ST. PAUL, MN — Back home in the not-so-cold north (with a surprising "thanks" to El Nino), the year started off with some unhappy news. ••• In mid-January, Acme Glider Company boss Terry Reynolds wrote all TR3 owners and other interested parties. "We have given it our best and we just cannot go on any longer. We have to cease operations," he expressed. • After facing the true cost of building his exotic glider in small volume Terry concluded, "There is no chance that we can charge enough to cover reasonable costs of production and distribution at present volumes." Acme says the TR3 had direct manufacturing costs of $8,000 per glider, before accounting for R&D payoff, office expenses, and any other non-manufacturing expenses. • Acme made arrangements with Lookout Mountain’s Matt Taber to provide future support for their gliders. "Matt has assured us that he is wholeheartedly enthusiastic in taking on this project," the company reported. Taber is prepared to handle airworthiness directive work as well as lesser tasks. Info: 706-398-3541. • Sailmaker Mike Zidziunas will still do sail repairs and replacements on a part time basis. Info: 813-526-3629. • However, even as he closed his factory doors Reynolds left an opening saying, "If someone who is qualified, [and] has the resources… would like to pick it up from here, GenTech Corporation would be happy to sell Acme Glider Company and the rights to build the TR3 for $10 and other valuable consideration." Ever wanted to be a glider manufacturer? • It’s significant to add that Reynolds reported, "Everybody [suppliers] got paid, and everyone who ordered a glider received it." That hasn’t always been the case and it’s to Terry’s credit that he’s taking care of business professionally. Reynolds also wanted to acknowledge the "huge amounts of time and effort freely donated to the project by people whose only motivation was the desire that it succeed." • I am always regretful when a manufacturer leaves the business in hang gliding, especially when people work at it as hard as did Terry and his supporters. Thanks and good luck, Terry! ••• While aero towing steals much of tow limelight these days, other forms are alive and well as proven by Canadian Francois Thibodeux’s Dumbo winch system. His product is a stationary, self-contained winch on a trailer. A slick product brochure shows a very professional-looking system as good as anything I’ve seen on a European Aero Club field (which says a lot; they’re heavily invested in such gear throughout Europe). • Compared with operating one or more tug aircraft and having highly experienced tug pilots, a stationary winch might be less cost and hassle. With good operators step towing has become routine, allowing launches to thousands of feet above a field. • Powered by a brand new Volkswagen industrial engine, the Dumbo winch should provide many years of launches. Tandem loads are easily handled by the 1.8 liter, four cylinder engine. Since it’s also four-stroke, noise and fuel economy should be better than an aero tug. • These things aren’t cheap, but at $17,849, the Dumbo winch is still a lot less than some aero tugs, and it may require less maintenance (or at least less often). Info: 514-343-9611. ••• Matt Taber offers yet another way aloft, other than aerotowing, winching, or mountain launching. His new Freedom Machine is a powered trike built for hang glider pilots, priced fairly at $5,500. Hook it up to your hang glider, the trike carriage tips the scales at only 90-95 pounds. The Zenoah 250 engine is in-air restartable, and even better, this thing comes fully assembled and ready for set up. • Taber has earned a reputation for correctly reading the hang gliding market and developing products for the community. The Freedom Machine is F.A.R. Part 103 legal, meaning your current abilities are enough to fly this powered aircraft without an FAA license (though of course, some training is needed for those with no power experience). Info: 706-398-3541. ••• Two new harnesses have recently come to my attention. One is from Taber and called the GT Race, for $899. Loaded with long list of features, Lookout Mountain says the harness is for those who "demand top performance… without compromise." ••• The other is from hot-selling U.S. Aeros, who now backs their Ukrainian gliders with a new harness of their own. GW Meadows says it, "could not be any more streamlined unless it didn’t have a main hang strap." U.S. Aeros sells it for only $699, inviting Meadows to state, "We’re determined to lower the price of hang gliding." • By the way, GW added near the end of January, "Aeros [gliders] are kicking some royal butt in OZ (World Champs)." The details may be known by the time you read this. Info: 919-480-2774. ••• Just down the bluff edge from the Tree Toppers’ magnificent Henson Gap flying site, an old friend from Dunlap, Tennessee is making hang glider clocks. A longtime artisan, Charlie Yowell has created some interesting flight Objets d’ Art over the years. His new Cloud Clocks are 100% wood, painted to bring out the contours of the clouds which make up the face of his wall-hanging timepiece. The hour, minute, and second hands are tipped with colorful hang gliders which circle round and round in an endless thermal. A 7-jewel movement assures the correct time. The Cloud Clocks — which sell for $45 plus $5 S&H — are 16-19" wide and about 12" tall so you can see them easily from across the room. Further info: Rt. 2 – Box 80, Dunlap TN 37327. ••• To close, an update on the Superior Dragonflyers. A oversight caused omission of the other members helping Minnesotan, Doug Johnson. He reports, "I have 7 partners." Doug wants to acknowledge their valued cooperation. Info: 218-723-1738. ••• Outta room again! So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Vmail or Fax to 612-450-0930. Send eMail to CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine