ST. PAUL, MINN. — The season seemed to take off in particularly significant way for me and about a hundred others, as the Wallaby Ranch hosted top-ranked pilots at the Atlantic Coast Championships (ACC). The place was a hotbed of activity as the event opened, right on the heels of the Sun ‘n Fun airshow only 35 miles away. After four days and four rounds, the action was slowed a bit by weather. But I’ve got preliminary results for you as this issue goes to press. You are sure to see a thorough report in the magazine. And those of you on Davis Straub’s eMail list got daily updates. In fact, after fetching results from the web (GW Meadows’ JustFly site) on most days, I got the final figures from Straub’s eMail list. Thanks, Davis! Wired pilots can subscribe at email@example.com for no cost. ••• From that report, here’s a summary: After flying consistently for the whole meet, Ramy Yenetz won the rigid wing and overall class flying a new Brightstar Millennium that he borrowed for the contest. He flew one of three in the event. • Mike Barber, flying a new Airwave Xtreme — developed at Lookout Mountain, Tennesse — won flex wing/topless class. He came from behind to unseat Robin Hamilton on a Laminar ST; Hamilton had been in first at the end of four rounds, but suffered with many other pilots as Round 5 served up uneven mileage (only Larry Tudor made goal the last day)… it was a tough day, evidenced by second place finisher, Chris Arai, reportedly taking no fewer than five tows before departing on course. (His determination was rewarded and he moved up to second from third place.) • Nancy Smith won the kingpost class on a Moyes SX2. Look for fuller coverage and official results from meet organizers; all information here is preliminary and unofficial. ••• The distribution of gliders at the ACC reveals the dominance of the topless glider concept, at least for competitions. Through Round 4, topless gliders — flexwing or D-cell — made up the first 35 positions. Of 46 competitors listed, only five kingpost gliders were entered. Rigid wing pilots on a Millennium or an Exxtasy represented over 21%, the highest I can recall since the glory days of the Fledgling in the ’70s. • The Stealth from U.S. Aeros generated the most contestants. Nine of them competed. Given nearly 20% of the field, the Ukrainian glider is showing its sales strength as reported here last month. • In a four-way mix for a nominal second place were eight AV8 Laminar ST models that have found many new customers; seven Moyes’ entries including the down-under company’s topless CSX model (5 competed); no less than seven Flight Design Exxtasy D-cell gliders; and six Wills topless Fusion gliders. Each of these four brands had roughly a sixth of the field. • Grouped in the final tier of the field were three Airwave Xtremes, three Altair Predators, and three Brightstar Milleniums, making their first competitive excursion (bet they’re glad they came!). ••• Results from the contest show interesting results considering the makeup of entry models as we just saw. As the last results were tallied, three models had two-thirds of their entries in the top 15 finishers. Wills Wing’s Fusion had an excellent showing with four of six in the top 15 (including 2nd, 5th, 6th, and 15th). Brightstar should also be happy with two of three entries in the top 15 plus the winner’s circle (1st and 9th). The U.S.-developed Airwave Xtreme also showed well with two of three entries in the top 15 (in 3rd and 10th). Having eight Laminars in the field, the three in the top 15 gives them 38% in the higher ranks. Exxtasy placed two of eight in the top 15, for a 29% representation; the CSX had one of five in the top 15 for 20%; and the Stealth had one of nine entries for an 11% showing in the top 15. Please note that these are merely product observations that claim no contest validity. ••• Performing a 450-point contest via tow launch is no longer the rare event it once was. In fact, towing continues its inexorable climb to put more gliders in the air. I have more reports of towing developments, and they seem to arrive every month. • I misplaced one eMail advisory… forgive me, fellahs, but some pilots west of Chicago have ordered a big-engined Dragonfly and plan to operate from a crop dusting strip (run by one of the partners). If you’ll give me your name and number again, I’ll mention it so area pilots can come by and see what you’ve got. • Gregg McNamee has enlarged and improved his central Florida operation. He’s now based at the Dunnellon airport in the town of the same name near U.S. Highway 41, a few miles west of Interstate 75. The airport is an old Navy base used to train glider pilots for WWII so it seems natural that Gregg is using it to train hang glider pilots. He says, "We’ve got 500 open acres in a square with 7,000 acres of open pasture to the north and more to the west." The airport also supports aerobatic training (in conventional aircraft) and Gregg indicates that the upside-down crowd are glad to have him present. McNamee’s Graybird Airsports kept their same phone for info: 352-245-8263. • And a couple months ago, I made a weak attempt at humor by referring to farming hang glider pilots. I heard from farmer/pilot Jim Watson of Changing Winds Farms. He wanted to tell me that, "Ohio has a great towing setup in Columbus. He often tows behind Willie Hill, who is "tried and true as our tow pilot, as he loves his trike and towing us where ever." Watson also reminded me that Columbus is home to Matt Kollman who is manufacturing his rigid wing Raptor. These new D-cell gliders are definitely on the rise, and Watson added that Kollman "pretty much whips us all." Jim didn’t provide me a phone, but here’s his eMail address for Ohio pilots who want to check out the operation: firstname.lastname@example.org. ••• Lots left for next month. So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Fax or Vmail to 612-450-0930. Send eMail to CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine