ST. PAUL, MINN — With this issue, “Product Lines” begins its twelfth year. I thank each of you for your loyal readership. Every year, “Product Lines” sets a new record for a continuous run of any hang gliding column… it literally couldn’t have been done without your interest. ||| Let’s look south to the new, improved Florida towing scene. The main attraction is the “elephant aileron”-equipped Bobby Bailey aerotug (also see Barbara and Steve Flynn’s story in the February ’90 Hang Gliding). After the kickoff Sun ‘n’ Fun airshow in Lakeland, Florida, the Dragonflyers club had an Easter weekend cross country contest at Lake Wales. The close dates allowed a number of out-of-staters to get some air behind the King Cobra ultralight. Bailey has been the pivotal designer, but he’s had active “consultants” like Campbell Bowen, a longtime kingpin of Florida hang gliding. Bobby himself towed me to 6,600 feet above flat Florida. We went so high, I could see each coast easily. After release, I descended for 3,000 feet before I got back down to the lift. On tow, pitch was nearly hands off. It’s best to input continuous, small lateral corrections. The bar remains out by your face, not at your waist. I didn’t find it as slow as promoted (avg. 32 mph on my Ball 652), but it’s vastly better than behind a Cosmos aerotug trike or a standard ultralight (which perhaps were really flying 40). I’m told faster gliders like the HP series or Moyes XS require no pitch pressure at all. Several Dragonflyer club members have their own ground launch vehicle (GLV) which makes the departure easy and safe, one even for a supine pilot. Only the occasional pilot launched at a yawed angle, and I think this could be controlled by using only the newer GLV designs with linked, castoring wheels. A second aerotug is now operational. They also have several pilots qualified and willing to fly the ultralights. For them it works, beautifully so. ||| The X-C contest was thwarted by inconsistent conditions over the three day event. But Gary “Sugarman” Davis nearly broke the state record, with his one-mile-short 74 mile trek toward Fort Myers. ||| The glum aero tow news, reported by Hawaii airpark developer Bill Fulton, is that Advanced doesn’t seem at all interested in selling the tow rigs. Ah ha, the good news is… Bobby and wife Connie are, about as you read this, setting up a shop in Australia under the sponsorship of Bill Moyes. Yep, turns out Bill may begin a production of the Bailey tug. For Bobby: the recognition he deserves for his many innovative contributions to sport flying; for Bill: a working prototype aero tow vehicle; for the rest of us: the opportunity to purchase these tugs from someone ready to develop and support the method of towing. Is it a case of yet another foreign company doing something with Yankee technology when Americans failed to pursue the chance. Consider Pacific Airwave, UP International, and Moyes USA… a good chunk of U.S. hang gliding muscle has foreign ownership. ||| Lest you think I’ve shortchanged other forms of towing… from all I hear, truck/platform towing strives on, presently far eclipsing aero towing in the sense of getting more pilots aloft (tho maybe not as precisely into thermal lift). Towing is widely spread; I have regular input from South Florida via truck and boat platform towing; near Chicago with the Reel Pilots club; and in Texas with ATOL or similar systems. These groups are towing safely and satisfyingly nearly every weekend. Many, excited by this activity, feel “towing holds great promise for the next phase of growth and development in American hang gliding.” ||| In other late-breaking news, USHGA’s Jerry Bruning and staff have positively secured the Transamerica liability insurance policy which was alarmingly denied, literally as the old policy expired. The company sent USHGA a FAX at 5:19 p.m. on Friday the 20th–too late to contact company officials for more explanation. They alleged a standard aviation exclusion ruled out coverage. Very oddly, no discussion had uncovered this exclusion earlier in the process. Hmmm? ||| Well folks… got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Or call (days at BRS) 612/457-7491; FAX 612/457-8651. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine