ST. PAUL, MINN., — At Wills Wing’s 28th birthday celebration last month, pilots were able to fly their new curved tip competition glider. Unlike many earlier WW developments, this one isn’t a secret… to the contrary, they’ve showed it around at meets in the hands of WW team pilot, Paris Williams, who has been working with designer Steve Pearson to create it. Named the, uh… well, they haven’t named it yet, so it’s merely their new comp glider. • Referring to the new curved tips, WW isn’t sure a performance advantage exists but they say, "There seem to be some general differences in qualitative handling characteristics, though that area is largely a matter of personal pilot preference." • Unable to duck pilot interest in performance, Wills says that Williams’ experience in meets, "indicates that the performance gap between Manfred [Ruhmer’s] personal glider and our latest prototype is closing rapidly." The Pearson/Williams team has produced an amazing nine prototypes in four months. • The company is not projecting a release date or final configuration details, but they did say the airfoil "is significantly different." It has two extra top surface ribs, a single nose rib, two sprogs, and two transverse battens per wing. They also say, "The VG is a new cam system with a much larger range, so it goes both looser and significantly tighter." Price is projected at $5,900. If you’re inspired and want to help name it, write to email@example.com. ••• At their 4th "annual" Wallaby Ranch birthday party, Wills also showed the production versions of the Eagle 145 and 180. Added to the 164, WW now has three sizes of their new beginner/intermediate glider. All sizes retail for $3,475 which even includes your very own WW ballcap. Wills refers to the new series as "the perfect move-up glider for Falcon pilots," and adds that it has "a greatly expanded performance envelope at higher flying speeds." • Eagles feature: double surfaced wings with a buried crossbar, Mylar leading edge inserts, a speedbar basetube, and kingpost hang system, ••• Wills also announced their distribution of Nene Rotor’s new "Kick Ass" harness. Saying they think Nene raised the bar on streamlining and comfort, they add that it "allows you to lock in the desired pitch angle" addressing their concern that too many single suspension designs give a feeling of balancing on a ball in pitch. Intro price is $995. Info: willswing.com or 714-998-6359. ••• GW Meadows reported that the Aeros rigid wing Stalker passed all tests by the German DHV organization. He adds, "only paperwork is left before the DHV certificate will be granted, but this is most probably going to [take until] at least May," proving that even when it isn’t a government agency (DHV is private but sanctioned) the organization can act like a bureaucracy. Based on the warm reception the sleek wing received at the Air Sports Expo in February, I expect you’ll see one of these at a site near you soon. • Meadows also observed — knowing my fascination for survey info on gliders flown — that at Australian competitions this winter, this Aeros brand did quite well. Of course, in their home country Moyes dominated with 40 of 66 wings — 31 of which were the newest Litespeed model. But in the rest of the field, Aeros came in next with nine Stealths, "even more than AirBorne" notes Meadows with pride. AirBorne is also from Australia as most readers know and featured eight gliders. Wills Wing had four entries, Icaro had two, and LaMouette one. The remainder were older gliders and one ATOS. Info: justfly.com or 252-480-3552. ••• Italian parachute producer, Metamorfosi, has introduced their new canopy called the Conar. Boss Angelo Crapanzano says, "a new design (patented)… gives incredible performance, even compared to the best pull-down apex." He reports that a test by France’s Vol Libre magazine showed the Conar 18 to have thebest sink rate even when contrasted with much larger canopies. • Angelo says that he believes Metamorfosi is the "oldest non-stop manufacturer in the world" specializing in HG and PG reserve parachutes. His backup systems are flown by Robbie Whittal, Tomas Suchanek, and Manfred Ruhmer. Metamorfosi is represented by Thinredline or Mario Scolari in the USA. Info: metamorfosi.com (click the English language button). • Crapanzano also confirmed that the popular Bassano meet has now finally been canceled after a game of go/no-go for some months. Ironically, dates of this meet dictated the later start to this year’s Wallaby Open as organizer Malcolm Jones tried to accommodate all the Euro pilots who wanted to fly in both top meets. ••• In closing, many of you have been very kind to ask about my website, specifically when this sucker will be going live! Well, I’m at work on it with a new webmaster (also a hang glider pilot!). The change of webmasters set me back several months and opened my eyes to just how big a project this really was. Whew! With millions of words and thousands of photos, it is a much bigger job than I thought at first. It will all be accessed by database, instead of being static web pages. This will be very good for searching, updating, and more, but adds to the overall structure. I hope to go live by spring (but don’t hold me to that promise). • A good addition to the effort, though, will be the presentation of many of Dennis Pagen’s hang glider pilot reports, which also can be accessed in that same searchable database. I’m pleased and proud to have Dennis join me, and visiting hang glider pilots will enjoy his evaluations of most modern gliders. No, really… it’s coming, uh, soon! • While you wait I’ll tease you by suggesting you watch for my upcoming new ad. Besides being time for a change, the "content" should surprise (and delight?) you. ••• 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!
Published in Kitplanes Magazine