes home without flying because the wind was not blowing… it is a great confidence builder." Pretty kind words from a guy who competes with local Wills dealer, Paul Voight. • Mountain Wings also announced their new launch on the Ellenville Mountain. "It is cleared and real big," writes Greg. They plan two ramps and two natural launches. Black secured a 10-year lease with option to buy and it has been insured by USHGA’s site insurance. The controlling club is the Northeast Air Sports Ass’n, or NASA. In addition to the mountain launch, a full flight school, and the Condor, Mountain Wings is very active in towing plus ultralights. You can find a lot of air sports in one place. Info: 845-647-3377 or email@example.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 Dan@ByDanJohnson.com. • Previous "Product Lines" columns will be available at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine