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!). For a great deal of the flight, he says he rarely got over 7,000 feet but that in trade he enjoyed flying in warm, moist Gulf air. Between thermals he reports speeds of 55-60 mph. The difference in a 35 mph average speed shows that he had to climb a lot (within the 7,000 ft. range). However, Davis willingly accepted this turn of affairs as it also came with less hard bounces and broken-up air. At 260 miles out he got to 8,000 MSL in better thermals. But way out at 320 miles — already having grabbed a new mark — Davis writes that he "got lucky, found a cloud, pure luck." Finally with smooth air and all clouds disappearing, he relied on "plenty of wind and heat on the ground." Gliding another 20 miles he landed at a farm near Sterling City, Texas. Needing witnesses for this achievement of flight, Davis "cut the flight a little bit short and landed at 347 miles." • While Davis thanked various people, he wrote, "Gary Osaba is the person most responsible for making it possible for me to set this record." The respected weather guru provided assistance in weather forecasting plus it’d been Gary’s suggestion to use Zapata in the first place. Ah, the age of computers and the Internet. Osaba performed all services from home in Kansas. Congratulations, Davis… and Gary. Jobs clearly well done! ••• Several contests sparked summer 2000. I feel confident you’ll see reports in the magazine, but my usual focus is on the gliders being flown. The Lone Star Champs had 32 flexwings while the Lakeview Nats had 50 flexwings and these two U.S. meets compare to the smaller but prestigious World Speed Gliding Champs in Mt. Olympus, Greece with 20 pilots — where, unusual in foreign contests — the U.S. contingent was the largest. At the latter, GW Meadows and Ken Brown honed their speed gliding talents and were predicted to look good at the Colorado Red Bull Wings Over Aspen speed gliding event (though that week appeared to be weathered out as this went to press). • Surveying all participants in the two U.S. meets of 82 pilots, I found Wills Wing on top with 32% of the combined field. They did especially well at Lakeview where they had 38% and a win by Bo Hagewood on a Fusion. Aeros was a fairly close second at 29% continuing their hot selling ways under boss GW Meadows. Popular contest pilot choices then followed with Icaro at 14% and Moyes at 13% in a tight competition for third place. La Mouette (4%) and single entries from Airwave and AirBorne filled out the field. • Compare this to the choices in Greece where regular winner Manfred Ruhmer took another first place. However, GW Meadows (as a competitor this time) and Ken Brown placed 4th and 5th respectively. • Among gliders flown by this speedy crowd, Aeros took a convincing 40% the field, followed distantly by Seedwings, Icaro, Wills Wing, Moyes, and UP. A lone Airwave competed. The field is too small and the contest too esoteric to judge much but one thing seems clear. The Ukraine organization called Aeros is very much alive and well on the world market. • Among rigid wings, Brian Porter continues to notch up wins in his Millennium followed by a number of ATOSes, sprinkled with a couple Ghostbusters, Exxtacys, and an Ixbo or so. It is also true that the number of rigid wing competitors are still not equaling the flex entries. New products take time to percolate through the market, but various factors appear to be holding back faster rigid penetration: sharply higher prices and the good relative performance of flexwings in well-matched contest tasks. • Among Yankee contest gurus destined for the U.S. World Team, Jim Lee still reigns, followed by hot new star, Paris Williams, Mike Barber, Glen Volk, Jersey Rosignol, Chris Arai, Bo Hagewood, Kari Castle, Steve Rewolinski, and Richard Sauer (this list is not intended to be an official ranking). • A.I.R. has released a small ATOS. According to early reports from Dave Sharp, the mini-ATOS has 125 square feet, a 37.5 foot span, 11.3 A.R., weighs 68 pounds, and accommodates a pilot weighing 112-198 pounds. It packs down over two feet shorter than its larger sibling and has one less rib with scaled-down flaps. Spoilers are said to be nearly the same size but with a different shape. Overall? It’s "quicker handling," says Dave. ••• The Oops! Department has a couple corrections: • First, though Seedwings’ Bob Trampenau appreciated "the plug in your column" the e-mail address was incorrect. It’s email@example.com (I’d forgotten the second "s"). • A second geek was mistakenly giving credit to Nene Rotor for the Tenax harness. Brain fade… of course, Nene makes the Rotor harness bearing his name (duh!). • Tenax is made by Woody Valley who also offers a Manfred Ruhmer version with personal touches much like on his Laminar MR2000 glider. The Tenax is marketed by AV8 in the U.S. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org ••• Hey, lots more news but outta room till next month. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
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. For even longer than my work to create “Product Lines” I’ve been involved with powered aviation. I communicated back to Dan that I did not want to have only powered coverage, but that I’d watch developments closely and chronicle them in this column. With that in mind… ••• I can hardly contain my excitement! A product I’ve been hoping for and waiting for is almost ready. Michael Riggs of Seagull fame (two decades ago) plans to show his Escape Pod at the Oshkosh airshow in early August. He’s been working seven days a week for months. It isn’t quite ready to fly, but it’ll turn lots of heads at the big event. This is the fully enclosed “pod” for hang gliders with fully retractable gear and in-flight adjustable hang point. With only a single “mast” connecting pod to glider, the pilot will have wide-open visibility. Flown seated like most trikes, Riggs believes the frontal area will only be a bit more than many hang glider harnesses. The Escape Pod is the powered version with its powered paraglider-type Cors-Air engine fully enclosed aft of the pilot, separated by a sound-deadening bulkhead. Also in this area will be a BRS rocket parachute system. Kevlar straps connecting BRS to the top of the wing will hide in a special channel on the aft side of the mast. Next month, I’ll provide more details and in the future, I’ll probably write a flight report… because I’m going to the show with my checkbook to be the first buyer. • Now, for those silent flyers who don’t want to hear anything about powered hang gliding, the Pod Racer is not far behind. This model of Seagull Aerosports’ line will not have an engine. It was my original request and is still what I find the most exciting aspect of Riggs’ endeavors. But look at the logic: the soaring season dwindles as fall stretches on and the giant Oshkosh airshow in August gives a better chance to show off a powered aircraft. Come next year’s Sun ‘n Fun airshow, Mike will feature both Escape Pod and Pod Racer. Even more importantly to the hang gliding and paragliding crowd are the twin Florida contests where Mike can truly show off the Pod Racer …a coming-out party. Hooo Boy! I predict an interesting season for Seagull Aerosports. I know I’ll be doing more hang gliding with a Pod Racer for rent at places like Wallaby or Quest or Brad Kushner’s towpark in Wisconsin. At home I hope to catch thermals after motoring aloft in an Escape Pod. FMI: 952-473-1480 or Mike@fly-seagull.com ••• Speaking of flight parks, welcome another one to the fold. New Hampshire’s Morningside, run by long timer, Jeff Nicolay, added aerotowing to their many activities as summer began. Most HG pilots don’t have objections to the noise a tug makes — though some neighbors do. Morningside was enlisting signatures to turn back some pockets of resistance. To help or FMI: www.flymorningside.com (has a terrific launch page I watched from beginning to end!) ••• Still on towparks, Kushner’s Whitewater, WI operation called Raven Sky Sports has kept up with Wallaby and Quest Air very well (considering he doesn’t enjoy the year-round weather of the Florida enterprises). Now he’s keeping up in a new way, offering wireless high-speed Internet service to those who visit. FMI: www.hanggliding.com ••• Just when you though you’d heard everything about towing, along comes aerotowing a paraglider.Oz Report (davisstraub.com) had a short story on what participants believed was “the first ‘successful’ aerotow of a paraglider behind a Moyes-Bailey Dragonfly.” They used close to 1,000 feet of line and a “drag device” to keep tension on the line. Dragonfly designer Bob Bailey was able to tow Dave Prentice to 250 feet. More experiments are planned. • Hans Bausenwein of Germany indicates that he has a paraglider pay-out winch intended to be mounted on the towplane. Submitting to the Oz Report, Hans says, “This little payout winch only weighs 44 pounds, has a Kevlar drum and an exact means of setting the thrust. It has a guillotine to cut the rope in an emergency. The drum has 2,000 feet of 3 mm spectra line. The unit even has a DHV certification.” • Neither project represents the first aerotow of a paraglider. Frenchman Gerard Thevenot of La Mouette tried this in the mid-90s but gave it up. • Also, in February of 2000, Albuquerque powered PG pilot Eric Dufour towed an unpowered PG at the end of 100 feet of line. They report climbing to about 200 feet but landed for safety reasons. Their web report says, “Eric knew it could be done, but technically, it is dangerous.” ••• Another fixed wing tug is coming. I’ve been asked not to say too much about it yet, but players I know in the ultralight industry are preparing a tug to compete with the Dragonfly. I hope to see the first example at the big Oshkosh airshow starting shortly after this column is submitted. More next month. ••• Finally this month, Scott Heiple started a mail order business doing sail repairs, carbon repairs, and custom carbon fiber helmets. His specialty is leading edge repairs and replacements. Since he’s kept his overhead cost low, he says he can do carbon fiber work beginning at $400 plus shipping. This kind of work is not widely available, so those of you with carbon in your hang glider might want to look at his website: www.geocities.com/franknaxis2001. ••• 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!
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. s Dave’s time in the limelight was for a mere 24 hours. Though it had not received sanction at press time, Will Gadd started an hour earlier the next day flying his Gin Gliders Boomerang Medium and set a new (as yet unofficial) world paragliding record at 423 kilometers (263 miles). • Another record that gained quick approval was Bo Hagewood’s Speed Over a Triangular Course of 100 km at a record 42 km/h (26 mph) on his Aeros Combat 2. s Congratulations to all. lll From across the big pond come results from European Hang Gliding Championships. No one will be surprised to hear Manfred Ruhmer won it, but perhaps you’d like to see how the Euros choose their gliders. The results differed a bit from the big Florida meets last spring. s One thing remains the same: Moyes stayed solidly on top, with an impressive 34% of the field. They had nearly a 10-point lead on the next contender which was Icaro (25%). Another good notch back was Aeros at 18% of the field of 99 flex wings. s Those were the big three and the closest to them was La Mouette at 7%. Trailing even further was Wills Wing at 3%, AirBorne at 4%, and a smattering of others including Avian, Seedwings Europe, Airwave, UP, and three of a glider called the Carl Haman Relief Quasar. lll Special focus was given to the Chelan Worlds Women’s competition where 20 pilots were registered. Kari Castle easily maintained her position at the top of the stack, followed by Claire Vassort in second. Manfred Ruhmer won Class 2 and Christian Ciech won Class 5. s Do women choose the same or different gliders from men? Well, 20 is hardly a valid sample size and contest pilots don’t necessarily fly what the rest of us do. But surveying the gliders selected by female pilots at the Chelan meets a similar distribution. Moyes holds the lead at 35%, trailed somewhat evenly — and distantly — by Icaro (15%), La Mouette (15%), Aeros, AirBorne, and Seedwings Europe (10%). No female was registered on a Wills Wing. lll In glider news, the rigid wing crowd was again enjoying some excitement in the northwest USA. The Chelan meet had 41 Class 5 rigid wings (with control bar) registered and ten Class 2 (faired) rigid wings. Among these, the Swift Light was attracting lots of attention. s After San Francisco’s Brightstar licensed the design to Belgium’s Aeriane, the glider got more complex and heavier. A fully faired motorglider version was introduced some years ago. s But now, with Manfred Ruhmer flying one at the Quest meet and with him returning to Chelan on a Swift Lite, it appears the Belgian company is finding new interest from the hang gliding community. s The Oz Report, which covers the contest scene in depth, published comments from various participants flying the Swift Lite. A recent edition asked, “The big question… how is the Swift Light different than the Swift? Robin Hamilton, who has been flying his [original] Swift a lot lately, said that the Swift Lite has much better response,” due, he says, to lighter wings and the addition of rudders. The cage is shorter which makes it quite a bit easier to foot launch. Swift Lite can fly slower and pilots felt that it would be quite a bit easier to foot land, though Davis asks, “What’s the point when you’ve got that nice wheel?” Manfred Ruhmer said that he really enjoys flying it, feeling the Swift Lite provides pilots with “much better viewing than the Swift.” My experience flying the Swift confirms an obstructed visibility from the high performance rigid wing. lll Tails are gaining a toehold on rigid wings. Tails aren’t new; hang gliders have used them on and off for decades. Now A.I.R.’s ATOS is sprouting them. According to Web writer, Davis Straub, his ATOS V-tail “works with all ATOSes and the Exxtacy.” Regarding flight characteristics, Straub writes, “The glider now feels rock solid. No longer does it move around in pitch. I’m astounded by the difference.” The fitting, a sleek looking composite construction, sells for close to $400 but is getting good reviews. According to Straub, the non-articulating, lifting surface “dampens roll and pitch” somewhat “increasing bar pressure.“ He summarized with this comment: “It is hard to belief that these changes have made such a dramatic improvement in the feel of the glider.” lll So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930; please note my new e-mail address of News@ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
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. • Indeed, as reported here last month Mark Poustinchian flew to a new world record distance of 369 miles. Alas, like Dave Sharp’s short-lived record, Mark’s mark was only to survive mere days. Then, all hell broke loose. Or at least enough thermals broke loose to allow even longer record flying. ••• After Poustinchian’s flight, the Zapatans hit a wall for a short while, with flight of "only" 200 miles and more. What qualifies for a remarkable flight in some locations may be nothing special out in the vast deserts of southern Texas. Though many personal bests were achieved, much more was expected after last year’s feats and Poustinchian’s flight earlier. For those of us following these exploits, the wait didn’t seem long. • Of all the pilots involved in the WRE’01, one arrival made me sit up and pay extra attention: present World Champ and winner of many contests, Manfred Ruhmer. I was surprised and intrigued to discover he set personal bests out in the desert, with flights well below the 200-mile mark. Guess I just thought he’d already done longer flights given his incredible competition record. At only 147 miles (for his then-longest flight) I wondered if I’d overblown the excitement of his arrival at the 2001 WRE. But wait…! • Indeed, the 400-mile mark fell, and again, it was Davis Straub and his ATOS basking in the limelight. But, somewhat unbelievably, his 650-kilometer flight was not the longest. Ruhmer, whose flight distances had been increasing steadily, finally smashed through the 300- and 400-mile barriers to set a new benchmark for the world of hang gliding. In his flexwing (Icaro, of course), Ruhmer blasted off an amazing 435-mile flight — actually a calculated 700.8 kilometers great circle distance, using the measurement preferred by the FAI. Manfred flew for ten and a half hours and averaged better than 41 mph! STUNNING! My congratulations to all these literal leading edge pilots, even those with mere 200-mile flight! ••• A sidebar to the whole tale suggests that although rigid wings seemed to have owned the record convincingly and once appeared to be the darling of all superlong distance flyers, Ruhmer proved the flex wing — in especially talented hands, anyway — can keep up with the rigids in overall accomplishments. • By now the Zapata "season" has passed, but I don’t doubt that a WRE 2002 will be held and I can only imagine what to expect from it. ••• On the subject of the World Record Encampment, I was pleased to hear from Davis Straub that my article about the 2000 WRE in KITPLANES magazine was read by Lew Adams, an independent TV producer whose work has appeared on the Discover channel (a world-wide cable favorite with many millions of viewers). After discourse with Straub and Osaba, Adams reported that NOVA "has confirmed… commiting to about 50% of the total film budget of $400-500,000." According to Adams, this should be enough for him to create a documentary about setting records in Zapata. At that point, according to Osaba, Adams and NOVA would then be in a strong position to seek a co-sponsor to finish the film editing, background, [and] special effects." Gary continued, "The focus is a one-hour, prime-time piece to be distributed domestically by NOVA with international distribution by the BBC and National Geographic." What fantastic coverage! Such a show could bolster growth in hang gliding. ••• In closing this month, a sad note. Peter Radman of Altair, producer of the John Heiney Predator and Saturn designs and distributor of the ATOS, wrote to say, "This note is to inform you that [on] August 1, 2001, Altair, Inc., ceased operations and is no longer involved in hang gliding manufacturing, sales, or distribution." Bummer! Another U.S. producer bites the dust. The list of American manufacturers is becoming a rather short… from what Bill Bennett once counted (in the mid-1970s) as more than 300 builders of hang gliders. • However, the good news is that "…a member of Altair’s management, Ivan Mrazek, has established his own company, Altair Industries, LLC, and will continue to distribute the ATOS and supply spare parts for the Saturn and Predator," wrote Radman. To contact Mrazek, call 801-814-3812, or e-mail email@example.com. With the continuing success of the ATOS in Class II meets and in cross country flying, it seems Altair Industries has a future even if the flex wing part of the operation is focused only on replacement parts. Thanks for your efforts, Peter; good luck, Ivan. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
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. This is the first time a foot-launched glider has been flown to the diamond distance." • It’s been a while coming but the straight line distance finally betters the Class I record of 308 miles set by Larry Tudor on a Wills Wing Ram Air. Sharp’s ATOS flight also bests the Current Class II record of 405 km (253 mi) by Ramy Yanetz of Israel. • A fascinating aspect of Dave’s flight achievement is that he did this on a "beater" ATOS. Actually one that had been damaged in shipping, Peter Radman of Altair (ATOS importer) declared it "almost unrepairable." He elaborated saying that they spent two weeks fixing broken D-cells, ribs, a broken keel and patching holes in the sail. Assembled from parts Altair had or cobbled together Radman adds, "It was never meant to leave the shop. It was pieced together to test the repair that was done on the d-cell… Far from the ideal glider one would want for setting world records don’t you think?" • Indeed. And congratulations, Dave! ••• Surveying the gliders chosen by the competitors at the 2000 PreWorlds in Spain, a couple interesting facts arose. As is common at European venues like Spain, Icaro did very well, but they did not dominate, nor even lead the parade. Among 78 Class I pilots, the sleeper was Moyes, whose Australian gliders came in at a convincing 36% of the field, a full 10 points ahead of the next closest brand. Icaro came in second at 26% of the field. What surprised me — since this name hasn’t shown up strongly in competitions for some time — was the very strong third place finish of La Mouette, whose Topless was flown by 21% of the contest pilots. It speaks well of La Mouette sales to the Spanish market. • Trailing well behind was Aeros at 10.0% (the Ukraine brand has had a higher percentage of entries entries in many recent meets). Way back with a minor presence were Wills and Bautek at 3%, and Seedwings and UP with a single entry each. • Congratulations to Betinho Schmitz (1st) and Gerolf Heinrichs (2nd) in their Moyes Litespeeds. ••• Most of the big contest names were at the recent European championships. Pilot choice of the Icaro Laminar dominated here with six in the top ten and many more clumped throughout. A few Moyes Litespeeds and Aeros Stealths were listed and here or there a La Mouette Topless or other European brand you may not even know. Not a single American name showed up near the top. • You may find this Interesting given the love of American aviation products among many Europeans. Once America lead with hang glider developments, but now it appears we are but one nation among many. One occurrence I can observe, however, is that Team USA is doing better at establishing new airparks. Of course we have the land (in some locations) that Europe doesn’t. Even while we fight against loss of any mountain flying site, we do create more tow-based operations. ••• Since I mentioned James Tindell of Miami Hang Gliding and his new tow park last month, I again wish to draw attention to the southern Wisconsin airpark operation of Raven Skysports (www.hanggliding.com). Raven SS is based near Whitewater, Wisconsin which is west of Milwaukee and an hour or so from the huge Chicago metro area. Brad Kushner’s operation is frequented by many central/northern-states pilots. He operates four Dragonfly tugs, a trike tug plus other equipment. • Even newer operations include another Dragonfly-based tow operation at the Superior, Wisconsin airport (very close to Duluth MN) and Ray Leonard and partners’ development in Nevada. Since flatland soaring and cross country potential are now well documented, many veterans see the future of hang gliding in the tow park, a place which can offer launches and good flying plus amenities that are tough to duplicate on a mountain top or remote LZ. (Remember, both Dave Sharp’s recent achievement and Larry Tudor’s of some years ago started from flatland, tow-launched flights.) • If this towpark phenomenon is real, then America continues to blaze new trails. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
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. Other pilots Ralph Karsten, Paul Kilstofte, and Bill Manual — all made it to the five-figure mark.••• An important part of this story is the use of Mosquito engines on Woody Valley harnesses. While many pilots in the west and elsewhere around the country disdain powered hang gliders, it may be time for an new sense of tolerance. • “We don’t want anything to do with #@*&€ engine noise [either],” Bruce emphasizes. “We use the power to launch up to a couple thousand feet and then we shut down.” He admits that if the powered pilots get outfoxed by a dud thermal, they can restart in the air and try again. However, he notes that they also enjoy the luxury of landing, grabbing a sandwich and a soft drink, and then relaunching, all without the need for a tow plane and pilot or other trappings of towing. • “Everybody’s got them,” says Bolles, referring to his core group of active hang glider pilots. “After the first one arrived and we all saw what it offered, everyone ended up buying a machine from Bill Fifer” of Traverse City Hang Gliders. With ground truck tows, a mile-long road only yields about 1,000 feet and this won’t assure you get into steady lift in the midwest. The group contemplated a Dragonfly, but then you need a place to keep it, fly it, and you must have a pilot. Such talk died when the Mosquitos began arriving in the northern state. Interested in Mosquito? FMI: 231-922-2844 ••• Power isn’t just happening in the flat midwest. Moyes of America boss Ken Brown recently informed me he’s the new national distributor for the Doodle Bug powered harness from Flylight Airsports in England. This different rig allows you to fly suprone inside the bar after normal foot launch. “More comfortable for long flights,” is one advantage says Brown of the feet-first posture, plus a “change of view.” Ken adds, “The handling is very predictable and controllable.” About his Mosquito, Bolles said the engine-off handling was virtually identical to an unpowered hang glider, so obviously these second-generation suppliers of powered harnesses have figured things out well. Ken believes the Doodle Bug can climb under full power with greater stability in turbulence than prone powered harnesses. Additionally, the space formed by a rear fairing — to lower drag and ensure smoother air to the prop — can contain “a glider bag, sleeping bag, or even a light tent,” says Flylight. A two-gallon fuel tank is also contained inside. Even during a full power climb the 14-hp Radne Rocket engine (same as on the Mosquito) consumes less than a gallon an hour. At cruise this drops to a half-gallon an hour, giving the rig 2-4 hours of operation. • Ken concludes, “The Doodle Bug can be used on the Moyes Sonic 190, Litesport 148 &160 and Litespeed 146 & 156 with no modifications.” Doodle Bug has been fitted to a wide variety of brands and models says Flylight. FMI: 530-888-8622 or firstname.lastname@example.org ••• Regardless how you get aloft, we must all come down sometime. When we do, we need reliable wind indicators. One of the most dedicated suppliers is Hawk AirSports with their popular Windsok line. • Boss Bruce Hawk recently announced a new office manager, Joe Harper. “A whizz on computers and in manufacturing and business management, Joe will streamline the company and provide superior service and quality,” says Hawk. “His new web page design for www.windsok.com will enable easier on-line ordering of the entire product line.” Hawk AirSports offers both permanent and portable models. FMI: 800-826-2719. ••• Many of you can remember the Attack Duck, Wills Wing’s oddly named high performance glider of its day. Now bid welcome to the Attack Falcon. “The PX05 mylar sail ‘Attack Falcon’ caused quite a stir at Wallaby,” says Wills Wing, referring to their spring bash last April at the Florida towpark. Available in the 195 and 170 sizes for $3,650, Attack Falcon includes the Litestream control frame including streamlined aluminum base tube, PX05 mylar in the top surface behind the leading edge panel, and your choice of sail colors in selected panels. “The Attack Falcon looks really cool; they fly great, and the Litestream frame puts the glide over 10 to 1,” exclaimed Wills! • Team WW also brought and flew their 20,000th and 20,001st gliders at the spring event. The new wings displayed well alongside Chris Wills’ original 1973 U.S. Nationals-winning standard hang glider — serial number 35. WW brand has come a long way, and I’m pleased to see Chris still involved with the company (as an owner; he’s a physician who branched out into ultralights and a GlaStar homebuilt). ••• Raven Sky Sports, the midwest’s largest towpark went live with version 2.0 of their website in mid-May. Grab another look at www.hanggliding.com. Proprietor Brad Kushner says, “This is the first really significant update to the site since the mid-1990s.” ••• 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!
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. She feels that many steps were taken to NOT surprise the membership with this idea. She also emphasized that “every opposing letter received was printed” in the magazine though not many were received. Maybe some who would’ve written opposing letters felt it was a done deal. If so, they were wrong and failing to act cost them a chance to make their point. I watched all this from an insider’s position and I feel USHGA handled it quite fairly. s No definitive word yet on what members think of the magazine’s new art design, however, lots of words have been flowing in e-mail discussions. As with much art, some loved it, some hated it. lll The 2002 edition of the World Record Encampment is underway as you read this, in fact, I hope the electronic press already has word of a new record (and, hopefully!, no mishaps). Again, Steve Kroop’s Flytec company is sponsoring WRE‘02 and has supplied two tugs for the event plus prizes worth several thousand (if record setters fly with a Flytec vario). One of the two tugs that will be present is the Super Tug or — because I feel it’s more to the point — the Turbine Tug. This amazing invention of Quest Air’s Russ Brown is its turbine engine. Yup, not a mere Rotax-914 Turbo, but an actual turbine — in reality an APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) as used on most jetliners. I’ll have more on this in a future installment as I’m working on an article for Kitplanes magazine. I think the powered flying world needs to know what the lil’ ole hang gliding industry is able to do… well, at least what a rather motivated Russ Brown can do. The new “Sport Pilot” rule currently has a line barring turbine engines so the Turbine Tug has an uncertain future as a towplane. But such a cool development can’t remain hidden away in some remote flying location. Meanwhile, the Turbine Tug has been doing duty towing gliders and Kroop says it is a dream to tow behind, with no vibration coming down the towline — as is discernible with piston engines, he says. lll Let’s ponder for a minute hang gliding’s Big-Five manufacturers. I’ve heard from a few folks who, apparently not following the brand name game too closely, were surprised at the distribution of these top wing builders as represented in April’s aerotow meets. Based on contest pilot choices — which may not match purchases by rank-and-file pilots — Moyes of Australia presently has the lead, followed by Wills Wing of the good ole US of A, followed by Aeros of Ukraine, then by A.I.R. of Germany, and finally by Icaro of Italy. Currently, no country dominates as sometimes occurred in hang gliding history. s In the ‘80s La Mouette had a huge share of the market and reportedly produced 1,800 gliders a year. Of course, the French outfit is still very much a player though the French Nationals recently ended with no French gliders among the top five flexwings (3 Litespeeds, a WW Talon, and a Laminar). s A decade or more ago, British pilots were top of the roost, regularly winning competitions with tightly-organized teams. Yet today British gliders compose a small fraction of competitors and their much-vaunted team concept seems to have given way to individual stars. s American brands were once more prolific but have narrowed sharply as our favorite sport matured and became increasingly globalized. Once, the U.S. invented the industry and composed some of its primary brands. Remember names like Seagull, Sky Sports, Electra Flyer, and UP who once sold cutting edge gliders (Seagull III, Kestrel, Cirrus, and Comet)? All gone today. s Despite keeping my eye on this for decades and recognizing the global market concept, I’m still amazed that the Big-Five are each from a different country. And note that one of the Big-Five is a rigid wing; a new fact as best I can recall. Who can guess what will happen in the next decade? s Following these Big-Five are Flight Designs of Germany and La Mouette of France. With smaller-yet shares of the market we find AirBorne of Australia, Avian of England, Altair of USA, and Guggenmos of Germany. lll Among American companies, the obvious leader is Wills Wing. Other current players have niche roles although boutique designers like Bob Trampenau occasionally devise concepts that are ultimately purchased or co-opted successfully by the Big Five. No gliders from Seedwings, Altair, or North Wing were seen at Florida’s major contests. lll So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930; please note my new e-mail address of News@ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
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. Because I admire what the Ukraine company has achieved, I feel the need to add a few more words. • Despite many good things I’ve written about Aeros in Ukraine, GW Meadow’s American distribution company, U.S. Aeros, the Stealth series, and their beautiful Stalker rigid wing, some Aeros enthusiasts interpreted my July 2001 column text as unflattering to Aeros. Exception was taken to my comparison of Aeros to Wills Wing, which operates a state-of-the-art factory. Of course, it remains true that Wills Wing is better established and has done well for decades. The company can therefore afford the latest in sail making gear and airframe production facilities. Aeros makes do with much less in the way of fancy equipment and lacks the magical California address. • Yet it’s obvious, based on their international sales success, that Aeros makes the most of the facilities they have. In comparison to other Ukrainian companies I visited on my brief tour, the Aeros plant is actually quite proper. They don’t own the building they’re in, so improvements are more functional than cosmetic. Their sail loft and other facilities appear well suited to the production of quality wings and airplanes (they also build the Sky Ranger ultralight, which I recently evaluated in Ultralight Flying! magazine). In the end, most companies are judged by their people, and in this regard, Aeros indeed brings strength to hang gliding. • Regrets to anyone who interpreted my words as negative. ••• Now on to news elsewhere in hang gliding. USHGA leaders have met in recent weeks to decide the association’s participation in the management of the Air Sports Expo. In case you just returned from another planet, this Expo is the combined air sports event where we rub shoulders with the sailplane guys, ultralight pilots, R/C modelers and other organizations. I’ve been very enthusiastic about this development as I believe it to be one of the best air sports marketing ideas I’ve seen in… well, maybe forever. • So you can imagine that I was delighted to hear of concrete action. US Ultralight Ass’n chief, John Ballantyne, presented a proposal to form a new, independent corporation called Airsports Expo, Inc. Like any startup, some funding is involved to get it going. However, the investment represents a modest use of USHGA resources and is balanced by the event’s ability to generate revenues. It could even become a money maker. After many successful years, EAA derives a substantial percentage of total annual revenues from their one-week-long Oshkosh AirVenture airshow. • A tentative Airsports Expo budget was developed and while the future is tough to predict, it looks promising. Prior events in Knoxville, Albuquerque, and Indianapolis over ’99-2001 give some good information on which to base forecasts. Even if the expectations are off, the dollar exposure seems minimal for what it might do to spread the word to the public that air sports like hang gliding are fun. If you support growth for our sport, plan to help move this idea forward… that’s my suggestion. • One biggie — the newest group to add its support is the American Modeling Association or AMA. Russ Locke writes, "They are coming to the table as enthusiastic participants. This is a huge group, on the order of 170,000 members." Added to SSA, USUA, and USHGA, the total rises well beyond 200,000 total members represented. A group that size can make events work! The next Expo takes place in Ontario, California. I’m going; you? Check USHGA.org. ••• Wills Wing has now broadened their Talon line with a 140 size aimed at pilots hooking at 160-215 pounds (though certified weight will probably be 135-225 lbs). WW says that pilots under a body weight of 160 pounds may prefer the 140; larger pilots should go for the 150. Pricing and options are essentially the same as I wrote in last month’s column about the larger Talon. • Wills also observed the departure of Paris Williams from Team WW. He’d been a sponsored pilot and was made an employee since December of last year, "so that he could help out with production, prototype glider assembly and flight testing during the times in between competitions." Williams had flown the Talon in the Florida meets but was switching to Icaro brand, according to Steve Kroop. ••• Though he isn’t a Wills Wing dealer, Mountain Wing’s Greg Black is enthusiastic about the WW Condor 330. "What a great trainer," he exclaimed! "We can make anyone fly it on flat ground in no wind. Now, no student goes home without flying because the wind was not blowing… it is a great confidence builder." Pretty kind words from a guy who competes with local Wills dealer, Paul Voight. • Mountain Wings also announced their new launch on the Ellenville Mountain. "It is cleared and real big," writes Greg. They plan two ramps and two natural launches. Black secured a 10-year lease with option to buy and it has been insured by USHGA’s site insurance. The controlling club is the Northeast Air Sports Ass’n, or NASA. In addition to the mountain launch, a full flight school, and the Condor, Mountain Wings is very active in towing plus ultralights. You can find a lot of air sports in one place. Info: 845-647-3377 or email@example.com. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to Dan@ByDanJohnson.com. • Previous "Product Lines" columns will be available at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
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. You probably don’t think that could possibly be of interest to you but your mind might be changed to know that F37.20 (the guys writing standards for airplanes; other F37 dot-somethings are working on weight shift and gyroplanes, etc.) are including aerotowing in their standard writing. Thus, this bunch of folks are working on standards that very directly affect aerotowing of hang gliders. The good news: USHGA leaders like Mike Meier, Bill Bryden, and Jayne DePanfilis speak out at ASTM meetings, last January and again in May… and will do so again more times this year. If nothing else, Meier, Bryden, and DePanfilis deserve your thanks for taking time from their other schedules to volunteer for this work. It’s a lot like serving on the USHGA board of directors, except attendees pay 100% of their cost to attend. • In addition to the USHGA contingent, the fixed wing airplane committee (F37.20) is chaired by Tom Peghiny, a longtime and highly dedicated hang gliding enthusiast. Where possible, I try to lend my voice to the pro-hang gliding/paragliding forces. (My business reason to attend ASTM meetings is to assure that parachute rules are included and properly done — as you may know my “day job” is for BRS parachutes.) These pro-HG/PG people can’t prevent all potential damage, but they will probably help make the aerotowing language as acceptable as possible. Certainly they’ll do better than FAA officials. And these industry standards are not FAA rules. They can and will be subject to change. Different than FAA rules, these standards can readily be changed if their provisions are not accomplishing the desired goals. • One cool part of this entire process is that FAA is hoping the Light Sport Aircraft industry-designed standards will set a precedent for other aviation regulations. In some ideal future, all FAA rules may be devised by industry. Gee, sounds like what USHGA/HGMA have been doing all along, doesn’t it? And, it’s worked quite well for us. * ASTM is American Standards and Testing Materials, except that they are changing their name to ASTM International. This large organization has 30,000 members in 110 countries. Worldwide auto fuel standards are a construct within ASTM showing the global impact of this organization — which is why they are going to the “International” name. ••• Talking with Wills Wing’s Mike Meier at the recent ASTM meeting, news also emerged of a possible change to Part 103 — though the agency had first said they would not change the rule governing hang gliding and paragliding (and that was — and still is — very welcome news for all solo flying of HGs and PGs). • However, FAA is determined to eliminate exemptions which would scuttle tandem operations for both HGs and PGs. FAA lawyers remind FAA rule-authoring personnel that exemptions are meant to be short-lived and used sparingly yet we’ve had a tandem exemption for many years. Now FAA is saying that they want to call tandem operations “Part-103 compliant aircraft with two persons hanging from it,” reports Meier. This semantical gymnastics is FAA’s way of saying tandem isn’t a “two-seat” operation — since no actual seats are part of the aircraft (hang glider or paraglider). In so saying, they can avoid forcing all tandem-flown hang gliders to meet Light Sport Aircraft rules… perhaps. This is a work in progress and the outcome is not 100% certain. • Meier also referenced the shut down of aerotowing operations at Lookout Mountain Flight Park — an event that must give nightmares to all the other professional flight parks. He feels that the uproar over this action may actually turn out to be a good thing… one of those make-lemons-into-lemonade situations. He hopes that actions at FAA will help “legalize” this important segment of our sport. • At the end of meeting, Meier, Bryden, and DePanfilis all felt good about what was accomplished at the Committee Week sessions. Certainly ASTM’s solid organization ability is helping to bring together quite disparate groups. FAA’s strong presence at these meetings and the chance for face-to-face interaction with FAA by leaders in and out of USHGA has every promise of bringing positive results. Without their work, I believe both aerotowing and tandem hang gliding or paragliding would have questionable futures. So I want to thank Mike, Bill, Jayne, and Tom Peghiny for their unwavering support of the kind of flying we all love. ••• OK, next month I promise a return to product news. This ASTM stuff was too compelling and too fresh to pass up for this issue of “Product Lines.” ••• 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!
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. Virtually all Moyes pilots flew a Litespeed. u Wills Wing held convincingly onto the #2 spot among glider brands flown by competitors with 22%, slipping slightly from the week earlier Wallaby meet with 26%. u A notch down, Aeros beat out Icaro 19% to 17%; they reversed positions from Wallaby where Icaro had 18% and Aeros 17%. Of course, many of the contestants were at both these meets — though it wasn’t an identical roster; Moyes picking up 6 points proves this. u Trailing these top four brands among flex wing builders were La Mouette (France) and AirBorne (Australia) with 4% representations. No British gliders competed at Quest, in a big switch from a decade or so ago when England reigned supreme in hang gliding competitions. lll Christian Ciech (Icaro Stratos) beat Johann Posch (Atos C) and Alex Ploner (Atos C) in rigid wing class. American e-zine editor Davis Straub was the highest placing U.S. pilot in 4th, followed by Ron Gleason, Heiner Beisel, and Bruce Barmakian in 5th, 6th, and 7th, with all four of them flying an Atos C. lll The A.I.R. glider totally dominated the rigid wing field of 27 gliders with 59% representation. Flight Design models had 22% of the field and four other brands — Icaro, Aeros, Guggenmos, and Brightstar — had a single entry. u Rigid wings were about a quarter of all glider types and seem to have locked in a solid chunk of the market. However, with three times the glider count, flex wings still hold the lion’s share of wings being sold to competitors. DISCLAIMER: As always, this review may not match sales by manufacturers to recreational hang glider pilots. lll The Quest meet was again sponsored by Steve Kroop and his Flytec company. It was directed by former USHGA president, David Glover, who earned numerous complimentary remarks for his even-handed — and even fun — handling of an event that can easily turn contentious. u In fact, the two Florida meets went so well that some competition buffs are floating the idea of a World meet in Florida one day. Glover boasted: “[Quest] was the largest aerotow event ever in the history of the United States with 106 pilots and the largest collection of Dragonfly tugs ever! It was also 100% safe all throughout the week and had seven days of great flying weather.” lll While closely overseeing the performance of his Aeros gliders, U.S. importer GW Meadows also found time to make a video of the event. Glover reports that it “…brought the crowd down on the last night.” u Assembled at lightspeed with modern technologies (his Macintosh laptop and digital video camera), GW was able to “perform” his video to a rapt crowd on the last day of the Quest meet. It went over so well that Glover called to make sure I helped make this production available to the majority of pilots who couldn’t attend. All competitors got a copy but you can get one, too. It isn’t a “hang gliding video” with lots of dramatic flying scenes like Paul Hamilton produces. Instead, “Life is Good” will give you a feel for the event and the people at the Quest Flytec Championships. For a bargain price you can order a VHS video tape or a PAL (European VHS standard): $14, which includes shipping. You may also select a CD-ROM for $10 shipping included, or a DVD of the event for $24 postage paid. Call 541-683-5445 or e-mail Mark@StaffordVideo.com. lll After absorbing Utah’s former Soaring Center, the business became Cloud 9 Soaring Center. The big shop and school serves both hang gliding and paragliding and features a range of accessories. Always beefing up his line, C9/SC’s Steve Mayer announced, “We have added vario and GPS covers made of Plexiglas and designed to protect your gear.” Steve reports seven models to choose from that should fit most varios and GPS units. The covers sell for a modest $35. You can review what they offer at Paragliders.com or call 801-576-6460. lll So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930; please note my new e-mail address of News@ByDanJohnson.com… but you can still use CumulusMan@aol.com for the foreseeable future. THANKS!
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. Finally, they add that factory delivered gliders are tuned differently than contest pilots tune theirs. However, you can have it the full-blown way if you wish. • Talon 150 is offered two ways: a "Sport/Cross Country Edition," and the "Full Competition Edition." The Sport model retails for $5,450 and includes streamlined downtubes and speedbar basebar plus mylar leading edge and HTP trailing edge. Spring battens and an extended range cam VG are also standard. • The Comp model comes with the above and also has "Slipstream Downtubes and Carbon World Team Basetube." Of course, XC contest pilots tune their gliders differently than WW-brand production tuning, but Wills says they will, "be more than happy to tell you exactly how they tune them, and you can set up your glider that way if you want to." • The Comp model retails for $5,975 reflecting the cost of the optional extras. For both models you can choose custom colors for $300, carbon leading edge inserts for $150, and Sport model pilots might prefer the folding speedbar for $85. • Both models are 150 squares and have 33.5 foot spans, aimed at pilots in the range of 160-210 pounds body weight. Wills reports a 15:1 glide, 53 mph Vne, 70 mph dive speed, and 21 mph min sink speed. Info: 714-998-6359 or willswing.com. ••• I’m happy to see Wills standing tall with their new Talon and I wish them well. I’ve recently visited Aeros in the Ukraine, and I’m here to tell you there isn’t any comparison in factories. Wills is a true world-class operation with high-tech equipment and years of experience in a demanding market. Buying a Wills involves virtually no risk from a transaction standpoint, the gliders have excellent safety records, and WW-brand service gets high marks. Aeros turns out several wonderful products and personnel are deeply experienced in engineering and manufacturing disciplines. But they must make do with a facility that Wills left years ago and it will take the country of Ukraine a generation or more to become truly market oriented. • Yet no one can deny Aeros has made a huge splash in the market, doing well in countries around the world. Not bad for a populace only set free from Soviet Communist management a mere ten years ago (this August marks the anniversary of their new-found freedom). Labor rates that are a fraction of western standards allow them to employ many talented workers who are delighted to have a job. Wages will rise over time — remember when Japan was a second rate, low wage country? — but until then, those eastern builders will be pushing western manufacturers on price. I know this on a first-hand basis as BRS faces intense pressure in Europe from low cost producers. ••• Moyes is enjoying good sales, reports Steve Kroop in his role as airpark operator at Quest Air. Litespeeds are performing well in competitions and he feels this drives the recreational cross country pilot. Moyes got it right after their earlier topless CSX, expressed Kroop. • For those weekend XC enthusiasts looking to learn from the best, Quest will host clinics given by Paris Williams — who placed 4th in both the Flytec Champs and the Wallaby Open — and by Bo Hagewood who placed 18th, also in both meets. The clinics will focus on three development areas: general improvement of flying skills, customized for each customer; the advice will be given one-on-one. Step two includes beginning or intermediate cross country flying, and step three covers cross country racing for competition. Quest’s clinics will become available in September. Info: 352-429-0213. ••• Not to be left out of the manufacturer game, North Wing has support for their Illusion glider. Dan Guido of Susquehanna Flightpark in Cooperstown, NY indicates that he’s stocking and selling the intermediate model. "These are 7075 tubing [airframes] with some of the finest hardware I have seen in a while," he writes. "They will make great first gliders." • North Wing also added a two-place trike to their lineup. Of interest to HG pilots is the Apache’s towing capability. When flying the new trike with his Mustang 17.5 wing, several tows at Wallaby proved highly satisfying. Designer Kamron Blevins reported that with the Rotax 582 engine, Apache and Mustang produced 700 fpm climb rates. • And if you’ve missed it, North Wing also makes the ATF — or Air Time Fix — for HG pilots willing to do their soaring with a small engine package attached. I’ve flown both the ATF and Apache and enjoyed them. In particular, I prefer North Wing’s trike wings to most other brands. Since I’ve gotten to fly nearly every powered trike sold in the USA, that’s a statement I make carefully but deliberately. Info: 509-886-4605 or firstname.lastname@example.org. ••• Well diver fans, we’re once again outta room. So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN., — The East rises again! Two spectacular flights within days of one another put a focus on the eastern half of the U.S. Internet author Davis Straub writes, "I was able to stay long enough in the air to break the current east coast hang gliding record by 20 miles. I flew my ATOS 212 miles from Wallaby Ranch to northwest of Valdosta, Georgia in about seven and half hours. This breaks the previous record set by Mark Poustinchian of 192 miles. It does not eclipse Pete Lehmann’s flex wing hang gliding record of 182 miles set in 1997 at Templeton, PA." So the $1,000 prize offered some years ago by Wallaby boss Malcolm Jones has been claimed. He put up the purse for anyone who could fly from the Ranch to the Georgia border. Reportedly, Jones is contemplating another XC prize to spur further achievement. ••• Shortly after this excellent accomplishment Aeros distributor GW Meadows wrote (with understandable pride), "Larry Bunner flew 213 miles from Leland, Illinois on a three-year-old Stealth 1. This flight not only is a new East Coast flex record, but it also eclipses Davis’ flight on the ATOS last week. Larry spent five and a half hours in the air and felt he had another couple of hours worth of energy in him when he landed. Larry landed only six miles from the Indiana/Ohio Border!" ••• Geez, guys… Well done! But wow, only a single mile of difference!? Although Bunner logged two hours less on his flight, he soared over two states’ worth of real estate. • If you’d like to read his detailed account — as well as one from Davis — wait no more. As it turns out, because Bunner wrote of his flight to Straub, both accounts can be found on Davis’ website (davisstraub.com). One hopes these will migrate to the magazine for those unwired (or Internet-weary) pilots. ••• Seedwings designer and boss Bob Trampenau writes, "Been pretty busy with some very interesting stuff." He was kind enough to fill in the blanks. • "My airfoil downtubes are getting favorable responses from the ATOS people." He adds that ATOS designer Felix Ruehle has a tubing sample ready to go into the University of Stuttgart wind tunnel. Bob is willing to sell "Tramp’s Tube" to any other wing producers. • Seedwings continues to produce the Sensor 610 F3 with kingpost and feels it delivers the highest performance for the money. Trampenau adds, "The Sensor is the only hang glider in the world with flaps." (…well, other than the rigids). • Of his topless CF3, he says changes include, "straighter leading edge tubes and a noticeably straighter luff." He adds, "The wrap on the luff is one inch greater, the purpose of which is significant midspan twist reduction and greater performance." Since Seedwing.com (note spelling!) is still under construction, you can e-mail Bob at email@example.com or call 805-681-0604. • Trampenau is receiving some help from RC Dave Freund. Of his personally tweaked Sensor, he writes, "It seems to glide with the rigids at 40 mph. A few of the really good old timers say it is the most beautiful rag wing they have seen ever… I can live with this." ••• Moyes released the little Litespeed 4 saying it "is complete and in full production." With all the same design features as the Litespeed 5, the 4’s smaller wingspan and lighter weight is a perfect high performance solution for the lighter pilot, Moyes feels. The work was accomplished for the Aussie builder by Gerolf Heinrichs. The Moyes Boys say that although many downsized gliders merely have some span removed at the root, "The Litespeed 4 uses a different design approach based more on scaling and then modifying." For example, despite a shorter span and less area, the 4 has the same number of upper surface battens as the Litespeed 5, minimizing leading edge distortion. The 4 is optimized for pilots weighing 155 pounds. ••• US Aeros reports, "We’ve just gotten in our first shipment of Pulse 3s in the medium (10 meter) size. They were debuted at the Kitty Hawk Kites annual Spectacular event and the first impressions were very good. It’s basically a Pulse — it’s hard to get much better than that." • But their big news relates to the debut of the new Airwave Sportster at the Spectacular. They were overwhelmed by a positive reaction from attending pilots. Importer Meadows is pleased with the new offering, saying, "With a very sexy, curved tip look, this glider aerotows like it’s on rails." Sportster also has a cam VG that makes adding some more performance as easy as a thumb and forefinger pull. "This glider lands as easy as any glider you’ve ever flown," he adds. A 148 size is available on an 8 week order and a 159 will be available soon. Subsequently, a 134 should be out by the end of the summer, Meadows forecasts. ••• Shifting from product news, I found it intriguing that both Steve and Bill Moyes have been invited to join the Olympic torch relay for the Sydney Games. Obviously the Aussies want to include their native sports heroes, and I’m proud to hear that hang gliding figures in their thinking. Congratulations, Bill and Steve! ••• Finally, my old friend Ken de Russy has made his own impact on hang gliding, putting to work his years of pursuit of hang gliding memorabilia. The prestigious Seattle Museum of Flight has engaged his display of the sport and will run it from the present until February 2, 2001. Attaboy, Ken! • Museum visitors can explore the evolution of hang gliding, from legendary tales of soaring 4,200 years ago to the modern times. Called "Ride The Wind: The Story of Hang Gliding," the de Russy show is a collection of gliders, accessories, photos and videos to provide an overview. Visitors may also try their hang gliding skills in an interactive simulator and can review decades of glider technology in a progression from bamboo and linen, to plastic and synthetic fabrics, to aluminum tubing and Dacron materials. Reproductions of the pioneering 1893 Lilienthal Glider, 1896 Chanute-Herring glider, and 1902 Wright glider are part of the show. Floating above the exhibit, will be an array of "modern" gliders such as the diamond-shaped Batso, biplane Icarus II, delta Rogallo standard designs, and the ultramodern Ghostbuster. Ken de Russy, 51, is a Life Member of USHGA who has held a hang gliding instructor certification longer than anyone on the planet. He resides in Anacortes, Washington with his wife Bonnie Nelson. For more information on hang gliding he can be contacted at 360-293-8621 or by e-mail at "WeFlyUniv@aol.com" The Museum of Flight is located at 9404 East Marginal Way South in Seattle, and is open daily from 10-5, and until 9 on Thursdays. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
St. Paul, Minn. — Well, as this issue of Hang Gliding & Paragliding goes to press, one of the two big Florida two meets has finished and the other is about to begin. In the second week of April, after the Sun ‘n Fun airshow concluded, Quest launched into the 2003 Flytec Championships. ||| Two leaders won their classes, with Manfred Ruhmer taking first in his Flexwing class Icaro Laminar MR. Christian Ciech took the honors in his Rigid class Icaro Stratos |again! – each of these men achieved this result last year. Mark Mulholland was an American of distinction placing first among the four-competitor Swift class, flying the wing Brightstar invented. | This year’s contest was significant for flying 110 competitors, up from last year’s 106 contestants. In addition, participation by international pilots was higher than ever. In Flexwing class, fully 50% were from the other countries! The top three Flex wing contestants were Manfred from Austria, Oleg Bondarchuk from Ukraine, and Kraig Coomber from Australia. Each flew a glider of his country (Icaro, Aeros, and Moyes). | Yankees were nearly in the minority and last year at Quest, Americans placed higher. This year’s best performances were by Paris Williams in 9th (Aeros), down from his hot-as-a-pistol 2nd and 3rd place finishes at these two meets last year. Curt Warren (Moyes) placed 10th; Mike Barber (Moyes) and Kari Castle (Icaro) were 13th and 14th, Carlos Bessa (Wills Wing) was 16th, Jim Lee (Wills Wing) was 19th and Jerz Rossignol (Icaro) was 20th. ||| Icaro certainly has bragging rights with its brand winning both Flex and Rigid classes. The same two champion pilots flew their Italian gliders to victory two years running. But you can’t judge new glider sales by looking at the top few performers, so I prefer to survey the entire field to see what it suggests about the brands competitive pilots are choosing. Since U.S. participants made up three-quarters of those in the bottom third of contestants, and since they may be more like you, it’s important to tally their brand choices. | Though the world counts several more brands, some of which have strong regional followings, only six Flexwing brands were used at Quest. You might find it remarkable (or maybe not?) to hear that last year’s Quest and the 2003 event had the same brand loyalties. Moyes again lead with 35% of the field (they had 35% in ’02 as well), Wills had 22% (also identical), Aeros had 19% (yup, again, identical), Icaro 17% (getting bored? |yes, again identical), followed by AirBorne and La Mouette with 4% (OK, fine, once again identical to last year). I actually reviewed the results to be sure I wasn’t reading last year’s results. Last year from Wallaby (which went first in ’02) to Quest, the brands did vary slightly. We’ll see what happens this year as the event positions reverse. Once again, we saw no British gliders, though that country once dominated international contests; the French seemed to have replaced them. ||| Fortunately the tight focus on competition in the spring doesn’t completely block the view of single surface gliders nor intermediate models. In fact, recent chatter among vocal pilots – many of whom pursue the competition circuit – has often been about non-competitive gliders (although some of this attention stems from X-C prizes being offered for flights in such wings). | Experts talk about the amazing handing and stability compared to the high performance models they choose for contests. Many took rides on new intermediates like the Aeros Discus, Wills Wing U2, Moyes Litesport and the Aeros Target single surface glider. After flying the most tweaked out bladewings which require more pilot input to extract their greater capabilities, several top-ranked pilots sounded delighted to relax while flying. Gee, relax while flying| what a concept! ||| Speaking of intermediates, Moyes is preparing to offer a bigger Litesport. As with its smaller siblings, Litesport 5 brings intermediate flight behavior, lighter weight and easier handling to what Moyes observers report is “the highest performing kingposted glider ever made!” Moyes itself says, “The Litesport performs similarly to a non-kingposted glider, but handles like an intermediate glider, making it suitable for many pilots whether competitive or recreational.” | Preliminary specs for the Litesport 5 include wing area of 160 square feet (compared to 148 sq. ft. on the Litesport 4), wing span of 32.9 feet, and weight of 74 pounds. Litesport 5 is best flown by a pilot weighing 187 pounds (not including harness or instruments). Big boys may want to pay extra attention. | FMI: FlyaMoyes@aol.com or 530-888-8622 ||| In another intriguing development, A.I.R. the highly successful rigid wing producer of the ATOS, released information about their tandem version called the ATOS VX. Besides beefier parts, the VX model distinguishes itself with some compound-angled wingtips which may aid slower speed handling, an important point in a glider made for training. According to factory personnel, the tips are raised to give more ground clearance on takeoff and landing. No wonder since the big ATOS has a 46 foot span and a wing area of 172 square feet. Sink rate is predicted to be a rather amazing 100 fpm. | With these stats in mind and its design purpose, I’ll be surprised if the VX doesn’t end up on some light powered trikes. A number of pilots have been waiting for an appropriately sized and tested rigid wing for such a use. In fact with the VX wing molds costing upwards of $30,000, some wonder about the market for a tandem ATOS. When you factor in nanotrikes intended as motorgliders, recouping that investment might be more feasible. | A.I.R. still has work to do. At press time the VX had not yet been flown with two on board, so, for example, the sink rate information has not been verified. Nonetheless, demand from flight schools and European flying clubs has reportedly surprised designer Felix Rühle. | FMI: firstname.lastname@example.org ||| 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!
ST. PAUL, MINN. — Wallaby’s Open started the season with a bang. While wet spring weather brought challenges, four valid rounds left Ukrainian Oleg Bondarchuk as the winner of the flex-wing class, beating Italian Manfred Ruhmer and Yankee Paris Williams in a field of 72 pilots. Mike Barber (6th), Chris Arai (10th), Jim Lee (17th), and Curt Warren (18th) were among Americans in the top 20 finishers. u For rigid wings now grouped in Class 5, Alex Ploner held his title taking first over fellow Italian Christian Ciech. Top Yankees were Bruce Barmakian, Davis Straub, Campbell Bowen, and Heiner Biesel in 4th through 7th respectively. This class saw ATOS dominating with 63% of the field, Ghostbusters at 13% and five other models in the field of 24 Class 5 rigids. u Brian Porter again won in Class 2 rigid wings flying his Swift, though he competed only against Brit’ Robin Hamilton in another Swift. The tiny class will take on new meaning as it was reported that Manfred Ruhmer will fly Hamilton’s Swift instead of his Laminar in the Quest meet beginning as this column was submitted. lll From a total of 98 competitors, 16 countries were represented in a display not unlike the World Meet. Team USA was far out in front with 58% of the field, followed by Great Britain at 8%, Austria at 7%, and Brazil at 5%. lll Looking at the assortment of glider brands flown in flex wing, we see Wills Wing making a strong recovery from prior-year contests with a second place 26% of the Wallaby field. Moyes barely led with 29%, and the two leaders were trailed by Icaro, down to 18% from stronger representation in years past. Next came Aeros, barely behind at 17%, followed by AirBorne (4%), La Mouette (3%), Avian, and Solar Wings (1% each). lll Wills Wing not only had a good turnout of contest flyers, they also revealed their latest prototype Talon with one of the cleverest ideas I’ve seen in a while. WW-brand unveiled their “Variable Reflex” technology on the latest Talon prototypes. To operate their VR system, a line runs from leading edge to trailing edge on the upper surface. As you tighten the VG system (which functions inside the sail, of course), you tighten these reflex lines and draw the flexible aft rib upwards. It can be varied to suit different levels of VG-on racing or off completely, returning the wing to its familiar undercambered shape. Wills’ VR system allows a lower sprog setting and puts the trailing edge to work on a topless glider somewhat like luff lines do on kingposted models. The function was easily — and stunningly — evident on a glider with a clear top sail. lll WW-brand has also come out with an updated edition of the Falcon, a version 2.0 (borrowing a term from the computer industry). Enjoyed by experienced pilots too, the new Falcon 2.0 has a Mylar leading edge pocket, spring tip battens, 7075 material in all ribs, a new sail cut, and a price just over $3,000. Wills says Falcon 2.0 has a reduced stall speed, enhanced stall characteristics with more gradual air flow separation, decreased sink rates, and better handling. You can fly fully pushed out on the Falcon 2.0 because it retains control nearly at stall speed. Wills says it has delivered 2,000 of the Falcon model, first introduced in 1994. Fv2.0 is available in four sizes as was its predecessor: 140, 170, 195, and 225. u Focusing on flight school operators, the Orange, California company also reported that their 225 Falcon is now available in two models. A solo model has a smaller control bar and a two-place tandem glider can be fitted with big wheels… three of them to hold the glider and two pilots clear of the ground. In the future Wills Wing will reportedly sell the whole tandem tow package with the wheels and extra boom for the back wheel. FMI: 714-998-6359 or check their Website at willswing.com lll Not to be outdone, Aeros brought their new Stalker 2, which was warmly received. The rigid entry has a new tip treatment invoking a fairly tall, outward-leaning winglet. Many advanced aircraft use winglets for performance enhancement though they appear to give a marketing edge as well. Reports are starting to come in regarding flight characteristics. For those of you with older Stalkers, take heart in the word that most “upgrades” on the 2 model can retrofit to the first edition. FMI: justfly.com lll Felix Ruehle, designer of the ATOS and boss of producer A.I.R. showed up at Wallaby with the first wheelpant-faired hang glider wheels I’ve seen. Actually a tandem set of wheels (that’s one-behind-the-other tandem, not “tandem” as in two place hang gliding), the wheels are small and fit neatly in a thin fairing. A couple years back, Felix injured his knee and he has concerns about landing in light winds. lll As this issue went to press, Oleg Bondarchuk was leading the gang at Quest. In addition, Manfred Ruhmer was getting used to flying the Swift and his times have been improving. It appears Brian Porter will get the contest he was hoping for and that more attention will be focused on the “ultralight sailplane” class of hang gliders. u However, it ain’t over till it’s over, so we’ll have to wait until next month to see how Quest turned out. Those who want the scores quicker can go to Flytec.com, though the results from the first couple days had not been posted at the time this column was turned in to the editor. lll So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930. Send e-mail to: News@ByDanJohnson.com THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN., — A significant period for hang gliding competition, two events in Florida and a smaller version of Bassano (Italy) just finished. Over 100 pilots signed up to compete in each of the twin Florida tow contests with the total field divided 75% flex wing, 25% rigid wings. Flex and rigid flew in different classes, barring direct comparison. No competing glider had a kingpost. So many tugs were available that better than 100 launches were made in less than an hour. ••• Both events were won by reigning X-C contest guru, Manfred Ruhmer on his signature version of the Icaro Laminar. He’d have won Bassano, too, probably (instead Bob Baier won on his Litespeed), but the Bassano meet was so off-and-on-again that many top ranked pilots skipped it. Online pilots can read long, detailed reports on the Oz Report (davisstraub.com) and others can read stories sure to follow in this magazine, but I’ll take my usual view of what got flown, by whom, plus a few other tidbits. ••• You might think the composition of each meet was identical, that pilots would merely go from one contest to the other. In fact, my survey of the gliders used for these meets was perhaps 20-25% different. You get some idea of this based on what countries were involved. Both meets attracted no less than twelve nations. Team USA was the largest contingent, of course, but barely managed half the field at Quest (57%) and was under half at Wallaby (47%). In clear second place at both venues (the same pilots in this case) was the 18%-strong British group. Brazil was weaker at Quest (4%), stronger at Wallaby (13%). Most other countries had less contestants (1-5%) and most of those pilots attended both meets. ••• Of this international crowd flying flex wings, Moyes brand was unquestionably the strongest, at 31-33% of the field for Quest, then Wallaby (as all numbers will appear). Next closest was Icaro at 20-26%, followed by Aeros (24-17%), Wills Wing (16-9%), La Mouette (4-6%), Avian from the UK at 3-4%, and AirBorne (1-3%). At the end of each event Quest showed 74 entries, while Wallaby listed 76. • Among rigid pilots, A.I.R. and their ATOS swept easily with 46% of the field at Quest and 54% at Wallaby. Well distant was Flight Designs and their Ghostbuster at 29-21%, followed by Brightstar at 11-12%. A pair of Guggenmos ESCs and Aeros Stalkers rounded out the fields of 28 rigid wings at Quest versus 24 at Wallaby. ••• Of Yankee flyers amidst this global gathering, Paris Williams shown brightly with back-to-back 4th place finishes against the best in the world. Excellent job, Paris! As he flew the new Talon, Wills Wing is surely smiling at their sponsorship of this up-and-racing pilot. In other names doing well in one or the other contest: Jim Lee (WW Talon) was 8th at Quest, while Chris Arai (WW Talon) was 8th at Wallaby; Kari Castle (Moyes Litespeed) was 10th at Quest and will again qualify for the U.S. World Team; Jerz Rosignol (Aeros Combat) was 11th at Quest, while Mike Barber (Litespeed) was 13th at Wallaby; Bo Hagewood (WW Talon) managed 18th in both meets and will make the World Team as well. Other Americans in the top 20 of either contest include Mark Bolt (16-WR/Stealth), Chris Zimmerman (16-QA/Laminar), Bubba Goodman (20-QA/Combat), and Glen Volk (20-WR/Litespeed). • Of brands placing well, Moyes was tops with 8 of the top 10 of both contests while Icaro took 6 places in the top — First Place in each is an especially coveted prize. Wills had 4 of the combined top 10 and Aeros had two. • Austrians, led by Manfred Ruhmer and Gerolf Heinrichs who formed a one-two punch for both meets, had 7 pilots of the top 10 in both meets, followed by the USA at 5, Brazil at 3, Czech at 2 (thanks to two good finishes by Tomas Suchanek), the UK at 2 and Canada at one. ••• DISCLAIMER: Gliders chosen by contestants do not match sales to all pilots in America or the world. Some pilots are provided with sponsored gliders and these aren’t your typical local pilots. Many gliders are modified from their normally manufactured condition. ••• Obviously from the above rankings, Wills Wing found a name for the wing formerly known as their "curved tip glider." Talon won the toss and placed two examples high in the finals. ••• Davis Straub chided me for "writing in the future" when I said (erroneously, it turned out) that the new comp glider would be available for pilots to demo at Wills Wing’s anniversary party at Wallaby Ranch last March. I admit to "leading" the event, but that announcement came straight from the WW-brand horse’s mouth (or e-mail client, in techspeak). ••• ATOS showed its new streamlined, curved and angled control frame at Wallaby. It’s very sleek and exotic looking; they’re pretty proud of it, too, at around $1,000 a copy. ••• At both meets, well over $20,000 in prizes were presented to winners, with Manfred taking home a big bundle of the loot. ••• Mark Poustinchian, webmaster for QuestAirForce.com site, set a new Florida state record by flying 225 miles into Georgia in his rigid wing. Congratulations, Mark! … interesting animation on the website, too, though it takes a long time to load at dial-up speeds. ••• Well, diver fans, watch your favorite magazine for more detailed articles and photos, but we’re outta room. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN., — Wallaby and Quest are done with their big contests and each event will surely generate stories in our favorite magazine. But, given this column’s focus on products, I surveyed the glider brands used by competitors. • In the Wallaby Open, Wills Wing had a slim lead with 26% of the field, closely trailed by Aeros with 25%, Moyes with 22% and Icaro with 15%. Largely unknown to Yankee pilots, UK’s Avian brand made a small mark at 6%. Airwave had a minor 3% and La Mouette even smaller at 1% of the field of 68 flex wing pilots. • In the Atlantic Coast Championships the next week (but without exactly the same participants), Aeros lead at 31%, followed by Wills at 26% of the field of 54 flex wing entrants. Well below these two leaders were Icaro at 15%, Moyes at 13%, trailed even further by Altair at 6%, Avian and Airwave at 4% each and La Mouette with 2% of the total. ••• Among rigid wing gliders, AIR’s Atos was undisputed at better than half (55% at Wallaby and 53% at Quest). Flight Design’s Ghostbuster did credibly well at 30% and 35% respectively, trailed by Brightstar at 13% and 12% and Guggenmos with 7% at Wallaby and no entry at the ACC. ••• Adding both contests and looking at just the four clear flex wing leaders, Aeros comes out on top with 28% of the total of both fields, followed closely by Wills Wing at 26%, then slipping to 18% for Moyes and 16% for Icaro. ••• Since each contest was loaded with foreign pilots, I resurveyed to see how Yankee pilots selected their contest wings. Again Aeros won at Wallaby with 38% to Wills Wing’s 30%, followed by 18% for Icaro and 10% for Moyes, and 3% each for La Mouette and Airwave with no Altair gliders entered. At the ACC, Aeros did even better at 36%, followed less closely by Wills at 28%, Icaro at 15%, Moyes at 9% Altair at 6%, Airwave at 4%, and La Mouette at 2% of the field of 47 Yankees. Notably different, Wallaby had only 59% American pilots entered in the field of 68 flex wing pilots, while the ACC had 87% U.S. competitors. ••• I’ll leave the figures to speak to you however they do, but remind you that these are contest pilot wing selections, not choices of the general U.S. flying community. However, a number of lower placing pilots were not the so-called "circuit pilots," so the percentages could somewhat reflect the overall purchase decisions of U.S. HG enthusiasts. ••• At the ACC, competitor and e-mail writer Davis Straub did an informal survey of varios in use by the competitors. With my paraphrasing, he writes, "I would say that the number one choice was Flytec. The next most popular, and quite popular it was, was the Tangent (built by Chris Arai, one of the top US competition pilots). Next came the Ball Graphics Comp with a class of pilots that love the big screen and advanced functionality of the Ball GC. The Brauniger IQ/Comp had the least number of adherents, perhaps 4 to 6, though I understand that pilots in Europe and other countries are much more likely to use Brauniger varios." For the full text, go to Straub’s web site at DavisStraub.com. ••• As I watched all these hot pilots fly at Wallaby, it stoked my flying interest as well. My time available to fly hang gliders has decreased due to a heavy work load and other responsibilities… like many HG pilots. One time when I flew at Wallaby, my old friend Malcolm offered me my choice of gliders. I chose a Wills Wing Falcon 195. Jones teased me asking why I’d pick a trainer glider, wheels and all, when I could have anything I wanted. My reply was that I knew I could successfully land the Falcon whereas I had concerns about a bladewing with no wheels, given my shortage of very recent experience. I no longer hate to admit I’m not a hang gliding skygod. For whatever it’s worth, I skied out in the Falcon, topping even the hotshots, though I didn’t try any cross country flying. I had a ball on the Wills trainer and never regretted my choice. ••• With this thought in mind, I want to interject a personal desire of mine. For several years I’ve been asking various people to develop a piece of HG equipment. A market might exist (I can’t be the only one who wants one), but unfortunately I don’t possess the skills to create it so I’m asking for help. To date, my efforts have fallen flat. Either I’m off base or others haven’t seen its appeal. • What I want is a soaring trike. Before you no-motor types sneer, what I’m talking about is a trike that has no engine and is not intended to have one. I believe that if a trike-type package was designed to be very smooth (read: drag efficient), it could become a harness replacement for those of us concerned about landing high performance gliders. • Imagine a fiberglass body, perhaps with an aluminum or steel frame, that hooks up to any hang glider. Wheels could be designed into the trike so that they provide almost no drag but allow roll-on landings. By towing from the front of this hypothetical soaring trike, aero tows might be child’s play (as my experience with the SuperFloater proved). • "Won’t control bar wheels suffice," some have asked me? No! I have yet to see a truly low-drag set of wheels, and besides, the hang glider control frame was never designed to handle landing loads. In the event of a hard landing, I don’t want the wing airframe compromised. • A soaring trike could allow an instrument panel, so these devices don’t hang off the control bar. And a ballistic parachute could be hidden out of the airstream. It would be flown seated, but aging pilots could actually come to prefer that. Lots of powered trike flying experience tells me this posture of flying is comfortable and, frankly, flying seated (supine?) plus having some structure around you is safer. • I’ll save further explanation for my "rigid hang gliding harness" after I hear of any interest in helping to create such a contraption, but to add a little incentive to those of you with builder skills, I’ll put $1,000 on the line to pay (partially?) for one if it meets my desires. That won’t hardly pay for all the development, but it’s a start-up fund. Are you up for it? ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
St. Paul, Minn. — Time is growing short! Perhaps by the time you read this, FAA may have issuedtheir new rule called Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft (SP/LSA). • Why should you care? Well, perhaps you don’t. If you fly solo in your hang glider or paraglider and are not towed aloft by a tug of some kind, you may continue to operate under F.A.R. Part 103 as blissfully as ever. However, if you’re one of the many who enjoy aerotow launches, you may be impacted by this rule. • The good news is… the trio of Jayne Depanfilis, Mike Meier, and Bill Bryden have been pursuing actions on the new rule and have the matter quite well in hand. The issues of two-place flying have been addressed and face few obstacles. Aerotowing, however, is less certain. Operations such as Lookout Mountain Flight Park have been fighting local battles with adversaries who brought FAA into the picture. Solving this problem may take more time to resolve. Fortunately, at least in a somewhat longer term, good news also exists. • I recently had a conversation with Bill Bryden on this subject. Bill has been front and center, with Jayne and Mike, in negotiations with key FAA people and the ASTM standards-writing process that is at the heart of the aircraft side of the new rule. (Sport Pilot refers to pilot licensing which is being handled solely by FAA. Light-Sport Aircraft certification is being handled by a group of industry leaders under FAA’s watchful eye. ASTM is the organizing body helping industry create “consensus standards” for certifying aircraft of many kinds — fixed wing aircraft, weight shift, powered parachutes, sailplane-type gliders, lighter-than-air craft, and gyroplanes.) • Bryden addressed concerns that towing is in jeopardy. Facts on the matter take two directions. Effort has stalled on a plan hatched with key FAA person Sue Gardener to issue an altered exemption to allow aircraft like the Dragonfly to keep flying. USHGA’s current exemption for aerotowing specifies only a Part 103 ultralight, that is, one which weighs no more than 254 pounds empty. That, regretfully, does not include the Dragonfly. However, while that effort has slipped into unknown territory, the long term view is encouraging. Though SP/LSA was originally released as an NPRM with towing specifically excluded, discussions and plenty of public comment brought about change in FAA’s thinking. Therefore, ASTM groups writing standards for fixed wing aircraft and trikes added tow equipment standards. (The chair of the fixed wing group is Tom Peghiny, a longtime hang glider enthusiast whose company makes a tow-capable ultralight.)Pilots of tugs will have to show a Private License — the Sport Pilot license does not allow towing — but this should not sharply limit the number of powerjocks who can fly these machines. So, except for a delay during release and full implementation of the rule, aerotowing does not look threatened, though this spring and summer may have some challenges. ••• After resigning from BRS parachutes late last year, I started doing marketing on an independent basis. My newest client is EAA — the folks who put on that giant airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin — and this may bring some benefits for the USHGA and hang gliding and paragliding. EAA, with 170,000 members and therefore some serious clout in Washington DC, might be tapped to assist USHGA with regulatory issues. In fact, USHGA’s Executive Director, Jayne Depanfilis, and Regional Director, Bill Bryden, have frequent contact with this leader of recreational aviation. And now that I’m in EAA offices every other week, I may be able to further tighten that relationship. In the meantime, I’ve discovered other connections to hang gliding and paragliding. ••• Paul Hamilton, the hang gliding/paragliding video production czar, has convinced the EAA to carry a selection of his tapes or DVDs. While he still offers plenty of HG or PG videos, Paul has branched out into other aircraft. After doing so he says, “It took me two years to finally get EAA to handle my products.” EAA has a large merchandise operation so Paul’s sales should increase. He adds, “We just released the www.sport-pilot-training.com web site to help pilots get going.” But while Paul’s Adventure Productions company has entered the powered aircraft arena, he remains a free flight enthusiast. Here’s how he ended a recent note: “Keep up the pressure on the manufacturers for nanotrikes, and get USHGA to support soaring trikes with wheels!” Soaring will include such vehicles in the future, I think, and Paul will be ready for them, too. FMI: dial (775) 747-0175 or visit www.pilot-resources.com ••• Speaking of towing, work continues on Alan Chuculate’s Paratug, the powered aircraft he’s building to aerotow paragliders. Alan wrote in mid-March to say, “We’re running behind schedule as you probably guessed.” Alan’s essential talent, Floyd Fronius, “has been delayed fabricating our custom light trike because his music career has been blossoming with both local gigs and in the recording studio. The construction has been steady but slow and we currently project completion later this month.” Despite the tunes emanating from Floyd, Chuculate expects to be flight testing in April. He promises, “I’ll keep you posted on the status of our flight testing.” • Although Paratug progress is temporarily slowed, a revised wing has been evaluated for handing changes with a 550-pound load plus it’s been used for tandem hang gliding with experienced pilots and novices. In the noisier end of Paratug’s development, Alan writes, “We’ve abandoned the small engine approach.” While testing with a loaner trike powered by a Kawasaki 340 cc, Chuculate’s team found only marginal improvements when he tried different propellers. So he purchased an MZ 202 engine that puts out 60 horsepower. Floyd started building a custom trike in March to accommodate the bigger engine and prop. • Alan’s only real competition for the Paratug is Bobby Bailey’s Biplane Dragonfly. Chuculate once hoped to meet the 254-pound weight limit to comply as an Part 103 ultralight but that idea appears to be melting away with the switch to the more powerful engine. The irony is that Paratug’s delayed development may dovetail nicely with the SP/LSA rule announcement mentioned at the start of this column. If so, keeping the weight down may not be the imperative it was at earlier stages of development. ••• 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!
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 email@example.com ••• 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!
ST. PAUL, MINN. — My opening segment should start, “Once upon a time, there was Escape Pod, Pod Racer, and Porky Pod…” You’d probably be baffled (though perhaps intrigued). I’m referring to the Pod series from former Seagull hang glider boss, Mike Riggs. I’ve unabashedly promoted this project since it came from my challenge for a true “soaring trike.” u Pods are sleek fuselages to house pilots attached to hang glider wings. Their goal is to offer more comfort, low drag and light weight, and a rigid attachment to the glider. You fly seated/supine — and have a full enclosure. Think of a powered ultralight trike except one with all the draggy bits pulled inside. Escape Pod and Pod Racer (and surely Porky Pod, too, when it’s ready) will feature fully retractable tri-gear, in-flight C/G adjustment, and a molded clear plastic canopy that fits smoothly to a composite body. A positive aspect is the rigid connection to glider, such that you can never fall into the wing, possibly preventing broken gliders after a tumble or tuck. u The schedule for Seagull Aerosport’s first offering has now been set. Mike reports he’ll first answer ultralight motorglider demand with the Escape Pod. This variation will have a fully-faired engine and folding prop to make it self-launchable. Riggs calculates weight at 85 pounds but it should be vastly cleaner than anything seen to date. Riggs says he’ll present his first Escape Pod at the Oshkosh airshow in late July. u The UNpowered, under-30-pound Pod Racer designed specifically for hang glider pilots will follow once Escape Pod production starts. These things won’t be cheap but for some pilots, the Pods will be answers to longtime requests. u Riggs has been in touch with North Wing and Wills Wing to assure their gliders will work with the Pod series. He’ll work with other brands, too Info: firstname.lastname@example.org lll At a visit to Wallaby Ranch just three weeks before the big “Wallaby Open” competition in mid-April, preparations were well underway. The competition field has been enlarged to 110 pilots, “up from 60 the first year of the ‘Open’,” says Malcolm Jones. If you haven’t been to Wallaby recently, you’ll be amazed how much more land is cleared and smooth. u In addition, Jones stuck his neck out even further, buying an additional 250 acres of land mostly to the east of the current premises. This increases Wallaby to 500 total acres, giving a generous barrier to neighbors who might one day complain if they were next door to ultralight engines and boisterous pilots. I gulped on hearing this as I envisioned how much how it raised his mortgage payments. I suspect he may one day profit handsomely from this investment — indeed, huge warehouse buildings have been built only a couple miles away where once existed only unused “swamp land,” much that like Malcolm and his team have transformed into the ‘Ranch. But until he may cash out, Jones has preserved a major chunk of Florida for the exclusive use of hang gliding. Who couldn’t love that? u Wallaby was expecting a big month in April — all historical as you read this. The spring month started out with Wills Wing Demo Days. WW-brand always throws a good party, participants say, and this year was no exception. u On the same days, members of the Sailplane Homebuilders Association brought ultralight sailplanes of several descriptions, a logical follow-on to renewed interest in flying the two SuperFloaters at Wallaby. u Directly after this gathering, the big Sun ‘n Fun airshow in nearby Lakeland began, followed immediately by the Wallaby Open and then Flytec’s Championships at Quest. WHEW! Good times in central Florida. lll The reason this news is history relates to the combined May 2002 issue of HG/PG magazines and its arrival early in the cover month. As you’ve read elsewhere in the magazine (and in earlier issues), this is “only a test.” You are asked to participate in the final decision. Please do so! u To bring your issue to you early in the month, the late deadline enjoyed by easy-to-edit “Product Lines” was moved up two weeks. This edition was turned in on March 20th at Editor Gil Dodgen’s request; that’s how long it takes for a high quality magazine to turn from electronic page layouts to printed books, delivered by the post office. Though it may seem a long time, six weeks is much less than many magazines. One title I write for requires material three and a half months ahead of cover date. u True, the Internet offers near instantaneous publishing but some USHGA members do not use the ‘Net — believe it or not! — and good ol’ paper still has enormous appeal to many readers. Notice the Web has not scuttled magazines or newspapers in other fields (with a very few exceptions). So, enjoy your on-time magazine! lll Interest continues to build for the 2002 World Record Encampment, that way-south Texas gathering which has produced world record flights two years running. Many will merely follow the action via Internet and other sources, but some want to be participants. FlytecUSA is once again sponsoring the World Record Encampment. Two sessions this year are planned running from mid June to mid July. About twice as many people will be let into the 2002 event. Flex and rigid hang gliders, paragliders, and ultralight sailplanes will attempt new world records. To register, go to flytec.com and click the WRE button. Questions: email@example.com lll So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930. My new e-mail is: News@ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
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. In the space of half a generation, capitalism has started growing like a weed in many of those countries. Though the morph from communism is still causing pain, a few companies like Aeros have figured out the game and have even been able to penetrate that bastion of capitalism, the USA. ••• Maybe a trip to Kiev isn’t your style (and it won’t be mine either if they don’t sent the mandatory visa pretty darn soon) but France has all sorts of appeal. "Any pilots who want to come and fly in the South of France, are welcome to stay at our house," say Arna and Bruce Goldsmith. Intriguing houses in Europe are often named and so’s this one: Chateau-de-Max, in deference to its artistic designer. Goldsmith says, "We have bed and breakfast facilities for [about $20] a night and also a fully fitted apartment available for rent for just a few days or weekly." Chateau-de-Max is located near six excellent flying sites featuring easy access plus guests can obtain advice from veteran Euro pilot, Bruce Goldsmith, about flying conditions and where to fly. Info: www.chateau-de-max.com ••• Flytec showed off their new Alti-Knife at the recent board of director meeting. It’s a nifty Swiss Army knife concept for the digital age with a built-in altimeter. Hikers may also like the gizmo. • Fellow Mac user, Steve Kroop, beamed when he told me about the new 4020 instrument that should now be available. With its translucent blue case it looks like a mate to the iMac and I say why not? Hey, it was a big hit for Apple. It also features much larger barograph memory — 128 hours worth… think you can sustain that long? Plus the iBlue 4020 comes with full customizable audio so you can select the tones you want, a bundled and enhance FlyChart (formerly a $75 upgrade), and the blue box can record and post polar performance data. Price was not expected to rise. Excellent! Info: 800-662-2449. • Flytec also noted that 2000 was one of the best in their history. ••• Gerry Charlebois is about to embark on a video excursion, involving flying in the Sierra Nevadas and Yosemite. Using trike ultralights to lift paragliders to mesas or to aero tow PGs and HGs, they figure to fly in places with more challenging access. Strong interest in Paul Hamilton’s Monumental Triking music video has inspired Charley-boy. He’ll work with Paul again, and they’ll be joined by paraglide guru Andy Whitehill, base jumper and film maker, Tom Sanders, plus, according to Gerry, "Jim Zeiset is also trying to be involved." Knowing both Gerry’s photo and Paul’s video prowess, they may produce one heckuva video. Info on the aerial tour: firstname.lastname@example.org ••• In closing this month, I’m pleased to update you on the only U.S.-built rigid wing, the Raptor, now in its 2 Plus version. Developer/manufacturer Matt Kollmann says he has enough interest in the "hard wing kits" to keep him busy and that a "collapsible [foldable] Raptor has been put on the back burner for now." Of course his pace isn’t blistering — only one kit every three months — so keeping busy means something different than it does for Wills Wing. But that may change if American pilots become more aware of his work and success. • Changes in the 2 Plus model include a one-foot lengthened keel which moved aft the keel fin which Matt says "seemed to eliminate the yaw oscillations" completely. His hard wing model can use lighter ribs and because it "eliminates the weight of the sail," it is now much lighter overall. The savings were employed to make the spar even stronger and the 75-pound wing can now carry a 350 pound hook-in weight! In an exciting statement to soaring trike enthusiasts, he says it’s tough enough that he can now experiment with mounting the Raptor 2 Plus on a lightweight trike. He’s also planning a lightweight trailer to haul the wing. • Despite his achievement, Matt recently tried and was unable to get an established HG manufacturer interested in producing the Raptor 2 Plus. In his exploration of potential partners he reports, "Existing [glider] manufacturers seem to fall into one of two categories. Either they are hurting from the rigid wings and don’t have the capital to invest or they haven’t been hurt bad enough and think the rigids are just a fad and will pass." He adds, "There is also a fantasy that the topless gliders will perform as well as the rigids." • Though Kollmann was unable to find an interested builder, he says many pilots who flew the wing were impressed, "so the Raptor kits have started selling." Info: mKollmann@insight.rr.com ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com THANKS!