ST. PAUL, MINN. — Unusually, we’ve got lots of glider news this month. Also, lots of action in rigid wings, with recent developments on the Tim Morley/Jeff Harlan acquisition of Don Mitchell’s final design, the Stealth II, plus certification work on Glider Sports’ Apex by Danny Howell. A few accessory items also remain in the news basket, but this month the focus is on gliders. ••• You probably read Dennis Pagen’s entertaining intro to his flight report on the Enterprise Desire. He certainly hit the bullseye in reckoning a barrage of glider releases has a direct connection to the Mother of All Meets (’93 Owens Valley Worlds). ••• Fascinating to see the emergence of new technologies. With two companies pursuing them, the most significant development is shear ribs (term compliments of Bob Trampenau; Wills calls them fabric ribs). A close second is the internal deflexor of the Desire. Behind that are more mundane evolutionary steps like greater use of 7075 tubing and new sizes of previous models. Let’s have a closer look. ••• Carl Braden has been associated with Enterprise for a long time. That recently changed, when he "left the company over a dispute in design," says USA rep, Nelson Howe. However, his brainchild, the internal deflexor, gives the Desire a uniqueness (for now… we’ll see who else copies this clever idea). Howe credits the rest of the Desire to Mark Newland, an Enterprise associate for the last three years. You may recall he won the 1990 DinoNats on a Combat. The company planned to show their new 138 Desire at the Worlds. Though USHGA’s 1992 survey didn’t specifically list Enterprise (grouping them in the "other" category), it appears this other down-under brand has earned a niche in the American market. They’ve also penetrated Europe which has helped them attract Canadian ace, Randy Haney, who "terminated his relationship with Wills Wing Europe," according to Howe. ••• With typical verve, Wills made a splash with their new RamAir 154. The newest WW model uses air pressurization, via a ram scoop, to separate upper and lower surface, neatly eliminating the "dimple" formed by the lower sail pressing on the crossbar. In combination with fabric ribs, this "defines the bottom surface profile" reports a recent Wills Dealer Bulletin. Though "at low speeds the bottom surface prints lightly on the crossbar…" at higher speeds, "inlet pressure increases and the airfoil inflates to the limits of the fabric ribs." Wills says, "Over the last year, we have evaluated hundreds of variations of rib shape, inlet design," and other aspects of the RamAir. Another benefit is found in assembly time which is "approximately 30% less… than an HP." The results? Wills maintains that "by 35 [mph], the RamAir consistently beats HPs by 25 to 50 feet per minute." Will pilots buy it at the intro price of $4,395? The question is already answered, resoundingly, as 100 orders arrive within the first week of release, and "no one has seen one yet," says WW prez, Rob Kells. ••• Particularly interesting is that Seedwings is right in the forefront of this new idea. Bob Trampenau’s latest 610s will feature what he calls shear ribs. The internal fabric ribs are like aircraft ribs in that they work to form both upper and lower surface, a far more precise method than the lower-battens-and-V-strap method used on previous Sensors. "Shear ribs," reports Trampenau, "add to the level of technology" seen in his gliders. None of you sky gods should be surprised. Bob has long set a pace for our industry with many innovative technical developments. He says his work on this rib system dates back three years while he was still making the 510E. After computer analysis, he "discovered an optimum lower surface shape." Bob sought a way to keep the surfaces from blowing apart. The internal fabric rib system was the answer. It also permits elimination of half the lower ribs (from 4 to 2) and saves a pound while still letting a 610 hit 86-87 mph on the test vehicle! He uses the remaining lower ribs to reduce twist by retaining an element of longitudinal rigidity… that is, the undersurface ribs linked to the shear ribs. ••• Bill Moyes sent a newsletter which reports two sizes of the XS3 "have been lightened with Swiss tubing," whereas the XS2 used American 6061 tubing. The new XS3 release is available in 142 and 155 models. In addition, he says the XR "has completed Certification testing and is being well accepted." The XR is aimed at advanced intermediate pilots. The 149 square foot model works for pilots 130 to 220 pounds. On a related note, Moyes will begin introducing the Moyes/Bailey Dragonfly towplane to Europe this summer. Their Tempest ultralight sailplane should debut at Oshkosh, says Florida contact, Malcolm Jones. Diverse company… Moyes. ••• Not to be left out, Pacific Airwave is promoting their K-series. In a reverse order, the larger the K#, the smaller the diver, it seems (K3 163, K4 155, and K5 148). The company sought to inform dealers to advise customers about the importance of wing loading. Though tiny gliders may be all the rage, "a pilot at the top of a weight range will wash the tips out more and actually degrade the handling." They have a fix: rotate the tips down about an eighth inch. ••• As I write this, the ’93 Worlds should be producing a champion. Stay tuned to see how these exciting new gliders faired in the big meet! ••• In closing, a brief tribute. I’ve long had a keen interest in the promotion of our sport. I’ve felt we need to reach folks beyond these pages. One man shared this interest and worked hard and successfully to do something about it. Rod Hauser created a place for hang gliding at the Oshkosh and Sun ‘n Fun airshows. No one else had ever accomplished such a penetration of the airshow good-ole-boy network. I salute Rod and will remember him. Rod left a bit of himself to forever thermal over the crowds of these huge aviation events, showing them the type of flying he dearly loved. I hope we can keep his energy going. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Fax/msg: 612/450-0930. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine