ST. PAUL, MINN. — Last month, I delivered some "disturbing talk" about an alleged "hang gliding decline" (according to the FAI). I also mentioned doubt for FAA changes desired by USHGA. ••• I remind you that FAI/CIVL rep,’ Dennis Pagen, indicated the so-called decline doesn’t seem to include the USA. Sure enough, at the recent association board of directors meeting, those manufacturers present were very upbeat. USHGA’s Planning Committee also continued their meetings. (The PlanComm is a forward-looking group within the board whose task it is to help forecast the future and aid USHGA in preparing for same.) This bunch of leaders debated methods of accommodating FAA’s resistance to earlier requests. It appears now that regardless of agency actions, USHGA has alternative plans. Among these discussions were moves to distance hang gliders from ultralights — which are grouped together under Part 103. The goal is to keep hang gliding less regulated while in fact, ultralights may get more regulation. Though the outcome remains uncertain, the good news is… once again, USHGA appears to be a well-run outfit. Committee members deserve appreciation. ••• Now back to products… I misunderstood one detail of the Zeiset/Combs boat project reported last month. It turns out this is a platform-style launch. The photos didn’t show the hydraulically-lifted platform (which dips down into the water to retrieve glider and flyers). The component still wasn’t done as of the end of March, but will soon be completed, predicted Zeiset. The description of the large floats was correct, however, they are used only for landings. Jim promised to update me when the deluxe setup becomes operational. ••• SPRING GOODIES… A few items that you may find useful in a new soaring season. ••• First is a wee Hall Meter. RamAir buyers know what I’m talking about as proprietor Larry Hall has cut a deal with Wills Wing to supply each new buyer with a half-size version of his popular wind meter. Says a report in Cross Country magazine, "All RamAirs come with a Hall Brothers air speed indicator custom calibrated for the RamAir. It reads from 0-70 mph." Though glider manufacturers rarely supply instrumentation (the opposite of powered airframe builders), this step by Wills shows a clear interest in having pilots observe speed limits like Vne. Hall’s long successful meters are calibrated to standards traceable to the government’s Institute of Standards. FMI: P.O. Box 1010, Morgan UT 84050-1010, or call 801/829-3232. ••• High Energy has a new option for their very popular Tracer harness. Developed by Mountain Wing’s Greg Black, two curved internal spreader bars eliminate the need for one support rope and gives the harness a cleaner appearance. Every Tracer owner I’ve met has mentioned their satisfaction with the harness, which is priced below some high-end models. FMI: 714/972-8186. ••• Peter DeBellis of Eggler’s Headset is offering an accessory item I feel is overlooked: a radio headset for your helmet. With his clever P-T-T button, you can stay hands-on during turbulence while still talking to your ground crew. The button velcroes to your index finger and is positioned next to your thumb so all you do is press thumb to index. Said to work with popular HG radios, the Swiss-made headset can be purchased with a special 36 inch co-axial antenna which mounts in your harness eliminating wire clutter on your glider. A slightly different setup also works with full-face helmets. FMI: 713/271-2829. ••• With an excess of U-V exposure, many glider bags begin looking pretty shabby after a long soaring season. If you need a new one you can go to the factory or go aftermarket. One such supplier is C&S Engineering (for operators Chris and Sara, I imagine). A difference that could make you choose C&S bags over factory is the custom fit (versus assembly line production). Another is rack-side padding. They offer a sharp silver fabric that looks like it would reflect a lot of sunshine. Expect to pay a little more… as the "Silver ballistics exterior" model sells for $195, but they have choices down to $75 (and one higher). C&S has some other neat stuff as well. Ask for their literature and they’ll include measuring instructions. Dial 206/659-6413 or (a new idea I hadn’t heard of) fax toll-free to 800/657-1197. ••• Capitalism at work: the Price Buster Winch lowers the cost of pay-out winches to $1,295, a fraction of predecessors. The low-priced winch features an "instant pressure dump control as well as precise pressure adjustment." It also has an extra-wide drum which developer Barry Steele says will extend your line life. Sounds logical. You can buy direct or from Miami Hang Gliding, who obviously uses it in their active boat towing operation. FMI: 803/885-0949. ••• After 17 years (!), the Telluride Hang Gliding Festival — arguably the largest gathering of hang gliding pilots in the USA — is changing dates. The 21st Annual Festival will be July 18-23 and the World Aerobatic Championships July 21-23. "Booming mid-day summer conditions" will make for lively flying. Get more info at 303/728-3905. ••• Outta room once again. So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Fax or V-mail: 612/450-0930. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine