ST PAUL, MINN — Several recent calls and letters referred to rigid wings presented here. Are we experiencing an upsurge of real interest? Or just another bubble of enthusiasm that will burst with the announcement of some new hotter-than-ever rag wing? No one knows. ||| Meanwhile in response to several inquiries, you can contact the Owens Composites Swift people at 10000 Trumbull SE, Albuquerque NM 87123. Their February Swift News announced work on an article for Hang Gliding. Watch for it. ||| Two other projects bear mention here: Advanced’s Sierra and the Cloud Dancer ||| The ultralight company Advanced Aviation, is flying their second prototype Sierra ultralight sailplane (42 foot span and greatly cleaned up). I saw #2 flown by towplane designer Bobby Bailey — who is also the principal designer of this bird — and I flew the #1 machine some months ago. The original prototype had promise which the successor significantly reveals. Far slicker, #2 performed beautifully on a mildly soarable day in April. The Sierra goes a long way toward the ultralight sailplane dream. Weighing in over 180 pounds, it won’t qualify as a “legal” unpowered ultralight. Performance on the new machine should exceed 20:1, and might hit 25 with refinements. It tows well behind any ultralight equipped for towing. Advanced wants to make it towable behind conventional aircraft. A Sierra II goes for $9,900, for a kit (no engine). Even with hang gliders exceeding the $4-Grand barrier, I forecast slow acceptance at this cost. I could be wrong. Contact them at 323 Ivey Lane, Orlando FL 32811. ||| A similar amount of money will buy you a proven ultralight motorglider: the Cloud Dancer, from a group that recently bought the company from engineer Erwin Rodger of New York. Rodger is a former hang glider pilot (no airplane time) who designed this craft in 1983 to satisfy his need to soar with less preparation than hang gliding takes. A dozen ‘Dancers wer sold. The motorglider boasts several strengths, notably a 14:1 glide and min sink of 260 fpm. Flying just above hang glider speeds, it’s a quiet design using a small, fully-faired engine. Electric start is standard; you can shut down and soar with confidence. The $8,950 airplane will be sold custom-built, ready-to-fly. Specs: a 40 foot span with cantilevered wings; three-quarter cockpit enclosure; stall at 26; top end better than 80; X-C cruise of 42-45; honest 20-minute breakdown for car top carrying. As a public notice, I have a business interest in this design. If you’d like more info, write: US Aviation, 265 Echo Lane, South St. Paul MN 55075. ||| Before leaving rigids, I have to pass along one juicy rumor. A reliable source told me that one of the major American producers of rags is taking early steps to evaluate a rigid design for possible production. Could it be…? Some of the true believers think further performance gains will be very difficult to achieve with rags. No word on who the “major” is! ||| “Step right up, sir, hear the message on the greatest way to fly!” USHGA will finally have a booth at Oshkosh, in cooperation with all other members of the NAA; here we go, alphabet soup… SSA, USPA (parachutes), AMA (modelers), HCA (helicopters), USUA (ultralights), EAA, BFA (balloons), and IAC (aerobatics). Terrific contact is possible; literally hundreds of thousands of aviation-enthused people pass these booths, and your staff can seriously talk to over a thousand people a day. Any region interested in providing a club member to work the booth half a day should contact USHGA HQ ASAP! ||| NAA is also spearheading a drive to produce a National Sport Aviation Show. Potential from doing such a show correctly? Look at Oshkosh, a multi-million dollar affair primarily staffed by volunteers. Organizer John Worth says, “Imagine in one show: sailplanes, balloons, parachutes, ultralights, models, hang gliding, helicopters, homebuilts, aerobatic aircraft etc. The visual impact and public appeal would be tremendous.” Given our new office staff, perhaps we can professionally respond to these possibilities. ||| Well, lots more news… outta room. Got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Call 612/457-7491 days or FAX 612/457-8651. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine