ST. PAUL, MINN., — It’s history by the time you read this, but at the time of writing I was looking forward to seeing the Stalker in person at the Indianapolis Air Sports Expo, that gathering of sport aircraft of many types. The Aeros Stalker is a long time coming perhaps because it features numerous differences from other rigid wing designs. ••• Importer GW Meadows says Aeros has a full roster of competitive gliders for the new year, of which the Stalker is just one. He says, "The Stealth Combat is currently available in the 154 size, but a smaller size is currently being worked on at the factory." He believes that Combat is not only tops in performance, but is very user friendly as well. Aeros says the glider completed and passed the German hang glider certification tests. Combat uses 7075 springtip ribs, a Matrix top sail, in-flight self adjusting sprogs, and the Ukrainian producer says their reflex system supports more of the trailing edge of the glider. GW indicated, "We will be marketing this glider to not only the serious competition pilot but to the serious cross country pilots." U.S. Aeros recommends the Stealth 3 with conventional Dacron sailcloth for recreational cross country pilots. ••• But lots of excitement surrounds the rigid Stalker (reported here in January 2000). On a recent trip to the Ukraine, Meadows wrote, "After seeing the Stalker, I had perma-grin for days. This is truly the most beautiful wing I’ve seen mounted on 2 downtubes." Of course, he’s biased but based on the construction and changed control surfaces and their linkages, this does sound like a truly different rigid wing. • Putting a finer point on it, U.S. Aeros says, "The trailing edge consists of flaps, ailerons and spadds. Flaps and ailerons are self explanatory, but the SPADD (SPlit Aileron Drag Device) is a new feature. It is a device attached out at the very tip of the trailing edge that produces an extra amount of drag for the inside wing." Aeros claims that the spadd helps the pilot coordinate the turns better and I could easily agree based on my experience with flying spoileron-equipped aircraft in conjunction with ailerons. The aileron deflects upward on one wing and the spadd also deflects upward. Yet an additional part of the spadd moves downward below the wing to produce a little extra drag in that area, drag which is complimentary to the turn (like a spoileron). It doesn’t take much out at the wingtip. Stalker’s ailerons are conventional in that they operate differentially meaning that they do not move up and down the same distance. This helps regulate the drag produced by control deflections and is on every three-axis aircraft. However, the spadd also deflects on an accelerating scale as the aileron is used more fully. For last second corrections on final, this extra authority may be appreciated. On whole, the Stalker seems well enough thought out to overcome the delay in its introduction. I should have more for you next month. Info: justfly.com or 252-480-3552. ••• Speaking of new designs, Wills Wing is flying an early prototype in competitions, breaking tradition with their usual close-to-the-vest development of new gliders. The new wing is topless with curved tips. So far unnamed to my knowledge, the proto was flown in a couple Australian competitions by highly-ranked Paris Williams. I can’t recall hearing about a WW development glider sighted at a meet before. Reports from those who saw it gave WW credit for a polished early prototype. Williams was reportedly pleased with the design at this stage. ••• You can ask questions about it at the company’s 28th Anniversary party, again held at the Wallaby Ranch, March 14-18, 2001. The big builder says, "This will be the fourth year that world renowned Wallaby Ranch has hosted the Wills Wing party and demo days." Visitors are invited to fly Falcons, Ultra Sports, Fusions, two new sizes of the Eagle, and the new curved tip competition glider. The huge Condor trainer is evidently staying on the beach sites; it may be inappropriate for aerotowing (though the Wallaby team could probably figure a way to tow almost anything). Info: WillsWing.com or 714-998-6359. ••• The FAI blessed the longest-ever "straight distance" flight by Davis Straub last August, only days after Dave Sharp’s also-stunning flight of 311 miles — at least he’s the first man ever to fly past 500 kilometers. FAI in Paris ratified Straub’s achievement in Class O (oh, not zero) in Sub-class O-2, meaning a hang glider with rigid primary structure and with movable control surfaces. Since FAI records in metric the 347 miles got translated to 559.7 kilometers — Sharp’s was 502.8 km. Attaboys, Davis and Dave! You furthered the credibility of hang gliding. ••• Top Czech pilot, Tomas Suchanek, set a flurry of records in Australia at the end of last year. He’s reported to be occupied with flying and selling sailplanes these days, but it appears he still has the edge needed for cross country flying. Tomas entered the books late last year with a "speed over 100 km triangle" hitting 40 km/h (25 mph), "speed over 300 km triangle" where Suchanek hit 45 km/h (28+ mph), and a "speed over 50 km triangle" where he blazed along at 46 km/h (almost 29 mph). He also took a record for 25 km, and the longest of all, a distance over a triangle award. Suchanek racked up 357 km (223 mi) and averaged 45 klicks all the while. Dang! • Looking at the two long flights, I think averaging nearly 30 mph in a flight of 200+ miles is pretty impressive. All Tomas’ flights were flown on a Moyes Litespeed 4 and took place at the recent Moyes World Record Expedition at Wilcannia in Western NSW-Australia. Another pilot Attila Bertik of Hungary, flew a Moyes Litespeed 5 to a "Speed over 200 km triangle" hitting 41 km/h or close to 26 mph. Congratulations to both pilots for excellent flying. Info: 530-888-8622 or FlyaMoyes@aol.com. ••• 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. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine