ST. PAUL, MINN — Easily the biggest news in American hang gliding is Bill Bennett leaving glider manufacturing. After Delta Wing celebrated their 20th Anniversary last year this would come as a shock! But, “It’s nonsense!” replies Bill. True, UP International will now be building Uncle Bill’s successful Dream series. Also true, he stopped his ads. But Bennett reports he and old crony Dick Boone have recently collaborated on a new high performance design. It just flew at Torrey; they’re pleased. Before the unfortunate loss of his wife Paulette, due to cancer, Bill wanted to eliminate some obligations to dedicate more time to his ailing spouse. Licensing the Dream to UP for 3 years was part of this effort. Delta Wing may next move to smaller quarters. ||| Bill was also considering a bid on the beach operation up near Monterey, a site currently served by Jim Johns’ Western Hang Gliders. The Marina site was open to bidding in February. Johns, however, knows the ropes well and was prepared to bid competitively. At press time, this was still undecided. ||| The insurance debacle worsens. Now to compound the problems being felt in the Bay Area with the (hopefully) temporary closure of Ed Levin, John Harris’ Kitty Hawk Kites has been shut out of Jockey’s Ridge. KHK was given no warning before being informed of new insurance requirements. Harris has faced battles before and remains positive. He believes he’s secured insurance to meet state demands. (For years KHK has added to the USHGA coverage by buying extra of their own.) But they were closed at least a month, and says Harris, “It’ll definitely hurt our spring business; people are inquiring now and we aren’t sure what to tell them.” ||| Municipalities have a distressing habit of communicating with one another on these issues. By the “grapevine,” regulators for one recreation area can “warn” their counterparts elsewhere. Sadly, even our excellent claims history may not win battles with county commissioners. ||| In more upbeat news, USHGA offices have been contacted by Sports Illustrated magazine. Though these things often remain iffy until just before press time, the big sports rag offered some valuable coverage. Editors were given data so they could visit (and report?) several sites across the USA. ||| In the “Oh-yeah, well-how-about-this” department: Wills reported that video producer Tom Tatum had his newest show (“Daredevil Fliers II”) aired on several cable sports channels, reaching 16 million viewers, not only with his excellent scenes of spectacular aerobatic flying in Telluride, but with six 30-second commercials for Wills Wing. Wills offers the 45-minute production for $30 retail. A larger-yet TV event featured BRS founder, Boris Popov on a German show, “One Step Ahead.” The live show-and-tell format was seen by some 28 million viewers throughout German-speaking countries via the EuroVision link. Popov fired off one of the company’s rocket-deployed emergency parachutes right on the stage, inside, in front of 2,800 live viewers. Somehow, show producers got this dramatic event approved by fire and other officials, even in conservative Austria, site of the live broadcast. Popov joined such luminaries as Joe Cocker and Tina Turner. Congrats to Tatum, Wills, BRS, and Popov as they delivered the thrill of sport aviation to major audiences. ||| Strictly World Class… Tom Kreyche of Owens Valley fame has competition on his bid to host the 1993 World Meet. A second package was recently mailed to USHGA executive committee members, produced by the same folks ÐÐ Terry and Christine Reynolds ÐÐ who will host the 1990 U.S. Nationals. Both “teams” want it; looks to be a battle. Kreyche has experience with major contests and the Owens site going for him. Reynolds has lots of ski hill support and a sharp package. ||| Finally a calendar item: Candi and David Thomason’s Silent Flight will host NoCal’s first aerobatic clinic on March 17 & 18. For $150 you’ll get Super Looper John Heiney’s expert counsel plus video critique, classroom, tows, and lunch. Lower rates if you don’t plan to fly. Call 916/938-2061. ||| So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: “Product Lines,” 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Or call (days at BRS) 612/457-7491; FAX: 457-8651. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine