ST. PAUL, MINN. — Welcome to a new year! With the holidays behind us (whew!), you may have some gift cash burning a hole in your harness pocket. I have a few suggestions to help you unburden that pocket. But first… ••• The big news in the safety business is the unanticipated departure of Second Chantz, ballistic parachute maker and marketer of owner John Dunham’s A.I.R. rocket. Second Chantz succumbed to a legal system (with which we’re all-too familiar) that can create huge bills even when a company is unlikely to lose a case. The Reno outfit ceased taking orders on November 1st and will halt all service work January 31st. Too bad, Second Chantz was an innovator that we’ve now lost forever. I wish John well in his new endeavors, namely selling Air Création trikes. As it turns out, Dunham entered an agreement with BRS after closing Second Chantz, so fortunately he’ll still have input to ballistic systems for hang gliding. BRS has acquired the rights to the A.I.R. rocket although the surviving company announced no immediate plans to use the compressed air device. Speaking of BRS… ••• Besides the deal with John Dunham, the company has been active. It secured a Phase II NASA grant worth $600,000 to investigate making parachutes of entirely new materials. If the two-year project proves fruitful, it is possible parachutes will use only half the space they do now and weigh just half as much. Of course, it’s only research and the results may not prove successful. However, BRS had partially proved the concept with a Phase I grant of the contract. ••• Proliferation on the ‘Net takes the form of new World Wide Web sites. One such — that helped me learn more about the process and capabilities — was for BRS which now has both an E-mail address (BRSchute@aol.com) and a web home page (http://users.aol.com/BRSchute/BRS.HTML). One of the fascinating parts of the web, the part that truly explains its name, is the interlocking set of connections that can link you to other web sites of similar interest. As BRS computer guru, Steve Swanson, set up the BRS page, he requested other organizations to add links on their pages to the BRS offering. In return he’d do likewise. Swanson said, "I found more hang gliding on the ‘net than any other form of aviation." ••• When he prepared the BRS page, he placed on it a survey for hang gliders pilots. If you’re on the ‘net and care to respond, please access the page and do your electronic thing. ••• Well, now to some post-Christmas items of interest. • Mail-order man, GW Meadows has taken on U.S. distribution of the Icaro 2000 line of helmets and his Just Fly company is beginning to market them. Three styles are available. An all-white full-face model weighs only 1.4 pounds. It has ear openings, is nicely finished for a comfortable fit, and offers wide visibility for $249, well under competing Uvex models, Meadows says. Next is a gorgeous "Carbon Optic" helmet with the same shape and features of the white one for $269. Finally for those who aren’t worried about jaw injuries, the "Jet" half-helmet is available for $149. All these helmets are made of Kevlar and carbon and have European certification for flying use (CE 95-0497). The full-face models have beefed up jaw protection as other helmets have shown vulnerability in this area. • If you’ve missed the GPS revolution so far, you may’ve saved money as Just Fly is offering the Garmin 40 for the super-low price of only $264 or the slightly more capable Garmin 45 for just $299. At these prices, don’t miss out! Contact Just Fly at 800/546-3596 (to order) or 919/480-3552 (to ask questions). You can also ask for their catalog which GW says "has done bonkers." • Speaking of catalogs, Volume II of MoJo’s Gear Catalog is out with 48 pages of full-color goodies you should examine. Too much cool stuff is available to mention here, but I’ll bet you can get a copy by calling 800/261-MOJO. Prices look quite competitive and the selection is genuinely broad for both hang gliding and paragliding pilots. • If you didn’t already order the Rogallo Foundation’s "Wings for the World" poster (framed and glass protected for $490), you may be lucky. If you act quickly you can obtain a rolled-up version (no frame or glass) for a mere $40. Foundation boss, Vic Powell, says these are collector’s items that "will increase in value." Send your check to P.O. Box 2377, Washington DC 20026 or call Vic at 202/720-7762. • Some interesting reading comes in Larry Fleming’s "Downwind" book. Says HG mag editor and book reviewer, Gil Dodgen, "[Downwind] is packed with amusing, frightening, inspiring, and informative anecdotes — all true and well told." Do you actually need more incentive while hiding from cold winter winds? Especially if you missed the early days, Gil says, you’ll "certainly enjoy" it. For prepaid shipping, send $13.95 to Chris Gregor Publishing, P.O. Box 26595, Fresno CA 93279. • Finally, on a more serious note perhaps, David Prentice offers the Flight Medic, a "personal first-aid/trauma/survival kit." The bag is sewn in blaze orange, is clearly marked, and has velcro straps that allow it to be easily attached. Prentice is a certified EMT-I with extensive experience in emergency medicine. The kit comes with a medical history card pilots can complete. He’s included what he calls the "proper supplies to do basic stabilization of a trauma patient, simple first-aid, and survival equipment," all in a one-pound package. The price is $85 and you can call 505/296-0219 or E-mail to "firstname.lastname@example.org". Even if you aren’t trained in the use of all the components, you’d have them for someone else to use. A worthy idea, I think. ••• Well, diver fans, we’re outta room again. So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Fax or V-mail to 612/450-0930, or E-mail: CumulusMan@aol.com THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine