ST. PAUL, MINN. — My opening segment should start, “Once upon a time, there was Escape Pod, Pod Racer, and Porky Pod…” You’d probably be baffled (though perhaps intrigued). I’m referring to the Pod series from former Seagull hang glider boss, Mike Riggs. I’ve unabashedly promoted this project since it came from my challenge for a true “soaring trike.” u Pods are sleek fuselages to house pilots attached to hang glider wings. Their goal is to offer more comfort, low drag and light weight, and a rigid attachment to the glider. You fly seated/supine — and have a full enclosure. Think of a powered ultralight trike except one with all the draggy bits pulled inside. Escape Pod and Pod Racer (and surely Porky Pod, too, when it’s ready) will feature fully retractable tri-gear, in-flight C/G adjustment, and a molded clear plastic canopy that fits smoothly to a composite body. A positive aspect is the rigid connection to glider, such that you can never fall into the wing, possibly preventing broken gliders after a tumble or tuck. u The schedule for Seagull Aerosport’s first offering has now been set. Mike reports he’ll first answer ultralight motorglider demand with the Escape Pod. This variation will have a fully-faired engine and folding prop to make it self-launchable. Riggs calculates weight at 85 pounds but it should be vastly cleaner than anything seen to date. Riggs says he’ll present his first Escape Pod at the Oshkosh airshow in late July. u The UNpowered, under-30-pound Pod Racer designed specifically for hang glider pilots will follow once Escape Pod production starts. These things won’t be cheap but for some pilots, the Pods will be answers to longtime requests. u Riggs has been in touch with North Wing and Wills Wing to assure their gliders will work with the Pod series. He’ll work with other brands, too Info: email@example.com lll At a visit to Wallaby Ranch just three weeks before the big “Wallaby Open” competition in mid-April, preparations were well underway. The competition field has been enlarged to 110 pilots, “up from 60 the first year of the ‘Open’,” says Malcolm Jones. If you haven’t been to Wallaby recently, you’ll be amazed how much more land is cleared and smooth. u In addition, Jones stuck his neck out even further, buying an additional 250 acres of land mostly to the east of the current premises. This increases Wallaby to 500 total acres, giving a generous barrier to neighbors who might one day complain if they were next door to ultralight engines and boisterous pilots. I gulped on hearing this as I envisioned how much how it raised his mortgage payments. I suspect he may one day profit handsomely from this investment — indeed, huge warehouse buildings have been built only a couple miles away where once existed only unused “swamp land,” much that like Malcolm and his team have transformed into the ‘Ranch. But until he may cash out, Jones has preserved a major chunk of Florida for the exclusive use of hang gliding. Who couldn’t love that? u Wallaby was expecting a big month in April — all historical as you read this. The spring month started out with Wills Wing Demo Days. WW-brand always throws a good party, participants say, and this year was no exception. u On the same days, members of the Sailplane Homebuilders Association brought ultralight sailplanes of several descriptions, a logical follow-on to renewed interest in flying the two SuperFloaters at Wallaby. u Directly after this gathering, the big Sun ‘n Fun airshow in nearby Lakeland began, followed immediately by the Wallaby Open and then Flytec’s Championships at Quest. WHEW! Good times in central Florida. lll The reason this news is history relates to the combined May 2002 issue of HG/PG magazines and its arrival early in the cover month. As you’ve read elsewhere in the magazine (and in earlier issues), this is “only a test.” You are asked to participate in the final decision. Please do so! u To bring your issue to you early in the month, the late deadline enjoyed by easy-to-edit “Product Lines” was moved up two weeks. This edition was turned in on March 20th at Editor Gil Dodgen’s request; that’s how long it takes for a high quality magazine to turn from electronic page layouts to printed books, delivered by the post office. Though it may seem a long time, six weeks is much less than many magazines. One title I write for requires material three and a half months ahead of cover date. u True, the Internet offers near instantaneous publishing but some USHGA members do not use the ‘Net — believe it or not! — and good ol’ paper still has enormous appeal to many readers. Notice the Web has not scuttled magazines or newspapers in other fields (with a very few exceptions). So, enjoy your on-time magazine! lll Interest continues to build for the 2002 World Record Encampment, that way-south Texas gathering which has produced world record flights two years running. Many will merely follow the action via Internet and other sources, but some want to be participants. FlytecUSA is once again sponsoring the World Record Encampment. Two sessions this year are planned running from mid June to mid July. About twice as many people will be let into the 2002 event. Flex and rigid hang gliders, paragliders, and ultralight sailplanes will attempt new world records. To register, go to flytec.com and click the WRE button. Questions: firstname.lastname@example.org lll So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930. My new e-mail is: News@ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine