ST. PAUL, MINN. — On the Political Front: ARAC Committeeperson, Dennis Pagen reports some improved news from the May 23 meeting. He cautions that FAA is squirrely to pin down — you’re surprised!? — but that it appears the agency will not certify pilots under Part 103 (great!), or issue aircraft airworthiness (we’re doin’ fine already), or mandate training (we have this pretty well in hand also) [comments mine]. Even better than the above, FAA has apparently decided that separating unpowered ultralights (us) from powered ultralights is reasonable. FAA may also give the U.S. Ultralight Association a weight increase for single-seat ultralights. This will allow the Dragonfly ultralight tug to legally aerotow, assuming it has a ballistic ‘chute installed… (24 pounds of extra weight is allowed when such devices are permanently mounted). Several trike tugs should also benefit. Pagen also indicated that the tandem exemption may be written into Part 103. All three — separation, tugs, and tandem — are "plums" that we hoped to get. We’ll see. Stuff happens. ••• Before we get into some accessory product news this month, I want to say thanks for the effort and goodbye to the Rigid Wing Reader. Tireless publisher and writer, Chuck McGill, has chosen to cease publishing. McGill reached his 12th issue — a prearranged decision point — and was still "hoping for a larger response than that which materialized." Ironically McGill had just announced the formation of the U.S. Ultralight Sailplane Association (USUSA) for which RWR might have become the association newsletter, …not that McGill was angling for such duty, though. With the Swift out and selling reasonably well, with Danny Howell’s Apex coming on the market for sale, and with Bobby Bailey’s Tempest available for sale now, those seeking "alternative soaring" have a few choices. More projects, like a modernized version of Klaus Hill’s Super Floater, are also coming. However, enthusiasts will have to obtain their info from sources other than RWR. I’ll be watching the field as I have for years and will report here and in my Kitplanes magazine column called "The Light Stuff." See ya, Chuck. THANKS! ••• FlyStuff Time: Mike Klettke sent a sample of his MDK Prolite Sports Shield eyewear. You wouldn’t call them sunglasses, but they work where sunglasses suffer… in windy environments such as flying hang gliders. The polarized wrap-around lens is shatterproof and scratch resistant. MDK claims it blocks 100% of UVa and UVb light. Prolites truly are very light (just over 1 oz.), colorful, have a stretchy, adjustable band, and they float. I found them comfortable and my wife thought they were cool looking. Get more info by calling 503/653-3778. ••• Believe it or not, the ballistic ‘chute field for hang gliders is getting crowded. In addition to mainstays BRS and Second Chantz, another company is selling air-powered rockets, and a fourth is selling solid fuel rockets. A second air-rocket from Air Thrust turned up in the just-released Paragliding The Magazine New Pilot Special Edition. And Gunnison Gliders of Colorado sent a testamonial emphasizing satisfaction with Recovery Concepts Int’l (RCI) who makes a solid fuel rocket like the one BRS sells. Neither company has a presence in HG mag, but Gunnison’s Rusty Whitley gave me RCI’s number: 916/661-7243. I have no info for Air Thrust. ••• Gunnison, by the way, is a shop offering lessons and sales for HG and PG. Plus they make various sewn goods (harnesses and bags). In view of summertime water towing and efforts like the Zeiset/Combs tow boat project, Gunnison’s Flotation Harness may find a market. "Built similar to a type 5 life jacket," says Whitley, the harness comes with back and head flotation plus a rescue handle. The stirrup style harness comes in three sizes from $135-165. Dealer pricing is available. Call 303/641-9315. ••• Sail Wings has a new material for use in making glider bags. The Mylar UV material "will show creases with use but is very tough stuff," says proprietor Larry Haney. The sample he sent was indeed nearly impossible to tear even after starting with a scissors. Sail Wings says they make all bags on a custom basis, with "no generic bags to flap in the wind." Call 501/663-3166. ••• HG Writer GW Meadows has a new aspect of his Just Fly catalog operation: a Glider Clearinghouse. For $5, GeeDub will list any of your hang gliding gear, and send a printout to those who call his 800-number. He can computer organize the info so buyers can focus on specific stuff they want to buy. "Subscribers" pay $10 which covers fax or mailing of the list. It’s a neat idea to move stuff with much more timeliness than the classified ads in HG and if enough people participate, the service could become quite useful. Call 800/546-3596. ••• Think you’ve seen it all? Bet you missed "Cliff Notes," a funky little booklet for those of you too burned out to answer one more wuffo question. You can either, (A) record your own voice on a tape recorder and play it to the wuffs or, (B) buy a stack of David Miller’s books to hand out before you "jump." The artwork is stick figures and the text is hard to read but for $4.70 ppd, it may keep some blabbermouth from driving you nuts. Write 3121 Skyland Dr., Chamblee GA 30341. ••• For those who cannot soar another thermal till their HG video collection is 100% complete, better not leave out the aptly-named "E-Team Raw" video, dedicated to those who popularized the derisive landing call that Paul Voight attempted to immortalize in his Whack tapes. To order for $18, call 909/678-2437. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Fax or V-mail: 612/450-0930. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine