ST. PAUL, MINN., — The glare of spotlights this month turns to GW Meadow’s U.S. Nationals which took place at Quest Air the week after Malcolm Jones’ Wallaby Open concluded. ••• Weather wasn’t quite as cooperative and the organization was different, but the U.S. Nationals are now history and Jim Lee is our national champion, edging out top-ranked Mike Barber by a mere seven points (nothing, really, in the course of a whole contest week). Prior to the two Florida events, Barber had been #1 ranked in the U.S. team scheme though new stats will now be needed. • Neither man outdid the dynamic duo of Manfred Ruhmer and Oleg Bondarchuk (ranked #4 and #1 in the world scheme prior to these two meets). In addition, web writer Davis Straub also indicated several pilots from Brazil did well… as all these non-USA pilots had done at the Wallaby meet. • All in all, Florida was host to two grand events and both are angling for a repeat next year, so say the rumor mills. Yup, both Jones and Meadows will reportedly request meets at the same time of year for 2000. Wallaby would come first if this actually happens, again immediately following the Sun ‘n Fun airshow just 30 miles down the freeway (in Lakeland, FL). Then GW plans a follow-on meet, no doubt along the lines of his Atlantic Coast Championships which occurred at Wallaby last year. Meadows’ meet would supposedly be held at Quest again. This is great stuff in my east-coast-mentality mind and, if the meets come off as tentatively planned, aerotowing will continue its inexorable rise into the skies. • Surely a dandy report will appear with photos, so I’ll move on for now, but both organizations (Wallaby and GW at Quest) deserve applause for good meets. It ain’t easy to do one of these, folks! ••• Rigid wing news continued to break right as the U.S. Nats ended and pilots began to depart the area. The Guggenmos E-7 arrived and was flown by a few interested and qualified pilots. According to various reports, it is beautifully done, no surprise given Josef’s wonderful reputation as a hang gliding design "artist." However, some felt the control surfaces were too small and the flaps too tiny to be effective. Various comments were voiced surrounding the roll rate of the E-7 and its performance was compared to the Exxtacy and the ATOS. • All this makes me think that we are still very much in the infancy of control-surface wings for hang gliding. I’ve been flying three-axis ultralight aircraft for many years now, and have more hours logged with control surfaces than I do with weight shift (which, I readily admit, I still prefer despite thousands of three-axis hours). I have yet to fly one of these rigid D-cell wings, but I’ve understood from several pilots what the roll rates are on these new wings. Reports ranging from 6 to 8 seconds for a 45¡-to-45¡ roll reversal are pretty sluggish in my mind. Many of the ultralights I fly are so fast, it’s hard to measure the rates. Some are barely over one second for this same action. Of course, I know sailplanes are also pretty slow in roll but they have a rudder and many are quite dominated by rudder response for roll input. To me, this shows we are still new to the idea of control surfaces on our hang gliders and though I believe rigids are here to stay, I still see lots of opportunity for our beloved flex wings. ••• While I spent time at Wallaby in April, Malcolm introduced me to the art of Lori Sanchez. My goodness, what nice stuff! I’m hardly an art expert, but what I see of her work is simply outstanding. Wallaby had tee shirt designs by Lori and a series of quite lovely note cards with five different art images, each appearing to springboard from the art of famous artists. I liked the $25 note card set (10 cards and envelopes) so much that I couldn’t bring myself to use them. If you’d like to see more or buy her hang gliding art, contact Wallaby Ranch. I think you’ll be as impressed as I was. ••• How do you get very excited over a humble product like the Linknife? Oh, get yourself in a tough spot and don’t have one; then you’ll get the point, I submit. Just before the Florida contests were about to start, developer Peter Birren delivered ten more of his Tow Releases to NASA for use on the X-38 Space Station Lifeboat. Peter says, "NASA engineers worked for many months to devise a way of releasing a failed parachute deployment. Now after a year of successful tests, these releases have been proven to work, even under the heavy loads of a returning spacecraft with lives at stake." Birren added that this order brings the total of Linknifes delivered to almost 650 since its invention as a hang glider towing release in 1995 and they’re still only $15 ("even to NASA," he adds!). Attaboy, Peter! Club and dealer pricing is also available. Info: 847-640-0171 or firstname.lastname@example.org. ••• To close… On the national scene and from NAA comes the list of their picks for the top ten flights during 1998. Understand that NAA represents a wide range of aviation so some years we see no hang glider or ultralight flights commended. However, 1998 was a banner year. NAA cites a 179 statute mile flight from New Mexico to Texas by Will Gadd in his paraglider; Ramy Yanetz’s 251 statute mile rigid wing flight, also from New Mexico to Texas; and Gary Osaba’s 315 statute mile flight in his ultralight glider, from Kansas to Texas. Not bad, three of the top ten flights were from our "realm." Good thing Texas doesn’t mind all these airborne visitors, huh? Thanks for the recognition, NAA. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine