ST. PAUL, MINN. — Well, now that you’ve reached the "back of the book," what do you think of the new changes editor Gil Dodgen has made (with help from Tim Rinker)? The board of directors approved a graphic makeover in the interest of maintaining contemporary looks for HGM, one of the most popular benefits of USHGA membership. Several years have passed since the last redesign. ••• An irony in timing, Britain’s Skywings magazine just implemented cosmetic changes as well. At the same time — though the reasons are unrelated — Editor Tim Williams resigned after eight years in the post. As were the Brits with Tim, we’re fortunate to have a talented and longtime editor in Gil Dodgen. He’s won awards for your magazine. He does all the layouts and edits all the articles and letters. Like Tim, Gil is basically a one-man band though he’s logged twice as much time as editor. If memory serves correctly, Gil is entering his sixteenth year. Of course, he’s supported by the USHGA office staff in several important functions (ad billings, classified ads, Jeff Elgart’s slick photography, etc.). Nonetheless, most of the crankin’ and bankin’ to produce HG mag is done solo by the Gilster. ••• Another point of simultaneous irony comes as the Brits amalgamated their hang gliding association (BHGA) and their paragliding association (BAPC) into the BHPA (British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association). With USHGA taking over office operations from the defunct APA, some may wonder if such a "merger" will take place in America (unlikely!). We wish Tim, Skywings II, and the new BHPA all the best. ••• Interesting to ponder the message of UP’s new ad in HG magazine. Late last summer, after the departure of main men Mike Haley and GW Meadows, the rumor mill was grinding away. Some had UP out of business, their money source evaporated. Others spoke of "acts of desperation," meaning factory direct selling to consumers. Big dealers were reportedly dropping the UP line. As with most rumors, some truth was buried behind the whispered stories. Says former Torrey Rat, now a UP production test pilot, Bill Hall, "We decided that we didn’t want the high profile, high expenditure ways of the past. We took a more team approach within the company …staff meetings, everyone involved with decision making." He admits sales have slowed with all the changes, but is convinced things are on a better track. ••• As a sidebar, he also reports they do the majority of their routine test flying after tows from UP’s Dragonfly tug ultralight. "It works incredibly well [for this purpose]," he says. ••• On the road in Dunlap, Tennesse (at Sequatchie Valley Soaring), Vice President Monte Bell adds, "The XTC series introduces the auto X-bar tensioning system for ultra-quick set up." As the company is German Güteseigel approved and with their UP-Europe operation finding success, they needed to offer lay-flat gliders. The feature is important to European pilots. Bell further stated, "The ’93 quick set up will be added to the entire line of gliders, to include a folding base tube, auto X-bar, and constant VG attachment. And yes, this will be retro available." Further, he reports work on a new tandem glider. Finally, they’ve signed on highly-ranked competition pilot Tony Barton to provide additional info on UP products. Just dial 800/COME-2-UP. ••• Even such promising news won’t quash all the rumors. If you have doubts or concerns, the old way may work the best: ask them yourself. If the response satisfies you, fine. After all, with the 800 number, it’s their dime. ••• Late breaking news includes a new size Vision Pulse from PacAir. The 9 meter model has 29 feet of span, weighs only 48 pounds, and will handle pilots 100-165 pounds. Company prez, Ken Brown, says a small pilot "can lift the base tube 6-8" off the ground." Pilots 65" tall will find they won’t have such a reach to insert the nose rib. Crossbar tensioning is also easier thanks to a two-point attachment. ••• More news arrived from Bruce Hawk in Tennessee. You may know him best through his Windsok™ product. Yoo-shga and many dealers have sold them for years. Now Hawk says, "Our robot is up and running. Using it we can cut anything from fabric (Nylon or Dacron). If we can draw it, we can cut it. Wow, computers!" Hmmm, sounds like Wills’ new factory, with microchips helping to manage equipment. Has hang gliding gone totally high tech? The man who built his own training hill, Bruce lost his lease. Undeterred, he found a new site. "The best one yet, it’s located just across the highway from our new shop." Suitable for complete Hang One ratings, he reports the PacAir Pulses and Wills Spectrums that he deals "love the site." ••• We’re outta room. So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Fax/Msg: 612/450-0930. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine