ST. PAUL, MINN., — Aeros U.S. importer GW Meadows reported that the Aeros rigid wing Stalker has now passed all tests by the German DHV airworthiness certifying organization. He adds, "Only paperwork is left before the DHV certificate will be granted," though he adds that the documentation will take "at least till May." This proves that even though it isn’t a government agency (DHV is sanctioned but private) the german counterpart to our HGMA can certainly act like a bureaucracy. Congratulations to Aeros and good luck to GW. ••• I’d been communicating with GeeDub to ask his advice on visiting the Aeros factory. After the German Aero 2001 airshow, I plan to fly to Kiev for a look at this east European success story. Amazing, really. As I toured the former Berlin wall last year, I reflected that only a dozen years ago places like the Ukraine remained veiled behind the old Iron Curtain.
ST. PAUL, MINN., — The season is on and the flow of pilots is southward as I write this in very early April. In just days, right as the Sun ‘n Fun airshow concludes, competition activity will explode at Wallaby Ranch one week and Quest Air the next. And maybe it’s just a fresh season, but some old timers are showing up. ••• Joe Bostik is back! Former national champion and longtime successful competition pilot, Joe has been busy in his life as an airline jet jockey and family man. However, he’ll attend the Florida meets and will again be flying for Wills Wing as he did in his "former life." Joe, his wife, and two children live only a hundred miles south of Wallaby making the dual contest event an easy reentry point. Good luck, Joe! ••• Among other HG contest personalities, Icaro’s unbeatable, Manfred Ruhmer responded to talk he was becoming interested in highly faired rigid wings.
St. Paul, Minn. — It’s almost spring, even up here in the southern Tundra. But in Florida, they’re already hot to trot. THIS is the big month of tow park competitions, made all the hotter by the vigorous business competition between Wallaby and Quest. With their different styles they make an interesting contrast. Both have become vital to hang gliding in the US of A. s As the dueling meets approach, I want to mention that Wallaby was still inviting volunteer help for their April 20-26 contest as this issue went to press. Contact them at 1-800-WALLABY (925-5229) or email@example.com. The same may apply to Quest a week earlier (April 12-18). FMI: 352-429-0213 or firstname.lastname@example.org. lll Wills Wing has reached a milestone achieved by few in aviation going all the way back to the Wright Brothers and beyond. Out of hundreds of aircraft companies of all types, few can say they’ve produced over 20,000 flying machines.
ST. PAUL, MINN. — A new soaring season approaches and we are now in the month when two major contests will again dominate the news in hang gliding. After several years, the Wallaby and Quest meets have grown beyond their American base. These two season openers now influence the entire world of hang gliding. lll And another de facto annual event has been slated again. The 2003 World Record Encampment that produced two years of record flights in the flatlands will occur again in Zapata, Texas in two sessions. A first session June 15-28 and June 29 to July 12. We’ll hope for more big things from the far southern tip of the USA. If you’re interested in participating, communicate to email@example.com. lll By press time, the move of Betty Pfeiffer’s High Energy Sports should be complete. This longtime vendor to hang gliding (and to ultralight powered parachute producers, by the way) has been stable in its old location for a long time.
ST. PAUL, MINN., — At Wills Wing’s 28th birthday celebration last month, pilots were able to fly their new curved tip competition glider. Unlike many earlier WW developments, this one isn’t a secret… to the contrary, they’ve showed it around at meets in the hands of WW team pilot, Paris Williams, who has been working with designer Steve Pearson to create it. Named the, uh… well, they haven’t named it yet, so it’s merely their new comp glider. • Referring to the new curved tips, WW isn’t sure a performance advantage exists but they say, "There seem to be some general differences in qualitative handling characteristics, though that area is largely a matter of personal pilot preference." • Unable to duck pilot interest in performance, Wills says that Williams’ experience in meets, "indicates that the performance gap between Manfred [Ruhmer’s] personal glider and our latest prototype is closing rapidly." The Pearson/Williams team has produced an amazing nine prototypes in four months.
ST. PAUL, MINN., — Late-breaking news includes the 2000 U.S. Nationals now being slated for Lakeview July 16-22. GW Meadows, the contest organizer, broke the news which was then confirmed from several sources. More news as it unfolds. Info: 252-480-3552. ••• It’s spring in America and all spotlights are turned on Florida where meets at Wallaby and Quest dominate the buzz. ••• Of late, reading Davis Straub’s Oz Report — which dwells heavily on competition — makes some enthusiasts wonder if Moyes sponsors the webzine (they don’t). The Lightspeed’s contest prowess has filled many online paragraphs. However, recent news of the Mexican Millennium Cup revealed Laminar started off 2000 well. Though neither was the winner, in both Mexican and earlier Australian Bogong Cup competitions we saw strong finishes by Wills’ Fusion and Aeros’ Stealth. Huh! Here in the new millennia, if one ignores rigid wings (sure!, just try), all we seem to hear about are Moyes, Icaro, Wills, Aeros (in no particular order, thank you).
St. Paul, Minn. — Welcome to a new era for your magazine. After two tests and two surveys of the membership, USHGA has launched its new combined magazine. s I touched on this last month as I congratulated Gil Dodgen for his 25 years of service. But the magazine you are holding is indeed the most significant physical product of USHGA. Hope you’re enjoying the new look. lll These magazine changes come amid another sweeping change in American light aircraft operation. FAA is expected to release its new Sport Pilot and Light Sport Aircraft rule in the summer or fall of 2003. Many European powered aircraft makers are paying very close attention to this development as they see a golden opportunity to enter the world’s largest aviation marketplace. True, hang gliders and paragliders are well protected from the heavy hand of the law by virtue of the USA’s simple Part 103 rule which will NOT change.
ST. PAUL, MINN. — FAA released the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) generally referred to as Sport Pilot. I won’t dwell on this as I’ve recently written about the new rule. But please watch Hang Gliding magazine and ask your USHGA leaders for advice on responding during the Comment Period — which is now open. lll Foreigners have done well at past U.S. Nationals. Now some Yankees turned it around. Congratulations to Mike Barber (Moyes Lightspeed 4) who came in first in the “Combined Open” category at the Australian Open in January. He finished second in “Class I Open” behind Ukrainian Oleg Bondarchuck (Aeros Combat 2). u Then, in the Australian Nationals, Paris Williams (Laminar St14) took the top spot in Class I. Davis Straub (ATOS 145) finished first in the “Overall” category. Good goin’ Yanks! lll Speaking of top Ukraine pilot Bondarchuck, U.S. importer, GW Meadows, writes, “With Oleg doing so well in the competitions in Australia, I’ve had lots of calls and e-mails from customers wanting the ‘low down’ on the new Combat 2.” Among changes from the earlier model, GW reports Combat 2 incorporates a slightly different sail cut, airfoil, span wise sail tension, and rib distribution.
ST. PAUL, MINN., — It’s history by the time you read this, but at the time of writing I was looking forward to seeing the Stalker in person at the Indianapolis Air Sports Expo, that gathering of sport aircraft of many types. The Aeros Stalker is a long time coming perhaps because it features numerous differences from other rigid wing designs. ••• Importer GW Meadows says Aeros has a full roster of competitive gliders for the new year, of which the Stalker is just one. He says, "The Stealth Combat is currently available in the 154 size, but a smaller size is currently being worked on at the factory." He believes that Combat is not only tops in performance, but is very user friendly as well. Aeros says the glider completed and passed the German hang glider certification tests. Combat uses 7075 springtip ribs, a Matrix top sail, in-flight self adjusting sprogs, and the Ukrainian producer says their reflex system supports more of the trailing edge of the glider.
ST. PAUL, MINN., — As a spring soaring season creeps ever closer, another new harness called the Tenax has been introduced by Woody Valley. Italian Ignazio Bernardi claimed the popular Euro harness had a 30% share of the pilots in the last World Meet in Monte Cucco. Woody Valley also has offerings for recreational pilots (the RS2), but the new Tenax is aimed precisely at the competition pilots who want the very least drag. Indeed, aerodynamics and ergonomics appear to be the push among all state-of-the-art harness makers. • Tenax features a "redesigned body shape" to improve comfort and drag reduction while also making entry easier. Tenax also has some internal pockets to help cleanliness but also has external access for two cameras, a radio, a drag ‘chute, and an emergency parachute. According to Bernardi, it is also "possible to install a ballistic parachute" (though this is not something with which U.S.
ST. PAUL, MINN. — More news seems to surround power and hang gliders or paragliders. Why? Well| first, it’s winter. Less flying occurs, at least in the northern latitudes. So pilots are talking about gear and powered harnesses and nanotrikes are part of the discussion. Secondly, expressions of interest by soaring pilots may be a result of USHGA gaining member approval for adding these machines to the mix (nanotrikes are not presently included; only foot launched aircraft). Add one more fact, the steadily-increasing age of HG&PG pilots, and no one should be surprised that discussion includes power (and wheels). With that in mind, I like to dispense with one item right now. Corrections Dept.: In August last year, I wrote about some spectacularly high flights accomplished by Minnesota pilots using powered harnesses for their initial launch into huge thermals. I also said, because that’s what I understood, that all four pilots reaching 10,000 feet AGL used NRG Mosquito harnesses sold by Bill Fifer of Traverse City Hang Gliders.
ST. PAUL, MINN. — As you read this, the 2002 Air Sports Expo is happening. Hope you made it. This event — a rare traveling indoor air show — has great potential for new enthusiasts to find hang gliding and paragliding, I believe. Of course, they may also find sailplanes, ultralights, aerobatic aircraft, R/C models, and more since the show features all these elements of sport aviation. u EAA has a magazine called “Sport Aviation.” Yet their coverage isn’t what we might call “sport aviation”(unless you consider homebuilding an aircraft a “sport”). Conversely, the Air Sports Expo features the kind of flying that’s done strictly for fun, for sport. Some of those EAA aircraft are 200-mph transportation alternatives. Building and flying them may also be for sport, but the aircraft themselves can serve a purpose of transport. Nothing wrong with that, but it isn’t what we do (nor is it what sailplanes, ultralights, aerobatic aircraft, or modelers do).
ST. PAUL, MINN., — Aeros is finally getting ready to show their new Stalker rigid wing entry after much design work and generating considerable market interest. U.S. Aeros, the Yankee distributor for the low-price producer, will show the Stalker at this month’s Air Sports Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana (7-10 Feb.). The show will present lots of aircraft from sailplanes to ultralights to aerobatic machines, plus RC models, powered parachutes, and, of course, hang gliders. Typically hang gliding enjoyed a good turnout at these events. • I believe the Air Sports Expo has the potential to be a powerful marketing tool for all the air sports and I encourage all midwest pilots to try to make the event. Contact fellow organizer, David Newill, at 317-873-2262 or go to www.soar-indy.dhs.org • If you attend you can examine the Aeros Stalker up close and personal. To date, only a private web site has let dealers (and the odd reporter) have a first glance.
ST. PAUL, MINN., — Bits and pieces are floating around in the aftermath of a new millennium and celebrations of grand style around the globe. It’s a good time of year to catch up on details before a new contest and soaring season begins. ••• Why did Aeros name their new rigid wing, "Stalker?" Aeros is the maker of the Stealth topless hang glider, which has achieved amazing U.S. market penetration. To explain the choice of names for their new rigid glider — which conjures a negative image for many Americans — Aeros identified "Roadside Picnic" as a popular novel with a mystical theme. In the book "Stalker" is the main character, idealized as "Neither hunter nor militarist, he’s just trying to survive, to understand, to learn… fearless and courageous, a pathfinder, an explorer, looking for happiness." OK, very positive and perhaps very appropriate for a new high-perf glider, but the name is still odd for American consumption.
ST. PAUL, MINN. — Happy New Year, glider fans. Once again a new year brings wintertime chills, at least for us northerners. So, this month I have some warm-up ideas to get you in the mood for a new soaring season. Mexican Flying Tours are in full swing for HGs and PGs. Cold weather flyers take note of temperatures in the 80s with plentiful thermals and authentic Mexican food. One outfit calls the experience a “Mextravaganza.” Super Fly Paragliding Mexico Tours 2004 treks to the famous Valle de Bravo site in central Mexico. At it for eight years, Super Fly takes you to fly three sites in seven days during January and February. PG gurus Jeffrey Farrell and Chris Santacroce are leading two tours in January and one in early February for pilots with P2 ratings or better and a minimum of 50 flight hours. They’ll handle the language, pickup and delivery from Mexico City airport, offer 5-star lodging in “a new, secure, classy, and clean hotel,” local club memberships, XC retreival in air conditioned vehicles, and in-flight coaching by radio.
ST. PAUL, MINN. — Welcome to a new year of soaring. While much of the country endures cold winter weather, spring thermals make for pleasant thoughts. ••• According to early reports, Moyes is preparing a new glider called the Litesport. Parlaying the popularity of their topless, high performance Litespeed, Moyes will reportedly build the new Litesport with a kingpost. Naturally it doesn’t offer the performance of their top-of-the-line model, however, Moyes competition star Gerolf Heinrichs is planning to compete on a Litesport in the (now summertime) Australian contests. At least he’ll fly one in the Australian Open, though observers say he’ll return to the Litespeed for the Aussie Nationals later in their season. Keep updated at MoyesAmerica.com where you can also find a detailed and well-presented tuning guide for the Litespeed. • An interesting sidebar to this story are numerous comments I heard at the October USHGA Board of Directors meeting where a surprising number of highly experienced pilots commented on their enjoyment of flying “simpler gliders,” like the Wills Eagle and Falcon.
ST. PAUL, MINN., — An interesting thing happened last fall. As 2000 came to a close, Italian flex-wing (Laminar) producer, Icaro, reached an accord with Germany’s top rigid wing (ATOS) producer, A.I.R. ••• Web writer, Davis Straub, reported in his Oz Report, "A.I.R. has moved its assembly operation and shipping to Icaro in Italy. Icaro has been a strong partner with A.I.R. from the start, producing parts and making sails, as well as being responsible for a significant portion of the distribution. Now it looks like Icaro is in a stronger position with respect to A.I.R." • Icaro confirmed Straub’s report saying, "In these past years, Icaro played already an important role at A.I.R. with producing the major part of the sails, the A-frames and the keels for the ATOS and, in addition, has sold over 130 of them." Icaro expressed, "Since the ATOS has been performing in such an incredible manner (present World and European Champions fly ATOS), we will not modify it for next year." • Straub, an outspoken supporter and user of rigid wings — such as in his notable record reported here in October — adds his personal feelings, "As a customer I feel more secure in having a larger and more diverse hang gliding company taking on more responsibilities for the ATOS.
ST. PAUL, MINN., — Welcome to a new era of hang gliding… well, and everything else, I guess. If you’re reading this, the Y2K bug evidently didn’t stop civilization as some feared. At least you got your Hang Gliding magazine. Is something more important than that? ••• As we start a new millennia, it pays to take stock of the state of the art. Topless flexwings are achieving great flights and cost Six Grand. Rigids wings seem to be the new darlings despite breaking the Ten Grand price barrier. We have carbon/kevlar helmets, highly sophisticated electronic navigation and flight performance instruments, and everybody flies with a parachute, sometimes two. Heck, we’ve even got luxury sport utility vehicles to haul it all around. Aren’t we something, cool 21st Century pilots? So I suppose it makes sense that lots of attention seems focused on the harness as we start a new year. It’s the new front line in the relentless drive for more performance.
AirSports Expo attracts a large crowd and many vendors. On the first day in Ontario, California, you could see this was going to be the largest AirSports Expo yet. In the shadow still lingering from September 11, many wondered and worried about participation and attendance, but the concern was baseless. A flurry of activity in the last few weeks before the show brought so many requests for exhibit space that the already designed floor plan had to be scrapped and redrawn. More than 2200 pilots and other visitors saw the exhibits of 65 vendors. While still small next to Sun ’n Fun or AirVenture Oshkosh, this was a good turnout. The range of vendors included many aircraft suppliers and all manner of accessories and informational products. Gathering of Eagles AirSports Expo represents the combined efforts of the Soaring Society of America (SSA), the U.S. Ultralight Association (USUA), and the U.S. Hang Gliding Association (USHGA).
The ultralight motorglider evolution continues in Europe. Ultralight motorgliders are as rare as hen’s teeth in the U.S., but Europe is blessed with several choices that nicely complement high-end, high-priced full-size motorgliders. While America has the lovely Esprit from Aero Dovron, our soaring friends across the Atlantic continue to lead this specialized market. Full-size (higher-weight) motorgliders start at more than $100,000 and can surpass $200,000. Those who can afford them are surely thrilled with such beautiful machines, but most of us can’t spend that kind of money regardless of their superb performance. However, at $20-$30,000 ready-to-fly, a clean self-launching soaring aircraft is more affordable. Like their larger siblings, these efficient designs can also cruise under power respectably well, giving them broader appeal than pure gliders. Noins’ Excel One of the newest of the breed is the Excel from France’s Noins Aeronautiques Alpaero. Based in beautiful Tallard in the French Alps, Noins is revered by French soaring pilots.