ST. PAUL, MINN. — Can you believe another year is about to slip away? Sure seemed to fly by to me. I’ll bet the same is true for Ken Brown. He’s had quite a year since about this time last fall when we discussed activities at Pacific Airwave. ••• As you are all aware now, the Salinas company became history shortly after that conversation in late 1996. By the Sun ‘n Fun airshow in Florida last April, Ken was working with Jim Lee, a producer of float-equipped trikes. It looked like a great business opportunity, putting Lee’s expanding business together with Ken’s experience in wing making. (Smaller trike builders often buy wings from other suppliers for trike carriages they manufacture themselves.) • However, Lee was tragically killed while flying a modified ultralight-type aircraft at Sun ‘n Fun. Ken’s future with Jim’s company faded quickly for reasons beyond his control. • After more adjustments, Brown has landed what appears (to me) to be another excellent chance to stay in the fly biz. He will now become "the independent Moyes Distributor for the Americas." He takes over from Moyes’ Vicki who spent four months in the U.S. during the summer of 1997 building the organization. Ken thanks her for "putting [it] in order only to turn it over to [Brown] who she’d just been introduced to." • This is a somewhat familiar scenario to Ken. He once was the Airwave distributor when that company first entered the American market. PacAir subsequently got involved with the brand, then became majority owned by the UK firm. Still later Ken joined them, ending up as President of the company before Airwave UK shuttered their U.S. operation. • Moyes has long been a substantial seller among imported brands and with Ken’s experience, it could become a major player. Moyes might fill the void left by PacAir, although high-flying Wills Wing will easily retain an overwhelming share of the American hang glider market. • Ken announced Moyes America’s glider lineup like this: Ventura * Sonic * Max * Super Xtralite * Carbon Super Xtralite * and, X2. They run the range of skill level. Ventura is a single surfaced beginner-type, fun-to-fly glider. (I personally love these single surface wings; their ease of operation is the best and if cross country isn’t a goal, they’re great fun.) Next comes the Sonic, a double surfaced novice/intermediate glider; followed by Max, which adds variable geometry for improved performance under more conditions. Moyes’ Super Xtralite — the present-day culmination of an evolving glider design — is now billed as a recreational performance flying machine. Moyes’ current top-of-the-line glider is the Carbon Super Xtralite, or CSX, recommended for competitions or distance cross country flights. X2 is a double surfaced, higher performance tandem glider. • In announcing the arrival of Northwing’s Kamron Blevins to the Moyes America team, Brown credits Kamron for the Ventura design, while Juan Corral will continue to work on certifying the Sonic. I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing Ken and his associates the best of luck. • In San Francisco, phone or fax Ken at 415-753-9534; or eMail to FlyaMoyes@aol.com, an easily-remembered electronic address. ••• Speaking of manufacturers, another guy who’s been busy is Florida’s Terry Reynolds, builder of the unique TR3. I can’t imagine you’ve missed his development so far, but quickly… the TR3 is an outgrowth of the TRX which Terry also developed years ago with the Utah-based edition of UP before the famous old brand disappeared from the U.S. TRX was taken over by Blue Sky Aircraft which then evolved into Altair and its Predator. So, while the TRX lives on in the spirit and form of John Heiney’s highly-modified Predator, Reynolds went forward on his own this time with the TR3. He uses the company name Acme Glider Company, which his letterhead says is a subsidiary of GenTech Corporation. • The most distinguishing characteristic of Acme’s TR3 is its topless configuration, in keeping with the state-of-the-art in high performance gliders. He wasn’t some laggard copying everyone else, as he reports the TR3-155 actually won HGMA certification before any other American topless design — way back in April this year. • This fall Acme sent a letter to Hang IV pilots offering them special purchase opportunities on the TR3. Since Acme is a small manufacturer, dealer markup is lower than bigger outfits offer, so retail businesses showed less interest than in higher-profit gliders. To get the TR3 ball rolling, Acme made special offers to experienced pilots. • According to Terry, "The two most important and unique features of the TR3 are its extraordinary light weight and elimination of top rigging." Pilots I’ve spoken to express appreciation for the light weight. He says a comparison of other brands shows many are 20% heavier than the TR3’s current weight of 65 pounds. Reynolds clarifies the comparison saying that his center structure is actually heavier but it’s lighter outboard, which he says accounts for lighter handling. Perhaps this is the reason why he adds, "The TR3 handles properly and tracks straight without the added weight and hassle of plug-in tips, winglets, or curved tip wands." Terry also boasts that the TR3 is "amazingly easy to land," a quality he links to weight and twist distribution which he says makes the "flare window… particularly large." The high performance glider benefits from having what Acme calls the "largest span (35′ 2") and the highest aspect ratio of any current glider." The company also reports use of the latest in sail material employed for racing sailboats. "Extremely strong, UV-resistant fibers are bonded in a transparent medium to produce a fabric approximately three times as strong as typical sail materials," reads the promotional mailer. • To get still more info, you can contact Acme at 813-526-3629 (also fax) or eMail to TRGliders@aol.com. ••• As with my sentiments for Brown and Moyes America, I wish Terry Reynolds and Acme Glider success. Even though Wills continues as the country’s (or the world’s?) preeminent glider manufacturer, pilots need choices and I’m sure my friends at Wills agree. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Vmail or fax to 612-450-0930, or send eMail to CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine