ST. PAUL, MINN., — Aeros U.S. importer GW Meadows reported that the Aeros rigid wing Stalker has now passed all tests by the German DHV airworthiness certifying organization. He adds, "Only paperwork is left before the DHV certificate will be granted," though he adds that the documentation will take "at least till May." This proves that even though it isn’t a government agency (DHV is sanctioned but private) the german counterpart to our HGMA can certainly act like a bureaucracy. Congratulations to Aeros and good luck to GW. ••• I’d been communicating with GeeDub to ask his advice on visiting the Aeros factory. After the German Aero 2001 airshow, I plan to fly to Kiev for a look at this east European success story. Amazing, really. As I toured the former Berlin wall last year, I reflected that only a dozen years ago places like the Ukraine remained veiled behind the old Iron Curtain. In the space of half a generation, capitalism has started growing like a weed in many of those countries. Though the morph from communism is still causing pain, a few companies like Aeros have figured out the game and have even been able to penetrate that bastion of capitalism, the USA. ••• Maybe a trip to Kiev isn’t your style (and it won’t be mine either if they don’t sent the mandatory visa pretty darn soon) but France has all sorts of appeal. "Any pilots who want to come and fly in the South of France, are welcome to stay at our house," say Arna and Bruce Goldsmith. Intriguing houses in Europe are often named and so’s this one: Chateau-de-Max, in deference to its artistic designer. Goldsmith says, "We have bed and breakfast facilities for [about $20] a night and also a fully fitted apartment available for rent for just a few days or weekly." Chateau-de-Max is located near six excellent flying sites featuring easy access plus guests can obtain advice from veteran Euro pilot, Bruce Goldsmith, about flying conditions and where to fly. Info: www.chateau-de-max.com ••• Flytec showed off their new Alti-Knife at the recent board of director meeting. It’s a nifty Swiss Army knife concept for the digital age with a built-in altimeter. Hikers may also like the gizmo. • Fellow Mac user, Steve Kroop, beamed when he told me about the new 4020 instrument that should now be available. With its translucent blue case it looks like a mate to the iMac and I say why not? Hey, it was a big hit for Apple. It also features much larger barograph memory — 128 hours worth… think you can sustain that long? Plus the iBlue 4020 comes with full customizable audio so you can select the tones you want, a bundled and enhance FlyChart (formerly a $75 upgrade), and the blue box can record and post polar performance data. Price was not expected to rise. Excellent! Info: 800-662-2449. • Flytec also noted that 2000 was one of the best in their history. ••• Gerry Charlebois is about to embark on a video excursion, involving flying in the Sierra Nevadas and Yosemite. Using trike ultralights to lift paragliders to mesas or to aero tow PGs and HGs, they figure to fly in places with more challenging access. Strong interest in Paul Hamilton’s Monumental Triking music video has inspired Charley-boy. He’ll work with Paul again, and they’ll be joined by paraglide guru Andy Whitehill, base jumper and film maker, Tom Sanders, plus, according to Gerry, "Jim Zeiset is also trying to be involved." Knowing both Gerry’s photo and Paul’s video prowess, they may produce one heckuva video. Info on the aerial tour: firstname.lastname@example.org ••• In closing this month, I’m pleased to update you on the only U.S.-built rigid wing, the Raptor, now in its 2 Plus version. Developer/manufacturer Matt Kollmann says he has enough interest in the "hard wing kits" to keep him busy and that a "collapsible [foldable] Raptor has been put on the back burner for now." Of course his pace isn’t blistering — only one kit every three months — so keeping busy means something different than it does for Wills Wing. But that may change if American pilots become more aware of his work and success. • Changes in the 2 Plus model include a one-foot lengthened keel which moved aft the keel fin which Matt says "seemed to eliminate the yaw oscillations" completely. His hard wing model can use lighter ribs and because it "eliminates the weight of the sail," it is now much lighter overall. The savings were employed to make the spar even stronger and the 75-pound wing can now carry a 350 pound hook-in weight! In an exciting statement to soaring trike enthusiasts, he says it’s tough enough that he can now experiment with mounting the Raptor 2 Plus on a lightweight trike. He’s also planning a lightweight trailer to haul the wing. • Despite his achievement, Matt recently tried and was unable to get an established HG manufacturer interested in producing the Raptor 2 Plus. In his exploration of potential partners he reports, "Existing [glider] manufacturers seem to fall into one of two categories. Either they are hurting from the rigid wings and don’t have the capital to invest or they haven’t been hurt bad enough and think the rigids are just a fad and will pass." He adds, "There is also a fantasy that the topless gliders will perform as well as the rigids." • Though Kollmann was unable to find an interested builder, he says many pilots who flew the wing were impressed, "so the Raptor kits have started selling." Info: mKollmann@insight.rr.com ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine