DUNLAP, TENN. — Back in the Chattanooga area and up at Henson Gap for Memorial Day weekend, I was hoping to do a lot of soaring on the newly completed Cumulus motorglider. However, with only one day remaining, a stationary weather system was foiling those plans. Meanwhile I had some time to put out another "Product Lines." So, on with the news, as promised last month. ••• First off, congratulations are deserved for friend and fellow USHGA Board of Director member, Pete Lehmann. He can now claim he flew the longest flight in the east, no slight feat after worthy accomplishments in the past. Previous marks had been held by Mike Neuman (135 mile Penn. state record), the more difficult 157 mile East Coast Record by Tony Smolder, and the east of the Mississippi record by Larry Bunner (178 miles). Pete managed an excellent 182 miles on May 7th. He’s already written an interesting account of the accomplishment but I wanted to add my appreciation of fine flying by an excellent pilot. Attaboy, Pete! ••• U.S. hang glider manufacturing is taking a new turn, in my view. I see increasing orientation to what I call niche marketing. Here in the late ’90s, we have one major manufacturer in Wills Wing who supplies the bulk of new gliders in a full lineup of four models. Following that is a series of much smaller builders reinforced with some import operations. The oldest and best known of these is Seedwings and Bob Trampenau’s beautiful Sensors. Now Seedwings is trailed by Altair, John Heiney’s new company to supply the innovative Predator. In Florida is Terry Reynold’s Acme company finishing the TR3 carbon fiber glider. In addition, Kamron Blevins has begun North Wing Design. ••• Kamron is known to some enthusiasts as he once ran an enterprise in Washington state encompassing a full sail loft, school, and dealership. Since then he’s done stints with PacAir and Delta Wing. Now that they’ve left the business, Blevins has established North Wing to fulfill several needs he perceives. • First are items for PacAir or Delta Wing gliders. Kamron says you can get "parts, sail repair, and professional technical support" for PacAir gliders. He adds, "We can also supply all airframe and rigging parts for the Dream line." He invites any pilots or dealers flying those gliders to contact him for parts or sail repair. • Secondly, and perhaps the main thrust of North Wing, is wings for powered trikes. Blevins says he saw, "…a need in the trike market for a high-quality U.S.-made wing designed by a professional, not a copy of a hang glider like a Dream or an old Demon." He recognizes that hang gliders and trike wings are "different animals and that a hang glider should not be used as a trike wing." Many ultralight trike dealers agree with this assessment. • North Wing is making three trike-capable wings. The Mustang 19 was "designed around aerotowing," and will reportedly fly at 28 mph while towing. Blevins says it is great for two place training as well. Next is the Mustang 16, a smaller and sportier wing with a speed range up to 65 mph. Finally, he has the Contour 14.5, an 88% double surface wing that can race to 72 mph while landing at only 22 mph, says Blevins. The top-of-the-line Contour is intended for cross country touring and training flights. • North Wing is not entirely focused on trike wings and therefore hang gliding dealers may be quite interested to know that the new company will make 190 and 220 Eaglets, which, interestingly!, are available in kit form. • Prices and availability on hang gliders, trike wings, and parts from North Wing can be obtained by contacting Blevins at P.O. Box 128 in Marina, CA 93933. You may also call 408-883-9142 or 672-8659. ••• While Wills, Seedwings, Altair, Acme, and North Wing are Yankee enterprises, several import operations are also thriving. These include long-established Moyes, of course, but relative newcomers AV8 (Laminars from Italy), U.S. Airwave based at Lookout Mountain (Concepts from England), and now, GW Meadows’ U.S. Aeros, Inc., which will import gliders from Russia, of all places. This newest operation has a lineup of three glider models • The Target is a single surface glider available in 145 and 180 square foot sizes. While similar to WW’s hot-selling Falcon, the Target adds a mylar L.E. insert, and a lower twist wing, says Meadows. Lighter pitch and roll pressures than the familiar Dream come from using a kingpost hang point. "I believe [it is] the only single surface [glider] ever to do that," observes GW. The customer gets a choice of sail colors for only $2,650. • The Stealth (with kingpost) is only available in a 158 square foot size. This double surface model glider has all the modern features like rope VG and rear haulback and sells for $4,100. Like the Target it uses Polyant Dimensions sailcloth from Germany which Meadows says is "the same supplier as Wills Wing." • However, the "head turner" is the Stealth KPL (kingpostless). Like all the Aeros brand gliders, says GW, "It has the same great finish and sailwork… but has a built-up aluminum spar for the cross bar." He continues, explaining, "Where the majority of other manufacturers are using carbon fiber (much more expensive; same weight), the KPL uses a conventional spar that has been proven in general aviation for over 60 years." The KPL is presently available in 132 and 152 square foot sizes and according to Meadows, "The 144 is still being finished up and should be undergoing the initial pitch and load test [for the German DHV] before long." Perhaps the real surprise is the quite modest $4,800 price in the USA, which includes the shipping and import expenses. GW claims this is $1,000-1,200 less than all other topless designs. • I’ll have more on the U.S. Aeros operations in a future "Product Lines," but you can call for further details at 919-480-2774. You can also fax to 919-480-0117. ••• Say, we’re outta room once again. Next month I expect to have some breaking news on Brightstar’s new Millennium (a partially cloth wing, lower-priced follow-on to the Swift). 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 to CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine