ST. PAUL, MINN. — Welcome to a new year of soaring. While much of the country endures cold winter weather, spring thermals make for pleasant thoughts. ••• According to early reports, Moyes is preparing a new glider called the Litesport. Parlaying the popularity of their topless, high performance Litespeed, Moyes will reportedly build the new Litesport with a kingpost. Naturally it doesn’t offer the performance of their top-of-the-line model, however, Moyes competition star Gerolf Heinrichs is planning to compete on a Litesport in the (now summertime) Australian contests. At least he’ll fly one in the Australian Open, though observers say he’ll return to the Litespeed for the Aussie Nationals later in their season. Keep updated at MoyesAmerica.com where you can also find a detailed and well-presented tuning guide for the Litespeed. • An interesting sidebar to this story are numerous comments I heard at the October USHGA Board of Directors meeting where a surprising number of highly experienced pilots commented on their enjoyment of flying “simpler gliders,” like the Wills Eagle and Falcon. It appears a new interest is developing for gliders you can set up quicker, that aren’t as heavy, that launch well in any breeze, and can be landed almost anywhere (by an experienced pilot). I sampled a couple Falcons and found I got most of the same grins from the flights. • On the other side of the spectrum are a number of cross country hang glider enthusiasts who have started flying sailplanes. When flying in big western air some report feeling “safer” in sailplanes. Given the “graying” of the hang gliding populations, such changes — in both directions — seem inevitable. ••• Next month USHGA will participate with other sport aviation associations at the Air Sports Expo. The maturing event that draws the fly-for-fun crowd will occur in Ontario, California at that SoCal city’s convention center from February 7-9 (Thurs/Fri/Sat). Having attended the last Expos in Knoxville, Albuquerque, and Indianapolis, I’m confident you’d enjoy attending. Since the event is being held in a stronghold of our sport it should be an easy drive for many — though the Ontario airport a stone’s throw away has scheduled airline service for those who must travel further. ••• Speaking of dates, the board meeting finally settled the contentious affair between Wallaby Ranch’s spring contest and the championships at Questair now sponsored by Flytec. An annual competition of its own, the board committee settled the matter by awarding Wallaby their desired dates this year while in 2003, Flytec will get first choice. Both want the event to immediately follow the nearby Sun ‘n Fun airshow which draws huge numbers of pilots and some extra tugs. This year Wallaby’s Open will be held April 13-19 and the Flytec meet will follow on April 21-27, giving competitors a short break between the two XC racing events. Info: Wallaby.com or 1-800-Wallaby, or at QuestAirForce.com (a site with a fresh new look that loads quicker). ••• Wills Wing unveiled their new streamlined aluminum base bar and it’s a beauty, IMHO. The carbon versions are exotic looking but I find the sleek shiny shape of the aluminum more visually compelling. Both do a similar drag-reducing job, testing shows. Combined with WW’s Slipstream downtubes and their curvaceous corner brackets, the new control bar looks somewhat like a single piece of formed aluminum. Info and photos: WillsWing.com. ••• Some bummer news about flying sites. My old friend Warren Puckett reports that the well-known “ Buffalo Mountain, Oklahoma launch is no more.” The threat of lawsuits moved the landowner to not renew the lease. Fortunately, the news improved when local pilot Mel Hair bought 40 acres on the brow and “is starting a new launch about three miles away.” A top landing area is also available. Warren added, “You would be amazed how similar it is to Lookout Mountain (TN/GA)” except it’s only five miles long. Local clubs are raising money to assist the land purchase. Puckett and others think the 2:1 slope to the LZ makes it acceptable for paragliding flights as well. ••• The famous San Diego area sites of Laguna, Horse Canyon, and Big & Little Black are all in some danger. State land agencies are trying to buy more area. A water treatment plant is going in near Little Black. And others are seeing the effects of population growth in the area. Work to keep sites open and add new ones is a constant effort that needs strong club actions and leadership. ••• Some places don’t have these problems. The towparks are often on owned land or securely leased land. One successful site is Brad Kushner’s towpark at Twin Oaks Airport near Whitewater, Wisconsin. Brad has built quite an operation to tap the immense population around Chicago and Milwaukee. • Coming up March 9 & 10 is his annual ‘chute clinic. High Energy Sports boss, Betty Pfeiffer, is coming for the fifth year in a row. Each event is one day long, so two clinics are planned and Kushner says that typically 40-50 pilots attend each day. Info: Call 262-473-8800 or write email@example.com. ••• By next month I should be able to give my reaction to Jim (Sky Dog) Palmieri’s new book, “Hang Gliding Spectacular,” with “fantastic flying stories” and its own CD of photos, video, and illustrations. ••• 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@ByDanJohnson.com… but you can still use CumulusMan@aol.com for the foreseeable future. • All “Product Lines” columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine