ST. PAUL, MINN. — Since last month’s column, I’ve been to the USHGA board of directors meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah. As usual, the large group of directors invested many hours of their time — all unpaid, volunteer work and they pay most of their own travel expenses! If you want more details, ask your regional director or read articles elsewhere in this magazine. ••• However, my focus at these meetings is as chair of the Publications Committee. Often, this committee’s work is obscure but this time, the committee recommended and the full board blessed an idea that will affect everyone in Yooshga, including both hang gliding and paragliding pilots. The work involved a plan to combine our two magazines into one. • Now, before I make someone angry, let me stress that you will see articles in both magazines surrounding this change AND members will be given a chance to provide their thoughts.
ST. PAUL, MINN., — Good words continue to flow for Joe Greblo’s Dockweiler Beach Reunion Fly-in. Joe reported nearly 400 people were present and about 150 qualified as genuine-article hang gliding pioneers. From all accounts, a great time was had by all. Perhaps even more amazing — considering the FiftySomething age range of many who attended — was the flying. Yep, pilots hooked themselves into all manner of antique wings from standard rogallos to bamboo-and-plastic models and gave ’em another try on the gentle slopes of the Pacific right off LAX airport. ••• A new model several tried was Wills Wing’s new training glider, the Condor. This is a big boy, at a whopping 330 square feet (30.7 sq. m.). The Texas-sized glider has other interesting specs: span is 39 feet, yet it weighs only 53 pounds; stalls at only 13 mph, while sustained max speed is 32 mph; pilot weights run a very broad spectrum from 100 to 265 pounds.
St. Paul, Minn. — Again with the motor news…? These little contraptions are making quite a… how nicely can I put it? — “joyful noise.” The vote is now history. As I write this in late September, the count has not been made but trends pointed toward acceptance. • Time to take a breather and then move on. Let’s realize that we only have a few hundred of these motor guys. Some flying sites will have to work out compatibility issues, but for the most part powered harnesses, powered paragliders, and nanotrikes allow flight from places closer to home. When they do fly in the company of unpowered hang gliders or paragliders, they are among the quietest of ultralights as their engines have commonly been developed in noise-sensitive Europe. • This column will continue to track the field. But these tiny rigs are simply engines on hang gliders or paragliders and the wings still fly the same (they may even have similar wing loading through the use of larger wings).
ST. PAUL, MINN. — Tucks and tumbles and tails and winglets. What’s happening out there? Rigid wings had good showings at recent competitions and their participation in places with stronger conditions has revealed the value of a fixed tail. Aeros has also fitted sleek winglets to their Stalker 2. My guess is more controlling surfaces are headed our way. At last summer’s Worlds approximately a third of the rigid wing pilots flew with tail-equipped wings. Some pilots have even made the normally fixed tails moveable. Alex Ploner reportedly installed an electric servo motor on his tail which allows him to set the angle of the tail for climb and glide. At minimum, tails cause a damping of control bar movements which helps in distance flying by reducing fatigue. It isn’t clear if the tail alters the likelihood of the glider tucking or tumbling but contest pilots have said they’ve been helped with a higher confidence level.
ST. PAUL, MINN. — Of course, nearly all the news in the last month has focused on the War on Terrorism. Each of us sees this through our own eyes. We cope with the events in millions of individual ways. A logical way for many hang glider or paraglider pilots is to fly. Many of us find a quiet peace in the air. But in a time of national emergency, officals must make decisions. Among those was the grounding of the entire American aviation fleet, an action that has never occurred in the history of aviation. Naturally, hang gliders and paragliders were included in the grounding. • Led by our capable CEO, Jayne Depanphilis, your USHGA office kept in regular contact with other hang gliding leaders, plus those from the U.S. Ultralight Association, to get word from the FAA regarding the ban on flight and its subsequent lifting. On September 20th, only nine days after the attacks, Jayne said, "I now have it in writing from [FAA official] Mike Henry… that USHGA can operate/resume all aspects of Part 103 outside of Class B enhanced airspace." For those unfamiliar with sectional charts, Class B is controlled airspace around major airline hubs; the "enhanced" part of the new ruling means to-the-ground, rather than the upside-down wedding cake look of normal Class B airspace.
ST. PAUL, MINN., — You know, it seems like quite some time since I wrote about a new flexwing hang glider but in this month’s "Product Lines," I’m pleased to tell you about a new topless entry. It’s AirBorne’s new Climax 154. First some specs: area is 154 squares, span is 34.1 foot, AR is 7.6, nose angle is 127-133 degrees, and it has 90% double surface with 32 battens, a weight of 77 pounds, and recommended pilot weight of 155-275. AirBorne says it takes only 10 minutes to assemble and packs down to 17.4 feet (short pack to 12.8 feet). Well, the specs don’t differ much from any other topless, so let’s look a little further. • The company has already found success with their entry-level Fun, intermediate Sting II, and recreational Shark. As principal Ricky Duncan said, "The only product missing from our range was a truly high performance glider." Besides the obvious removal of upper rigging, they reversed prior AirBorne patterns and went with the more widely accepted elliptical tip and changed their older Shark cam-VG system to allow a tighter VG full-on setting.
St. Paul, Minn. — The buzz continues over power and USHGA. Actually, most of the racket appears to be emanating from a vocal few while most pilots are either ambivalent or fence sitters. • Invited to vote, hopefully all pilots studied the USHGA position and then expressed their interests. Ten years ago, in 1993, USHGA accepted all APA (American Paragliding Association) members into our club. The assimilation worked with few problems. Now the same decision is facing us with power for soaring. You got your voting card. Did you send it? We’re all waiting for you… ••• Executive Director Jayne Depanfilis writes that one reason to think carefully about HG&PG power in USHGA is because FAA is all-but advising the association to take these aviators under our wing. • With that in mind, Jayne asked if I’d go listen to the new FAA administrator speak at the Oshkosh airshow in late July.
ST. PAUL , MINN. — Wills Wing was surely pleased by the recent performances of Nene Rotor who won the Brazilian Nationals in his Talon, and by Chris Zimmerman, who won the US Open on a Talon. Jim Lee came in third on another Talon. lll About their topless entry, Wills Wing says, “After a lot of development and wide ranging experiments… production 2002 Talon 140s and 150s sport a significantly improved sail design, and several new features which are immediately apparent, including an extended tip chord and an extended double surface which fairs in the hang loop, enhanced handling and slow speed capabilities, and improved L/D across the speed range.” s In June I wrote about one of Wills Wing’s experiments seen at the 2002 Wallaby Open — variable reflex. This clever system showed promise but Wills said it “would require a significantly more refined execution in order to be viable on a production glider.” The U.S.
ST. PAUL, MINN., — For the first time I can remember, in 22 years of writing "Product Lines," my column had to be substantially changed after it left my desk (or, these days, my computer desktop). News from Peter Radman of Altair cast doubt about the future of the newest American hang gliding producer. Fortunately for Peter and the old organization, the news improved… • Radman wrote on August 26th: "Basically my original news was that Altair was ceasing operations. The update is that Altair has sold operations to [a new company called] US Altair, led by Steve and Marcia Schuster who are continuing to manufactuer the Predator and Saturn from facilities in Calfornia. A second company, Altair Industries LLC headed by Ivan Mrazek will continue to market the ATOS from facilities in Utah." Peter didn’t want to say more as he "no longer has any vested interest beyond personal interest." However, he added, "I see this as a positive development.
ST. PAUL, MINN., — Another new world record. This time it is Davis Straub in the news with a stunning 347 mile flight on August 9th! Of course, both Dave Sharp’s ATOS flight reported last month and the new one this month are Class II gliders when the record they broke was Larry Tudor’s in a Class I, but nonetheless, these things are still "hang gliders." ••• Straub flew his ATOS for 347 miles or 555 kilometers. Only three weeks after Dave Sharp hit 311 miles for a record, Straub’s effort also came as a result of the now-so-aptly-named World Record Encampment. As with Sharp, Straub flew north in favorable conditions from the far southern Texas town of Zapata. You can read the entire trip report and see maps and altitude plots on his website (DavisStraub.com) but a few points are worth highlighting here. • Lift developed so that he could fly from 10 am to 8 pm, 10 hours of prone (whew!).
St. Paul, Minn. — At this fall’s meeting of the USHGA board of directors debate will continue regarding the inclusion of powered paraglidersand powered hang gliders in our national club. This debate won’t go easily or swiftly. Many pilots of either wing type feel engines don’t belong in USHGA or at their flying site. Yet the popularity of these flying machines is growing and they are more like us than powered ultralights. • Last month’s story about the Minnesota pilots exceeding 10,000 feet of vertical gain might not have happened without the Mosquito powered harness allowing those pilots find thermals. Besides, the old questions exist: Doesn’t the tow vehicle have an engine? Don’t we have to drive up to most mountain launches? Ironically, the Mosquito engines may use less fuel to get pilots up than a monster 4×4 often used at mountain sites. • So, perhaps you won’t be surprised to read that editor Dan Nelson has asked me to include more power coverage in this column.
ST. PAUL, MINN. — Results are in from the World Record Encampment. In short it was not the year most hoped for due to the massive rainfall Texas sustained. The bad weather was north of Zapata, but it significantly affected those hang glider and paraglider pilots who had converged on the south Texas town. Many pilots had traveled a long way, some internationally. Many got skunked. lll However, some records were set and FAI has already approved a few. s In a “joint flight,” both Pete Lehmann and Mike Barber were awarded the Straight Distance to a Declared Goal record of 516 km (322.5 miles). Lehmann flew a Wills Talon 150 and Barber flew a Moyes Litespeed 4. s Paraglider pilots were perhaps the most celebrated of the 2002 Zapatans since two pilots managed record on successive days (before the rains started). Dave Prentice flew his Ozone Proton GT Small for 386 kilometers (241 miles) earning a Straight Distance record.
ST. PAUL, MINN., — When they first named it the World Record Encampment (WRE) last year, the name seemed a little pretentious. Then, lo and behold, with help from weather technocaster, Gary Osaba, records were set. The 300-mile barrier that had alone been the domain of Larry Tudor — who’d, impressively, done it twice — fell not once but twice. • Dave Sharp held the record for mere days before Davis Straub smashed through to log his now-recognized World Distance Record of 347 miles. Both flew rigid wings and Straub was able to retain the title for a whole year. (Are we talking "Internet time," or what? Used to be records stood for years, even decades. No more…!) ••• As this year’s WRE started anticipation was high. Last year, others whispered about and Straub waxed enthusiastic about breaking the 400-mile barrier. Davis was sure it’d be done. The 2001 edition of the WRE started "normally" in the heat-baked terminology of Zapata, Texas — an obscure location now thrust onto the world’s radar owing to the flight accomplishments in 2000.
ST. PAUL, MINN., — We have a Brand New World Record! Of course it has to be verified (or homologated) by authorities but Dave Sharp flew 311 miles (501 km) on his A.I.R. ATOS on July 19, 2000. Sharp and several others have been HQ’d in the unlikely-sounding spot of Zapata, Texas for the World Record Encampment. This boondocks location is estimated by weather guru and soaring technowizard, Gary Osaba, to be the most likely place in the U.S. for a record flight. He’s done well supplying weather forecasts to help meet directors plan cross country tasks, and it turns out he was right on the money again. • Oz Reporter and X-C enthusiast, Davis Straub, reports on his website (davisstraub.com) that on Sharp’s record distance flight, he also "took a FAI sector photo of Barksdale, Texas at 200 miles to set the world record for distance to goal for Class II gliders.
St. Paul, Minn. — High times in Minnesota… a story about great thermals up here in the southern Tundra. In late May this year, a group of Minnesota pilots had flights that may have set a record for the midwest. Bruce Bolles, who formerly worked with me at BRS parachutes, related events of this surprising day. • Bruce’s Flytec logged a gain of 10,460 feet from the landing area. He could’ve gone a bit higher (one pilot did) but at that height the temperature was 21° with a 30 mph wind chill equating to something like zero. Bruce had gloves on but none of the pilots expected such huge altitude gains so they weren’t dressed for the occasion. Minnesotans are keenly aware of factors like wind chill, so Bruce wisely elected to go down to warmer altitudes before he sustained frost bite damage. “I couldn’t feel my nose or thumbs,” he recalls.
ST. PAUL, MINN. — Well, diver fans, the combined May issue of HG/PG has been seen and we’ve gone back to separate issues until a final decision is made. The voter cards are in and mostly (but not fully) accounted for at this time. I won’t spill the beans about the exact count (as it isn’t done yet) but I can tell you that the early votes were heavily (76%) in favor of combining. Total votes at press time were around 10% of the membership base suggesting the issue didn’t strongly motivate pilots. So, the other 90% of you evidently thought it was a good idea and/or that it would happen anyway. No decision has been made — nor will one be made until a full analysis has been done and blessed by the board of directors. s USHGA Executive Director Jayne Depanfilis gave board members a review of the effort to announce this combined issue and its vote.
ST. PAUL, MINN., — Hoo-yaa! Another, yep, ANOTHER new world record was set at what is being called the 2001 Flytec World Record Encampment (thanks to generous support from Steve Kroop’s instrument enterprise). On June 28th, Davis Straub, reporting from the South Texas site of Zapata wrote, "Mark Poustinchian flew 369 miles for a new world hang gliding record." Flying an ATOS after parting with his Ghostbuster, Mark flew a mere 10 klicks short of an even 600 kilometers. Very nice job, Mark! ••• The big 2001 World Meet (with 139 pilots!) is history. Naturally, Manfred Ruhmer won again, leading a trio of Austrians who came in 1-2-3. The highest placing Yankee was Paris Williams in 11th place. More details next month. ••• Before I get to other news, however, I’d like to make a clarification. It seems some Aeros fans read my words much differently than I intended last month.
St. Paul, Minn. — I don’t intend for “Product Lines” to become a place where you read government regulatory updates (God forbid!) but I was in a place to hear some recent developments that I believe you’ll find of interest …some of you anyway. That place was Kansas City, where several ASTM groups gathered for rule-writing Committee Week in mid-May 2003. • At first, I shied away from this whole ASTM rule-writing business as it sounds dull and far from flying fun (and it is, believe me). But this is an historic opportunity to affect federal rule making that directly impacts hang gliding and powered ultralights (two activities that draw my focus). ••• OK, let’s say you’re interested as well — and you should be if towing or tandem flying is part of your hang gliding or paragliding. What the heck is ASTM* anyway? • ASTM has created a group, creatively called “F37,” that will help guide industry officials to build the new standards for Light Sport Aircraft.
ST. PAUL, MINN. — The big Florida aerotow meets are now history. Oleg Bondarchuk performed well taking his Aeros Combat 2 to the top of both meets, an impressive accomplishment when flying against Manfred Ruhmer and a large field of talented pilots. u Yankee Paris Williams and his Icaro MR700WRE has also confirmed his position at the top of Team USA, adding a fine Second Place to his Third Place finish at Wallaby the week prior. Other great finishes by Americans included Glen Volk in 3rd on his Litespeed and Curt Warren in 5th also on a Litespeed. lll In fact, Moyes had itself a terrific representation at Quest. The Australian manufacturer mustered an even greater field at Quest (35% of flex wings) after holding the top position at Wallaby with 29%. Competition has always been a strong suit for Moyes and it seems to have a firm grip on that mantle as the 2002 season starts out.
ST. PAUL, MINN., — Wills Wing froze the design of their successful Talon topless glider. Wills’ successor to the Fusion, Talon performed well in the twin Florida tow meets. Though owners like their Fusion gliders, the Talon is said to yield superior cross country capabilities. Understanding the main market, Wills wanted to keep it within range of a broad flying population. "Under intensive development since October of last year, the Talon — in the competition edition — offers true world-class performance right out of the box. From other manufacturers you can purchase a glider with the same name as the gliders that their top factory pilots are flying. However, as is well known (and fully acknowledged) on the competition circuit, you cannot purchase, at any price, the same glider that their top pilots are flying. With the Wills Wing Talon, you can," writes Wills Wing in their E-news. • They specify that comp pilots will fly Talons with optional carbon mylar LE inserts and full carbon control bars plus "competition thin" 5/64 inch bottom wires.