St. Paul, Minn. — The vote is in! Members voted yes on both initiatives, overwhelmingly (84%) so on the towing question but convincingly (62%) on the powered harness (HG & PG) question. Now, as politicians advise after elections, we must consolidate and move forward. Griping about the results, if you took a not-winning position, no longer benefits anyone. • I doubt we’ll experience many problems from powered harnesses for three reasons: (1) not that many of them flying… a few hundred, realistically, and many of their pilots respect silent-flyer sensibilities; (2) most powered harnesses won’t show up at flying sites. They don’t have to… they can launch almost anywhere. Plus, clubs running sites always have had and still do have the right to make their own rules about who can launch and land on property they control; and, (3) powered harnesses find their best demand from pilots who otherwise must travel to mountain sites or towparks. • Regretfully, the status of nanotrikes (lightweight trikes intended for soaring flight) in USHGA remains uncertain, but they’re an even smaller segment at this time so their operation shouldn’t cause any major case of hiccups. ••• It was a real pleasure for me and several other USHGA board members to observe fellow hang glider pilot, Dudley Mead and his team practice launching an authentic reproduction of a 1902 Wright Glider ( FMI: wright-brothers.org). On October 6th I got to burn many digital photos of Dudley and KlasOhman getting their highest flights ever (30-40 feet AGL). • Klas, a Navy jet jockey, tended to land on the skids (probably as the Wright brothers did) while Dudley reflexively lowered his legs to foot land the 120 pound glider. “Old habits die hard,” Mead kept saying. • Much like windy cliff launching, Wright Glider pilots need help to get airborne. With someone positioned at all four corners of the Glider’s lower wing, grasping an interwing strut, the quartet runs to launch the old-time reproduction. As Dudley and other pilots took their turns flying the tricky-handing wing, the launchers in early October were often hang glider pilots and USHGA board members. Kenny Brown, Paul Voight, Davis Straub, and Bruce Weaver (among others) took enthusiastic runs down the sand dune. On a “Tether” call from the prone pilot, the trailing edge runners dropped off leaving just the two leading edge pullers heaving ho until the pilot shouted, “Release.” ••• Returning to nanotrikes, the market leader is surely Lookout Mountain Flight Park with more than 150 SkyCycles in customer hands. An upgraded model, SkyCycle X, incorporates numerous improvements at no increase in the $5,500 cost of the trike carriage. The sum includes a 28-hp Zanzottera or a 22-hp Zenoah G-25 engine. The hang glider wing is extra, of course, but many HG pilots own at least one that might be used for the nanotrike. Upgrades to the X model include improved ground handling by lowering the C.G. and increasing the wheelbase, a more inclined seat, and side carry bags. Lookout added, “The rugged, aerodynamic, cantilevered rear landing gear has been retained.” • LMFP is also representing the even-tinier Australian-built PowerLite nanotrike. FMI: 877-426-4543. ••• As many know, Matt Taber is adept at finding ways to help Lookout Mountain Flight Park succeed. In addition to the nanotrike line, Matt has started selling powered, two-seat trike ultralights. Matt’s foray into conventional ultralights represents the only powered company I know of that is directed solely by hang gliding businessmen. U.S. Aeros boss GW Meadows, long established as a successful importer of the Ukraine-made hang glider line, contracted with Taber to market the Aeros brand of trike ultralights. • In addition to hang gliders, Aeros supplies somewhat heavier wings for use on numerous trike brands. Aeros builds the French-designed Sky Ranger fixed wing ultralight under contract, and GW reports that the Ukraine company is well along on a fiberglass ultralight sailplane. In this wide line the team of Meadows and Taber saw an opportunity. Given Aeros boss Alexander Veronin’s good relationship with GW, expanding the U.S. Aeros line made sense. • The Velocity trike is already known to American ultralight pilots as the Venture, a name given by its former importer. Of special interest to non-powered HG pilots is the Velocity’s capability to perform hang glider towing. ••• In other motor news, paragliding guru Alan Chuculate has completed preliminary flight testing of a lightweight trike specially designed to aerotow paragliders. His stated goal for the Paratug is, “being able to aerotow solo paragliders at 23 mph and at 25 mph when tandem.” • Chuculate uses a modified Wills Wing Condor, the large wing built by the Southern California leader for slope training. The HG builder isn’t comfortable with the use of their Condor on powered aircraft but Alan had always planned to change it. He redid elements of the airframe using 7075 tubing and plans to upgrade the sail to stouter cloth. “It’s fair to say Condor was just a starting point,” Alan says. • I’ll have more on Chuculate’s Paratug in successive columns as it represents a ground-breaking effort to bring paragliders into the world of aerotow parks. Meanwhile, FMI: firstname.lastname@example.org ••• Finally, at the fall 2003 USHGA board meeting, nearly everyone came out of their seats and dashed to the window when well-known British pilot, Ben Ashman, flew over the beach at Kitty Hawk in his suprone powered harness, the Doodlebug. Ben has flown a Doodlebug across the English Channel, so a little jaunt from a local airport to the beach was no great cross country. Yet I found it fascinating to observe the keen interest from many pilots who have no intention of flying with power. Kenny Brown’s Moyes America enterprise is importing the rig. FMI: email@example.com. ••• So, got 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!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine