ST. PAUL, MINN — Hey! Welcome to the ’90s… beginning of the third full decade for our sport. Oh god: “thirtysomething!” The final leg of the century (and millennia). Glad to have you along for the read. Thanks for a continuing stream of notes or calls. Y-O-U help write this column! ||| First, in the “Bet You Didn’t Know This Dept,” HGM editor Gil Dodgen had every piece of his nearly-new, high-tech desktop publishing gear stolen from his office last month. Luckily, his insurance replaced everything. Notice any delay? Extra effort on Gil’s part kept HGM mostly on schedule. ||| The heat is on… for Mexican flying tours. I’m amazed at the interest pilots are showing to be chauffeured around our neighbor to the south. Other SoCal shops offer tours, but the primary forces are Paul Burns’ Windgypsy (714/678-5418) and John Olson’s Safari Mexico (702/786-3944). Windgypsy offers two 8 day/7 night tours (differing sites) and provides bilingual guides, hotel, drinking water, ground transportation, and site refreshments. They’ll give a few keepsakes to take home, and will pick you up at the airport, all for $600 per person, based on double occupancy. Glider rentals are $125 extra. Group discounts are possible. Burns’ tour has a track record, earning not only flying hours but good reviews from earlier Mex-trekkers. Safari Mexico offers a similar program but has one extra: glider rental included for $495 total cost. Pacific Airwave brags that “Olé” Olson just stopped in their Salinas plant to pick up seven new Airwave gliders for use in his tours. They claim Olson was first in the Mexican Sky Guide biz, and that he’ll give the most bang for the buck. (Of course, their bias is pretty clear; you should inquire of each and make up your own mind.) As the two tours offer different sites, maybe you should try each? ||| After an understandable slowdown in orders following Wills Wing’s splashy announcement of their HP-AT, PacAir reports Kiss deliveries are picking up again. So will Kiss prices, and Vision Mk 4 prices. Amounts are yet unspecified. At something like 500-600 gliders a year, PacAir can boast a Top Ten spot among manufacturers around the world. (That’s for the American plant only; no Airwave UK numbers.) When Jean-Michel and his Salinas band began with the Vision, their profile remained fairly low key. Concentrating on the “advanced beginner” market, old PacWind did well enough to attract a takeover from European giant Airwave (UK). They’ve become a genuine American industry asset. As an example of a maturing company, PacAir has initiated a comprehensive survey of American flight instructors. The effort could yield the best student activity statistics yet. After many a survey question in my old “Whole Air” magazine, I can recognize a good effort. My reaction to the choice of questions is very positive. It will take each respondent some time to complete, but if PacAir receives these in sufficient numbers, valuable data might be obtained. They’ve offered to provide me with the results, and I’ll summarize these in a future column. ||| Meanwhile, not sitting still, Wills has just announced their Sport AT 180 and Sport AT 150. They proudly claim the Sport AT 180, “has lighter roll bar pressures and a faster roll rate than the Sport American 180.” It’ll be priced at $3,500. The company also feels a wait will be justified for the “easy-to-coordinate Sport AT 150.” It’s not yet certified (so not yet released either); it’ll retail for $3,300. Wills claims their AT models — Sport and HP alike — offer “the longest list of standard features found in the industry.” For example, customers may choose half-race or non-race sail, speed or straight base tube, streamlined or round downtubes. Yet the Sport ATs don’t have WW’s two-position VG lever system. Wills reports that factory reps have logged 175 demo flights to dealers’ customers. This allowed them to pass along several recommendations on how pilots should properly employ the VG system Wills finally implemented. As but one hint of this wisdom, Cap’n AT sez, “only use the tight VG position in straight-line glides between thermals!” Now you know. So! Got news or opinions? Send ’em to: “Product Lines,” 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118, or call (days at BRS) 612/457-7491. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine