ST. PAUL, MINN — With elections behind us (thankfully!) and strains of the "Little Drummer Boy" already driving us a little crazy, we’re in the Christmas season once again. I wish all of you warm holidays with family and friends. Now, on with news in hang gliding. ••• In recent years and months, the glider building business has been remarkably stable (or is that "quiet?"). Wills Wing continues to display dominance of the U.S. scene and also populates sites in Europe, Japan, and elsewhere. Pacific Airwave holds the second seat securely after recovering from the usual trauma of a move. Downwind from these leaders the field is less distinct. Seedwings labors along with their beautiful machines, albeit in smaller numbers but maintaining a ferociously loyal following. Moyes proved to be an import star in last year’s survey and we’ll soon see if the new one you received last month shows a continued success. Meanwhile though… changes at other companies: one import, one homegrown. ••• Larry Tudor faxed to relate big changes in his life. He got married, had a baby girl, and now, he’s left Wills Wing, his employer of many years. He says that a lot of reasons influenced him to quit Wills, "the biggest is escaping from L.A." He intends to move to Flagstaff, Arizona in the near future. In addition to these personal adjustments, the long distance champion will form a new company, "to handle the importation of the Laminar ST hang glider from Icaro 2000 in Italy." (ST is Senza Torre, or "without tower," meaning no kingpost.) The name of Tudor’s new company is AV8, Inc., and he lists the owners as Orlando Stevenson, Lee Terpstra, John Ryan, and himself. AV8 "will be the exclusive source for Icaro in the USA, Canada, and Mexico." He reports they plan to develop aspiring competition pilots, and happily announced that hotshots "Nelson Howe and Al Whitesill have joined the team and plan to compete on the new Laminar without kingpost at the Pre-World Championships in Australia this January." Until the Tudors move, you can contact Larry at 714-997-7057 (also fax capable). ••• A new glider manufacturer has arrived on the scene! Freshly named Altair has bought the Predator design developed by John Heiney. By the time you read this, Altair will be headquartered in its new facility five minutes from Utah’s famed Point of the Mountain soaring site. Master sailmaker Dick Cheney will continue to build all the Predator wing sails. U.S. 4th ranked racer, Dave Sharp, will fly the glider in the competition circuit. Heiney promised more info as the move continues, but said the change was a positive one for all parties and will allow the glider to move forward in establishing a market. ••• In a slightly different development, Bill Moyes wrote from Australia to say, "Apart from the Dragonfly [tug] and Tempest [ultralight sailplane], we will begin to build The Silent Racer." This German-made trike uses a totally fiberglass cockpit with the engine mounted internally. Their powered division, Moyes Microlites, complements their well-known glider building company, Moyes Delta Party Ltd. Bill adds, "The Gliders have bought a new factory." They planned to move in at the end of October. "Microlites will stay in the old factory." Moyes’ built a company around Florida designer Bobby Bailey to pursue projects like the Dragonfly and Tempest which are both Bailey creations. ••• Recently I attended the AOPA convention and saw some friends who work at Microsoft. A couple pilots have found their place in the giant software firm promoting the company’s long-popular Flight Simulator "game." Bruce Williams (with whom I worked when I sold Whole Air magazine to the General Aviation News & Flyer publication back in ’86) and Steve Wilson were at the San Jose convention center to push the Windows 95 version of Flight Sim. Of particular interest to hang glider pilots is a "resident thermal" at the Chelan, Washington flying site. You don’t (yet) get to catch it in a hang glider but can use their Schweizer 2-32 sailplane. Wilson said, "Over the top of the Butte the easy, big thermal can take you to 15,000 feet. We also mapped the roads and other features" which allow a pilot to navigate to Spokane on the state’s eastern boundary. You can also soar in ridge lift over the Seattle area’s Tiger Mountain and you can find lift in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as above the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles. The new Windows 95 version includes new and better scenery, new cities, new challenges, and new planes, one of which is an aerobatic-capable Extra 300S. It looked fascinating running on computers the two pilot reps had in Microsoft’s booth at the AOPA event. ••• Outta room for the last time this year, diver fans. So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Fax or V-mail to 612-450-0930. E-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine