ST. PAUL, MINN. — The big Florida aerotow meets are now history. Oleg Bondarchuk performed well taking his Aeros Combat 2 to the top of both meets, an impressive accomplishment when flying against Manfred Ruhmer and a large field of talented pilots.
Yankee Paris Williams and his Icaro MR700WRE has also confirmed his position at the top of Team USA, adding a fine Second Place to his Third Place finish at Wallaby the week prior. Other great finishes by Americans included Glen Volk in 3rd on his Litespeed and Curt Warren in 5th also on a Litespeed.
*** In fact, Moyes had itself a terrific representation at Quest. The Australian manufacturer mustered an even greater field at Quest (35% of flex wings) after holding the top position at Wallaby with 29%. Competition has always been a strong suit for Moyes and it seems to have a firm grip on that mantle as the 2002 season starts out. Virtually all Moyes pilots flew a Litespeed.
Wills Wing held convincingly onto the No. 2 spot among glider brands flown by competitors with 22%, slipping slightly from the week earlier Wallaby meet with 26%.
A notch down, Aeros beat out Icaro 19% to 17%; they reversed positions from Wallaby where Icaro had 18% and Aeros 17%. Of course, many of the contestants were at both these meets — though it wasn’t an identical roster; Moyes picking up 6 points proves this.
Trailing these top four brands among flex wing builders were La Mouette (France) and AirBorne (Australia) with 4% representations. No British gliders competed at Quest, in a big switch from a decade or so ago when England reigned supreme in hang gliding competitions.
*** Christian Ciech (Icaro Stratos) beat Johann Posch (Atos C) and Alex Ploner (Atos C) in rigid wing class. American e-zine editor Davis Straub was the highest placing U.S. pilot in 4th, followed by Ron Gleason, Heiner Beisel, and Bruce Barmakian in 5th, 6th, and 7th, with all four of them flying an Atos C.
*** The A.I.R. glider totally dominated the rigid wing field of 27 gliders with 59% representation. Flight Design models had 22% of the field and four other brands — Icaro, Aeros, Guggenmos, and Brightstar — had a single entry.
Rigid wings were about a quarter of all glider types and seem to have locked in a solid chunk of the market. However, with three times the glider count, flex wings still hold the lion’s share of wings being sold to competitors. DISCLAIMER: As always, this review may not match sales by manufacturers to recreational hang glider pilots.
*** The Quest meet was again sponsored by Steve Kroop and his Flytec company. It was directed by former USHGA president, David Glover, who earned numerous complimentary remarks for his even-handed — and even fun — handling of an event that can easily turn contentious.
In fact, the two Florida meets went so well that some competition buffs are floating the idea of a World meet in Florida one day. Glover boasted: “[Quest] was the largest aerotow event ever in the history of the United States with 106 pilots and the largest collection of Dragonfly tugs ever! It was also 100% safe all throughout the week and had seven days of great flying weather.”
*** While closely overseeing the performance of his Aeros gliders, U.S. importer GW Meadows also found time to make a video of the event. Glover reports that it “…brought the crowd down on the last night.”
Assembled at lightspeed with modern technologies (his Macintosh laptop and digital video camera), GW was able to “perform” his video to a rapt crowd on the last day of the Quest meet. It went over so well that Glover called to make sure I helped make this production available to the majority of pilots who couldn’t attend. All competitors got a copy but you can get one, too. It isn’t a “hang gliding video” with lots of dramatic flying scenes like Paul Hamilton produces. Instead, “Life is Good” will give you a feel for the event and the people at the Quest Flytec Championships. For a bargain price you can order a VHS video tape or a PAL (European VHS standard): $14, which includes shipping. You may also select a CD-ROM for $10 shipping included, or a DVD of the event for $24 postage paid. Call 541-683-5445 or e-mail Mark at StaffordVideo.com.
*** After absorbing Utah’s former Soaring Center, the business became Cloud 9 Soaring Center. The big shop and school serves both hang gliding and paragliding and features a range of accessories. Always beefing up his line, C9/SC’s Steve Mayer announced, “We have added vario and GPS covers made of Plexiglas and designed to protect your gear.” Steve reports seven models to choose from that should fit most varios and GPS units. The covers sell for a modest $35. You can review what they offer at Paragliders.com or call 801-576-6460.
*** So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930; please note my new e-mail address of News at ByDanJohnson.com… but you can still use CumulusMan at aol.com for the foreseeable future. THANKS!