St. Paul, Minn. — Welcome to a new era for your magazine. After two tests and two surveys of the membership, USHGA has launched its new combined magazine. s I touched on this last month as I congratulated Gil Dodgen for his 25 years of service. But the magazine you are holding is indeed the most significant physical product of USHGA. Hope you’re enjoying the new look. lll These magazine changes come amid another sweeping change in American light aircraft operation. FAA is expected to release its new Sport Pilot and Light Sport Aircraft rule in the summer or fall of 2003. Many European powered aircraft makers are paying very close attention to this development as they see a golden opportunity to enter the world’s largest aviation marketplace. True, hang gliders and paragliders are well protected from the heavy hand of the law by virtue of the USA’s simple Part 103 rule which will NOT change. But the tugs which lift so many hang gliders into the sky will eventually have to conform to the new rule… that is, they will have to become certified aircraft under rules being chosen by consensus of current manufacturers. USHGA officials submitted a detailed response to FAA’s rule proposal and have had many personal meetings with regulators. This solid effort appears to assure the future of aerotowing in the U.S. s Now the Sport Pilot / Light Sport Aircraft rule is approaching critical mass. The new consensus standards are being decided by powered ultralight producers and most are not particularly hang gliding- or paragliding-savvy. However, our lightest end of American aviation won’t be left in the cold. s USHGA attended the most recent ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) meeting in Florida. ASTM is a private organization that helps industries establish common standards. They don’t create standards; they help manage their development. ASTM is best known for helping to standardize auto fuels worldwide. EAA enlisted their help and most participants are pleased at their organizational skills. According to Executive Director Jayne Depanfilis, “Mike Meier, Bill Bryden, and Jim Zeiset [attended]the ASTM subcommittee meeting at the Fantasy of Flight Museum, near Wallaby Ranch, in Florida on January 28th and 29th.” Jayne was also part of the entourage. Given the background work and the in-force attendance of this critical meeting, association leaders are hopeful. “USHGA expects the existing fleet of aerotow launch vehicles to become certificated as Experimental Light Sport Aircraft,” says Jayne. Newly-manufactured tugs will eventually have to meet standards being devised now by industry groups as mandated by the proposed new law. Depanfilis adds, “We have been asked by the FAA’s technical expert concerning Light Sport Aircraft, Sue Gardner, to develop our own standards for such aircraft.” lll At the ASTM meeting, The FAA wished to meet separately with the USHGA, U.S. Ultralight Association, Aero Sports Connection, EAA, and the U.S. Powered Paragliding Association, to discuss the next steps for the implementation of the new Sport Pilot rule. “This will be the first time that each of these industry leaders will be together at the same time to discuss this rule,” asserted Jayne. s In gatherings solely with USHGA leaders, FAA wants to discuss adoption of the association’s standards for tandem hang gliding. lll Returning to product news, GW Meadows writes that his lead team pilot, Oleg Bondarchuk from the Ukraine, “has just won the first two big meets of the year. This guy is kicking ass. He won more meets than anyone last year. He’s having an incredible 14 months and we hope he’ll keep it up into the Florida meets.” s Oleg flies the Aeros Combat 2, which GeeDub says is “the same glider that any pilot can order from us.” You may never be as good as Oleg but you can operate the same equipment and that may get you a little higher and a few miles further down the course. s You can also get the Combat 2 on a special deal. While the auto companies are offering everyone and their neighbor 0% loans to buy cars, hang gliding enterprises like JustFly can also make deals. See what you think of this one: The 2003 U.S. Aeros Victory Sale. They’re selling Combat 2s for $4,495. GW suggests you compare that price to the competition. He says it is as much as $2,000 less… for a glider that is proving itself a winner. FMI: 252-480-3552 or go to JustFly.com. lll Though spring and the famous Florida meets are coming, it is still winter in most U.S. locations and most of us can’t go hang gliding — comfortably anyway. Of course, you can travel to a place where it’s warm (Florida, California, Texas, Mexico, etc.). Or, you can go hang gliding right now if you have Internet access. s Of all places, the Disney Website has a hang gliding game. And you know what? I actually had to pay attention to things like thermal generators, in-flight conflicts, and glide estimates. I only played it for a few minutes while preparing this column and never got to the higher levels. But it was kinda fun and I was warm and cozy in my house during all flights. If you crash — which happens frequently at first — you are always saved by your ejection seat-like parachute system. Since I work for BRS parachutes, I loved this ending, despite the pilot saying “Ow!” when the parachute reaches the ground. (However, those of you who have been through a parachute landing know “Ow!” is a fairly appropriate statement when feet meet terra firma.) Disney’s hang gliding game is free, so to have a bit of fun this winter, go to: http://disney.go.com/games/hang/index.html lll So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930. E-mail to News@ByDanJohnson.com or CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine