St. Paul, MINN — With this June issue of Hang Gliding, "Product Lines" enters its 13th year of continuous run, thanks to loyal readers and the many of you who have alerted me to news in our sport. Other columns have begun and eventually their authors retired, but this chatty column keeps flying. Yes, diver fans, there really is enough interesting hang gliding news to keep going for some 125 monthly columns (in the early days of "PL" in Whole Air, the column came out bimonthly). Thanks to all of you. Now, on with the show… ••• Aerotowing! It’s real and real fun, and before long, real obtainable. While ATOL and other suppliers like TLS have provided us with superlative platform towing hardware and the technology to tow to great heights and long distances, many like myself have felt that aerotowing was the superior way to launch. Except that it’s only superior if the tug is up to the special demand of towing hang gliders. ••• In April I visited with Steve and Barb Flynn, Russ Brown, and Malcolm Jones of the greater Orlando area. Russ and Malcolm helped get me several flights on the latest and greatest version of designer Bobby Bailey’s aerotug. Their earlier tug was merely a modification of an existing ultralight but Bailey has since done a complete redesign. The new, as yet unnamed model, is scratch-designed from the ground up to its towing purpose. Behind the effort is hang gliding megapersonality Bill Moyes. Matter of fact, Bailey wasn’t present for my test flight as he’s spending six months in Australia working on the design and initial fabrication. Meanwhile, Bobby’s superb Orlando "Support Group" continues to rack up the hours on the workhorse tug (200 hours already!). ••• A second group of hard working Floridians is the Miami Club, another tow group that uses platform ground and water vehicles. The South and Central Florida clubs supplied members regularly to work the USHGA booth in the NAA tent at the EAA Sun ‘n’ Fun Airshow. Miami’s Henry Stiriz brought up a large and effective ground simulator. Over the week, hundreds of aviation-aware convention goers got to acquire a feel for prone hang gliding. Thanks for all the hard work folks; the booth was manned every day without fail! This was great exposure for our sport. ••• The East Coast Championships immediately followed Sun ‘n’ Fun. You’ll see a report, but after counting glider brands at the World Meet, I thought the same might be interesting from the season’s first major meet. Leading the pack was Wills Wing at 33% of the field. In second place was Airwave (UK- or California-built, I don’t know) at 24% of the field. In third place was a strong showing by UP (mostly TRXs!) at 21%, giving these three 79% of all gliders competing. In a distant fourth, but making another good showing was Enterprise (10%); trailed by Seedwings (7%), and Moyes (5%). La Mouette continues to have no U.S. presence though they’re one of the international Big Four. ••• The meet was won by Bruce Case, a pilot of legendary skills but who rarely logs a win. Case flies almost exclusively in meets with no practice in between, yet earned the #2 slot at both last year’s Nationals and the Australian World Meet. An amazing performance, don’t you agree? ••• At the ECC, Dinosaur Nationals organizer Christine Reynolds corrected my rundown of the 450-point meets for ’91. They are: the ECC just referenced; the Sandia Classic (June 15-23), the U.S. National Team Championship (July 28 to August 3 at Dinosaur) and the Nationals (this year in the Owens). Regret misleading you earlier. Thanks, Christine. ••• Speaking of the Reynolds, Terry has chosen to leave the newly-reorganized UP. His TRX project will continue and the other members remain. Reynolds says the departure was amicable but differences prevented the relationship from continuing. Also, after his harrowing encounter with high-voltage power lines, Terry is rethinking his attitude about competitions and the pressures they place on pilots. ••• Other late-breaking news includes a report that Owens Composites — builder of the intriguing Swift — has dissolved and will join Danny Howell’s Glider Sports International. GSI is the builder of the Apex, the racy composite rigid wing reported here a few months back. The project is alive and will soon relocate to Southern California as promised. Former UP General Manager, Mitch MacAleer, has definitely joined the GSI team. But… more on this development in a future edition of "Product Lines." ••• Outta room once again… Got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Call 612/457-7492 (new number!); Fax: 612/457-8651 (same as before). THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine