ST. PAUL, MINN. — Though winter is far from over here in the north country, spring is beginning to happen in more moderate climates. As I contemplate shoveling snow, it warms me to think of the soaring season soon approaching. ••• To help get their dealership network all tuned up for the new season, Pacific Airwave will host a national Dealer Meeting in early April (no foolin’). The company reports, "We will be introducing new products, new reference manuals, and new sales programs at this meeting." Good support for their dealers should translate to better service to end customers. ••• No doubt they’ll also promote their relativey new FLY2 tandem-purpose glider. Says the factory, "The sink rate performance has been proven to exceed that of the Double Vision while the handling characteristics and coordination make it an ideal instructional tool." However, they go on with an important addition regarding landing characteristics, "The flare window has been increased to provide the tandem instructor the highest probability of nailing their landings, everytime." Given the widespread apprehension over landing today’s gliders, this should be a welcome development for the increasing number of operations using tandem instruction as a premier method of training. Get more info from your local PacAir dealer or call 408/422-2299. ••• Training appears to be getting more respect these days… Wills Wing reports their Falcon sales are doing well. At the end of ’94, they introduced a new Falcon 170 model (complimenting the 195 already out). The 170 weighs a mere 45 pounds, a number I don’t recall hearing for… well, years. Pilot weights covered are 130-200 with your harness and gear. Price is a moderate $2,695. ••• Going both ways with Falcon development, WW designer, Steve Pearson, has been flying a Falcon 215 with his wife. However, "Handling was so light and responsive" that he’s shelved the 215 and begun work on a 225 model. For their Japanese market, Pearson is also considering a 140 Falcon. ••• To blunt the usual questions this time of year, Wills admits, "We are always working on something new." They go on to say, "We’ll have a new gider when the prototype development turns up a noticeable improvement in handling, performance, or both." That’s sufficiently vague that WW fans will still be wondering, however, they add, "It will not be based on a graphite airframe, and will not look like a Swift." Guess that narrows it a bit… we’ll see. ••• Spring may be coming, but it ain’t here yet, so keep those hands warm with totally new hand fairings from Chris Smith’s Cloudbase company. The longtime Tennessee-based harness maker has prepared some interesting prototypes. Using that miracle insulation, Thinsulate, Smith’s Ultra Mitts also employ Polartec fleece (the warm stuff inside many sweatshirts). They’re used selectively to give the greatest protection — like Thinsulate around the grip of your cold aluminum basetube. The list of features goes on… amazing for what seems such a simple product. Smith also has a zippered port to allow you to vent too-warm hands, rather than taking them out hot and sweaty only to get supercooled. The zipper is a form of thermostat. A see-thru map pocket can be added to the upper side and finally Ultra Mitts will have a removable wrist cuff to prevent heat loss during the coldest weather. Get all the options and they’ll cost about $65. If you don’t need all the tricks, the basic mitts start at $35. Get the latest poop by calling 706/398-3964. ••• In other novel ideas, HG art gallery owner, Terry Ferrer, is offering original "SkyRiders" movie posters. The 1976 movie showed hang gliding as a central subject with flying by Bob Wills among others. Now, you can buy a piece of movie history by grabbing one of several sizes of twenty year old posters that were used by movie theaters. Ferrer took special pains to professionally flatten folded posters, after which he rated their condition according to industry standards. The "SkyRiders" posters sell for $40-300 depending on size and quality. One will hang prominently in my den; how about you? Call West Wings Gallery at 510/527-5895. ••• HG Video Czar, Paul Hamilton has yet another video in his growing collection. Number 5 in his Cloudbase series covers the Women’s World Contest in Chelan last year. The 30-minute tape is just the right length for your club meeting or HG party. His coverage of the 46 worldwide competitors is engaging and the Washington state site affords a beautiful setting. Priced at $34.95, it’s a worthy addition to any pilot’s video library. Call/fax: 702/849-9672. ••• I’ll close this month with some fun news from Charlie Baughman (nicknamed the "human vario" for his uncanny thermal sensing ability). Baughman flew his Desire for an series of ads to promote ESPN II. This new cable channel is devoted to "wilder" sports such as mountain biking, sky surfing, and hang gliding, among other so-called thrill sports. If you read Sports Illustrated, check the 12/26/94 or later issues for a view of Baughman launching at sunrise from Dead Horse Point. ••• Outta room once again… So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Fax or V-mail to 612/450-0930. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine