ST. PAUL, MINN. — Spring has nearly arrived marking the start of a new season. ••• Last time I mentioned a new gizmo from Japan competition-bound Chris Arai… in the Orient on assignment for Wills Wing. Named the Tangent Flight Computer, Arai calls it a "radical departure" from standard instruments, coming closer to what sailplane pilots have on board. After three years of development Arai flew with the TFC in the ’93 Owens Worlds. Since he came in Second, you might imagine it augmented his skills. The Tangent includes all the regular vario/deck features such as airspeed, altitude, rate of climb, and barograph. However, its specialty is implementing speed-to-fly theory (which mystifies many of us). Using audio tones — instead of clumsy speed rings — the pilot is told to speed up or slow down (no need to look at a dial). You won’t need math theory to run the Tangent. It automatically calculates desirable speeds based on head/tail winds, expected next climb rate, and the glider’s performance. It can even tell you about final glide and if coupled to a GPS unit, the info will be very precise. Using a display like the Trimble’s handheld GPS, its alphanumeric readout can provide "unlimited amounts of information," protecting the pilot’s investment in technology. Pricing of the Tangent hasn’t been set, but will be offered at about the price of the top Flytec. It should be available next month. FMI: 510/531-2261 (phone or fax). ••• John Heiney writes the UP Dealer Newsletter these days and discusses ’94 for their reps. He reports brisk sales of the TRX RACE model, even during the slower cold season. UP wants to observe that their investment in composite airframes may pay a rare benefit: outlasting the sail. After three years of experience with the carbon fiber materials (also used to make strategic bombers you know), UP is finding that the airframe, "holds the promise of outlasting two, three, maybe several sails with no loss in structural integrity or flex characteristics." • Boss Dick Cheney, "is using his rigid wing design experience to create a new weight-shift controlled flex wing that incorporates some rigid wing technology. " He’s searching for a noticeable improvement in performance, hoping to leap frog the industry’s incremental gains of recent history. Though this will take time, a prototype already exists, employing Monte Bell’s experience with the Klingberg Wing (with its semi-symmetrical airfoil). They’ll let me know more; I’ll pass it along. • The high season will find "Looper" Heiney hitting the road on demo tours. A schedule is being assembled and will be Published in Hang Gliding MagazineHG mag. • UP is now up and running at Torrey Pines, so the "political situation there has been defused." Bell is the site manager. UP’s Soaring Center at Point of the Mountain taught all winter in spite of "massive snowfall." Dave Sharp is the HG instructor and Chris Santacroce is the PG instructor. • As you know, UP has a presence in paragliders and plans "an all new line for ’94 including three sizes of the competition wing, two sizes of the high performance wing, and new intermediate and entry level paragliders." Like others, UP has European designers for their paraglider line. ••• Pacific Airwave is also in the news, capturing Mark "Gibo" Gibson to fly a K4+ 155. He’ll fly for PacAir in all three 450-point meets as well as some international contests. He’ll join such names as Mark Bennett; east coaster, Greg Wenowski; and that "X-C giant," Kevin Christopherson (who still holds the title of the longest cross country flight… from foot launch). Mexican champ,’ Miguel Guterieze also flies PacAir. ••• A minor takeover is underway. New York’s Mountain Wings is buying out Air Wear’s V-Mitt line. Says co-owner, Greg Black, "We’ve bought the stock, material inventory, accounts, rights to the name, and sewing machines from founder, Larry Capp." Airwear also makes a harness line, but this was not described as part of the deal. Reportedly, Capp is leaving the business for personal health reasons. FMI on V-mitts: 914/647-3377. ••• A clarification on Airborne’s invasion of the USA. AirEscape WindSports’s Scott Johnson said that his business is only handling Airborne’s trike tug. Former competition jock, Kevin Kernohan, will represent the company’s hang glider line. Tug FMI: 619/934-5403. Glider FMI: 818/366-0852. ••• To close, some contact info on the Swift. Several have written asking for this, so I repeat their phone (707/576-7627). They’ve been busy building and not promoting. However, their east coast dealer, Greg Black, assures me new info is headed my way. If it’s hot stuff, you’ll have it! ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. V-mail/fax: 612/450-0930. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine