ST. PAUL — The ole "PL" news basket is overflowing again, so let’s get right into the fun stuff… Some accessory items were left over from last month. More will appear next month. ••• Chris Smith’s Cloudbase company has a new harness. A modern design called the Flex, it differentiates itself with a multiple-part rigid support system. Instead of the usual pair of tubes that run front to rear, Smith has engineered a three-piece system. The forward two supports are welded chrome moly steel… small, light, strong. The leg frame is more conventional aluminum. These parts permit the pilot to "bunch up" (for high speed flying). It also means the Flex will fold more neatly into your carrybag. Another variation from competing brands is that CG is adjusted at the middle-back support location. Most contemporary bag harnesses "adjust their CG at the shoulder lines," which, according to Chris, "can be quite uncomfortable." Yet another distinguishing feature is the "use of continuous webbing construction, rather than depending on the strength of ballistic cloth," explains Smith. The webbing approach allows Cloudbase to sew the Flex by placing the leg straps in line with the main suspension. Chris feels this is stronger in the event of a ‘chute deployment. Another unique feature is the more easily-replaced main suspension webbing. "The main interfaces directly with the steel supports, which doesn’t happen with standard construction," detailed Smith. This can help "size" the Flex to your glider plus offers far easier maintenance when the time comes to replace exposed main support webbing. The Flex is priced near the Z3. FMI: 706/398-3964. ••• Mr. Prolific, Dennis Pagen, has just released his most ambitious book production to date. "Performance Flying" is a large (8.5 x 11) volume with 350 pages, 70 photos, and 334 illustrations by Pagen. Color cover photography was supplied by John Heiney, Nelson Howe, and Wills Wing. Thirteen chapters cover all the topics you’d expect but the graphic and organizational style is Pagen’s slickest effort to date. Further setting it apart — besides the Big Book format — are tips from experts. These tidbits of "margin wisdom" include quotes and anecdotes from competition masters. Says the author, "It’s as big as a Kalamazoo phone book and a lot more fun to read." This information has been announced to shops, so you should begin to see "PF" near your flying site. Mark Bennett is credited as "editor." It sells for $29.95 plus $2.50 S&H. FMI: Box 101, Mingoville PA 16856. ••• Switch-the-Chuck’s-Dept: The new Rigid Wing Reader is out, now produced by Chuck McGill, taking over from innovator Chuck Rhodes. The publishing effort is timely, with renewed activity in rigid wing hang gliders being propelled by the Swift (see below). In issue #1, McGill jam packed eight legal-sized sheets with an eclectic combination of announcements, editorials, news, and history. The contents include an potent argument for rigid wing certification, a futuristic scenario where only by homebuilding will hang gliding continue, and updates on various rigid wing projects. I found it interesting and well written. McGill will send you a copy or two for free, then asking a subscription. Unless you’re confined to "mainstream hang gliding" you ought to read RWR. Drop McGill a line at P.O. Box 304, Mercer Island WA 98040. ••• Swift builders are trying to go more swiftly as orders pile up. Brightstar’s Brian Robbins confirmed 34 USA orders plus another 29 already arrived at their recently-licensed European builder. At nearly $10 Grand a pop, this represents one of the most successful surges for any rigid wing production that I can recall. Workers at Brightstar are more concerned about getting production geared up than soliciting new orders. It’s an exciting start and I congratulate them. ••• Late-breaking news compliments of USHGA’s Jerry Bruning… The Sandia Classic ended a contest with seven of eight days flyable. From a field of 45-50 pilots, the high-points meet was won by high-flying Kari Castle. She was trailed by Nelson Howe, Larry Tudor, Mark Bennett, and Pete Lehmann. Though Kari’s abilities are unquestionably strong, it’s interesting to see her beat the big boys. This should accelerate her rise to prominence. Castle was recently featured in a large editorial by Europe’s Drachenflieger magazine. The German publication looked at the person as well as her ability in a complimentary story. Congrats, Kari! Keep on climbin’! ••• In closing, I’d like to invite you to pick up a copy of the August ’93 Kitplanes. The issue contains a story on Wills Wing written by yours truly (he writes, somewhat immodestly). ‘Course you sky god will know it all. Merely my attempt to pass the good word about how neat hang gliding is. The magazine is seen by 150,000 readers who are interested in "alternative aviation." You’ll find this Kitplanes issue on most newsstands right now. Watch for other hang gliding stories in this publication in successive months. ••• Got news or opinions? Send ’em to 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Fax/msg: 612/450-0930. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine