ST. PAUL, MINN. — Welcome to a new year! Let’s hope 1994 brings abundant soaring. Did you make your flight resolutions yet? ••• A comment was promised in last month’s Christmas goodies list. The Avocet watch and I did some flying; it is indeed a handy gizmo. While it won’t substitute for a "proper" vario, it offers an inexpensive alternative. It shows altitude in ten foot increments, which is almost enough to work as a low-end vario by itself. However, it also has a rate of climb indicator. The response is slow compared to the varios you’re used to and it only reports 50 foot changes. However, on a good day, it will confirm the lift your body senses and may therefore be a useful flight tool. For a mere $110 from Owens Valley Soaring (619/387-2673), it also makes a cool looking wrist timepiece. One drawback: altitude is displayed in several "windows," (as is temperature) but the rate of climb and altitude don’t appear together. The manufacturer says they’re working on this. ••• Too late for last month’s "Christmas gifts-to-buy" column, Sail Wings sent an announcement of their camouflage glider bag. They’ve named it the "Glider Hider," as it is used for "covering and hiding your glider after that long XC." It’s made of 1.9-oz ripstop nylon so it folds up small and weighs little. Not recommended for regular glider transport, it sells for $50. FMI: 501/663-3166 (also fax). ••• Way up there in chilly Canada, Mike Robertson’s High Perspective school is using a stationary winch to perform step towing. The spectra line, Toyota-powered winch was used successfully with hang gliders and paragliders. Step towing — the "art" of pulling out tow line while flying away from the winch, then turning back so the winch can pull you higher — has been used to see 4,000 foot altitude gains on towline. Robertson will train all comers (and he’s open all winter for you hardy types). FMI: 416/294-2536. ••• Yet another Aussie outfit, Airborne Windsports, is making an initial sales push into the USA. Run by the successful competition pilot brothers, Russ and Rick Duncan, the down-under outfit has enlisted Scott Johnson of Mammoth Lakes, California. Johnson will also sell the Airborne trikes, one model of which has demonstrated its abilities as a glider tug. Glider info was reported enroute as this was written. FMI: Air Escape Windsports 619/934-5403. ••• Far from standing still, that original Aussie, Moyes, is enjoying some good results from their Xtralite glider. It did well in the Morningside glide-angle contest. Of course we all know of Tomas Suchanek’s wonderful performances on this wing (he’s now won a couple European contests on it as well). The glider is available in two modern (i.e., small) sizes: 137 and 147 ft2. A new airfoil shape is said to deliver improved glide and sink. A changed leading edge construction brings improved handling says Moyes. A European reviewer writes, "With an aspect ratio of 7.5, nose 130¡, 29 battens, and the usual Moyes fiberglass wing tips, this machine is said to be very fast." • In a related item, the Moyes/Bailey Dragonfly tug is currently undergoing the very tough British "S" certification. This standard is accepted by the U.S. allowing the Dragonfly to apply under the new F.A.A. Sportplane certification system. ••• Wills Wing has announced the release of the 146 size of their new RamAir. Says a Dealer Bulletin, "We expect to certify it at an HGMA meeting sometime in December." Delivery is already being quoted at 8-10 weeks and the price was set at $4,495. Wills reports the RamAir 146, "…is easier to fly than the RamAir 154. It has a more progressive pitch feel and a faster roll rate." Weighing 70 pounds, they add, "…it’s easier to ground handle as well." Finally, the Bulletin offers this: "We feel that with the smaller size, and somewhat tamer, more straightforward flying characteristics, this glider will be accessible to a broader spectrum of the pilot population than the 154." ••• To close, some update on the Swift. The company has enlisted at least two dealers. One, announced for England, is that country’s large Sky Systems company. Two are reported headed for the UK; both are American built, though the company has licensed a European builder, Aériane of Belgium. Sky Systems intends to bring in five Swifts. • Mountain Wings has also won a dealership. Greg Black expects his first Swift soon. The most successful of the modern batch of rigid wing entries, wide scale acceptance is still tentative. While working hard to produce current orders, the company appears to have assumed a low media profile. ••• That’s all, diver fans. So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. V-mail or Fax: 612-450-0930. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine