ST. PAUL, MINN., — Late-breaking news includes the 2000 U.S. Nationals now being slated for Lakeview July 16-22. GW Meadows, the contest organizer, broke the news which was then confirmed from several sources. More news as it unfolds. Info: 252-480-3552. ••• It’s spring in America and all spotlights are turned on Florida where meets at Wallaby and Quest dominate the buzz. ••• Of late, reading Davis Straub’s Oz Report — which dwells heavily on competition — makes some enthusiasts wonder if Moyes sponsors the webzine (they don’t). The Lightspeed’s contest prowess has filled many online paragraphs. However, recent news of the Mexican Millennium Cup revealed Laminar started off 2000 well. Though neither was the winner, in both Mexican and earlier Australian Bogong Cup competitions we saw strong finishes by Wills’ Fusion and Aeros’ Stealth. Huh! Here in the new millennia, if one ignores rigid wings (sure!, just try), all we seem to hear about are Moyes, Icaro, Wills, Aeros (in no particular order, thank you). Of course, other fine brands just haven’t shown up as well in new-century contests — Seedwings, Altair, La Mouette, Bautek and others come to mind quickly — but the Big Four seem to be garnering all the flexwing attention… for now. Since they’re the latest and greatest, the focus has been on Lightspeed and Manfred Ruhmer’s signature MR 2000 ST that represents the state-of-refinement for the Laminar model. For those who want regular contest updates: DavisStraub.com ••• In any event, just when you think you have it figured, along comes that old curve ball. Icaro star, Manfred Ruhmer, icon to the flex wing hang gliding set, has been spotted flying an ATOS with a cage. A cage in this case means a structure to which a fairing can be fitted. Obsessed with reducing drag, and given Icaro’s representation of the ATOS, Manfred’s experimentation may not be so surprising. Think this alleged defection has any implication for flex wings? As always, buyers make final judgment. ••• Yet most marketing remains aimed at flexwings. Icaro says they decided to offer a glider very similar to Manfred’s because they viewed this as "better than having a lot of pilots, with not enough knowledge in tuning gliders, playing around with their wings trying to ‘tune’ them and actually making them unsafe." Comparing the MR 2000 to their Laminar ST they list the following points: a mylar oversurface; an undersurface with one extra flat batten and two extra cloth ribs to help better maintain its shape in flight; a longer VG range that allows you to reach higher speeds; lower sprogs, corresponding to the longer VG range; and a slightly modified batten profile. • Manfred says, "The handling of the MR 2000 is just as good as a regular ST; but it offers a better glide ratio and it is much easier to reach higher speeds. Of course, you must be an experienced pilot, with enough flying hours," he cautions. Icaro does not recommend it for a pilot who is not interested in competition. ••• Regardless of what Ruhmer flies at Wallaby (see below), several reports say at least five European Swifts (fully faired, no doubt) will compete in the Wallaby Open later this month. I’ve seen these beautiful wings built by a Belgian licensee of Brightstar’s original foot-launched sailplane and they are quite the works of composite art (they’re also priced to match). This should add considerable spark to the contest. ••• Speaking of the Wallaby Ranch and their big spring extravaganza, the contest may be — as the airlines so euphemistically call it — "overbooked." The contest and site have evidently gotten so popular that meet officials have suggested that they may limit entries to 80. At one report, they had over 120 pilots on a list. If you want to be attend this year, you’re probably out of luck, but try contacting Laurie at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m going for the first couple days and hope to have more views in the 6/00 "Product Lines." ••• Those of you interested to see what Ukrainian builder, Aeros, is doing with their ominously-named Stalker can see a video on the U.S. Aeros website at JustFly.com. Importer GW Meadows says the glider’s performance evaluations are showing excellent results. Later this month, one or more may arrive for the spring competitions in Florida that have proven to be true season-opener events that draw out new equipment from the U.S. and abroad. I’ll try to update this with more news on the new rigid wing next month. • Aeros also has a "totally new, not just upgraded" Stealth Combat for 2000, say Meadows. One interesting feature is in-flight adjusting sprogs that actuate when you pull on the VG (they lower). But for those weekend warriors who don’t participate in contests, GeeDub advises the Stealth 3, aimed at recreational pilots. It does not use the dropping sprogs. • Meadows enterprise, now rebadged as Thermal Riding Machines, reports cutting a deal to import Speedwings gliders. These are produced by the former Seedwings Europe and add to TRM’s offerings from Aeros, Airwave, and now Speedwings. U.S. Aeros has turned into a vigorous importer enjoying considerable success. You have only to note the number of Stealths flying in the USA to realize this. Lots more info is available on their website and I’ll have more next month. You can even use the telephone, if you’re into that voice thing. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or faxes to 651-450-0930, or send e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com …but until further notice, do not try to leave news on ByDanJohnson.com as the site is not yet fully functioning. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine