WASHINGTON D.C. — This month’s “Product Lines” comes from our nation’s capital at the occasion of the USHGA’s fall board of directors meeting. Other reports will relate the actions of the board. But at the gathering, two interesting and nascent product-related stories emerged. ||| No. 1 is confirmation by mainline hang gliding writer, Dennis Pagen, regarding his plans to pursue a longtime desire to design and build his own glider. A rumor that he would abandon his writing efforts (supposedly to focus on a new manufacture undertaking) proved to be baseless. He does plan to take preliminary steps toward a “limited production” of a new design. But “I’m not doing this as a income-earning venture,” says Pagen, “That’s not my present goal.” ||| No. 2 comes after lengthy prototype activities by World Team member, Terry Reynolds of Colorado. Employing exotic new airframe materials, you’ll want to read more on this exciting project next month, after additional tests. ||| In recent years it’s been rare to have several gliders to report in this column, but the parade continues. ||| Though not representing new announcements like the two above, Seattlite Kamron Blevins’ Merger gliders are overdue for some national publicity. His company, called Northwing, has been developing a swallow-tailed ragwing for four years. Blevins feels feedback from sales in Region 1 warrants a more ambitious effort to reach buyers. Besides the swallowtail, the Merger’s wing distinguishes itself by an enlarged volume of double surface area near the wing tips. Mergers are sold as a 151 F/X and a recreational model, 151 R/T. Specs: 151 ft2, 35.6 ft span, 8.4 aspect ratio, 73 lbs weight (67 for the R/T), with the primary differences between the two models being a variable geometry system (F/X only), round tube control frame on the R/T, and more ribs on the F/X (25 top & 10 lower vs. 18 top & 6 lower). Northwing builds the entire aircraft including sailmaking, a job-shop activity Blevins has been providing to Seattle area pilots while he gears up Merger manufacturing. ||| Concluding our review of gliders, yet another glider company has been formed in the aviation-intensive state of Washington. Like Reynolds’ effort above, designer Danny Howell has worked on his ship for several years. This represents only the beginning of the story about Glider Sport International and their just-named Apex glider (formerly codenamed “Mistral”). Some intriguing aspects of Howell’s development include his capital fund raising success (very unusual for the hang gliding industry) and the airframe materials (it uses a composite structure of non-conventional configuration). Basically, the Apex employs not one, but two spars, the forward one of which has a “D” shape to begin the wing’s formation. Unlike more conventional D-cells, Howell’s leading edge is “non-sacrificial,” a term meant to suggest the D-shape doesn’t contribute to the structure, so surface damage (dings) doesn’t require immediate repair. Specs: span be either 40 or 42 ft (by pulling out retractable tips!), area thus 150 or 156 ft2, aspect ratio 10.6 or 11.3. The weight is still right at 100 pounds, but Howell believes he’ll trim this slightly. ||| To wrap up, a couple accessory items: first, an updated model of a trusted name as Ball Vario company announces their M50 audio vario/altimeter flight computer. Reflecting the cross country fever of the ’80s, the M50 Ball deck offers an optional barograph function with a “Flight Linker” and software. The M50 can switch between metric and English measurements. And importing the riot of color sparked by the European paraglider community, Ball now breaks a black-only tradition by offering a choice of nine colors. You can also select from four different audio patterns (vari-pitch, beep, interrupt, vari-beep). Another useful feature is the low battery indication which blinks the main display first, then goes steady to suggest you switch to your back-up 9v battery. ||| Ludwig Goppenhammer of Colorado has been recognized recently for his swivel for parachutes, intended to reduce the chances of line twist up. The in-line device has been tested by Free Flight Enterprises, a leading supplier of hand-deployed ‘chutes, and been further examined by BRS, the rocket-deployed parachute manufacturer. Both companies have given their blessing to the Goppenhammer unit, based on load tests run by the Golden Wings shop owner, by air drops employing a spinning parachute design, and by function analysis attempting to be sure the device will not interfere with extremely rapid rocket deployment. Additional tests are planned. Contact Goppenhammer at 303/278-7181. ||| T-t-that’s all folks! Next time: Wills, Seedwings, PacAir, Reynolds wing. Got news or opinions? Send ’em to 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Call 612/457-7491 (days @ BRS). Fax: 612/457-8651. Merry Christmas to you! THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine