ST. PAUL, MINN., — Congratulations to Kari Castle who won the Women’s World Meet 2000 in Beotia, Greece in the last full week of June. I expect a fine article will enter the magazine pages but here’s a little numerical overview of the meet as released by the FAI. • The international meet drew 31 competitors from eight nations, including the USA, France, Germany, Australia, England, Japan, Russia, and Kazakhstan (showing surprising strength with four pilots). America and Germany each had six team members, France and Japan had five, Russia and the UK had two plus the lone Aussie pilot. • They flew nine Icaro gliders (32%), followed by eight Aeros (29%), five Wills Wings (18%) and one each (4%) of Moyes, La Mouette, Solar, Seedwings, Bautek, and Guggenmos. Wings for three pilots were not identified. • In five tasks ranging from 42-70 km (26-44 miles), the German team came in first (with 6 scored pilots), followed by France (5 pilots), the U.S. (6), Japan (5), Russia (2), Kazakstan (4), Australia (1), and the UK (2). The number of entries swayed the final team score as the individual scores were added, so the Russian team of two women actually did quite well to finish in fifth place. • Kari’s Wills Wing victory for Team USA was followed by Patricia Cameron in 10th (Aeros), Claire Pagen in 13th (Wills Wing), CJ Sturdevant in 22nd (Aeros), Judy Hildebrand in 23rd (Aeros), and Carol Sperry in 26th (Aeros). It’s great to see a full contingent of female Yankee pilots! ••• Brazilian Nene Rotor is offering a new version of his Tenax harness. Details weren’t released but further refinement is noteworthy enough that several were reportedly to fly in the Spanish Pre-World Meet just ended. One evaluator expressed that "It’s a specialty harness that I wouldn’t want to fly in for more than a short competition." Regardless if other Tenax users agree or not, the point remains that new harness design is driven by the competition pilot’s desire for the cleanest system possible. As we once saw glider designers take more risk than today, some worry that that this drive for aerodynamic cleanliness could go too far. • However, capitalism rises to demand and the Tenax probably wasn’t the only new sleeker-than-ever harness at the Spanish meet. Moyes’ Contour and Aeros’ Racer are both rumored to have new models in development and the relatively new M2 must be included in this race. ••• Miami hang gliding entrepreneur, James Tindell, just bit a big bite buying land west of Miami and beginning work toward his own aerotow flight park. With some investor help, Tindell purchased 90 acres and has already cleared 60 acres by removing trees and making a perfectly flat LZ. Situated near the town of Libell, he says the site will be convenient for many south Florida pilots. As-yet unnamed, the new tow park is an hour from Fort Lauderdale, 1:40 from Miami, and only a hour from Fort Myers and its neighboring beach cities. Foreign visitors to Miami, South Beach, and other south Florida destinations may also appreciate a nearby flight park. In contrast, the drive to Wallaby or Quest is several hours. "We have XC potential in all direction and no airspace issues," says Tindell, adding that the site has been properly zoned for "heavy" recreation, meaning that the noise from tugs will never present a problem. • "We’re one of a very few operations offering all forms of launch training: platform (land and water), aerotow, and foot launch." James explains the latter is done on flat ground but he regularly hosts groups of new would-be mountain flyers to the Chattanooga area. • Tindell expects his Dragonfly tug by September and hopes to start operations at that time. More info: 305-285-8978. ••• A few months ago, I reported that onetime contest skygod, Joe Bostik, was re-entering hang gliding. (BTW, Joe came in 13th at Wallaby, not bad after the time he’s been away. He did not compete in the ACC.) The old timers keep popping up as I had a visit at BRS from Michael Riggs. Ring a bell, anyone? Come on, it’s only been 20 years or so. Mike was the head man back at the old Seagull. Those curvy leading edges and plenty of other shapely ideas were his brainchildren. Two decades ago, the toy industry grabbed this creative engineer and eventually that brought him to the Minneapolis area where Tonka Toys is HQ’d. After years of only dreaming about getting back in the flying business, he’s got his chance. A successful advertising executive, his wife encouraged him to go pursue his dream. With that kind of support, he jumped at the chance. He came in to show me his extensive plans for a legal Part 103 ultralight that will dazzle the buzz crowd at next year’s Sun ‘n Fun I predict (and I’ve seen a few ultralights). But of even keener interest to soaring enthusiasts is the version of the plane that will become a motorglider. It’s too early for details or phone numbers but I liked what I saw and Mike’s tailless, hang glider heritage shows through clearly. More as it unfolds. ••• In fact Riggs was one of several talented people who contacted me about my interest in an unpowered soaring trike. I heard from a dozen people on the idea, all of whom were complimentary of the concept and had some interest in seeing/helping it occur. Because he is close, talented, and has some time for the project (especially as it relates to his powered aircraft plans), Riggs is one good choice. No work has started as I still hear from someone every few days, but I’m gratified by the interest. • I don’t know how many others might agree, but one e-mail writer expressed wonder that I’d want to drag around the weight and bulk of a trike. In fact, the comment wondered if middle age had hit me particularly hard. Gee, after breaking each of my legs in 33 years of flying, yeah, maybe it is aging that drives me to a more comfortable flight posture. Still, such a rig doesn’t have to cut performance drastically. Several of those responding to my call said they see a chance for a properly designed trike body to generate little drag. Add a bit more wing area to the equation — after all, you won’t have to support the wing on your shoulders — and perhaps total performance won’t be much lower than a state-of-the-art harnessed pilot on a smaller wing. • I’ll save the details for a future column, but thanks for all the comments… yeah, even the age-related crack. It shows you’re reading. ••• 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 Hang Gliding Magazine