ST. PAUL, MINN — The story within a story for the ’91 U.S. Nationals involves the gliders that 125 registered pilots flew. Of these, approximately 15% were foreign pilots, some of whom used American brands. While the selection of competing pilots may not mirror the choices of recreational pilots, the survey is of significant size and timely enough to warrant a recap. ••• Wills Wing was predictably the dominant brand, with a 29% share of the 123 flyers whose glider was identified in Tom Kreyche’s final results package. In the no. 2 slot with their hot new glider is UP, thermaling up to a 19% share. One of the international Big Four, Moyes came in third with 18%, fruits of their effort in North American sales. Showing a rather soft fourth place finish for the likely world leader of glider building, we find Airwave (UK & CA represented) at 14% of the field. Continuing to show surprising strength, Enterprise’s Foil consisted of 11% of the field. The other down under outfit is the first serious challenger to the Moyes monarchy. ••• These five companies held a stunning 91% of the total field. Far below were the "other British company," Solar Wings with their popular Rumour (3%); a three-way tie for seventh place with La Mouette, another French builder, Tecma, and the USA’s own Sensor at 2% of the field; trailed by two single entries for the Fledge III and something called the Blitz. ••• In my three analyses of glider brands this year (East Coast Champs, Brazilian World Meet, and Owens Nats), Seedwings has counted low, a distinct change from earlier years. The company is preparing its Sensor 610, but no news has been released on the model. Owner Bob Trampenau is an old veteran; the quietness is surely just a phase. But when news is sparse people begin to speculate (often incorrectly). ••• "Rumors are rampant," says General Manager, Mike Haley, about three instances of a rear leading edge breaking on TRXs. "All were Team Green aircraft, and were early production gliders." All events happened on landings. Seems that hard whacks can have a detrimental effect (oh really, Dan?!) on either aluminum or graphite. Haley explains, "Graphite can bend further out of column than aluminum without problems. With simultaneous multiple loads such as compression, twist, and column, graphite can be less tolerant of ground impacts." By implementing slight changes in the production process, UP has improved "whack resistance" without loss of graphite’s inherent advantages of light weight, strength, and flexibility. After the early incidents, UP retired the questionable RLEs. Newer spars "appear to have resolved these problems," says the company. "Over the last several months, no more reports have been received, even though I’ve seen some incredible ‘whacks’ during demo days," Haley indicated. Inspections per the owners manual are recommended after whacks or transport stresses. ••• The TRX continues to wow hang gliding experts for its reportedly superb handling and landing characteristics. Performance has also received kudos and the recent glide angle contest at New Hampshire’s Morningside air park added to the momentum. Center of Gravity harness maker Jay Gianforte won the event while flying a Mountain Wings-sponsored TRX. MW owner, Greg Black says, "Jay flew a completely stock TRX!" ••• Seems worth observing the reorganization of Pacific Airwave. Since founding the company in ’82 and after accepting a majority partner (Airwave UK), Jean-Michel Bernasconi has managed the firm in concert with his wife, Natalie. Now JMB will stepped aside yielding the reins to Ken Brown, the new prez, backed up by Briggs Christie, each longtime members of the PacAir team. Brown will have more time to stay in the factory. His road tour duties have been freed up, "…thanks in part to the fantastic success of John Olson’s skills on the demo trail," reports PacAir. Jean-Michel will have more time to design, they say. We wonder what this can bring: More glider designs? Or pursuit of other disciplines, such as paragliders? Or will it lead to things non-aeronautical such as windsurfing sails? ••• To close, Sky Com products has introduced their Sky Talker II antenna. The installation rolls up inside the sail and need never be removed. Intended to cover the entire 2-meter band, their tests have shown it to outperform rubber duck and telescoping antennae. Cost is $33 postpaid. If interested, write Barry Palmatier at PO Box 530268, San Diego CA 92153. ••• Got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Call or fax to 612/450-0930. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine