ST. PAUL, MINN., — Good words continue to flow for Joe Greblo’s Dockweiler Beach Reunion Fly-in. Joe reported nearly 400 people were present and about 150 qualified as genuine-article hang gliding pioneers. From all accounts, a great time was had by all. Perhaps even more amazing — considering the FiftySomething age range of many who attended — was the flying. Yep, pilots hooked themselves into all manner of antique wings from standard rogallos to bamboo-and-plastic models and gave ’em another try on the gentle slopes of the Pacific right off LAX airport. ••• A new model several tried was Wills Wing’s new training glider, the Condor. This is a big boy, at a whopping 330 square feet (30.7 sq. m.). The Texas-sized glider has other interesting specs: span is 39 feet, yet it weighs only 53 pounds; stalls at only 13 mph, while sustained max speed is 32 mph; pilot weights run a very broad spectrum from 100 to 265 pounds. Weight is kept down by using 7075 tubing throughout the airframe and battens (control bar and kingpost are 6061). • Wills gave a lengthy description of the new behemoth which included, "Condor 330 is a special-purpose training glider designed for first solo flights by hang glider students under direct instructor supervision, at very low altitudes." Dockweiler’s 35-foot high sand dunes certainly qualify. WW elaborated saying it can "easily achieve flight in little or no wind at very low groundspeeds from a shallow slope." However, they also caution that "Condor is intended for use in still air, or in very light winds which are very smooth and uniform, without appreciable gusts or thermal activity." • Condor is designed for solo flight and will be sold only to instructors. Wills didn’t say how they intend to prevent usage they don’t condone, but with today’s focus on faster-and-further, a glider with a top speed of 32 mph won’t find a market in the X-C crowd. • Perhaps one of the more amazing aspects of the Condor is a comment from Rob Kells that WW may make this design available to other manufacturers. In my 26 years in hang gliding, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard such an offer. Wills has long been a promoter of healthy growth; their Condor is intended to help bring new participants into the sport and this offer seems to show that clearly. Info: 714-998-6359 or willswing.com. ••• Speaking of new gliders… First, a little fresher news on AirBorne’s new Climax, received after last month’s column headed to the printer. Rob Hibberd, a honcho at Airborne, writes that on their second pre-production sail, "there are only minor modifications to complete before we start work on the [smaller] 144 size." A number of pilots have flown the Climax now, AirBorne says, and their opinions include: "excellent roll response, slow stall speed, excellent sink rate, easy to land (large flare window), and a sail fit that is second to none." Undoubtedly these are enthusiastic AirBorne supporters, but my recent experience with their improved Streak wing (for powered trikes) so impressed me that I can believe good things about their hang gliders. More info at: airborne.com.au. ••• A factory newsletter from the Italian producer of the Laminar gliders says, "In the past years we had slightly modified our gliders always looking for improvement; but this year Manfred Ruhmer has really managed to make a difference. What he developed and applied on his own glider did not only prove to be excellent in competitions, but it also came out to be suitable for all advanced pilots!" Due to their satisfaction with Manfred’s work, Icaro has decided to implement these changes on all of their topless gliders. They say the new model "performs greatly but is still easy to fly with the VG-off; with the VG-on it will become a real racing machine, though!" Icaro says it is starting the production of the new model. • Out with the old to make room for the new. Icaro also said that "the old ST models will not be produced anymore," though they will continue supplying spare parts and all related services. The STs will be replaced by the new Laminar MR in its two versions: Laminar MR 2001 (the Basic version) and the Laminar MRx 2001, what Icaro calls, "the competition-Matrix version." Each of them will be available in two sizes: 13 and 14 square meters or 140 and 150 square feet. • The newsy Icaro letter also bragged about their changes to the swivel tip saying the smaller swivel version, "also has its own compensator; this is the biggest novelty of the MR2001!" The tip has a larger movement range in flight. It is connected with a cable and a pulley to the central part of the cross bar. When the VG is on, the tip lowers and when it is off, it rises. Icaro claims this, "optimizes your glide and safety features in flight." They add that this happens automatically when you pull your VG on or off. • Importer Rich Burton of AV8 says, "The new basebar is beautiful. It has the traditional Icaro grip and very clean corner brackets." • Naturally, all this isn’t free. Icaro reports that the price will be "slightly higher than last year’s due to the new materials used on this glider" Info: firstname.lastname@example.org. ••• Take that new glider south for the winter! Jeff Hunt writes, "We are now beginning to make arrangements for this season flying in Valle de Bravo, Mexico. Sound warm and inviting? Pilots can ask about his packages and services at 512-467-2529 or email@example.com. ••• You’ll need accessories, too. U.S. Aeros boss, GW Meadows, announced, "Just went live yesterday (11/5/00) with what I think is the first e-Store in hang gliding. By e-Store, I mean with shopping cart and everything." The site is "being updated all the time," he adds and says he’ll be adding more in the future. Go to the e-Store at www.justfly.com. ••• Corrections Dep’t: In October I reported that Rich Burton was the importer of the Tenax. In fact, he has the rights to the Manfred Ruhmer version of Tenax. • The USA distributor for all the other Woody Valley harnesses is Greg Black’s Mountain Wings. The MR Tenax is a future product that has yet to become market ready. Meanwhile, Mountain Wings has invested heavily in all other Woody Valley harnesses which are in production and for sale now. More info: MtnWings@Catskill.net or woodyvalley.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!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine