ST. PAUL, MINN., — As a spring soaring season creeps ever closer, another new harness called the Tenax has been introduced by Woody Valley. Italian Ignazio Bernardi claimed the popular Euro harness had a 30% share of the pilots in the last World Meet in Monte Cucco. Woody Valley also has offerings for recreational pilots (the RS2), but the new Tenax is aimed precisely at the competition pilots who want the very least drag. Indeed, aerodynamics and ergonomics appear to be the push among all state-of-the-art harness makers. • Tenax features a "redesigned body shape" to improve comfort and drag reduction while also making entry easier. Tenax also has some internal pockets to help cleanliness but also has external access for two cameras, a radio, a drag ‘chute, and an emergency parachute. According to Bernardi, it is also "possible to install a ballistic parachute" (though this is not something with which U.S. maker BRS is familiar). Several American dealers represent Woody Valley. Check with them to see more of the European brand’s line. ••• I find it almost ironic to report that the only Y2K bug problem that seemed to directly affect hang gliding (so far as I’ve been informed anyway) involves Flytec instruments. According to a few users, the Flytec 4020 and 4030 (but not the 3030) reset at the 2000 rollover so that recording occurs on a 1-second interval. As this apparently limits barogram recording to 2.25 hours, those wishing to track longer flights may be frustrated. The fix is simple enough: check the interval used for recording and reset to another time, for example, 15-seconds. Some users also reported an error in the Alti 1 max height figure. Flytec is aware of these minor errors and can surely address them through software adjustments. ••• You have only a few days to plan your trip if you want to attend Wills Wing’s 27th birthday celebration this month. As they’ve done before, WW-brand will truck out a load of demo gliders for your soaring pleasure. In concert with Wallaby Ranch manager, Malcolm Jones, a major shindig is forecast. Central Florida enjoys good cross country weather this time of year… plus pilots can visit two other airparks: Quest Air, only a few miles to the north, and Graybird Airsports, up by Dunnellon — on your way into the state. Both are within reasonable drives, or good X-C flights. Call Wills Wing (714-998-6359) or Wallaby (914-424-0070) for details. ••• Speaking of flight parks, Austin Air Sports, created by Texans Steve Burns and Gaynelle Roach, is now based at the Hearne Municipal Airport. Burns’ involvement dates back to the late ’70s and after teaching his father to fly, the two of them report training over 4,000 students. Moving to Hearne on July 1 last year, AAS operates two Dragonfly tugs plus a trike. By the time you read this, "we will have two additional trikes," says Burns. Hearne has general aviation traffic but it’s light they report. Being an old military base, one runway is 7,200 feet long, which allows winch tows to 2,000 feet AGL. The airport sits on 600 acres, "with rolling farm land in every direction." More info: AustinAirSports.com or call 409-279-9382. ••• For those that aren’t into towing or who live a good distance from the growing list of airparks, more powered hang glider choices are arriving. Shorten it to "PHG" to skip the mouthful and consider that such contraptions include powered harnesses, like the Mosquito and even more established Minimum; superlight trikes like Lookout Mountain’s SkyCycle or Cosmos’ Samba; plus Australian John Reynold’s "nanolight" Thistledown (a personal project). In the last month or so, I’ve become aware of three new offerings: the Booster, Doodlebug, & Explorer. All are commercial products available for purchase. • The Booster comes from Pegasus Aviation, the UK’s largest builder of powered ultralight trikes. The company also has a hang gliding history and combining the two capabilities explains their entry. The power system is housed in a composite half-tube that can be added to many modern harnesses and then removed if unpowered flight is preferred. The sleek looking appendage to your harness ends in a folding prop to further reduce drag. Info: PegasusAviation.co.uk/pegframe • Flylight’s Ben Ashman, also of the UK, produces the Doodlebug which has the pilot sit supine above the control bar. You foot launch and then assume the seated position. The unit is said to be "beautifully finished," and a small front-end fairing is optional to keep your toes warm and drag reduced. Info: FlyLight@zetnet.co.uk • A Mosquito clone called the Explorer is being produced in Australia. Info: ffa.com.au/airtime/index3 • Finally, yet another variation is awkwardly-named Nargfly. This is unlike all the others, with a large, slow-turning prop in front of the pilot and the engine mounted on the front side of the control bar/keel junction. It still foot launches and lands but this is quite a different animal that I’m guessing will have slow acceptance because of the spinning thing right in front of you (a folding prop can’t work, for example). For those who’d like to look at all these PHGs, see the British site: www.woodleydowns.demon.co.uk/Manufacturers.htm • None of these machines come particularly cheap, but add up the cost of towing or maintaining a mountain-worthy vehicle and perhaps $5-9 Grand doesn’t sound too bad. I’ll do some further investigating on all these new powered machines. If they don’t turn you on (as I admit they do me), then skip this news and enjoy your quiet soaring. However, interest sent my way is keen enough that I’ll continue to track development details. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Message or fax to 651-450-0930. Send eMail to CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine