ST. PAUL, MN — As fall arrives, equipment news tends to decrease. Sales may slow in the fall yet we see increased use of the equipment bought earlier in the flying season. ••• One site showing unusual amounts of hang gliding activity was Oshkosh ’92, the 40th Annual EAA Convention. Surprised? We can identify three different facets to the story: the Association’s booth space, participation in demonstration flying, and the appearance of the Moyes/Bailey aerotug. ••• For the past couple years, USHGA has exhibited at several airshows in a combined sport aviation association booth under the masthead of NAA. By sharing the space, the costs can be justified for associations which typically struggle to fund such promotions. Within the NAA tent, each organization sold merchandise. After four of these events, USHGA appeared to be doing well moving tee-shirts, caps, calendars, and the like. Regularly throughout the week at this year’s Oshkosh, I saw these items being worn by some of the hundreds of thousands of visitors. ••• Executive Director, Jerry Bruning, and Jeff Elgart of the Colorado office manned the booth all week, aided by volunteers from nearby hang gliding clubs. Besides the merchandise, membership materials were distributed and a static hang gliding simulator allowed hundreds of passers by to "feel" hang gliding. Great exposure on a budget, Oshkosh attracts nearly one million spectators qualifying as the largest air show in the world. ••• Tho not the first appearance of hang gliding or aerotowing, the ’92 efforts took hang gliding participation to a higher and more professional level. Such positive results are thanks to the persuasive and persistent tactics of USHGA Director Rod Hauser (who just relocated from Wisconsin to Arizona). Getting a slot to fly the main runway at Oshkosh involves massive amount of politics. This is easier to comprehend when you consider how many commercial exhibitors pay thousands to display at the convention. All want their piece of flying time. Five-minute flight windows to show your wares have become more precious as the airshow grows in size and stature. ••• Super looper John Heiney was towed aloft on the main runway to perform his aerobatics for huge crowds. Both he and Bill Bryden of Indiana flew the main runway as well as the separate ultralight runway on several occasions. One excellent demo involved both Heiney and Bryden maintaining in thermal lift for several moments while limited to a 300 foot AGL ceiling. The area normally buzzes with the many noises of powered aircraft. Yet for a few minutes, hang gliding had stage center with an impressive silent exhibition. The announcer followed the action in a soft voice similar to a golf narrator. ••• Bill & Molly Moyes and Bobby & Connie Bailey were accompanied by other tug operators Phil Proctor (Sequatchie Valley Soaring) and Jay Darling (Great Lakes HG). This group coordinated nicely with the towed pilots to show the potential of hang gliding in the flat lands. As they see opportunities for further participation in the ’93 event, Moyes and Bailey plan to purchase display space to market their tug and their soon-ready Tempest ultralight sailplane. ••• All those involved are to be commended for giving hang gliding the best forum yet at this major gathering. ••• Given all the positive media for the aerotug, Cosmos trike aerotugger, Jon Leak, and his group in the Cleveland, Ohio area called to say that reports seem biased against trike towing. In fact Leak reports logging over 1,000 hours aerotowing with the French trike. Maybe they’ll provide an article to the magazine? ••• With fall here and winter not far away, tour operators are revving up. Mr. Mexico, John Olson of Safari Sky Tours, plans "to work all the sites from my past itineraries." These will include Colim/Tapalpa in December, Valle de Bravo in January, Lake Atitlan in February and March, and a new tour to Gmanajuato, Mexico. Olson’s tours have won praise in years past. Now he can also tickle your interest with a video. See his ads for more info. ••• Achim Hageman of Santa Barbara is planning his third New Zealand Expedition to fly from Mount Cook, the down-under country’s highest summit. Departure is set for January 15th from Los Angeles. Call 805/962-8999 for more info. ••• To close, Tom Sandage has announced his Geometry Adjusting Suspension System (GASS?). Sandage says the simple device, "mechanically couples pilot control movements to complimentary frame geometry movements." In such a system, "the X-Bars no longer float freely, but are inversely slaved by pilot position and the relatively high leverage ratio of the suspension system." Initial tests claim increased roll rates with a more stable feel (less wobbling than loosely-set VG system gliders). Sandage says he’s filed for a utility patent and hopes to sell the concept to glider manufacturers and individuals. Both new and existing gliders could be fitted with the device. He also feels a glider’s HGMA certification will not be affected, tho this isn’t official. Interested in hearing more? Call 816/254-4708 or 314/796-4399. ••• That’s all! So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Call/fax 612/450-0930. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine