St. Paul, Minn. — By the time you read this, the Wallaby/Quest tow meets have recently concluded. Last month I hinted at some non-Florida tow meets. Each has its own spin on the competition theme. ••• Raven Sky Sports announced a tow competition set for the week of June 7 to June 14 or 15 and in mid-March USHGA’s board awarded sanction for a Class “B” meet. Business owner, Brad Kushner, has hired David Glover to perform as meet director. • Raven has four Dragonfly tugs to use for the Midwest Regional Hang Gliding Competition and they’re inviting more. Situated near Chicago and Milwaukee, pilots from all over the midwest may be interested. Free camping is available with low-cost motels nearby. “Our local pilots usually score a handful of 100+ mile flights every summer,” reports Kushner. Landing fields are plentiful and the operation generates good reports from visitors. FMI: 262-473-8800 or firstname.lastname@example.org ••• Traveling east you arrive at the home of the recently announced Dragonfly Cup, a season-long event to work around midwest weather fluctuations. Summertime conditions are more variable here than on the coasts or the desert. Dragonfly Cup pilots will fly from Cloud 9 Field in Michigan, base of the Draachen Fliegen Soaring Club (DFSC). They’ve been preparing for some time and have arranged over $6,000 worth of prizes from sponsors including Wills Wing, Moyes USA, Flytec USA, High Energy Sports, AV8/Icaro, and Cloud 9 Sport Aviation. • Spokespilots Tracy Tillman and Lisa Colletti say, “The large cross-country meets that have been hosted by our friends in Florida and Texas over the last five years are a great example of the popularity and success of aerotowing as a launch format.” Yet midwestern clubs have struggled to run valid meets. Poor weather and low pilot turnout often resulted in cancellation of meets. So the Dragonfly Cup runs from May 15 through September 1, 2003. • To the DFSC, Cloud 9 supplies two Dragonfly tugs — a 115-horse Rotax 914 turbo and an 80-hp Rotax 912 — flown by Cloud 9’s Lisa and Tracy Tillman. DFSC has an arrangement to use the very nice, private facilities owned by the Tillmans. FMI: dial 517-223-8683 or DFSCinc@aol.com ••• Let’s jump back down to Florida to show how flightparks are competing for your business. It won’t make much difference to pilots who don’t use computers but if you’re addicted to your laptop, you’ll be delighted to hear that wireless high-speed connections are available at your favorite Florida flight park. Talk about “hot spots!” • E-zine writer Davis Straub glowed about new developments at Quest, “We’re looking forward to [a] flight-park-wide wireless network with [a] high speed DSL connection. I heard from Malcolm [at Wallaby Ranch] that he’s also in the wireless network business and I look forward to bringing my portable his way.” • On a related note, Davis himself became a news item when he began soliciting donations from readers of his near-daily Oz Report, an entirely on-line publishing effort. You don’t have to send money, but he’d appreciate it. Recently he toyed with, but decided not to have advertising. FMI: davisstraub.com. Oz Report focuses heavily contests and distance flying and this month, so does “Product Lines.” More on that below. ••• Meanwhile, thinking of the Florida flight parks, I remind you that the two vigorous competitors agreed to combine forces and allow USHGA to send in a “co-sponsor” bid to the FAI and CIVL. Alas, by a single vote, again!, Team USA lost. Australia won the bid for the 2005 World Meet. ••• So, the twin flightparks may not host the Worlds, but now, they’ve begun to compete to give you money. Yup, all you have to do is pick one of several goals to vie for a tidy sum of cold, hard cash. • After Mr. Flytec, Steve Kroop, heard Malcolm Jones’ offer for long distance single surface flights from Wallaby Ranch he upped the award if you use Flytec instruments and fly from Quest. Campbell Bowen brought Quest’s award a dollar ahead of Wallaby’s and then it started to cascade with counteroffers that probably still haven’t quieted down. Each park’s offer is subtly different and the prizes have changed often enough that you’ll need to contact each for the latest details. • But you could win $1,000 for a 100-mile flight in a single surface glider. You can add prize dollars for distance beyond the century mark or by using Flytec. And $2,000 is available for a 300-mile flight on any glider from either park. FMI: Wallaby.com or questairforce.com ••• Do you notice how much writing in magazines and on the Web involves competitions? How do you feel about it? Even here in “Product Lines,” I get caught up in the excitement. The newest wings and latest gear tend to show up at these events. Equipment used by contest pilots later ends up in the recreational flyer’s hands. For that and other reasons, contest coverage is worthy and should properly account for some share of the reading available. • Yet in my recent run through various Websites where reader feedback is available, one theme dominates. Based on an unscientific survey, substantially more readers want additional articles aimed at “novices” or about flying techniques and choices. Sometimes it seems we have all become expert hang glider pilots with decades of experience seeking higher-further-faster to keep our interest stoked. Fortunately I think (hope?), that isn’t completely accurate and many who read Hang Gliding magazine or various Websites want how-to or product information, despite the glamour of competition. • The subject of competition focus isn’t over. But next month, I promise I’ll return to product news.••• So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930. E-mail to News@ByDanJohnson.com or CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine