ST. PAUL, MINN. — The season is hot and the flying is sizzling… even here in Minnesota, where at the beginning of May Gerry Uchytil got nearly 100 miles in his quest for 200 in the state. About the feat fellow pilot Bruce Bolles says, "Oh, he’ll do it; he’s obsessed… and good." Way south, Wallaby Ranch reports many 50-mile flights and a 100-miler. I’ve got more news of active shops, but first some glider updates. ••• The Ram Air is gone and the XC is… back. Back!? Well, only in that the sail underside reads, "XC." Many of you can remember Bob Wills and his XC, a glider many of us flew quite successfully. Wills endured the last year as a "tough one for us all," and has now released their new bird, the Cross Country, complete with numerous enhancements. Their dealer bulletin also says, "This is the first time we have ever had a glider without a scoop that beat the Ram Air at gliding speeds." Certified with and without winglets — still being evaluated by master designer, Steve Pearson — Wills says the Cross Country had a measurable gliding advantage at 25 [mph], and a slight advantage the rest of the way through the speed range, all the way to 65 mph!" The new top-of-the-line Wills sells for $4,700. ••• In other Wills Wing notes, their ProLine (accessory division) has lowered the price on the Digifly vario VL-100 to only $475, quite a bargain. Call ProLine at 714/998-0647. ••• Air-Sports International (ASI) has reorganized and changed names. Now called AirSports Inc., the company will continue to produce the Dream series, formerly of Bennett’s Delta Wing. Their services include parts for all products once sold by Delta Wing. In addition AirSports says it will produce the Vector line of "high performance recreational flex wings," and will continue to supply wings for powered trike ultralight builders. ••• In restructuring, AirSports set up a new division — U.S. AirSports — run by veteran Paul Burns. Operating from his home area of Lake Elsinore, Burns will conduct the manufacturing of AirSports gliders. President Teddy Mack and AirSports, Inc., are based in Cloverdale, California. Call 1-800/444-4359 for a dealer in your area. For technical questions, call Burns at 909/678-5075. ••• Longtime sailmaker, Dick Cheney, has announced the formation of a new glider company, called Blue Sky Aircraft. With right-hand man, John Heiney, the two plan to offer an entire new line of gliders. Blue Sky will operate from Mountain Green airport in Morgan, Utah where UP replacement parts can be obtained. Cheney is well known for his sailwork, dating back to and before the Fledgling. He also makes sail sets for many ultralight aircraft, and is the principal of Wind Walker Aircraft, the redesigner and manufacturer of the SuperFloater, sold through U.S. Aviation. Blue Sky did not announce details, prices, or descriptions of their gliders, but this information will be released in a reasonable time frame, says Cheney. An experienced manufacturing staff is employed by the company at this time. Most pilots are familiar with the Blue Sky team members and are invited to call 801/876-3003 during normal business hours. ••• Several shops are gearing up for good seasons. In June’s "PL," I covered a number of Florida operations. This month, we range wider. Let’s start way west in the Hawaiian Islands. ••• Well-known photographer, Gerry Charlebois, announced the opening of his Birds of Paradise Airpark in mid-April. He’ll use an Airborne Edge Trike as a tug from his 750-foot airstrip. I’ve flown the excellent Edge and it should snatch a glider from the field easily enough. Charlebois will tow you to the main range, above 5,500 foot Mt. Waialeale. He says, "You can soar the beautiful cascading waterfalls filmed in Jurassic Park. Birds of Paradise is located on the island of Kauai where he can boast 300-days-per-year tradewinds. If they aren’t cooperating, "a 14,000 foot aerotow will make for a helluva sled ride!" With gliders for rent and an on-site Bed & Breakfast, you’ll want to call 808/822-5309 or 639-1067. ••• Back on the mainland, competition pilot, Dave Sharp is running The Soaring Center. Made months ago, the decision to drop the UP from their name proved foresighted. Based at the foot of Utah’s famous Point of the Mountain site, The Soaring Center was founded in 1991. Since last fall, Sharp has been the store’s manager and he’s not only brought in other hang glider brands, but added paragliders, and recently, the SuperFloater. TSC offers lessons for both hang gliding and paragliding as well as sales for all types of equipment. Though he laments his air time has been cut — a situation any shop owner understands — Sharp is excited about the potential he sees for TSC. Call 801/576-6460. ••• Mountain Wings in New York has jumped into paragliding, adding dimension to their active hang gliding operation at the Ellenville site. Proprietors Greg and Judy Black have linked up with Lars Linde to provide paragliding services. A highly experienced instructor from Sweden, Linde has teaching credentials from three countries. With the Blacks he formed the Eastcoast Paragliding Center (EPC). Linde’s experience includes over 10,000 tows of paragliders, "…the only way they did it over there," says Greg Black. Mountain Wings distributes the Swift and new SuperFloater, and the shop offers several glider lines, recently adding Wills Wing intermediate models to the list. On top of this activity, Black has secured approval to run a tow operation at the local airport in Ellenville. Call 914/647-3377 for more info. ••• Saying he will be "the only aerotowing facility in Canada," Armand Accttione bought a Dragonfly tug in the fall of 1993. Accttione serves as H.P.A.C. liaison to Transport Canada. For this season he’s started a hang gliding school called The Hang Gliding Shop. Open every day from May 1 to October 23, the HGS will offer tandem instruction, towing, and glider sales. Accttione hopes that because of the weaker Canadian dollar, U.S. pilots may want to come north and fly the Toronto, Ontario area. Fax to 905/833-3547 or call Armand’s cellular at 416/518-0111. ••• In closing, an error correction. I stated the price of the Ball M19e electronic flight deck to be $495. The correct retail is $450. Hopefully my error didn’t inconvenience anyone. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Leave a message at, or fax to: 612/450-0930. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine