ST. PAUL, MINN. — May is always a special time of year for me. You see, each May I start another year in the "Product Lines" logbook. I appreciate your loyal readership as I conclude 14 years and begin No. 15 of writing this lil’ ole column. My "THANKS!" at the end of each column couldn’t be more sincere. I’ll work hard to keep your readership as another year passes. Well, on with the show… ••• Lots of well-deserved hoopla for Wills Wing’s 20th Anniversary. I visited the factory just before all the action (for a story that will appear on Wills Wing in the July ’93 issue of Kitplanes… look on newsstands everywhere in late May). WW Prez Kells gave me a thorough tour — well, that is, after they hid any new goodies they might have so you don’t read about ’em prematurely in this column. The tour ended in the design offices of Steve Pearson. I was pleased to see an old friend assisting Steve at one of the CAD computers: Roy Haggard. Roy’s been involved in the aerospace design community for a few years. Good to see him using the same creative talents that once brought us the Comet. ••• Meanwhile another manufacturer has reached a twenty-year point. Though Seedwings’s Bob Trampenau has not been manufacturing that long, he has been designing and constructing since January, 1973. Back then his focus was on something he called the Petrel, a foam and fiberglass foot-launchable wing that was featured in a 1974 issue of Soaring magazine. Interestingly, Bob conferred about this design with Erwin Rodger, another east coast enthusiast who would later design the Cloud Dancer ultralight motorglider. After the Petrel, Trampenau chose to stray from "conventional" materials; he turned to tubing and Dacron. His Sunseed followed in ’74 and was popularized by Eric Raymond though it never went into production. That transition machine led to the first Sensor in 1975. Most of you know the history from then to now. The Sensors are in their sixth generation and have lost quite a few squares in the passage of time. ••• Now Bob reports building what he calls "small batches," meaning 30 units at a time. His line includes the 610-152 and 144 which he says, "work out very well for batch production." Seedwings continues to attract those pilots looking for something special and most of their customers are fiercely loyal. As is his manner, Trampenau looks for continual refinements. His latest involves new crossbar pull-back hardware that cuts the loads in half while simultaneously reducing the hardware volume by half. ••• Our sport got some excellent coverage in the AOPA (Aircraft Owners & Pilots Ass’n) magazine, Pilot. This in-house magazine goes out to the 265,000 members of AOPA making it what I believe is the second-largest circulated flying magazine on the planet. The author is a familiar name: former HG writer, Eric Fair. Spanning nine pages and earning a mention on the cover, Fair’s piece, "The Flyingest Flying There Is" presents our favorite way to fly in an excellent light. Most meaningful was a sidebar called "Taking the Plunge" by AOPA editor, Mark Twombly. Except for mentioning that he saw "more than a few" pilots who "had trouble" landing, his view was positive (he also complimented his tandem instructor, Rob McKenzie). Photos were credited to Jeff Elgart of the USHGA offices. ••• Speaking of McKenzie… this enterprising tandem pilot has helped orchestrate a huge new field for those flying Crestline. At the recent board of directors meeting in Colorado Springs, McKenzie told me the whole story. It’s great! Kind of a bad news/good news thing, the LZ was first lost for hang gliding. New federal owners took over and that brought activity to a temporary halt. McKenzie and others got to work right away. They enlisted an L.A. pilot with lots of experience at dealing with the bureaucratic mind: guru Joe Greblo (owner of Windsports). McKenzie says Joe did a superlative job assembling and presenting a convincing package. Rob also gives credit to the site’s founder, Andy Jackson, who, by establishing an airpark many years ago, created a situation that ultimately resulted in taxpayer money being used to build a proper LZ. The total State of California budget will exceed $500,000 to make the field right. Part of this massive expenditure is for 200,000 20-yard truckloads of earth to level the field! The new LZ will open by fall of this year. Hearty congratulations to Rob, Joe, and the San Bernardino members who helped. ••• In closing… you’ll read more about the Air Sports Council, a conglomeration of five groups representing hang gliders, sailplanes, ultralights, sky divers, and balloons. The G5 boasts over 60,000 members and this gives the ASC some real Washington D.C.-style clout. The USHGA directors voted to ratify the accord at the end of March ’93. As USHGA was the last to approve the pact, the ASC can now go forward with its mission. More on this later. ••• Next time, info on Just Fly’s new goodies line, and Paul Voight’s witty whack wideo. So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Fax or msg to: 612/450-0930 THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine