ST. PAUL, MINN. — FAA released the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) generally referred to as Sport Pilot. I won’t dwell on this as I’ve recently written about the new rule. But please watch Hang Gliding magazine and ask your USHGA leaders for advice on responding during the Comment Period — which is now open. lll Foreigners have done well at past U.S. Nationals. Now some Yankees turned it around. Congratulations to Mike Barber (Moyes Lightspeed 4) who came in first in the “Combined Open” category at the Australian Open in January. He finished second in “Class I Open” behind Ukrainian Oleg Bondarchuck (Aeros Combat 2). u Then, in the Australian Nationals, Paris Williams (Laminar St14) took the top spot in Class I. Davis Straub (ATOS 145) finished first in the “Overall” category. Good goin’ Yanks! lll Speaking of top Ukraine pilot Bondarchuck, U.S. importer, GW Meadows, writes, “With Oleg doing so well in the competitions in Australia, I’ve had lots of calls and e-mails from customers wanting the ‘low down’ on the new Combat 2.” Among changes from the earlier model, GW reports Combat 2 incorporates a slightly different sail cut, airfoil, span wise sail tension, and rib distribution. U.S. Aeros says it utilizes a “completely different cloth on the leading edge, which allows for more reliable shaping throughout the speed range of the glider.” u Based on factory testing and Oleg’s contest experience, GW reports, “Handling is improved, as are the landing characteristics.” He says that a big difference on Combat 2 is the availability of the “micro-drag” control frame which utilizes the Wills Wing upright profiles mated to Aeros’ new modern corner brackets and their own carbon speedbar. Pitch testing has been done and Combat 2 passed with “flying colors,” reports Meadows. More info: firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-480-3552. lll While we’re talking about pilots who did well in the Aussie contests, the story gets exciting. Near the end of January, Davis Straub wrote in his OZ Report that, “I was flying [ATOS 145] straight and level when instantly my nose went straight down and the glider picked up a whole lot of speed in less than a second. I had no control of the glider at this point and couldn’t believe the speed or the forces upon me.” Kraig Coomber was flying nearby and said that “the tuck and the break of the wing happened as one event.” u After successfully deploying, Straub recalled, “I was dreading coming in so fast, but happy to have a parachute (even if it was 16 gore).” u One European pilot hearing of Straub’s experience wrote: “I asked [local expert] Henry Helmich from Parasail [about canopy sizes]. He works for the army, making and folding parachutes and he makes parachutes for the Dutch and German hang gliding market. He was very clear. The difference in opening time for a larger or smaller ‘chute for your weight is in tenths of seconds, if measurable at all. The only thing that really counts is that the ‘chute is dry and recently folded. ‘Chute material absorbs moisture from the air, which makes the material stick to each other and folding it regularly keeps the material fluffy.” (From my perspective as a marketer of emergency parachutes, you don’t really care how fast the canopy opens as much as how much altitude is consumed before opening.) Davis got the message. He wrote: “Lesson — get a twenty-gore chute.” lll Wills Wing is pleased with their new computerized sail plotter. “Nine years ago, in conjunction with our move to a new, expanded facility, Wills Wing installed a state-of-the-art, computer-controlled Autometrix sail-cutting machine.” Wills reports the use of this precise cutter/plotter has given them the ability to produce prototype hang glider sails and harness designs directly from computer design files. u “We’ve replaced our original machine with the highly upgraded Autometrix AutoCut 7000 model,” says Wills. The new unit features repeatable accuracy to within ten thousandths of an inch over the entire surface of the fifty-foot by five-foot table, says Wills. u Factory test pilots become aware that “dimensional variations as small as sixty thousandths of an inch over the thirty-two foot span of a hang glider can yield perceptible changes in flight characteristics, so this level of accuracy is a matter of practical importance in hang glider manufacture.” Info: WillsWing.com or call 714-998-6359. lll Alerted by U.S. distributor, Rich Burton, I looked on their Website to see news of Icaro’s new rigid wing. Rich says the new wing was “developed by Christian Ciech and Manfred Ruhmer.” In early February, the first pitch test work done by the German DHV proved successful. So far, the new rigid wing is unnamed. They are considering Astron, Dynamic, Orbital, Stratos. If you want to influence the judges, go to Icaro2000.com. Info: email@example.com or 760-721-0701 lll Titled after the Kitty Hawk Kites annual event of the same name, Hang Gliding Spectacular is dedicated to Michael “Hollywood” Champlin (who happened to give editor Jim Palmieri his first book sale). HGS is a 247-page book with 70 individual stories. Though I didn’t really expect it, I found myself flipping pages to yet another story. “There I was…” stories are legendary in hang gliding. Once in a while such tales are fascinating but usually they’re somebody else’s experience that get long in the tooth rather quickly. Those in HGS were quite readable, I felt. The $24.95 book is also unusual in offering a CD with the printed volume so as to provide video clips, many photos, and illustrations. Info: Skydog@rev.net or 540-772-4262. lll So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930. Please note my new e-mail address of News@ByDanJohnson.com… but you can still use CumulusMan@aol.com for the foreseeable future. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine