HENSON’S GAP, TENN. — When I have the opportunity to write from Dunlap, TN — the self-declared "Hang Gliding Capital of the East" — I enjoy writing "Henson’s Gap" at the head of this column. I’m still here and loving it. ••• News this month includes some different stuff. First is a fascinating project just getting underway by my old friend, Tim Morley. Many Californians know Tim and a number of others will remember him as the longtime Wills Wing touring rep (a few souls before Larry Tudor took over nearly a decade ago). After his WW tenure, Tim had an accident when flying tandem. A fairly minor incident injured his spine in a way that took him out of foot-launched hang gliding. Talking to him on the phone, you’d never know, so upbeat is his attitude and enthusiasm for light flight. • Morley’s got a great idea to help disabled folks sample light flight. I say "light flight" as Tim probably won’t fly so-called conventional hang gliders again and neither may others who yet may enjoy the very personal type of flying we all love. He speaks of obtaining some Swifts, a SuperFloater, Cumulus, and perhaps other rigid wing-type hang gliders. • The basic concept is a non-profit corp that will obtain these gliders, provide towing services, and offer instruction to pilots using aircraft specially fitted for hand control operation (which poses no great technical challenge on stick-and-rudder aircraft). Tim knows he’s not the only disabled pilot who’d love to fly, so while Tim figures to get his own air fixes, this new enterprise may help a wider group of pilots and would-be pilots. He’s looking first at an airport near Mt. Diablo on the east side of the Bay Area. Later he may move the operation to Mariposa, just west of Yosemite. • I applaud the idea and offered to help. Morley needs yet to get through the legality of setting up a non-prof corp and other organization matters but will then be able to offer tax-deductible donation status to any funds or equipment you may care to offer. These days, Tim is connected by E-mail. Send to: email@example.com but allow time for a response. I’ll have more as the idea gels in this former businessman’s mind. ••• GW Meadows, another enthusiast who doesn’t know the meaning of the phrase "sit still," is also on the move with a new business enterprise. He’s starting GWM, which isn’t his name (though it’s uncannily close) but is rather Great Worldclass Meets. Taking his considerable experience at running major meets like last year’s U.S. Nats, GW will also weave in the Internet in a unique way to hang gliding. For those of us who cannot attend, GW will take photos with a digital camera and post them each day. His staff will also shoot the contest map where everyone pins in their landing spot each day. They’ll also include daily weather briefings and the net effect is that you may think you’re actually present. Certainly, you’ll know the goings on more quickly than ever. • Pilots will still take conventional photos but GWM has purchased its own photo processor to get the results back faster and more reliably. And like last year’s Nats, GWM will produce a daily tabloid gazette complete with their popular Sponsor of the Day advertising. • By formalizing the task of conducting meets, GWM hopes to standardize the "product" of meet running. Using the same techniques and staff (as often as possible), competition pilots should know better what to expect. And since he’s won rave reviews for the meets he’s directed, Meadows thinks he has a strong potential to improve meets. If you’re surfing already, try "JustFly.Com" and watch the site being constructed. ••• Getting back to more hard product oriented news… John Ryan at the new company AV8 reports that European hotshot, Manfred Ruhmer won the Australian Bogong meet flying on the Laminar represented by the new company that Ryan, Larry Tudor, and two other partners founded. ••• While releasing the Laminar results, Ryan also announced that the Hang Gliding Center retail outfit will open a "base camp" at the Lone Pine airport to service pilots flying the Owens. They’ll offer glider storage and a convenient morning meeting place. They also plan to offer X-C retrieval, oxygen supply, plus minimal parts and service and even glider rental. HG Center plans a bunkhouse and a weather station with phone downlink worldwide. Conditions at Walt’s Point will be made available regularly. Want more info or maybe a job opportunity? Contact Ryan at JRAV8@aol.com or call 619-562-1009. ••• Ball Variometers has a new sales rep and VP of marketing, Rami Hyary, who is making some interesting changes. Hyary’s primary job is to listen to the demands of the hang gliding and paragliding community to ensure the big American instrument maker is meeting the needs of the pilot community. Ramy comes from sales of big computer systems. He’s invested in Ball and looks forward to functioning in a smaller business climate. • In addition, Ball Prez, Mark Ferguson, was elected to the USHGA board of directors further broadening his company’s sphere of influence. • Ball has now "fully proofed" their snazzy ‘Comp and offers three models of it. First beta tested in 11/95 and finalized by 4/96, the Graphics Comp top of the line version, the GC70, features new screens for 1997. In addition, an upgradeable GC50 will bring a low entry price of $695 without airspeed, barograph, or speeds to fly. You can add sexy features as you’re able but can start with a basic vario and the usual attributes of a modern electronic flight deck. A GC60 model fills the middle ground and is the ’50 with barograph functions. The Graphics Comp is too much instrument to fully describe here, so get with Hyary and Ball to find out more. You can contact Ball via the ‘Net at www.ballvarios.com. ••• So, got news or opinions? Go back to sending ’em to 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Use my March-to-December phone number of 612-450-0930. E-mail remains CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine