ST. PAUL, MINN — This month’s big news focuses on the UP company. As many of you readers are veterans of the sport, the history of UP is familiar. The illustrious SoCal builder has undergone several designers, managers, and owners. Each such change no doubt extracted a toll. As ’91 begins UP launches into yet another transformation. ••• To begin, the mysterious Terry Reynolds wing mentioned in December has now popped up… guess where? Yup! UP will be the builder of the newly named TRX. Check their ad in this issue. Reynolds will fly the TRX in the Australian Nats, then will join fellow ’91 World Team Member, Tony Barton, at the Brazilian Worlds. The TRX is a high aspect ratio wing (8:1) with contemporary span (36 ft) and planform (132¡ nose) that tips the scales very lightly (60 lbs) by using carbon fiber spars built in a $9 million shop. If cost can be contained, the new UP might get a leg up on a vexing situation confronting other U.S. manufacturers: importing aluminum tubing from Europe. Reynolds assures the wing won’t be sold until HGMA certification is completed which he expects in January. ••• The story continues for UP with the company being completely reorganized under new ownership! Japan maintains a presence via Chairman Eiichi Isomura, whom Reynolds labels, "a successful international businessman and strong supporter of hang gliding internationally." Reynolds himself will become president, well-known sailmaker Dick Cheney will become Chief Operating Officer, and a "high level ski industry executive," Dave Stetler, will offer his business savvy as CEO. Adds Reynolds, "UP moved to Utah at the end of December and is reorganized under majority U.S. ownership." He didn’t elaborate on the ownership breakdown and had just departed for Australia as this was written. Reynolds wrapped up his comments saying, "We look forward to reestablishing UP to its former position in the hang gliding industry with state-of-the-art products and close dealer support." Somehow, call it intuition, I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this story. Address/phone info appears in their ad. ••• Glider Sport Int’l, developer of the composite rigid wing glider Apex, called with more specs on the new wing. We’ll see two versions offered: one is cable braced, a "recreational" model priced at about $4,000; another, the full-out cantilevered version, priced at about $6,000 due its 47% use of composite material (the rec’ model has 25%). Both figures may drop based on new discoveries of lower priced carbon fiber, yet the company stresses "We don’t know if we can hold these prices." Performance on the big span, high aspect aircraft appears to be about 14:1 for the rec’ model, 16:1 on a non-faired cantilevered model, and 20:1 with full pilot fairing. GSI is taking extra steps to not overstate performance. They wish to verify claims before making a lot of noise. A video tape of test flights certainly reveals a strong glide. Certification has begun and may be concluded as you read this. Weight has been shaved already to "90-94" pounds on the cantilevered model, and is a reasonable 67 pounds on the rec’ version. At last report (updates come frequently) GSI planned to relocate in Southern California. More than other rigid wing efforts I’ve observed GSI will bear a close watch. The structure and capitalization of the company seems well orchestrated. ••• Last time, I missed a proper ID of the paraswivel developer. The SkyRohr Para-Swivel was originated by Kurt Rohr. But, Denver’s Golden Wings will handle the marketing. Call them at 303/278-7181. ••• Finally, on the aerotowing fatality referenced last month, not much additional information was discovered. The towplane was sold to Bruce Hawk’s east Tennessee business by the Draggon Flyers hang gliding club of Florida. They reported no problems with it. In fact, Steve Flynn was at Hawk’s site to fly the Cobra tow plane only weeks before the accident. Apparently a shackle carrying the flying load on one side failed due to prior damage or fatigue. Witnesses said the flight exhibited no unusual maneuvers. Sadly, the low altitude breakup (100± ft) occurred with no parachute and impacted just 20 feet away from a river that might have lessened injury. The pilot was described as a very careful conventional airplane pilot with increasing time in ultralights. ••• Meanwhile ultralight designer Bobby Bailey and the Florida group had already begun and will continue building two new towplanes (with aileron and other mods). ••• Room’s gone. Next time, poop from Europe. Got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Call 612/457-7491 (days) FAX: 612/457-8651. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine