ST. PAUL, MINN. — Does hang gliding need to reach out for new enthusiasts? The question raises bothersome issues about declining and aging memberships, but is nonetheless a valid concern. ••• Industry leader, Wills Wing, is doing something about it by starting a new "division." They call it ProLine and its their vehicle to sell certain accessory items. Nothing new about this, you say? True, but Wills expects to do more than sell varios to their WW-brand customers. "It is our intention to use ProLine to develop products that can be marketed OUTSIDE the hang gliding industry", says a recent statement in their dealer newsletter. Naturally, they expect to raise their revenues but they further hope to increase hang gliding exposure to the public. They plan to advertise "in high circulation action sports pubications" once they have a "well developed product line." Each ProLine shipment will eventually have the USHGA color flier as well as the name of the closest WW dealer school. Good luck, Wills! I believe we need this type of outreach. ••• In other WW news, the company recently bought the patent to the Paraswivel from designer, Kurt Rohr. The glider maker will become the sole supplier of the popular device once current distributor Golden West sells their inventory. Wills plans to lower the retail to $69.50. Most parachute makers support the product, and several bridle wind-up incidents have propelled more and more pilots to add the item. ••• In a buying mood, evidently, Wills also purchased Mark West’s computer test gear for their certification work. They say the digital equipment — which will replace their analog rig — will "help to bring new gliders to market more quickly." ••• Some changes afoot with Aussie AirBorne’s Edge trike tug. In response to requests, the Down-Under builder made several refinements to the aircraft: improved handling of the wing; decreased the load on the nosewheel by changing trike geometry; offered Rotax’s new electric start system; and made the seat more comfortable as well as adjustable (fore and aft). For those attending the huge Florida airshow, Sun ‘n Fun, the Edge will be on display in the ultralight area known as "Paradise City." ••• As AirBorne continues work to establish a U.S. hang gliding market presence, the Aussie builder has restructured… Kevin Kernohan has ceased being the distributor. That job now falls to Scott Johnson, who formerly sold only the Edge trike. He says, "I’ll have hang gliders in stock to be sent out on request to dealers and pilots in the U.S. I will also have spare parts for the AirBorne products." Johnson has enlisted Tony Barton to handle Blade hang glider sales in the southwest U.S. and Tony Covelli will handle the New York area. ••• In addition to attending Sun ‘n Fun, Johnson’s business, AirEscape, will be touring this summer to show their equipment. Since AirEscape relocated away from the Owens Valley to southeastern Washington state, interested pilots should call 509/243-4988, or fax to 509/243-4935. ••• Something old has returned… in all-new form. Remember Klaus Hill’s SuperFloater? It’s back! Manufacturer of the soon-ready Cumulus ultralight motorglider, US Aviation, says it is now accepting delivery position orders for the 1995 remake of the early 1970s SuperFloater. The aircraft has been completely redesigned by original co-designer, Larry Hall, and by Dick Cheney with help from Kent Anderson, among others. You may recognize these names and associate them with UP hang gliders. Although related, the SuperFloater venture is organized under the name Wind Walker Aircraft Co., Inc., with US Aviation holding the worldwide marketing rights to the new aircraft. ••• Critical specs: 38 foot span; area 168 squares; aspect 8.44:1; Vne 60; stall 23; weight 179 pounds (making it Part 103 legal with its BRS rocket ‘chute); useful load 220 pounds. Perhaps best of all is the reasonable price tag of $5,995 fully built and test flown. The ‘chute is sold for the BRS factory-direct price of only $1,095. ••• The SuperFloater is said to offer a 180 fpm sink rate, though early flight trials have demonstrated calm-air sink rates of 120 fpm. Recently Dave Chapman took the SuperFloater prototype up to 12,500 MSL in wave lift north of Salt Lake City (where Wind Walker and UP are located). Glide is listed at 15:1 — a 20-25% margin over top flex-wings — but Cheney says, "The SuperFloater isn’t a competition aircraft; it’s for fun soaring." For that, superior sink rate, easy handling, and good glide may be just what the market wants, says US Aviation. The company believes some hang glider pilots will find the the SuperFloater a good alternative. The glider should begin manufacturing by April. For literature, write 265 Echo Ln., South St. Paul MN 55075 or dial 612/450-0930 and leave an address. ••• Our last new "product" this month is Aloft, a new bimonthly paragliding magazine. Publisher Steve Roti mailed his premier issue in January 1995. He has also approached the USHGA about bidding for the contract to supply a PG mag for those members of Yoo-shga. The 32-page first edition isn’t as colorful as PG the Mag, but from my former publisher’s viewpoint, it’s a very good first effort. Articles are packed top to bottom with information and the book ends with a page that looks almost exactly like this one. (I guess I’m flattered.) If you fly PGs, you’ll want to look at a copy and since the issue has no subscription price nor order form, I’ll bet they’ll send you one for a look-see. Contact Roti and Aloft at P.O. Box 8989, Portland OR 97207. Call 503/284-0998. ••• Outta space… So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Fax or V-mail to: 612/450-0930 THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine