ST. PAUL, MINN — After a period of relative quiet, Seedwings is communicating more vigorously. This is a good sign for (as Wills Wing put it) …America’s only other wholly U.S.-owned glider manufacturer. For the last two years, boss Bob Trampenau has been focusing his attention on Sensor-Europe. This company has a license agreement with Seedwings and is operated by Austrian Andreas Bangheri. Bob observes that output of the two companies is slightly different; Seedwings-USA does not build any component parts for the EuroSensors. ••• While consulting Bangheri, the U.S.-based business (still 100% Bob’s) slipped in market presence from its peak a few years back. However, when combining both operations, production has increased so Seedwings can legitimately claim business is better than ever. The growth comes even though they offer only high performance gliders, no intermediates. ••• Now Trampenau reports U.S. sales are accelerating, fueled by favorable response to their 610-144. Industry-wide changes appearing on ’90s gliders have squeezed more performance out of ever-smaller wings at the same time other subtle improvements have been made. In the Sensor 144’s case, the kingpost hang system — postioned "two and half times higher than anyone else’s," says Trampenau — has given the new glider very responsive handling to accompany its performance. "It may even be ‘too light’ for some recreational pilots," notes Bob. Seedwings feels their KP hang system simulates a double french connection so well that they plan a simple way to increase bar pressure when diving. "We’ll keep it light in roll and when you flare, forces will be light. When you dive, bar feedback will increase as many pilots prefer," explained Trampenau. ••• Seedwings will offer a 152 model this summer. In fact they’ve declared the 610-152 "on sale" now, with deliveries following two months after certification is earned. In early June both the 144 and 152 were pursuing HGMA approval. ••• Speaking of the HGMA, the certification organization has new officers. Former PacAir prez, Jean-Michel Bernsaconi, is now prez of the HGMA. He’ll be assisted by VP Mark West, who represented Moyes at the early May meeting. The industry design gurus also reviewed new applications. Moyes requested name changes (XS Easy 155 to X-C 155 and XS Easy 165 to X-T 165). Hard-charging UP Int’l obtained approval for their XTC 170 SS and DS models. Attending the meeting were: Bright Star, Moyes, Pacific Airwave, Seedwings, UP, and Wills Wing. ••• UP reported that the newly certified models will retail for the "low" price of $2,995. Of course, buyers can increase the value by choosing from an options list. In support of their just-begun retail shops, UP plans to add glider accessories, apparel, and harnesses. ••• A chance arose to examine the new UP harness compliments of UP-America veep, GW Meadows. As UP obtains the product from an established harness loft, it boasts professional craftsmanship in the modern layout (front opening, complete enclosure). However, the UP pod has an exceptionally workable hang pivot system that seemed to permit a lower flare posture than other pods sampled. If interested call: 800/COME-2UP (or 266-3287). ••• An Arizona outfit announced the Aero-Floats to facilitate boat-tow launching from water. The 35-pound floats have a shape that provides about the same drag profile as a slender pilot in a pod harness. A video tape verified the Aero-Floats are very successful at permitting fully-proned-out launches even from deep water. While I can’t imagine many solo pilots accepting the drag from these large floats, they should offer controlled takeoffs for tandem/training operations. Tri-Systems owner, Nick Till, will send you a tape for $20, or sell you the floats for $795 which includes bridles and releases plus the tape. Call 602/680-9797. ••• In closing, I want to commend HG editor, Gil Dodgen, and the USHGA office staff for their efforts to produce the second edition of the "Special New Pilot Issue" of Hang Gliding. You’re probably already a sky god, but you ought to have at least one copy to show to interested non-pilots. It’s jam packed with good info for a beginner and Gil did his most masterful job yet in creative layout. The issue is used by USHGA HQ for student memberships and other promotional purposes. To get your copy, call: 719/632-8300. ••• That’s it! So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Or… call/fax: 612/450-0930. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine