ST. PAUL, MINN. — FAA released the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) generally referred to as Sport Pilot. I won’t dwell on this as I’ve recently written about the new rule. But please watch Hang Gliding magazine and ask your USHGA leaders for advice on responding during the Comment Period — which is now open. lll Foreigners have done well at past U.S. Nationals. Now some Yankees turned it around. Congratulations to Mike Barber (Moyes Lightspeed 4) who came in first in the “Combined Open” category at the Australian Open in January. He finished second in “Class I Open” behind Ukrainian Oleg Bondarchuck (Aeros Combat 2). u Then, in the Australian Nationals, Paris Williams (Laminar St14) took the top spot in Class I. Davis Straub (ATOS 145) finished first in the “Overall” category. Good goin’ Yanks! lll Speaking of top Ukraine pilot Bondarchuck, U.S. importer, GW Meadows, writes, “With Oleg doing so well in the competitions in Australia, I’ve had lots of calls and e-mails from customers wanting the ‘low down’ on the new Combat 2.” Among changes from the earlier model, GW reports Combat 2 incorporates a slightly different sail cut, airfoil, span wise sail tension, and rib distribution. U.S. Aeros says it utilizes a “completely different cloth on the leading edge, which allows for more reliable shaping throughout the speed range of the glider.” u Based on factory testing and Oleg’s contest experience, GW reports, “Handling is improved, as are the landing characteristics.” He says that a big difference on Combat 2 is the availability of the “micro-drag” control frame which utilizes the Wills Wing upright profiles mated to Aeros’ new modern corner brackets and their own carbon speedbar. Pitch testing has been done and Combat 2 passed with “flying colors,” reports Meadows. More info: firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-480-3552. lll While we’re talking about pilots who did well in the Aussie contests, the story gets exciting. Near the end of January, Davis Straub wrote in his OZ Report that, “I was flying [ATOS 145] straight and level when instantly my nose went straight down and the glider picked up a whole lot of speed in less than a second. I had no control of the glider at this point and couldn’t believe the speed or the forces upon me.” Kraig Coomber was flying nearby and said that “the tuck and the break of the wing happened as one event.” u After successfully deploying, Straub recalled, “I was dreading coming in so fast, but happy to have a parachute (even if it was 16 gore).” u One European pilot hearing of Straub’s experience wrote: “I asked [local expert] Henry Helmich from Parasail [about canopy sizes]. He works for the army, making and folding parachutes and he makes parachutes for the Dutch and German hang gliding market. He was very clear. The difference in opening time for a larger or smaller ‘chute for your weight is in tenths of seconds, if measurable at all. The only thing that really counts is that the ‘chute is dry and recently folded. ‘Chute material absorbs moisture from the air, which makes the material stick to each other and folding it regularly keeps the material fluffy.” (From my perspective as a marketer of emergency parachutes, you don’t really care how fast the canopy opens as much as how much altitude is consumed before opening.) Davis got the message. He wrote: “Lesson — get a twenty-gore chute.” lll Wills Wing is pleased with their new computerized sail plotter. “Nine years ago, in conjunction with our move to a new, expanded facility, Wills Wing installed a state-of-the-art, computer-controlled Autometrix sail-cutting machine.” Wills reports the use of this precise cutter/plotter has given them the ability to produce prototype hang glider sails and harness designs directly from computer design files. u “We’ve replaced our original machine with the highly upgraded Autometrix AutoCut 7000 model,” says Wills. The new unit features repeatable accuracy to within ten thousandths of an inch over the entire surface of the fifty-foot by five-foot table, says Wills. u Factory test pilots become aware that “dimensional variations as small as sixty thousandths of an inch over the thirty-two foot span of a hang glider can yield perceptible changes in flight characteristics, so this level of accuracy is a matter of practical importance in hang glider manufacture.” Info: WillsWing.com or call 714-998-6359. lll Alerted by U.S. distributor, Rich Burton, I looked on their Website to see news of Icaro’s new rigid wing. Rich says the new wing was “developed by Christian Ciech and Manfred Ruhmer.” In early February, the first pitch test work done by the German DHV proved successful. So far, the new rigid wing is unnamed. They are considering Astron, Dynamic, Orbital, Stratos. If you want to influence the judges, go to Icaro2000.com. Info: email@example.com or 760-721-0701 lll Titled after the Kitty Hawk Kites annual event of the same name, Hang Gliding Spectacular is dedicated to Michael “Hollywood” Champlin (who happened to give editor Jim Palmieri his first book sale). HGS is a 247-page book with 70 individual stories. Though I didn’t really expect it, I found myself flipping pages to yet another story. “There I was…” stories are legendary in hang gliding. Once in a while such tales are fascinating but usually they’re somebody else’s experience that get long in the tooth rather quickly. Those in HGS were quite readable, I felt. The $24.95 book is also unusual in offering a CD with the printed volume so as to provide video clips, many photos, and illustrations. Info: Skydog@rev.net or 540-772-4262. 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., — It’s history by the time you read this, but at the time of writing I was looking forward to seeing the Stalker in person at the Indianapolis Air Sports Expo, that gathering of sport aircraft of many types. The Aeros Stalker is a long time coming perhaps because it features numerous differences from other rigid wing designs. ••• Importer GW Meadows says Aeros has a full roster of competitive gliders for the new year, of which the Stalker is just one. He says, "The Stealth Combat is currently available in the 154 size, but a smaller size is currently being worked on at the factory." He believes that Combat is not only tops in performance, but is very user friendly as well. Aeros says the glider completed and passed the German hang glider certification tests. Combat uses 7075 springtip ribs, a Matrix top sail, in-flight self adjusting sprogs, and the Ukrainian producer says their reflex system supports more of the trailing edge of the glider. GW indicated, "We will be marketing this glider to not only the serious competition pilot but to the serious cross country pilots." U.S. Aeros recommends the Stealth 3 with conventional Dacron sailcloth for recreational cross country pilots. ••• But lots of excitement surrounds the rigid Stalker (reported here in January 2000). On a recent trip to the Ukraine, Meadows wrote, "After seeing the Stalker, I had perma-grin for days. This is truly the most beautiful wing I’ve seen mounted on 2 downtubes." Of course, he’s biased but based on the construction and changed control surfaces and their linkages, this does sound like a truly different rigid wing. • Putting a finer point on it, U.S. Aeros says, "The trailing edge consists of flaps, ailerons and spadds. Flaps and ailerons are self explanatory, but the SPADD (SPlit Aileron Drag Device) is a new feature. It is a device attached out at the very tip of the trailing edge that produces an extra amount of drag for the inside wing." Aeros claims that the spadd helps the pilot coordinate the turns better and I could easily agree based on my experience with flying spoileron-equipped aircraft in conjunction with ailerons. The aileron deflects upward on one wing and the spadd also deflects upward. Yet an additional part of the spadd moves downward below the wing to produce a little extra drag in that area, drag which is complimentary to the turn (like a spoileron). It doesn’t take much out at the wingtip. Stalker’s ailerons are conventional in that they operate differentially meaning that they do not move up and down the same distance. This helps regulate the drag produced by control deflections and is on every three-axis aircraft. However, the spadd also deflects on an accelerating scale as the aileron is used more fully. For last second corrections on final, this extra authority may be appreciated. On whole, the Stalker seems well enough thought out to overcome the delay in its introduction. I should have more for you next month. Info: justfly.com or 252-480-3552. ••• Speaking of new designs, Wills Wing is flying an early prototype in competitions, breaking tradition with their usual close-to-the-vest development of new gliders. The new wing is topless with curved tips. So far unnamed to my knowledge, the proto was flown in a couple Australian competitions by highly-ranked Paris Williams. I can’t recall hearing about a WW development glider sighted at a meet before. Reports from those who saw it gave WW credit for a polished early prototype. Williams was reportedly pleased with the design at this stage. ••• You can ask questions about it at the company’s 28th Anniversary party, again held at the Wallaby Ranch, March 14-18, 2001. The big builder says, "This will be the fourth year that world renowned Wallaby Ranch has hosted the Wills Wing party and demo days." Visitors are invited to fly Falcons, Ultra Sports, Fusions, two new sizes of the Eagle, and the new curved tip competition glider. The huge Condor trainer is evidently staying on the beach sites; it may be inappropriate for aerotowing (though the Wallaby team could probably figure a way to tow almost anything). Info: WillsWing.com or 714-998-6359. ••• The FAI blessed the longest-ever "straight distance" flight by Davis Straub last August, only days after Dave Sharp’s also-stunning flight of 311 miles — at least he’s the first man ever to fly past 500 kilometers. FAI in Paris ratified Straub’s achievement in Class O (oh, not zero) in Sub-class O-2, meaning a hang glider with rigid primary structure and with movable control surfaces. Since FAI records in metric the 347 miles got translated to 559.7 kilometers — Sharp’s was 502.8 km. Attaboys, Davis and Dave! You furthered the credibility of hang gliding. ••• Top Czech pilot, Tomas Suchanek, set a flurry of records in Australia at the end of last year. He’s reported to be occupied with flying and selling sailplanes these days, but it appears he still has the edge needed for cross country flying. Tomas entered the books late last year with a "speed over 100 km triangle" hitting 40 km/h (25 mph), "speed over 300 km triangle" where Suchanek hit 45 km/h (28+ mph), and a "speed over 50 km triangle" where he blazed along at 46 km/h (almost 29 mph). He also took a record for 25 km, and the longest of all, a distance over a triangle award. Suchanek racked up 357 km (223 mi) and averaged 45 klicks all the while. Dang! • Looking at the two long flights, I think averaging nearly 30 mph in a flight of 200+ miles is pretty impressive. All Tomas’ flights were flown on a Moyes Litespeed 4 and took place at the recent Moyes World Record Expedition at Wilcannia in Western NSW-Australia. Another pilot Attila Bertik of Hungary, flew a Moyes Litespeed 5 to a "Speed over 200 km triangle" hitting 41 km/h or close to 26 mph. Congratulations to both pilots for excellent flying. Info: 530-888-8622 or FlyaMoyes@aol.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!
ST. PAUL, MINN., — As a spring soaring season creeps ever closer, another new harness called the Tenax has been introduced by Woody Valley. Italian Ignazio Bernardi claimed the popular Euro harness had a 30% share of the pilots in the last World Meet in Monte Cucco. Woody Valley also has offerings for recreational pilots (the RS2), but the new Tenax is aimed precisely at the competition pilots who want the very least drag. Indeed, aerodynamics and ergonomics appear to be the push among all state-of-the-art harness makers. • Tenax features a "redesigned body shape" to improve comfort and drag reduction while also making entry easier. Tenax also has some internal pockets to help cleanliness but also has external access for two cameras, a radio, a drag ‘chute, and an emergency parachute. According to Bernardi, it is also "possible to install a ballistic parachute" (though this is not something with which U.S. maker BRS is familiar). Several American dealers represent Woody Valley. Check with them to see more of the European brand’s line. ••• I find it almost ironic to report that the only Y2K bug problem that seemed to directly affect hang gliding (so far as I’ve been informed anyway) involves Flytec instruments. According to a few users, the Flytec 4020 and 4030 (but not the 3030) reset at the 2000 rollover so that recording occurs on a 1-second interval. As this apparently limits barogram recording to 2.25 hours, those wishing to track longer flights may be frustrated. The fix is simple enough: check the interval used for recording and reset to another time, for example, 15-seconds. Some users also reported an error in the Alti 1 max height figure. Flytec is aware of these minor errors and can surely address them through software adjustments. ••• You have only a few days to plan your trip if you want to attend Wills Wing’s 27th birthday celebration this month. As they’ve done before, WW-brand will truck out a load of demo gliders for your soaring pleasure. In concert with Wallaby Ranch manager, Malcolm Jones, a major shindig is forecast. Central Florida enjoys good cross country weather this time of year… plus pilots can visit two other airparks: Quest Air, only a few miles to the north, and Graybird Airsports, up by Dunnellon — on your way into the state. Both are within reasonable drives, or good X-C flights. Call Wills Wing (714-998-6359) or Wallaby (914-424-0070) for details. ••• Speaking of flight parks, Austin Air Sports, created by Texans Steve Burns and Gaynelle Roach, is now based at the Hearne Municipal Airport. Burns’ involvement dates back to the late ’70s and after teaching his father to fly, the two of them report training over 4,000 students. Moving to Hearne on July 1 last year, AAS operates two Dragonfly tugs plus a trike. By the time you read this, "we will have two additional trikes," says Burns. Hearne has general aviation traffic but it’s light they report. Being an old military base, one runway is 7,200 feet long, which allows winch tows to 2,000 feet AGL. The airport sits on 600 acres, "with rolling farm land in every direction." More info: AustinAirSports.com or call 409-279-9382. ••• For those that aren’t into towing or who live a good distance from the growing list of airparks, more powered hang glider choices are arriving. Shorten it to "PHG" to skip the mouthful and consider that such contraptions include powered harnesses, like the Mosquito and even more established Minimum; superlight trikes like Lookout Mountain’s SkyCycle or Cosmos’ Samba; plus Australian John Reynold’s "nanolight" Thistledown (a personal project). In the last month or so, I’ve become aware of three new offerings: the Booster, Doodlebug, & Explorer. All are commercial products available for purchase. • The Booster comes from Pegasus Aviation, the UK’s largest builder of powered ultralight trikes. The company also has a hang gliding history and combining the two capabilities explains their entry. The power system is housed in a composite half-tube that can be added to many modern harnesses and then removed if unpowered flight is preferred. The sleek looking appendage to your harness ends in a folding prop to further reduce drag. Info: PegasusAviation.co.uk/pegframe • Flylight’s Ben Ashman, also of the UK, produces the Doodlebug which has the pilot sit supine above the control bar. You foot launch and then assume the seated position. The unit is said to be "beautifully finished," and a small front-end fairing is optional to keep your toes warm and drag reduced. Info: FlyLight@zetnet.co.uk • A Mosquito clone called the Explorer is being produced in Australia. Info: ffa.com.au/airtime/index3 • Finally, yet another variation is awkwardly-named Nargfly. This is unlike all the others, with a large, slow-turning prop in front of the pilot and the engine mounted on the front side of the control bar/keel junction. It still foot launches and lands but this is quite a different animal that I’m guessing will have slow acceptance because of the spinning thing right in front of you (a folding prop can’t work, for example). For those who’d like to look at all these PHGs, see the British site: www.woodleydowns.demon.co.uk/Manufacturers.htm • None of these machines come particularly cheap, but add up the cost of towing or maintaining a mountain-worthy vehicle and perhaps $5-9 Grand doesn’t sound too bad. I’ll do some further investigating on all these new powered machines. If they don’t turn you on (as I admit they do me), then skip this news and enjoy your quiet soaring. However, interest sent my way is keen enough that I’ll continue to track development details. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Message or fax to 651-450-0930. Send eMail to CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN. — More news seems to surround power and hang gliders or paragliders.
Why? Well| first, it’s winter. Less flying occurs, at least in the northern latitudes.
So pilots are talking about gear and powered harnesses and nanotrikes
are part of the discussion. Secondly, expressions of interest by soaring pilots may
be a result of USHGA gaining member approval for adding these machines to the mix
(nanotrikes are not presently included; only foot launched aircraft). Add one more
fact, the steadily-increasing age of HG&PG pilots, and no one should be
surprised that discussion includes power (and wheels). With that in mind, I like
to dispense with one item right now.
Corrections Dept.: In August last year, I wrote about some spectacularly high
flights accomplished by Minnesota pilots using powered harnesses for their initial
launch into huge thermals. I also said, because that’s what I understood, that all
four pilots reaching 10,000 feet AGL used NRG Mosquito harnesses sold by Bill
Fifer of Traverse City Hang Gliders. In fact, only my reporter, Bruce Bolles,
used that brand. The other three pilots, Ralph Karsten, Paul Kilstofte, and Bill
Manual, flew Airtime Products (of Australia) Explorer powered harnesses. My
apologies to Airtime for this error. While Bruce corrected my information he also
wanted to observe two things. The Mosquito is powered by the Radne Rocket engine
and so is the Explorer. Some owners feel the Mosquito is a more refined product while
the simpler Explorer offers a good cost savings (current price differential may be
even greater with the euro soaring high compared to the dollar).
Airtime also makes a nanotrike. I wrote about the Powerlite a few months ago
and the down-under company continues to develop their products. The 88-pound
nanotrike is a low-slung affair which gives it a better center of gravity
during ground operations). Airtime is now offering a new pod and new wheelpants for
their Powerlite. The cleaning up of nanotrikes is underway by several manufacturers
and is leading toward a new class of powered machines with much lower drag. FMI:
North Wing announced late-stage development of a new, as-yet unnamed nanotrike,
downsized from their ATF (Air Time Fix) very light trike. Proprietor and designer,
Kamron Blevins says the new machine will weigh 70 pounds and will offer
a zip-up fairing, kind of a refashioned “suprone harness,” explained Kamron. It will
feature electric starting, retractable aft main gear, will pack down to only 4.5
feet and can be carried on your shoulder in its bag. The
trike chassis is well along; Kamron was flying it in late December. A specially-designed
wing will follow in February and the entire nanotrike ought to be ready by April.
FMI: (509) 886-4605 or northwing.com
It isn’t just companies that are developing trikes. I’ve heard from two individuals.
“For the past four years, I’ve been on exodus from hang
gliding, but have recently got permission to get back into the sport,” writes Paul
Donahue. He’s flown with auxiliary power system on hang gliders for some time,
so it was logical to again pursue that direction. “Cliff launching is the ultimate
for me, but it is very tough to beat the independence of a power system.” He reentered
the sport too late to vote for the inclusion of power in USHGA but is obviously pleased
it went that way. He’s working on a minimal power system that he says is “a cross
between a Minimum and a Mosquito.” He’s not ready to announce anything but he let
me in on some details and it sounds intriguing. If his plans flesh out as expected,
it may be another fetching entry in the powered harness/nanotrike segment.
Robert Crowell is another home inventor. I’ve followed his efforts for some
years and he continues to refine a basic approach to a faired light trike. He started
with a Foxbat, a lighter powered trike harking back to the old Manta days so naturally
it has a Fledge’ wing doing the lifting. In late 2003 he was flying with his “bubble
pod” which fully encloses him in see-through plastic. A tiny opaque fabric nose
pod extends under the belly but all the remaining fairing offers a clear view. He
enjoys staying warm during wintertime flying in Boone, NC and said speed range
increased better than 10%. “All I had to do was remove the pod for one flight
to really notice the performance difference,” says Crowell who notes he also got
much colder. When he’s done flying the Lexan sheet can lay flat under his trike in
the bed of his truck. Two ties and four bolts allow reattachment to the Foxbat in
six minutes, Robert reports. Interesting stuff and I wonder what continued developments
we’ll see in the next couple years.
Mid-Winter Rumor Dept.: Last fall some rumors surfaced about this magazine’s
former editor. As I knew him quite well, I wanted to verify their accuracy and give
some feedback to readers as appropriate. Gossip suggested Gil Dodgen was very
unhappy with the way he parted company with USHGA. Given a rather abrupt departure
after 25 years, who could blame him? However, gossip is often unreliable and, in
fact, Gil’s doing very well. He writes, “I’m working for an aerospace research company
designing flight-computer software for a precision-guided airdrop system. It is extremely
interesting, rewarding and intellectually stimulating work, and I’m working with
a very talented and motivated team of aeronautical, mechanical, electrical and software
engineers.” Now, it turns out many readers should know some of Gil’s work mates.
Several have come from the hang gliding ranks. Roy Haggard, Tom Price, Dave
Cronk, Roger McCracken| know any of these guys? You should if you think you know
anything of hang gliding history. Gil preferred I didn’t publish his work address,
but anyone who wishes to contact him may do so at GilDodgen@cox.net
Well, that’s it for chilly February. So, got news or opinions?
Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930. E-mail
to Dan@ByDanJohnson.com or CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN. — As you read this, the 2002 Air Sports Expo is happening. Hope you made it. This event — a rare traveling indoor air show — has great potential for new enthusiasts to find hang gliding and paragliding, I believe. Of course, they may also find sailplanes, ultralights, aerobatic aircraft, R/C models, and more since the show features all these elements of sport aviation. u EAA has a magazine called “Sport Aviation.” Yet their coverage isn’t what we might call “sport aviation”(unless you consider homebuilding an aircraft a “sport”). Conversely, the Air Sports Expo features the kind of flying that’s done strictly for fun, for sport. Some of those EAA aircraft are 200-mph transportation alternatives. Building and flying them may also be for sport, but the aircraft themselves can serve a purpose of transport. Nothing wrong with that, but it isn’t what we do (nor is it what sailplanes, ultralights, aerobatic aircraft, or modelers do). u So, this is the one-and-only show that caters to the true-blue fly-for-fun crowd. If you didn’t make the 2002 event I hope you’ll consider it next year as the country goes nuts over 100 years of powered flight. Many have groused about hang gliding not growing or about a slowdown in paragliding growth. The Air Sports Expo is only one part of a solution, but it is a solid one that also puts us in a kind of partnership with other for-sport-only flying groups. As the show travels around the county, it opens the door to those trying to find us. Seems like a heckuva idea to me. lll As the Air Sport Expo was going on (and understand, I’m writing this before the event occurs), another momentous event in “sport” aviation was happening. As this column went to press, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had finally released FAA’s new proposed rule — often referred to as “Sport Pilot.” u I wish to recommend that you get out your September 2001 issue of Hang Gliding where you’ll find an article and a sidebar about this new rule (page 19). Joe Gregor did an excellent job of detailing the new rule as we know it at this time. He covered the history and listed the implications of the new proposal. u That proposal has now been released from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) where it had been delayed for some months. The events of September 11th added a significant delay in the issuance of the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) but that’s history now. In early January, OMB sent the proposal back to FAA for them to issue the NPRM (possibly by the time you read this — though such predictions have proven wrong in the past). lll It’s too soon to get out your “Dear Congressman or Senator” letter pad just yet, but please keep your eye on the magazine and USHGA Website for advice from association leaders. When the time does come, you need to get involved! u The two main areas of concern (in my humble opinion) are the lack of a towing provision and the uncertain nature of our exemptions for two place operations. u Now, the basics of Part 103 under which the majority of hang glider and paraglider pilots fly is not threatened. If you foot launch, the NPRM may not seem particularly relevant. But remember, federal regulations nearly always grow and are rarely retracted once implemented. u Originally, towing had been included. But due to FAA’s concern about “commercial activities” in sport aviation, the ability for sport aircraft to tow others was removed. In the draft document FAA presented months ago, towing hang gliders was not be allowed! As Joe Gregor properly describes it, this may deliver a “crippling blow” to the towparks that are responsible for so much activity in hang gliding. u The other areas of concern involve the two-place exemption for tandem training. Again, Gregor did a good job of identifying why FAA wants to stop exemptions. Such “loop holes” in the rule are intended to be temporary fixes but should not remain in place year after year. Yet this is exactly what has occurred with both our towing and tandem exemptions. Both are in some jeopardy within FAA’s proposal. u As Gregor and sidebar writer Bill Bryden reported, the proposals we’ve seen so far may not be identical to the NPRM when it is released. However, proposals often become NPRMs largely intact, so be ready. You don’t need to act just yet, but BE PREPARED! u “A USHGA Committee or Special Task Force has been created to address the USHGA’s position on the Sport Pilot License,” reported USHGA Executive Director, Jayne DePanfilis. This task force includes Bill Bryden, Dennis Pagen, Mike Meier, Matt Taber, Steve Kroop and Jayne. This is a solid group and we’ll all await their advice. lll Finally, the news this month surrounds a blur of mail among the USHGA board of directors and staff. The subject is the possible combining of Hang Gliding and Paragliding magazines. Association leadership does not want this to be a forced issue and is trying hard to assure members can express themselves before the action may be taken. u Jayne proved herself a good listener. Hearing from many board members via a vigorous e-mail exchange, Jayne melded the best ideas together and I think no member will feel he or she was not informed. Look carefully at the March and April issue. The test issue will be May and then we’ll revert to two magazines (for a short while, I hope) to give members a chance to digest it all. As I’ve written before, I’m in favor of combining but I’m only one of more than 10,000 who need to think it through themselves. All anyone can ask is an open mind. lll Yeah, OK, “Product Lines” was kinda light on the products this time. I felt the above news was worthy, but I’ll get back to the stuff that usually appears here next month. 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., — Aeros is finally getting ready to show their new Stalker rigid wing entry after much design work and generating considerable market interest. U.S. Aeros, the Yankee distributor for the low-price producer, will show the Stalker at this month’s Air Sports Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana (7-10 Feb.). The show will present lots of aircraft from sailplanes to ultralights to aerobatic machines, plus RC models, powered parachutes, and, of course, hang gliders. Typically hang gliding enjoyed a good turnout at these events. • I believe the Air Sports Expo has the potential to be a powerful marketing tool for all the air sports and I encourage all midwest pilots to try to make the event. Contact fellow organizer, David Newill, at 317-873-2262 or go to www.soar-indy.dhs.org • If you attend you can examine the Aeros Stalker up close and personal. To date, only a private web site has let dealers (and the odd reporter) have a first glance. It appears to me to have more genuine aircraft-type construction with a riveted aluminum keel and solid linkage to its ailerons. And, yup, they’re ailerons not spoilerons, in another departure from most rigid wings (although before Icaro got involved with the ATOS they prototyped a rigid wing that also used ailerons). I liked what I saw and am looking forward to the in-person viewing. You, too? If you can’t make it to Indy, visit JustFly.com or call 252-480-3552. ••• Apparently Wallaby Ranch and Quest Air have largely (though not totally) settled differences about their spring contests after a vigorous USHGA board of directors Competition Committee debate last fall. The twin meets will once again make a compelling case for pilots to travel to the Sunshine State in April. • Steve Kroop is organizer of the Quest meet and also Flytec USA boss… hmmm, this just might be a reason the event is called the Flytec Championships. "The meet is almost half full," reports Kroop in very early January. With a limit of 90 pilots, over 40 have put down their $100 deposit. Steve adds, "And this doesn’t include the standard U.S. competition pilots." For example, neither Flytec Team’s own pilots nor the Aeros Team is included in this count, so room will very quickly become sparing. • Why should YOU go? One reason includes the whopping $10,000 prize money. But doesn’t that always go to Manfred Ruhmer and other top pilots? No, not this time. Flytec plans to offer a Best New Competitor Prize that will see cash and an award. Another prize for the Most Improved Competitor will also assure some cash goes to other than the top dogs. Register to compete at QuestAirForce.com. (I had trouble getting the page to load; if you do also, call the number following.) • Finally, for motorheads that will attend the Sun ‘n Fun event, the Flytec Champs at Quest start the day after the giant airshow ends. Get directions from Quest at 352-429-0213. ••• I had contacted Kroop about his new instrument pod. The Flytec pod is a sleek long container that houses your choice of a 4000-series Flytec vario or the 3050 model. Further out on the pod is room for a Garmin GPS model 12, 12 Map, 38, or 40. Unlike the slightly older La Mouette pod, the Flytec model completely houses the instruments and plants the Flytec ASI sensor out in front. • It can be mounted with the standard Flytec mount or a special knuckle piece can be added for those who wish to securely bolt on the pod using their control bar corner bracket bolt. • Flytec’s new pod sells for $235, substantially more than the La Mouette one, but it’s more pod and comes with a special bag (since it won’t fit in the standard Flytec bag). By fully enclosing the instruments, Steve Kroop says, "All the wires are contained, including the GPS interface to vario and the ASI to vario. Nothing can come unplugged and you can’t catch a wire when launching or landing." Info at 800-662-2449 or Flytec.com. ••• Greg Black wrote late last year to breathe a sigh of relief. "It has been one of the best years in a long time, even with the 100-year record rainfall." He noted that, "Hang gliding activity has once again passed paragliding with twice as many students and glider sales." For the previous three years Mountain Wings records showed that paragliding was the more requested type of recreation flying at the New York state flight operation. Greg and his staff are very pleased about this, adding "We are kicking butt with hang gliders this year. Thank God!" Good for Mountain Wings. I haven’t heard from other flight schools, but we can hope the slow growth of hang gliding interest may be accelerating. ••• Not every pilot has a roof rack for his vehicle and even if you do, what happens when you rent a car while traveling with your glider? One way to solve this vexing dilemma is to get a HandiRack. The device consists of two inflatable tubes that fasten to any auto or SUV and can carry up to 175 pounds, good enough for at least a couple gliders. By using air-filled construction, the rack can be exhausted and stored conveniently in your trunk (or luggage) and can be reinflated with the included HandiPump so you won’t exhaust yourself. The inflated tubes also spread out the load so your roof can handle the weight and your rental car shouldn’t see scars that cost you money. • The company describes HandiRack as a "highly elasticized PVC inner tube protected by an exceptionally tough nylon laminated PVC outer layer." They say this will prevent premature deflation, a concern of many male hang glider pilots. Seriously, it looks like a nifty product for carrying all sorts of things. See photos and get more info at www.users.bigpond.com/bsf/. In the U.S. try calling corporate parent, Delcor Industries, at 303-979-7175. ••• Outta room once again. 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., — Bits and pieces are floating around in the aftermath of a new millennium and celebrations of grand style around the globe. It’s a good time of year to catch up on details before a new contest and soaring season begins. ••• Why did Aeros name their new rigid wing, "Stalker?" Aeros is the maker of the Stealth topless hang glider, which has achieved amazing U.S. market penetration. To explain the choice of names for their new rigid glider — which conjures a negative image for many Americans — Aeros identified "Roadside Picnic" as a popular novel with a mystical theme. In the book "Stalker" is the main character, idealized as "Neither hunter nor militarist, he’s just trying to survive, to understand, to learn… fearless and courageous, a pathfinder, an explorer, looking for happiness." OK, very positive and perhaps very appropriate for a new high-perf glider, but the name is still odd for American consumption. ••• More so than I’ve observed with other recent introductions, Moyes’ new Lightspeed appears to be enlivening Moyes’ participation in competition gliders. "They aren’t for everyone and while the Litespeed does have some vices and handling quirks the overall package is pretty good. It has significantly better glide performance than the CSX," in one pilot’s opinion. Though reportedly not possessing the CSX’s very light handling the Lightspeed is said to improve on the popular Xtralite. Given Litespeed’s sweep of the Brazilian Nats and good performance in the Down-Under Nats, some observers felt "Moyes has erased Icaro’s lead with the Laminar." ••• Speaking of the Laminar, the Italian producer has new models for 2000 and Yankee distributor, AV8, placed orders for six of the MR versions the last week of December 1999, I’m told. Several of the new wings will apparently be at the Wallaby Open in April. Icaro also said they have improved their parts and service department and according to one insider, customer response "has been encouraging." ••• Otherwise though, the depths of winter seem quiet with glider development news (excepting Moyes, for whom it is summer). Not much horn blowing can be heard. After generating so much interest in the last few months, even rigid wing builders appear intent on producing their gliders rather than bragging about them. So as the new millennium gets underway product news is more focused on accessories. ••• Brazilian Nene Rotor has reportedly found an American representative. Wallaby Ranch tug pilot, Carlos Bessa, referred to the Ranch e-mail address for pilots to contact him about this well-regarded harness. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org. ••• According to web writer, Davis Straub (www.davisstraub.com/OZ/), Rohan Holtklamp has a new harness design where the parachute is placed inside the harness behind the neck. Without knowing the means of extraction, this sounds like an unusual place to locate a product that is only needed after the feces hits the fan. (Not to say we haven’t seen even weirder ideas.) ••• Straub’s Oz Report also spent days on the subject of dented leading edges on the new series of rigid wings — when carried on racks with insufficient padding in the right places. Solutions were offered by many experts and even a new product resulted. High Energy Sports, run by veteran Betty Pfeiffer, now makes a special cross-country cover bag that used a closed-cell foam to help reduce denting these precious wings. Info: Bettp@aol.com or see ad. ••• With a "new & improved" version of his "Selected Works," hang gliding artist Bob Rouse has made presentation of his fascinating designs more professional. The new 119-page, 8.5 x 11 book (with many fold-out pages of larger dimension) includes color photos of his unusual — "bizarre?" — designs. While these are not even remotely intended to be marketable aircraft, Bob does actually build AND FLY! these gliders. Though I’m no designer and have no ambitions of replicating any of Rouse’s work, I nonetheless found his new volume to be of intense interest… although this is quite clearly art, and not everyone agrees that a given type of art is appealing. Though Bob isn’t trying to become a publisher, he’d like to sell a few of his books if for no other reason than then he might "go part-time at my day job" (he’s a sailmaker for sailboats) and dedicate himself even more to his art goals. Other artists have created excellent portrayals of hang gliding in various mediums, but Bob is the only one I know of in the entire world to make hang gliders themselves the art. I may be the only one who likes his stuff, but I admit to being fascinated by the sheer volume of effort and creativity he shows with these glider designs. That he is brave enough to go fly them gives them legitimacy that others speak about but rarely actualize. Go, Bob! For those who want more info on his book or his work, Rouse now has e-mail at: Bob.Rouse@beginners.net. He adds: "I have created a website about my design-work that covers some of the projects within the book ‘Selected Works’." He says the site has "a lot of color images — many that are not within the book — and will provide you with a few moments of entertainment." The URL is: http://users.ev1.net/~flexwing ••• While crowing about artistic expression, I want to say a little about the website I’m advertising in this magazine. Since 1976 I have been flying and writing reviews of aircraft plus penning some columns like this one. Now that the digital age is fully upon us — and thanks to my good friend and internet impresario, Cliff Whitney — I have decided to place every article I’ve ever written on the Internet. Found under the site name www.ByDanJohnson.com, it is our ambition to create a light aviation portal where lots of newbies can find out about hang gliding, ultralights, and other light aircraft. More of my stuff revolves around powered aircraft, but we expect to have plenty of material of interest to HG pilots. With my own work, we’ll have nearly 1,000 articles or columns and literally hundreds of pilot reports, plus we hope to interest other HG writers to join the effort. The site is still under construction — this is a pretty big undertaking — but you can go to the home page and leave your e-mail address. After the site opens (hopefully later this spring), we’ll notify all who left their names that the site is up and running. It will have liberal free areas and great depth available to those who want to become site members. ••• 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. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN. — Happy New Year, glider fans. Once again a new year brings wintertime
chills, at least for us northerners. So, this month I have some warm-up ideas
to get you in the mood for a new soaring season.
Mexican Flying Tours are in full swing for HGs and PGs. Cold weather flyers take
note of temperatures in the 80s with plentiful thermals and authentic Mexican food.
One outfit calls the experience a “Mextravaganza.”
Super Fly Paragliding Mexico Tours 2004 treks to the famous Valle de Bravo
site in central Mexico. At it for eight years, Super Fly takes you to fly three sites
in seven days during January and February. PG gurus Jeffrey Farrell and Chris
Santacroce are leading two tours in January and one in early February for pilots
with P2 ratings or better and a minimum of 50 flight hours.
They’ll handle the language, pickup and delivery from Mexico City airport, offer
5-star lodging in “a new, secure, classy, and clean hotel,” local club memberships,
XC retreival in air conditioned vehicles, and in-flight coaching by radio. FMI:
email@example.com or 801-255-9595
For winter 03/04 FlyMexico has new features to firm their success from previous
years. Their hotel, Meson del Viento celebrated its first anniversary last June telling
you the property is new. They’ve also got new windsocks, new transport vehicles,
and now they offer tours to Veracruz and Oaxaca.
Basic winter packages in and out of Mexico City are priced at $895 for PG
pilots and $1,095 for HG pilots including a wing to fly with many choices
available. A non-flying companion can be added for $295. Returning customers can
take another 5% discount. FlyMexico offers lodging, ground transportation, guiding,
retrieval, plus radios if needed for coaching and other gear you may need. FMI:
firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-861-7198
HGMA has a new website. Look for yourself, but one aspect of the site that
truly amazed me was a pull-down list for all the glider models ever certified
by HGMA. You scroll for a LONG time before hitting bottom. Reviewing glider
names is a trip through HG history; most designs are no longer in production.
HGMA president Mike Meier told me the list currently represents some 428
certification packages and about 280 glider models. (Note: some packages submitted
were for changes to previously-certified designs.) Certifying all these gliders and
someone reviewing their documentation represents literally decades of work. A highly
efficient Wills Wing, for example, says it can certify a glider in about 75 man-hours.
This includes vehicle testing — for certification only, not development work
while designing the glider — and preparing the documentation. They’ve done it many
times so they’ve become very fast. Let’s assume an average of only 100 hours per
package (probably not enough), the body of work is the same as four full-time
employees working non-stop for five years or one full-timer on the job for 20
years! Whew! Another alphabet-soup organization (ASTM)
is working on standards for the new Light Sport Aircraft that FAA has proposed. One
unit of this group is dealing with HG/PG tandem flying and aerotowing tugs that will
fall under the new certification system. As people observe the work of this large
organization, many including myself marvel at how efficiently a much-smaller HGMA
has performed a similar task over the years. The success of the program is highly
respected by FAA. FMI: www.hgma.net
Most hang glider pilots and magazine readers know Gerry Charlebois. His photos
have graced these pages, and he’s worked with videographer Paul Hamilton on motion-picture
productions. Now the iconic pilot from Hawaii’s beautiful Kauai has outdone himself
with a face-paced and fascinating look at extreme sports on the paradise island.
HG&PG readers will focus on the many spectacular flying scenes in “Extreme
Kauai” but I was equally drawn with some superb white-water kayaking, petting
of sharks, aerobatic kite surfing, and big-wave sailboarding. No question, this video
is a heart pumper, a defibrillator attached to your TV.
As “Extreme Kauai” is a DVD, extra scenes are available and many of
these are about flying, for example, a powered hang glider over Hawaiian waterfalls.
I watched the whole thing for more than an hour’s worth of entertainment with good
production values. My guess is you and your flying group will thoroughly enjoy it.
But its real value may be that it presents hang gliding (and trike flying)
in a good light along with other thrilling sports. I imagine lots of non-pilots watching
this, during which they’ll be exposed to a healthy dose of the reasons why we pilots
like doing it in the air. FMI: email@example.com
It is much mellower than “Extreme Kauai”, but the Tennessee Tree Topper DVD produced
by club president Dan Shell should prove popular during cold winter months. “A Hang
Gliding Cross Country Guide to the Sequatchie Valley” employs a Cessna
to give a tour of sample cross county flights from sites owned by the famous southeastern
flying club. The DVD provides topo maps, GPS coordinates,
specific legs of XC flights in addition to aerial views of the countryside
while flying cross country. Pilots with less experience in going a distance may genuinely
appreciate this preview. Shell’s is available for a modest $20 and will help new
and experienced XC pilots get ready for the next TTT event. FMI: firstname.lastname@example.org
In closing, here’s an update on a subject that I’ll continue to cover: Alan Chuculate’s
Paratug. Aided by North Wing Design, he reports that vehicle testing of
the big glider derived from Wills Wing’s Condor “was successful without destruction.”
Pitch stability with washout tubes came out good. Load testing also went well. “The
airframe was loaded to nearly 2,000 pounds at 45 mph,” says Alan. Later, the wing
was bolted to one of North Wing’s light trikes and proprietor Kamron Blevins took
a first flight under power. Alan wants to give credit to Floyd Fronius for
help in fabricating the airframe and during vehicle testing. FMI: email@example.com
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. — Welcome to a new year of soaring. While much of the country endures cold winter weather, spring thermals make for pleasant thoughts. ••• According to early reports, Moyes is preparing a new glider called the Litesport. Parlaying the popularity of their topless, high performance Litespeed, Moyes will reportedly build the new Litesport with a kingpost. Naturally it doesn’t offer the performance of their top-of-the-line model, however, Moyes competition star Gerolf Heinrichs is planning to compete on a Litesport in the (now summertime) Australian contests. At least he’ll fly one in the Australian Open, though observers say he’ll return to the Litespeed for the Aussie Nationals later in their season. Keep updated at MoyesAmerica.com where you can also find a detailed and well-presented tuning guide for the Litespeed. • An interesting sidebar to this story are numerous comments I heard at the October USHGA Board of Directors meeting where a surprising number of highly experienced pilots commented on their enjoyment of flying “simpler gliders,” like the Wills Eagle and Falcon. It appears a new interest is developing for gliders you can set up quicker, that aren’t as heavy, that launch well in any breeze, and can be landed almost anywhere (by an experienced pilot). I sampled a couple Falcons and found I got most of the same grins from the flights. • On the other side of the spectrum are a number of cross country hang glider enthusiasts who have started flying sailplanes. When flying in big western air some report feeling “safer” in sailplanes. Given the “graying” of the hang gliding populations, such changes — in both directions — seem inevitable. ••• Next month USHGA will participate with other sport aviation associations at the Air Sports Expo. The maturing event that draws the fly-for-fun crowd will occur in Ontario, California at that SoCal city’s convention center from February 7-9 (Thurs/Fri/Sat). Having attended the last Expos in Knoxville, Albuquerque, and Indianapolis, I’m confident you’d enjoy attending. Since the event is being held in a stronghold of our sport it should be an easy drive for many — though the Ontario airport a stone’s throw away has scheduled airline service for those who must travel further. ••• Speaking of dates, the board meeting finally settled the contentious affair between Wallaby Ranch’s spring contest and the championships at Questair now sponsored by Flytec. An annual competition of its own, the board committee settled the matter by awarding Wallaby their desired dates this year while in 2003, Flytec will get first choice. Both want the event to immediately follow the nearby Sun ‘n Fun airshow which draws huge numbers of pilots and some extra tugs. This year Wallaby’s Open will be held April 13-19 and the Flytec meet will follow on April 21-27, giving competitors a short break between the two XC racing events. Info: Wallaby.com or 1-800-Wallaby, or at QuestAirForce.com (a site with a fresh new look that loads quicker). ••• Wills Wing unveiled their new streamlined aluminum base bar and it’s a beauty, IMHO. The carbon versions are exotic looking but I find the sleek shiny shape of the aluminum more visually compelling. Both do a similar drag-reducing job, testing shows. Combined with WW’s Slipstream downtubes and their curvaceous corner brackets, the new control bar looks somewhat like a single piece of formed aluminum. Info and photos: WillsWing.com. ••• Some bummer news about flying sites. My old friend Warren Puckett reports that the well-known “ Buffalo Mountain, Oklahoma launch is no more.” The threat of lawsuits moved the landowner to not renew the lease. Fortunately, the news improved when local pilot Mel Hair bought 40 acres on the brow and “is starting a new launch about three miles away.” A top landing area is also available. Warren added, “You would be amazed how similar it is to Lookout Mountain (TN/GA)” except it’s only five miles long. Local clubs are raising money to assist the land purchase. Puckett and others think the 2:1 slope to the LZ makes it acceptable for paragliding flights as well. ••• The famous San Diego area sites of Laguna, Horse Canyon, and Big & Little Black are all in some danger. State land agencies are trying to buy more area. A water treatment plant is going in near Little Black. And others are seeing the effects of population growth in the area. Work to keep sites open and add new ones is a constant effort that needs strong club actions and leadership. ••• Some places don’t have these problems. The towparks are often on owned land or securely leased land. One successful site is Brad Kushner’s towpark at Twin Oaks Airport near Whitewater, Wisconsin. Brad has built quite an operation to tap the immense population around Chicago and Milwaukee. • Coming up March 9 & 10 is his annual ‘chute clinic. High Energy Sports boss, Betty Pfeiffer, is coming for the fifth year in a row. Each event is one day long, so two clinics are planned and Kushner says that typically 40-50 pilots attend each day. Info: Call 262-473-8800 or write firstname.lastname@example.org. ••• By next month I should be able to give my reaction to Jim (Sky Dog) Palmieri’s new book, “Hang Gliding Spectacular,” with “fantastic flying stories” and its own CD of photos, video, and illustrations. ••• 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. • All “Product Lines” columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
ST. PAUL, MINN., — An interesting thing happened last fall. As 2000 came to a close, Italian flex-wing (Laminar) producer, Icaro, reached an accord with Germany’s top rigid wing (ATOS) producer, A.I.R. ••• Web writer, Davis Straub, reported in his Oz Report, "A.I.R. has moved its assembly operation and shipping to Icaro in Italy. Icaro has been a strong partner with A.I.R. from the start, producing parts and making sails, as well as being responsible for a significant portion of the distribution. Now it looks like Icaro is in a stronger position with respect to A.I.R." • Icaro confirmed Straub’s report saying, "In these past years, Icaro played already an important role at A.I.R. with producing the major part of the sails, the A-frames and the keels for the ATOS and, in addition, has sold over 130 of them." Icaro expressed, "Since the ATOS has been performing in such an incredible manner (present World and European Champions fly ATOS), we will not modify it for next year." • Straub, an outspoken supporter and user of rigid wings — such as in his notable record reported here in October — adds his personal feelings, "As a customer I feel more secure in having a larger and more diverse hang gliding company taking on more responsibilities for the ATOS. • Designer Felix Ruhle will stay with the ATOS but will remain in Germany doing the design work. Berndt Weber, the Managing Director [business manager] of A.I.R., explained, "With Felix focusing on design we will be able to offer an intermediate ATOS (easy to fly, safe, less weight and cheaper)." Weber added, "We have sold more than 400 ATOSes." The deal was set in stone on October 24th when Weber signed a contract with Icaro allowing A.I.R. to develop new gliders while Icaro becomes responsible for the assembly and shipping of the ATOS from their base in Italy. However, A.I.R. will hold onto the ownership of the German certification (DHV Gütesigel) and A.I.R. will continue to design all projects in the future. Straub reports, "Berndt says that he is very optimistic with a partner like [Icaro boss] Gianni Hotz and Icaro behind A.I.R. and Felix [Ruhle]." • A.I.R. indicated that Ruhle and another engineer plus a composite worker will continue working out of the Zainingen, Germany office. Apparently, reported Straub, "Felix would like to move the A.I.R. office to a place closer to his home, but this won’t happen in the next four months." • As the story continues to unfold, A.I.R. will allegedly be working on a new intermediate version of the ATOS, and perhaps a caged glider. (The enclosed ATOS is not an entirely new idea, with an experimental version having already appeared, but this is the first indication of which I’m aware where Felix Ruhle and team will put their minds on it.) For more information direct from the source, contact email@example.com; more information is also available on Straub’s website where editions of his Oz Report are archived at davisstraub.com. ••• My personal observation is that rigid wings may have truly arrived when a flex wing company embraces the rigid concept in such a direct fashion. Many American pilots are aware that Wills Wing worked with Brightstar, putting a triangle control bar on a Millennium and gaining some flying experience with it. No word on any future for this Yankee collaboration, but it is my hope that we see some emergence of rigid work in the USA to compete with the Europeans who currently dominate the rigid developments. • In the East, I’ll try to update info on the Raptor 2 project from Matt Kollman, a totally Made-in-the-USA rigid wing. ••• Down in the south of Florida, James Tindle has opened his aerotow park located roughly halfway between Miami and Ft. Myers, Florida, near the town of Libell. Local enthusiast and supporter, Juan Arraiz, sent photos of the first flights from the new 90-acre hang gliding preserve on November 11th. He says, "Working with Russ Brown from Quest, I took four tandem [aerotow] flights with him and soloed Sunday afternoon. Thus, I became the first pilot to be trained and fly solo from this new airpark." He is now a confessed aerotow proponent, adding, "aerotow is a wonderful means to launch hang glider. This is the future." • Tindle new towpark now has a name, a clever one in my opinion: Florida Ridge Soaring Center. Pilots who fly Florida know all about the Florida ridge that has let sailplanes run the whole north/south of the long state for years. Those who don’t always ask, "What ridge?" giving Tindle a great conversation starter to invite newcomers. He wants to offer his students a place to continue training so newcomers are definitely part of the game. • Florida Ridge took delivery of their new 914 Turbo Dragonfly tug that should yank up tandem flights with ease even in warm weather. "Both [Lookout’s] Matt Tabor and [Quest’s] Russ Brown strongly advised the 914 [engine] over the newer 912S," says James. • But as a new season starts, he won’t have to rely just on one plane as Arlan Birkett will be bringing his plane as a backup tug from the Chicago Hang Gliding group that is quieter in their winter months. Arlan will help James by managing Florida Ridge over its beginning days of operation. Birkett is a midwest aerotow leader with a Tandem Administrator rating from USHGA and a BFI (Basic Flight Instructor) rating from USUA, the ultralight association. • Tindle reports that a new hangar will be erected on the property in January and that a Grand Opening will happen concurrently. So, if you’re going to be in the area contact Tindle at 305-285-8978. You can get more info and see aerial photos of Florida Ridge at www.theFloridaRidge.com. • A Corrections Dep’t. Item: I’ve misspelled James’ last name in the past. The above version is the proper one. ••• 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., — Welcome to a new era of hang gliding… well, and everything else, I guess. If you’re reading this, the Y2K bug evidently didn’t stop civilization as some feared. At least you got your Hang Gliding magazine. Is something more important than that? ••• As we start a new millennia, it pays to take stock of the state of the art. Topless flexwings are achieving great flights and cost Six Grand. Rigids wings seem to be the new darlings despite breaking the Ten Grand price barrier. We have carbon/kevlar helmets, highly sophisticated electronic navigation and flight performance instruments, and everybody flies with a parachute, sometimes two. Heck, we’ve even got luxury sport utility vehicles to haul it all around. Aren’t we something, cool 21st Century pilots? So I suppose it makes sense that lots of attention seems focused on the harness as we start a new year. It’s the new front line in the relentless drive for more performance. ••• I’ve already reported on Jay Gianforte’s well regarded Carbon C-G (Sept. ’99). Despite its newness, the Carbon C-G has gone through some updating including a new tail hold-up that eases launch run. Several pilots swear it’s the most comfortable harness they’ve ever flown. • Now comes word of Brazilian Nene Rotor (great hang glider name, huh?). His Rotor Harness was first seen at the Italian World Meet last year, but has now reportedly entered production though few details have been received. • Also, Oz Man Davis Straub reports the "Gerolf Heinrich was flying a cigar-shaped M2 from Austria… and the Woody Valley harnesses from Italy had second skins that fit completely over the pilot and harness." Wired pilots interested in these developments can subscribe for free to Straub’s report: firstname.lastname@example.org or davisstraub.com ••• Moyes is enjoying the limelight once again as attention is focused on their new Lightspeed high performance glider. Various reports reflect on great performances at the Brazilian Nationals and Australia’s Canungra Classic. In both contests the Lightspeed performed strongly. I haven’t noted this kind of dominance in results since Italy’s Laminar became a very hot property. One pilot, Gerry Furnell, even switched from an Exxtacy to the Lightspeed. Accounting for the good results, the glider is said to do well at slower thermalling speeds plus sustaining good high speed glide performance that is so necessary for a winning glider design these days. • As if to show the public’s response to such victorious flying, the results of the U.S. National Team raffle confirmed yet another win for Moyes. Raffle winner, Bill Watters, selected a Lightspeed. He had $4,000 to spend on a glider from any manufacturer participating in the raffle (which, of course, is a fundraiser to assist Team USA in international contests). The participants included — alphabetically — Altair, AV8 (Laminar), Brightstar, Flight Designs (Exxtacy), Pendulum Sports (Guggenmos), US Aeros, US Moyes, and Wills Wing. Each contributes $500 to the fund and the winner can use the dough toward any glider from a participating manufacturer or distributor. ••• Jim Zeiset wrote about the new Guggenmos rigid wing model. Called the ESC for its "Effective Sophisticated Camber," the wing uses undercamber in the aft section of the inboard five ribs. Davis Straub adds that "The [Porter/Brightstar] Utopia exhibited a superior sink rate at the [’99] Worlds partially because of aft undercamber." • The Guggenmos ESC has a 40-foot span, 143 square feet of wing area, and is said to weigh "less than 70" pounds. Jim didn’t report any performance changes but ESC also has a higher aspect ratio (shorter ribs). Zeiset said that the "glider breaks down into two halves, can be delivered in 5 weeks [as of early December ’99], and costs $10,500." Info: 800-933-5992. ••• Though the purists among hang glider pilots frown on powered hang gliding, it continues to develop. Mark "Gibbo" Gibson has opened his own wing and trike factory in the sunshine state of Florida. Seeking an optimal trainer, he finally chose to use the skills he’s acquired over the years (including a design stint at Airwave UK). His new Butterfly reached the goals of "truly very low speed, no yaw, easy landing, affordable trike and wing." Butterfly uses lower cost 6061 tubing, simple hardware, and an advanced sail design that Gibbo says is simple and quick to build… all to keep the cost low. Since it sells for $9899 complete, I’d say he did pretty well. Remember this is a big trainer. (If you don’t get the concept, just think about using an engine to boost you and your student to 3,000 feet where you shut down and learn hang gliding — albeit in the seated position.) • Butterfly has 240 squares (which should help it get a good sink rate even with two occupants and all the engine and wheel weight), almost 33 feet of span, and eleven battens per side with a 35% double surface wing. Engine choices include the Rotax 447 or 503 which should assure plenty of power. A website with more details will be available "soon!" Info: 863-318-9530 or Gibbogear1@aol.com. • On a similar vein, Australian John Reynolds has put lots of time into joining trike carriages with hang glider wings. Now he’s reported his homebuilt soaring trike, the Thistledown, is flying. Using an Aussie AirBorne Fun 190 (intended for single place flight), he says, "I don’t expect it to have a great glide, but it should be a lot fun for stooging around in the local area." He added that the "measured sink rate is quite decent and handling is excellent." His Thistledown weighs just 66 pounds (as light as the Polaris Slip). Including the slender Reynolds, gross weight is only around 265 pounds, which represents an allowable load for the Fun 190. Info: www.ozemail.com.au/~aerial/thistle.htm. ••• Speaking of cross-pollination, the same is happening between HGs and sailplanes in Maryland where Highland Aerosports "has successfully integrated their HG aerotow operation with a newly-forming sailplane club," writes USHGA regional director, Geoff Mumford. • Purists may resent these mixings of disciplines, but if we can get along, we’ll have more clout with the likes of bureaucrats. ••• In closing, a note about Francis Rogallo, the originator of the delta wing which gave birth to our modern wings. He suffered a mild stroke but is recovering satisfactorily. The stroke totally paralyzed him for several days, but he’s walking again with the aid of a walker. His spirits are reportedly high. Cards and well wishes would be appreciated, says Kitty Hawk Kites. Write to 91 Osprey Lane, Kitty Hawk NC 27949. ••• 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. THANKS!
AirSports Expo attracts a large crowd and many vendors.
On the first day in Ontario, California, you could see this was going to be the largest AirSports Expo yet. In the shadow still lingering from September 11, many wondered and worried about participation and attendance, but the concern was baseless. A flurry of activity in the last few weeks before the show brought so many requests for exhibit space that the already designed floor plan had to be scrapped and redrawn.
More than 2200 pilots and other visitors saw the exhibits of 65 vendors. While still small next to Sun ’n Fun or AirVenture Oshkosh, this was a good turnout. The range of vendors included many aircraft suppliers and all manner of accessories and informational products.
Gathering of Eagles
AirSports Expo represents the combined efforts of the Soaring Society of America (SSA), the U.S. Ultralight Association (USUA), and the U.S. Hang Gliding Association (USHGA). The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and numerous soaring organizations from museums to affinity clubs also participated.
When invited by the SSA to join its annual convention and show, the USUA, USHGA, and AMA responded positively, realizing that common needs outweigh individual differences. In past events, the Balloon Federation of America and the International Aerobatic Club have also been part of the event.
In the future, AirSports Expo will become its own show rather than being an SSA event with invited guests. If it can build on the momentum evident this year, this traveling sport aviation show could become an important early-season event for various recreational flying groups.
This show is about sport aviation at its truest. One reason for this is that all of these aircraft are commonly flown solo, for the pure joy and challenge of their pilots. Hang glider, ultralight and glider pilots all fly dual for training or other benefits, but their main operations are done solo. This is also a characteristic of model flying, skydiving and aerobatics, so it’s not surprising that these groups are also interested in AirSports Expo.
In its fifth year, AirSports Expo has also come into its own by assembling various sport flying groups, and it was a good time for acting together. The FAA’s issuance of the Sport Pilot NPRM only days before the show galvanized interest from hang gliders, ultralight pilots and sailplane owners who may all be affected in some way.
When you stand next to a pilot who flies something different from what you fly—yet the two of you share an opinion about FAA actions—you realize the value of gathering at a common venue. Shows such as AirSports Expo are efficient and cost-effective ways for people of like mind to interact.
Because the show travels, it also has unique outreach potential for light sport aviation. The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and AOPA have traveling shows, but sport aviation relies mostly on outdoor events where flying takes place. While flight activity is great, these shows tend to become quartered somewhere, often in out-of-the-way places. The public must travel to them, rather than the other way around. If aviation is to grow and replace its aging population, it must attract non-pilots, preferably younger ones. Taking AirSports Expo to the people is a good step in the right direction.
European airshows are mostly indoor events, and while flying is part of the action, it isn’t the central attraction as it is at U.S. shows. Yet the European concept seems to draw the public well because show organizers work at providing things for visitors to do.
In that vein, newcomer activities such as the deluxe hang-gliding simulator at the Ontario AirSports Expo may interest a generation brought up on video games. From there, perhaps a genuine interest in flying will be stimulated by seeing and touching real flying machines.
Industry experts and top pilots gave numerous talks. Association members attended most of these, but some were geared to newcomers. One session on how to get started in ultralight flying is an example.
FAA Launches Sport Pilot NPRM
This new proposed rule has captivated much of the sport flying public. It was finally announced less than a week before the show began, and FAA officials Sue Gardner, Scott Sedgwick, Mike Henry and Steve Brown were all present at the Expo to answer questions and get reactions.
Standing-room-only crowds in large rooms were polite to the FAA representatives, showing a level of acceptance for the new rule. Of course, many had questions. The hang-gliding enthusiasts were particularly delighted to arrange a breakfast meeting with the FAA folks. As the proposed rule appeared to directly affect both two-place hang-glider training and aero towing, interest and anxiety were high. Industry leaders left the meeting feeling that the FAA “got it” about hang gliding needs.
The ultralight association had a wonderful chance to host FAA meetings, proving its relevancy in the new world of Sport Pilot. And the FAA recognized USUA’s Tom Gunnarson for his years of work on the committee that inspired the new rule.
Soaring members seem unaffected by the proposed rule because an FAA glider pilot license and aircraft registration already exist. Yet new machines, especially motorgliders, may come from the Sport Pilot side, so SSA paid plenty of attention to the FAA activities.
One beautiful example of a soaring machine was the Lambada motorglider with its exquisite compound-curve wings. It sits on conventional trigear and is pushed by a four-stroke Rotax, giving it potentially broad appeal to soaring and power pilots.
Because the event is part of the SSA’s annual convention, the show is naturally blessed with a wide variety of sailplanes. From a flying or an artistic standpoint, these have to be some of the loveliest machines aloft. KP
The ultralight motorglider evolution continues in Europe.
Ultralight motorgliders are as rare as hen’s teeth in the U.S., but Europe is blessed with several choices that nicely complement high-end, high-priced full-size motorgliders. While America has the lovely Esprit from Aero Dovron, our soaring friends across the Atlantic continue to lead this specialized market.
Full-size (higher-weight) motorgliders start at more than $100,000 and can surpass $200,000. Those who can afford them are surely thrilled with such beautiful machines, but most of us can’t spend that kind of money regardless of their superb performance.
However, at $20-$30,000 ready-to-fly, a clean self-launching soaring aircraft is more affordable. Like their larger siblings, these efficient designs can also cruise under power respectably well, giving them broader appeal than pure gliders.
One of the newest of the breed is the Excel from France’s Noins Aeronautiques Alpaero. Based in beautiful Tallard in the French Alps, Noins is revered by French soaring pilots.
The Excel was so well received that delivery times initially jumped to one year. Noins also produces the Choucas model, a two-seat trainer, and the company formerly made the Sirius, a single-place. The newer Excel returns to a lighter, somewhat simpler design but reveals its ancestry by incorporating the best features of the earlier models.
With a wingspan of 45 feet, this is a serious soaring machine, boasting a glide ratio of 30:1 and a sink rate of 150 fpm. These two measurements are important for any soaring aircraft and the Excel’s results position it between hang gliders (at about 15:1) and full-size sailplanes that can achieve 60:1 glides.
The Excel is designed for a single-cylinder engine equipped with a folding prop that streamlines itself automatically when the engine is shut down for soaring flight. The engine is mostly faired by the fuselage aft of the pilot, so it doesn’t involve retract complexity.
Excel sells for $32,000 in ready-to-fly form and is available as a kit for $22,000, excluding shipping. American pilots could operate it with an FAA motorglider rating, which does not require a medical. (This aspect is common to all motorgliders.) The Excel is also the heaviest of the ultralight motorgliders in this column with a 418-pound empty weight.
Max Barel seems as much artist as motorglider designer. His artistic Graal, made of an exotic combination of molded wood and carbon fiber, looks like nothing else I’ve seen.
Coupled with its distinctive construction, the Graal features a propeller situated aft of the tailplane. Like the Excel, the Graal’s propeller folds to streamline when powered down for soaring flight. A tailwheel is streamlined in the bottom of an extended rudder.
The Graal’s engine is mounted permanently inside the fuselage. Once the engine has been shut down for soaring flight and has time to cool, a door over the exhaust port can be closed for maximum aerodynamic cleanliness.
With a claimed 40:1 glide ratio, the Graal is the performance leader of our four subject aircraft. The design also achieves a sink rate of only 160 fpm. Though it’s the second heaviest of our four models at just under 400 pounds, it is easily carried by its 49-foot wingspan.
Priced at about $25,000 ready to fly, the Graal competes well in this aviation segment. Shipping and crating add to the delivered cost.
Of all the ultralight motorgliders reviewed here, the Silent is perhaps the best known because Italian producer Alisport has brought its elegant creation to shows such as Sun ‘n Fun and AirVenture Oshkosh.
When I first saw the Silent fly in a French airshow, I was amazed that the single-cylinder engine and its distinctive single-blade prop launched and ascended with such energy. Ground roll was surprisingly short, and climb was healthy. No doubt this is aided by Alisport’s efforts to keep the Silent light, at less than 300 pounds empty.
Alisport uses a counterbalanced single-blade prop for efficiency-a lone blade passes through air undisturbed by other blades-but the company has another motivation. With one non-folding blade, the small engine and prop can be neatly retracted into a small cavity in the fuselage. Larger motorgliders use a similar retract technique, but the bigger engines and two blades needed to lift such aircraft also require a larger space for retraction.
With the engine and prop retracted and the cavity door closed, the Silent looks much like a sailplane. Naturally, this yields benefits for soaring efficiency while also preserving a familiar appearance.
The Silent’s 40-foot wingspan can achieve a glide ratio of 32:1 and a sink rate of 140 fpm, according to factory information. It is priced reasonably at $32,000 before shipping expenses.
Aeriane Motor Swift
Although the Swift is the most unorthodox design of our four subject aircraft, it has won converts among the large European soaring community.
With a glide ratio of 27:1 and a sink rate of 140 fpm, the Motor Swift is quite competitive, and it is unique for its tailless design. This 253-pound plane, the lightest of our four subject motorgliders, has been flying for a decade without problems.
Though the Swift is popular in Europe, it began life as an American design from U.S. producer Brightstar. The San Francisco-area company created the unpowered Swift in the early 1990s. Soon after its introduction, Brightstar offered the Motor Swift, but the company didn’t go nearly as far with it as Belgium-based producer Aeriane, which bought the manufacturing rights.
The European company finished the cockpit area and has fully enclosed it and the aft engine. These streamlining efforts have boosted glide performance by several points.
The Motor Swift comes with easily removed wings for simple transport and storage and is sold ready to fly with starter, folding prop, and instruments for about $25,000.
Note: This article does not comment on how each of the subject aircraft fit into American regulations. The Motor Swift can qualify as a Part 103 ultralight. The Excel, the Graal, and the Silent will require amateur-built approval, but most would qualify under Sport Pilot if that rule passes into law. All but the Motor Swift are available as kits, according to factory reps, but their qualification under U.S. rules has not yet been determined. KP
An American finds success building aircraft overseas.
This is not a story about a Czech company. It’s about an American company in the Czech Republic, a distinction that makes this story different.
For months we have been hearing and reading about sport pilot and light- sport aircraft (LSA). The FAA’s new rule is creating plenty of excitement for some very good reasons. That excitement is not confined to the U.S. Overseas manufacturers are eyeing the new rule as a way to enter the U.S. market. One of those in the best position to take advantage of the new rule is Czech Aircraft Works (CZAW).
An American In Prague
Chip Erwin hails from Wisconsin. Today, he is an American who owns a company in the Czech Republic. His CZAW has become one of that country’s largest aircraft producers. He accomplished all of this during the single decade when the Czech Republic regained its independence.
Before the communists took over 50 years ago, the Czech Republic was one of Europe’s most vibrant economies, with industry and technology that ran ahead of many of its neighbors. The Soviet takeover scuttled that advanced state of development.
However, during Soviet occupation, Czech manufacturing skills were employed for building military and transport aircraft. When the Russians left a decade ago, the nationalized airplane builders were dumped into the capitalist cauldron. Most had to downsize viciously, and hundreds of experienced workers became unemployed.
These displaced engineers had university degrees and decades of practical knowledge. Many of these people can now be hired for a fraction of the wages commanded by their western counterparts. Over time the salaries may start to equalize, but meanwhile, the situation spells opportunity to Americans like Erwin with their free-market MBA degrees.
Sailboards to Aircraft
Erwin was a consultant to a sailboard company when an inquiry arrived from the Czech Republic. The newly independent eastern European company wanted to build boards for its client, so Erwin went to investigate.
As a longtime aviation enthusiast, Erwin quickly uncovered the aviation talent gold mine. Within months, he left the sailboard company and started CZAW.
The early venture employed eight aircraft industry workers to build Zenair kits like the CH-701. Erwin struck a manufacturing deal with Canadian-based Zenair boss, Chris Heintz. Zenair prefers to design aircraft and manufacture kits and parts. It was happy to let CZAW handle the building of the aircraft.
At first this was done only for the European market, but Erwin isn’t one to let moss grow under his feet. The business expanded to build more Zenair models, sell to markets outside of Europe, and continually employ more of the Czech Republic’s idled aviation workers. By 2004, CZAW expects to sell half its production to the U.S. through its dealer, SkyShop.
Using 85 production workers and 30 other staff members, CZAW built about 100 aircraft last year. Erwin believes he’ll have the capacity to manufacture at least 300 aircraft a year by 2004. More workers are available, and CZAW has generous ambitions.
The company has already branched out in several directions. One of the first was creating its own float system for the Zenair line. All-aluminum constructions, CZAW’s floats are available in straight and amphibious models of varying weight capacities serving a wide variety aircraft beyond the Zenair brand name.
Another initiative is supplying parts to other aircraft builders. The leading example of this took me to another shop within the CZAW complex. Here, workers built the wings, tail and control surfaces for OMF, producer of the Part 23 certified Symphony. I saw several airplanes’ worth of parts being assembled.
To supply its own production as well as those of other customers, CZAW imports tons of aluminum sheet metal and other parts. Most raw materials are sourced from the U.S., a reassuring fact to customers who may be willing to believe in Czech labor standards but have suspicions about the quality of local material.
A Look at the Planes
On my visit, I added a flight evaluation of the CH-701 to my earlier experience in Zenair’s CH-601. These two comprise the lion’s share of production by CZAW-each about 50%- and form unique products that are leaders in their aviation segments.
The 701 is a form of aerial jeep with bush tires and stout gear, STOL characteristics, and an uncompromising fuselage. Like many off-road vehicles, no one calls the 701 pretty. But the plane is highly functional and flies uniquely. Even at full gross, it leaps off the ground quickly and stalls so slowly you can’t believe the ASI readings.
Filling the niche for attractive, conventional-looking aircraft is the 601 series, a range of models built around the same Piper Cherokee-like fuselage. Larger or smaller wings combine with trigear or taildragger configurations and several engine selections to provide something to benefit most pilots. Used on more civilized airports, the 601 is faster and offers the sweeping visibility of a full, clear canopy.
Both aircraft will easily fit the LSA rule as presently defined. Either will fill the needs of many pilots. But what can you do until sport pilot becomes law? CZAW and SkyShop have the answer, especially if you like to travel.
A Trip Abroad
For $43,950, you can buy and fly a CH-701 that will include a ticket to the Czech Republic. Once you’ve made your way 300 kilometers south to Stare Mesto, you’ll work alongside CZAW factory workers to assemble your aircraft. SkyShop’s seven-day builder assistance program is a great learning experience and qualifies under the amateur-built rule, they report. Once you return home, your aircraft will arrive by container freight. SkyShop will help with the FAA details, and you’ll soon be flying your own N-numbered CH-701. A similar program is available for the 601 series for $2000 more.
Once LSA becomes law, SkyShop will supply ready-to-fly aircraft from its south Florida base to owners across America. Perhaps a Czech-built Zenair is in your future.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Czech Aircraft Works, S.R.O., Lucni 1824, 686 02 Stare Mesto, Czech Republic; call (from the U.S.) 011-420-572-543-456; fax (from the U.S.) 011-420-572-543-692; e-mail email@example.com; web www.airplane.cz.
SkyShop, Inc., can be contacted at 1837 S. Federal Hwy. #200, Stuart, FL 34994; call 772/223-8915; fax 772/382-0607; e-mail zaneta@SkyShops.org; web www.skyshops.org.
Copperstate celebrates its 30th anniversary at a promising new venue.
That’s the dustiest place on Earth!” the pilot said upon returning from Phoenix Regional Airport in late 2001. John Kemmeries, a Phoenix-based ultralight entrepreneur, had sent the pilot to check out the proposed site for the Copperstate regional fly-in. The pilot’s reconnaissance report suggested a dry and dirty venue for the Arizona fly-in, but he had no way of knowing the event organizer’s vision.
As I approached the area in BRS’s Cessna 172 Hawk XP for the 2002 fly-in, I found myself searching vainly for an airstrip among the desert’s uniform brown color. As the GPS led me along, I suddenly saw a large swatch of green dotted with colored tents. My uncertainty vanished; the site stood out like the proverbial sore thumb.
Welcome to the new, improved Copperstate as created by thousands of volunteer man-hours and the support of a local land owner. And by the way, “Happy 30th birtday, Copperstate.”
That large area of bright green grass was the product of a $200,000 investment in irrigation and grass seed. Only six weeks earlier the area had been as brown and dusty as Kemmeries’ pilot had reported. Long hours of labor and cooperation with Scott Ries, the developer of Phoenix Regional Airport, produced a worthy and welcome event for western flying enthusiasts.
The work of Copperstate chairman Bob Hasson and his team prepared the new location in a short time. Despite a few first-time-at-this-location hiccups, they ran a first-class regional airshow. With 7932 attendees, 650 aircraft, 40 ultralights, 122 campers and 73 exhibitors, it’s safe to say that Copperstate was a huge success.
The new venue itself excited both volunteers and visitors. Before last year’s hiatus due to September 11, the fly-in was held at the Williams airport. The location was closer to Phoenix, but it was known as a massive expanse of asphalt. Attendees used to complain that their shoes got hot simply from walking around, and vendors and visitors had to ride a bus to get from the main display area to the ultralight area. Copperstate’s move to the new airport, which is located between Maricopa and Casa Grande, proved to be the correct decision.
Phoenix Regional is a privately owned, public-use airport with a 4500-foot paved runway, a self-service 100LL fuel station and additional pavement for aircraft parking. Plenty of camping space is available, and a good variety of hotels is available within a few miles. Locals didn’t know how to direct attendees to the event this year, but they certainly will in the future.
A Western Winner
Gregg Ellsworth, my BRS workmate and airshow partner, and I often comment that the western U.S. has no major shows to compete with Oshkosh or Sun ’n Fun. Despite having the largest population of aircraft, the west has never developed a truly strong fly-in. Arlington draws about 50,000, and Golden West is trying to start something good in the Sacramento area. But Copperstate benefits from southern Arizona’s sunny skies, and it can draw from the high-pilot-count states like California and Texas. When Copperstate stumbled last year, many thought it was the end of the fly-in. They were wrong.
Many of the vendors were western-based dealers rather than factory staff members, but a respectable number of national outfits attended. Those who passed on the fly-in this year will likely be back in 2003.
Copperstate’s airshow portion was smaller than the ones at the big events, but it had more enjoyable displays. Because vendors weren’t always inundated with inquiries, most were able to enjoy the exciting aerobatic routines. Many sellers indicated that they do better at smaller venues because they have more contact with customers, and I know my company will be back in 2003, probably with a larger display.
I arrived a day early for the event and witnessed some of the volunteers’ last-minute efforts to prepare for the show. Into the night they kept at it, all for the love of flying. As the day turned into deep darkness, I enjoyed the bright stars over this undeveloped area. I have a feeling that Phoenix Regional won’t stay undiscovered for long.
Ries is currently selling lots for hangar houses on the north side of the airport. He has allocated commercial development to the south, invested in a new runway and helped fly-in volunteers provide acres of green grass. With the renewed vitality of the Copperstate Fly-in, you should make plans to attend in 2003.
The 2003 Copperstate Fly-in is scheduled for October 9-12. For more information, visit www.copperstate.org.
This French light-airplane show Tops Anything in the U.S.
The name of the French venue is a bit awkward for Americans, though it rolls off the French tongue fluidly. Blois—pronounced Blwah—is a superb airshow that should grab the interest of every light-airplane enthusiast.
Light Airplanes Everywhere!
I’ve been to Sun ’n Fun for more than 25 years and to Oshkosh nearly as many. I spend a lot of time in the ultralight area of each, and they’re big events, no question. But both take a second seat to Blois. Yes, believe it or not, the event 185 kilometers south of Paris last August is the largest of the ultralight airshows I’ve seen.
With 90 exhibitors and more than 500 aircraft, most of which were flown to the event, Blois beats even Paradise City at the Lakeland, Florida, Sun ’n Fun fly-in. I’ve known of this 22-year-old show since the ’80s but attended for the first time last summer. It won’t be my only visit.
Solon Blois 2002 even surprised organizers headed by Claud Lhomme and Jean-Marie Carre. They had to add display space at the last minute when more companies than expected showed up with wares. The overflow was evident as they tried to place all exhibitors in one long row 50 feet back from the flight line. Except for the latecomers, all exhibitors had front row seats.
The layout looked like a long walk compared with American events set in rows of booths. But it presented the flying machines in a unique way that many visitors seem to enjoy. Airplanes were arranged in front of the line of tents so that people meandered in and among them as they worked their way up and down the line. At the end of the event, I’d come to see this as a plan that provided good access to exhibitors and good viewing for prospective buyers.
This is a selling show where most visitors want to fly. The number of tire kickers was much lower than at big American shows. All the companies I spoke to were pleased with crowds at the 2002 event.
Great variety was also evident with aircraft ranging from powered paragliders to powered parachutes, light trikes, two-seat trikes, and gyros to three-axis aircraft of many descriptions built of aluminum, wood, steel, fiberglass and carbon fiber. The sheer richness of Blois’s aircraft matches anything I’ve seen in the U.S., although American shows also include hang gliders and powered hang gliders. These were missing at Blois.
Flying these Perse aircraft in a group involved the same challenges as the crowded skies above U.S. airshows. However, the organizers alternated every hour between open flying and factory demonstrations. Spectators got to see virtually every display aircraft perform right in front of them. No incidents occurred; ground controllers were doing a superb job.
The runway was set up such that two simultaneous landings could take place. Launches usually occurred on the departure end of the strip while landing aircraft used the approach half. It worked well with flag men stationed strategically to allow near continuous motion of aircraft.
Full Range of Choices
Many Europeans are talking excitedly about America’s pending light-sport aircraft/sport pilot rule. Many hope to tap the big U.S. market with their beautiful creations. We’ve been seeing some examples at our airshows in recent years, and they were also in abundance at Blois.
Yet development was also evident on the conventional end of the ultralight market. For example, British trike builder Pegasus used Blois to debut their new Quik. This speedy model features a Rotax 912 engine and a tiny wing that allows cruising at 100 knots. A French trike called the Chapelet featured a slick installation of the BMW A-valve engine that puts out 80 hp.
On the other end of the spectrum was DynAero’s carbon-fiber four-seater, the MCR 4S, which expands on the company’s speedy MCR 01 Banbi two-seater. Dallach of Germany showed its flying prototype high-wing, retractable-gear Evolution. Some call this company the “ultralight Lancair.”
F Technik, also from Germany, featured its entire line of models: the popular FK-9, Comet folding biwing and Polaris speedster. Another aircraft, the 150 Rallye, looks much like a modernized Cessna 150 in fiberglass while Poland’s Junior sports the same room in a low-slung, overhead-wing package.
In my estimates over many years, I’ve seen France as the world’s second-largest recreational market, surpassed only by the U.S. The country has a long and colorful aviation history, originating not only manned flight (the Mongolfier brothers in their hot air balloon in 1783) but many aeronautical terms: aileron, empennage, fuselage and more. Ultralight flying in France continues the tradition, appearing healthy and progressive.
Approaching its 23rd year, Blois is firmly established as the leading venue for ultralight aircraft in Europe. Other events feature the segment and even have large displays of light aircraft (Aero in Friedrichshafen, Germany, for example), but no others offer the close-up flying demonstrations and hands-on examination ease combined with charming French countryside and blue skies.
Doesn’t it make you want to attend? The 2003 version is scheduled for August 30 and 31. Blois fits well in the airshow calendar.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Salon ULM Blois, Attn: Christian Lhomme, 32 Rue des Moriers, 41000 Blois, France; call 011-332-54-74-17-99; fax 011-332-54-78-56-84; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; web www.ulmblois.com.
With 200-foot-tall trees and mountain peaks topped with snow throughout the year, Washington is a scenic place for an airshow. Despite a drought that caused the grass to crunch underfoot, light aviation looked alive and well at the EAA’s Arlington gathering for 2003.
Local Boys Make Good
One main attraction was the much-anticipated RV-10 four-place aircraft that drew big crowds. But a Washington-area group also revealed their efforts of past months. Sport Flight Aviation displayed in the ultralight area with the first of 50 kits in progress. Two completed Talons—the last of the old design—stood alongside a new Typhoon. The new closely resembles the old.
Company owners Todd Thompson and Ron Osborne took pride in showing me extensive CAD-generated drawings printed after a lengthy effort to document the popular northwest design. Each of the men operates a non-aviation business. They teamed up to resuscitate a company left leaderless after the death of its founder, Roger Bitton.
Fortunately, Thompson and Osborne didn’t alter this successful ultralight, delighting many like myself who found this to be a sweet-flying single seater. Armed with their thorough review of the component parts, Sport Flight Aviation is better able to deal with the proposed SportPlanes™/light-sport aircraft certification standards. I think we’ll be seeing more of this dynamic duo.
More In-State Success
Flush with a new order for 20 Apache trikes headed to Hong Kong, North Wing Design from western Washington is succeeding after years of work. The company’s efforts have culminated in the Apache Sport trike and the Contour wing seen at Arlington.
Owner Kamron Blevins has been in the industry for more than 20 years, starting as a young hang gliding sailmaker. Refining this art, he moved into replacement parts for hang glider owners and then into building wings for other trike makers. After starting as a component supplier, North Wing started developing the entire aircraft. Now the company has steadily grown to be one of the largest trike builders in the U.S.
The Apache Sport, introduced this year at Sun ’n Fun, is aimed at light-sport aircraft in the weight-shift category. Not ones to rest on their laurels, Blevins and his team added a handsome new body fairing to the trike. The fiberglass shape neatly accommodates the twin side radiators used to cool the Rotax 582.
North Wing has also distinguished itself by being the only trike builder in the world to offer strut-supported wings rather than full cable bracing. While there is no aerodynamic drag improvement over wires, the struts do impart a modern look that may fetch more buyers from the fixed-wing community. In my experience with the company’s wings, their handling qualities have always been admirable.
He flies his ultralights to every show he attends, and he has the map on the side of his airplane to prove it. Earthstar Aircraft owner Mark Beierle is one of the industry’s most innovative designers. His work with the Thunder Gull inspired other brands and has put many aircraft in the sky.
Not driving to shows has long been a trademark of Beierle, even when he did so with Experimental single-cylinder two-stroke engines. At Arlington, however, Beierle was propelled by the steady hum of his HKS 700E four-stroke two-opposed-cylinder engine from Japan. North American distributor HPower is pleased to have Beierle work out the installation due to his reputation for thoughtful, thorough engineering. Perhaps Beierle merely wanted a more potent engine so he could haul around his newest creation.
An energetic developer, Beierle is not content simply to make airplanes that fly efficiently. He’s also creating his own ultralight-size radial engine named the Rad Cam. This eight-cylinder engine displaces only 600 cubic centimeters but can put out 60 hp. When it’s ready, look for Beierle to fly one of his Gulls to an airshow with this round engine supplying the thrust.
You can’t keep a good man down, and a good man can’t keep his airplane design down. Welcome to the JDM-8 No. 2, and welcome again to the HKS engine.
When I first flew the JDM-8, I went aloft behind a Rotax 277 single-cylinder engine. That modest 28-hp engine helped the all-metal plane stay within Part 103’s tight guidelines. But the engine is no longer produced by Rotax, and designer Darryl Murphy is never one to back away from enlarging a perfectly good design. His Rebel turned Super Rebel turned Moose is an example of this bigger-is-better ideology—though in fairness, Murphy says he really enjoyed the challenge of staying within Part 103, and he liked the way the lighter plane flew.
JDM-8 with HKS is now fully enclosed and stands atop longer maingear legs. But it hasn’t lost any of its shine, plus it gained quite a few miles in top cruise.
Dual Powered Parachutes
I know of only one other powered parachute design (by Sundog Powerchutes) that uses side-by-side seating, yet that’s how most of aviation prefers to teach students. Therefore, Airframes Unlimited may have something with its new offering, the SS-2. Arlington judges evidently agreed it was well done, awarding one example the Ultralight Champion prize.
Since you fly with your feet directionally and for aerodynamic braking, the wide-bench twin seater has dual foot controls to operate its 500-square-foot performance design parawing. Powered by a Rotax 582—as are nearly all powered parachutes—SS-2 cruises between 28 and 42 mph, though the higher speed requires a more elliptical (i.e., higher performance) airfoil.
The SS-2 also has dual outside throttles, a center steering bar and a welded airframe. The market is crowded for powered parachute makers today, so Airframes Unlimited’s approach may allow them to gain customers.
Light aircraft abound at Friedrichshafen’s air fair.
Once Oshkosh AirVenture has ended, you may be interested to hear of another gathering that challenges the Wisconsin affair for supremacy when it comes to light aviation. No, I’m not referring to Sun ’n Fun.
Inside the vast and numerous indoor halls of Aero 2001 in Friedrichshafen, Germany, the largest aircraft on display was a Cessna 206. But most were smaller, what the European Community calls ultralights, and the choices were as wide and diverse as the great halls that exhibited them.
An Air Fair, Indeed
When Germans speak English to Americans, they call their airshows “fairs.” Indeed, this July event was as large as some state fairs and resulted in near sensory overload for several U.S. airshow veterans who attended with me.
Aero, which alternates years like many European airshows, has been hosted by the southern German town of Friedrichshafen for the last decade. It will move to new quarters at the nearby airport for the 2003 event, but in this last year at the old site, no fewer than 10 large indoor halls or separate buildings were crammed to capacity with many beautiful light aircraft.
I attended for only two days, as I had previously planned a trip to the Ukraine. At the 2003 event, I won’t repeat this mistake. I’ll stay the whole time and will comb the offerings in much more detail. Based on a casual count, at least 50 gorgeous little airplanes were on display. The Czech Republic had its own hall with nearly a dozen aircraft companies exhibiting. Half of them I’d never seen, and all were worthy of a closer look.
Euro officials and pilots call their machines ultralights because that’s how the regulations describe them, the key factor being a maximum gross weight of 450 kilograms or 992 pounds. No upper speed limit is defined, so an increasing number of aircraft are striving to be speedy like some American kit-built designs.
The Euroland concept of an ultralight differs somewhat from what Americans call an ultralight. Theirs are light, much like American two-place ultralight trainers, but their mission profiles are closer to the fast-glass kits of the U.S. Imagine a half-weight Lancair and you’ll be close, though the speeds aren’t quite as high, and fuel consumption is much lower. European rules are scheduled for some change, and this may create a class of airplanes that can perfectly fit the new rule FAA has proposed (see below).
Most of the new machines are skinned with glass or metal. Designs continuing to use aluminum tubing and fabric are losing share to more modern shapes, though the remaining tube-and-rag types are much less costly. Once dominant trike sales are slowing rapidly.
In the majority of cases, the designs originate in western countries and are built in eastern countries, though some eastern European countries are now venturing out with their own marketing and sales systems. At least this is true for European sales. Most of the aircraft I photographed have yet to land North American representatives (with one exception being the Zephyr, distributed by Canada Czech Business Enterprises, 604/271-1169).
Light Sport Aircraft
FAA has been working on a new rule for years. They faltered badly with the recreational pilot license but have researched further and now propose a sport pilot license. (At press time, no announcement had been made.)
While everyone calls the proposed rule sport pilot, another part is called light sport aircraft (LSA), and it is this part of the rule that may cause some of these European aircraft to arrive on American shores. One entry showed at Oshkosh this year, the CT from Germany sold by Rollison Airplane Company (812/384-4972).
The proposed LSA rule specifies, among other things, that gross weight shall not exceed 1232 pounds. Even with the weight increase coming to Europeans, the chance to get in the huge U.S. market may cause many companies to alter their designs to fit this weight class. Certainly, it is close, at 560 kilos, to the 600-kilogram weight some are lobbying for in Europe.
The CT fits the weight easily enough, but the European version is a little fast, exceeding the LSA limit of 115 knots (132 mph) if fitted with the more powerful Rotax 912S and an efficient cruise prop. For U.S. consumption, Rollison fits the CT with a Warp Drive prop that my AirVenture tests show held the plane precisely to the FAA speed limit. I made opposing runs at maximum power in low-level flight and never saw more than 131 mph on the installed GPS.
With a new rule likely to emerge, experts say, snazzy aircraft from across the pond may have a dramatic impact on the American ultralight/light aircraft market. Many won’t succeed in the U.S., but several could. And while this is interesting to consumers, it may force some less successful Yankee ultralight and kit manufacturers out of business.
Home of the Zeppelin
The next Aero event will come during the year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of powered flight. Friedrichshafen is in the south of Germany on beautiful Lake Constance (Bodenzee) across from Switzerland and near Austria. So beautiful are the surroundings that a view in any direction composes a postcard. And if you’re like me, fascinated with blimps, you may also want to visit the Zeppelin Museum, as the town is home to the famous airship brand.
Regardless of your particular aircraft focus, the lighter end of aviation has never been better served than at Aero. I highly encourage a visit, but planning ahead is essential to find accommodations. In some ways, that makes Aero a lot like the sprawling AirVenture operation. KP
An American in Ukraine: We develop a taste for the local sport airplane product.
The September 2000 KITPLANES® cover featured Howard Levy’s report on Aeroprakt airplane kits about to be imported into the U.S. Recently, I visited the factory and flew the airplanes. Here’s what I found.
We’re Not in Kansas
In a land far away, people with a strange language are doing something good for pilots in America. They’re building some fine aircraft and coincidentally helping Yankees discover their distant land. The country is Ukraine, the city is Kiev, and the company is Aeroprakt.
Don’t feel bad if remnants of the old Iron Curtain blocked your view. I had the same impression until I traveled to the ancient country for a look. Before we get to the airplanes, though, let me give you a brief tour of the country, the city and the company. Then you’ll get my impression of the aircraft.
Don’t call them Russians; they’re Ukrainians. The confusion among westerners stems from long isolation for a part of the world sometimes referred to as Eastern Europe. Soviet dominance for 70 years nearly smothered the Ukrainians. The Communist system created many woes such as endless rows of poorly maintained, dreary apartment buildings and dull, drab industrial areas. Even now, the economy has years to go before it becomes truly market based. Old people can barely survive on tiny government pensions. Some people work for companies that haven’t paid them for two years.
Yet even a non-paying job gives a sense of being connected to the future. These are people who want to lift themselves up now that they’re freed from Communism. Many Ukrainians, especially middle-age and older people who grew up working in a state-run economy, won’t make the transition to a market-based system. It will take a generation or more before younger people with new ideas rise to positions of power in Ukraine.
But already, some have figured it out amazingly well. Welcome to light aviation in Ukraine.
Run by two Ukrainians—Yuri Yakovlev, the design engineer, and Oleg Litovchenko, the business manager—Aeroprakt has come into its own recently. Employing 40 people, the young enterprise bought and is remodeling an industrial building and will soon have a factory envied by many American aviation entrepreneurs.
It wasn’t always so.
My travel companion, Phil Lockwood of Lockwood Aviation Supply, and I heard quite a tale from Yakovlev and Litovchenko. The early years of Aeroprakt were tough. They worked hard in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds: no cash, crude facilities, a lack of tools and computers, no CNC machines, no contact with western markets where most aircraft are sold, a language barrier, and a national currency not accepted outside Ukraine. Despite these barriers, they soldiered on, designing one aircraft after another.
Then came a welcome sale in the United Arab Emirates. Unfortunately, the deal went badly and the budding capitalists found themselves sinking again. But their work had not gone unnoticed.
Arab Sheik Hussein has a keen interest in aviation, and he has owned many types of aircraft. He flew the Aeroprakt in his country and became interested enough to commission a special ultralight from the company’s bright, hungry engineers.
He had seen what they could do with earlier aircraft like the A-20 Vista Cruiser and A-22 Talon. Believing in the talent and drive of Yakovlev and his engineering team, he commissioned a twin-engine ultralight. Yakovlev modified the A-20 airframe, slung two Rotax 503 engines under the wings, and the A-26 was born.
The story continued for 2 hours and ended with the sheik becoming an investor in Aeroprakt.
Like many others in Ukraine light aviation, Yakovlev was trained and employed by the Antonov Design Bureau. With an army of engineers, Antonov designed many of the Soviet’s most famous aircraft and built the first flying articles of them. Since production was then given to another state organization, Antonov was in a constant state of development.
Young engineers at Antonov became experienced in conventional aviation design, and this solid background has been put to good use in the designs of Aeroprakt.
Each April at the Sun ’n Fun airshow, I fly 15-20 new light aircraft accumulating photos and information about flight characteristics. Most years, I am able to select one aircraft that was my pick of the week. For 2001, my choice was the Aeroprakt A-20 Vista Cruiser.
Fitted with a 100-hp Rotax 912S and flown solo, the A-20 is nothing short of spectacular. It demonstrated sustained climbs of 1700 fpm, and I made one takeoff with only 3910 rpm showing on the digital EIS instrument.
Able to slow to the mid-30s with full flaps for some fun flying just above open fields, the Vista Cruiser can accelerate to a 115-mph cruise. Sink rates with the engine idling are about 400 fpm, a lower-than-average figure even for the lighter ultralights.
I was able to sustain altitude with only 3800 engine rpm, cruising gently at 60 mph. At this setting, the Vista Cruiser can stay aloft a long time, and it is exceptionally quiet.
Takeoffs were quick and exhilarating, and all my landings were smooth. My only problem involved the effort to get the A-20 down after exercising my preference for high approaches. This is a good problem.
The front seat reminds me of a sailplane. The pilot sits well out in front of the wing, and visibility is enormous. I also tried the back seat on a flight in Ukraine, and—while somewhat more cramped—it offered good visibility and a full set of controls.
Prices and options are varied and plentiful. Spectrum Aircraft, the U.S. importer, has the details.
As this issue arrives in your mailbox, Ukrainians have just celebrated their anniversary as a free nation once again. August 2001 commemorated a decade of freedom for the Ukrainian people.
Small companies like Aeroprakt are part of the country’s emergence into the global society. Given the company’s progress, I predict that we’ll see lots of these airplanes. They’re worth a close look. KP
FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact the U.S. distributor, Spectrum Aircraft, 13 Crosley Lane, Suite 5 Sebring, FL 33870; call 863/655-9299; fax 863/655-9578; e-mail email@example.com.
Like any of the Olympic sports, a world-class hang gliding championship brings together pilots so good that the rest of us can only imagine performing as well. Two hang gliding contests clustered right after Sun ’n Fun draw the best of the best, and 2001 was a banner year for top talent.
This year the Wallaby Open and a contest at nearby Quest Air switched positions with the Quest meet coming first this year. The highest-ranking world pilots flew both week-long competitions.
Some power pilots believe that hang glider pilots jump from mountains and slide into the valley. That may have been true 25 years ago, but today, meet organizers routinely call for racing flights from 50 to well over 100 miles.
In daily events called tasks, competing pilots are out on the course trying to make goal. As many as 100 gliders are pursuing the destination as furiously as the lift will allow. On good days with plentiful lift, hang glider pilots can race long periods in a nearly straight line. On days with more intermittent or scattered soaring conditions, they spend longer circling in lift before striking out for distance. Cross-country racing becomes a highly disciplined piloting activity that combines with an athletic challenge even greater than competition aerobatic flying.
Courses can be straight-line goals that stretch out to the horizon, often exceeding 100 miles in length. In such one-way flying, tailwinds may be a big help to faster times.
Meet directors may also call triangle tasks where at least some of the flying will be done into headwinds. Each task can require 2-5 hours of flying, almost exclusively in the prone position.
To qualify as a valid contest, the organizers must complete five or more days in a week with such all-out racing. Given such demanding flying day after day, only a limited number of pilots in the world are capable of winning. As in Formula One car racing, perhaps a dozen competitors are the ones to beat.
Developing a Reputation
In the last few years, Florida has become a focal point for top competitions in the world of hang gliding. Revved up by the timing after April’s Sun ’n Fun fly-in (which originally helped draw ultralight towplanes into the area), the Wallaby Open at Wallaby Ranch has established itself as the place to race.
Formerly, hang gliding competitions were national contests in the summer months, and they were held at mountain launch sites. All of that is changing fast. Now the season opens in spring in the Florida flat- lands, and the world attends.
A second event began several years later, and combining two major meets within 30 miles of each another in a weather-friendly state like Florida works like a magnet. The proximity of airshows and tourist attractions plus easy accommodations and travel also help.
This year the event at Quest was the Flytec Championships, named after its lead sponsor, high-tech soaring instrument seller Flytec USA. As it happens, the owner of Flytec is also running the operation at Quest, making for a harmonious marriage. Quest is located some 27 miles north of Wallaby Ranch. Both airparks are within a few miles of Disney World: one west, one to the south.
The Flytec team performed admirably. While meet director Steve Kroop admits that these contests can always be improved, he beamed as he recounted one safe, furious session where a fleet of 14 ultralight tugs launched 127 gliders in 46 minutes! “To go any faster would be silly,” he says, but he hopes to make the experience even smoother for the world hotshots next time.
Between Wallaby and Quest is well-known Seminole gliderport, and the three facilities prove that central Florida offers superb soaring. The phenomenon that permits this is the Florida Ridge, a convergence of east coast and west coast sea breezes that meet in the middle of the state. Opposing winds have nowhere to go but up, forming an invisible ridge line that can carry hang gliders thousands of feet aloft.
Flytec presented more than $10,000 in cash prizes plus other goodies. Wallaby offered a similar amount and also boasts a full-time cook who prepared meals for all competitors, crews and visitors.
More than 100 pilots competed in each event, which makes for challenging logistics. Well over 100 gliders with 35-foot spans, plus a dozen tug ultralights and several hundred ground vehicles and campers fill even the large spaces at Quest and Wallaby.
In the field of pilots registered, about half were international contestants hailing from Brazil, Australia, Ukraine, England, France, Austria, Canada, Argentina, Columbia, Switzerland, Poland, and the Czech Republic. At Quest, 57% were Americans, and only 47% represented Team USA at Wallaby.
Austrians Manfred Ruhmer and Gerold Heinrichs set a blazing trail for the others, finishing first and second in both meets. Ruhmer, the lead pilot for Italy’s Icaro brand, is the reigning world champion, and he hung onto his title convincingly. American Paris Williams took fourth place in both meets against the best in the world.
Globalized Hang Gliding
The world’s top manufacturers were also well represented at the twin Florida contests. America’s clear leader is Wills Wing. Flown by Williams and several others, Wills managed to place four pilots in the top 10 when results are combined. The Australian brand, Moyes Delta Wing, had the most entries (32% overall) and placed eight gliders in the top 10 of the combined meets. Italy’s Icaro brand had six, and Ukraine’s Aeros placed two in the top ranks. France’s La Mouette brand, England’s Avian, and Germany’s A.I.R. and Flight Designs companies were also represented.
It’s no wonder the brands compete as hard as the pilots fly. Winning contests helps sell gliders to the wider recreational pilot community. Since only 1% compete, the main reason to sponsor pilots and refine wings to win races is to build the brand, just as with auto racing. Let the games begin!
If observing this exciting action interests you, contact Quest or Wallaby and get prepared for even hotter flying in April of 2002. KP
FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Quest Air/Flytec Championship at 6548 Groveland Airport Road, Groveland, FL 34736; call 352/429-0213; fax 352/429-4846; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; web www.questairforce.com.
Wallaby Ranch/Wallaby Open is at 1805 Dean Still Road, Davenport, FL 33837; call/fax 862/424-0070; e-mail email@example.com; web www.Wallaby.com.