ST. PAUL, MINN. — Taking a break from towing this month, we’re back to diving down hills. And I do mean diving, and I do mean down. As in fast. As in speed gliding. The first Official Speed Gliding Contest in Washoe Valley — near Carson City, Nevada — is history. • Speed Gliding: I think UK developer, Murray Rose, has encouraged a means of showcasing hang gliding which is one of the most exciting ideas to come along in years. Such a venue might help hang gliding earn an entry to the Olympics or another world-class event. I acknowledge that such vast media attention may not be an universally-desired objective. Many hang glider pilots may not want the growth that comes with promotion. Nonetheless, the activity is so promising that I’m tickled to see a speed gliding event held so we begin to learn how it all works. ••• According to Ray Leonard, "The racing was fun and exciting." The event took place at the Washoe State Park (at the foot of Slide and McClellan mountain launches). "The state park has recently been designated an official Flight Park. Rangers have offered a beautiful LZ with a newly graded road to the launches," reported Leonard. That qualifies as some dandy site news; congratulations Ray and the Sierra Skysurfers. ••• Their "Awesome Fly-In" took place the end of September. Says Ray, "The first Official Speed Gliding Contest in Washoe Valley was most notably unofficial." Maybe so and pilot numbers were low, however, a couple national pilots challenged experienced locals. Dave Sharp flew his new Predator while Ken Brown of course flew a Klassic. Also "performing" were an Xtralite (Leonard), RamAir (Pat Bowen), Sensor (Mike Voorhis) and another Klassic (John Kerry). ••• The results were inconclusive, naturally, since so few pilots flew too few runs. Leonard admitted, "It was more pilot skill than pure speed." However, he couldn’t resist adding, "But speed sure is fun!" On the first day, they flew a 3.2 mile, 2,200 foot vertical. Sharp won on his Predator 142. The second day on the same course but with one, two, or three gates depending on your choice, Ken Brown won on his Klassic 144 with winglets. Again that day but on a different course, Mike Voorhis won with his Sensor. It all proves nothing but it was fun and maybe Speed Gliding will become something. Ray ended his report saying the meet wasn’t exactly scientific. "When the pilots sent the meet director off launch first and then changed the course, it added to the fun, but didn’t seem too accurate." Good fun! Call Ray at 702-883-7070 and about next year’s "dash for cash." In fact, if you have any cash, they’d really like to see you. ••• Clear across this vast country, your regional director was recently earning his keep at the just-ended USHGA Board of Directors fall meeting. The high-paying job got even more glamorous this time. The Directors are always made to feel welcome by a host club. But this time, they were actively solicited. No surprise, really, as the greater Orlando area is a hotbed of activity. A couple of weeks before leaving to the meeting, I received the third — count ’em, one, two, three — invitation to a nearby aero towing site. • New Quest Air was to hold the customary pre-meeting "ice breaker" party at their airport site near Groveland, Florida. • Wallaby Ranch was to throw a special Saturday night party for the Directors and the Ranch’s usual throng of visiting or local pilots. • Plus, Gregg and Diana McNamee welcomed flyers to their operation 15 minutes south of Silver Springs. "This area of Florida is horse and cattle country. You can experience native Florida in this wide open, laid back country environment," states their literature. Only one hour and 15 minutes north of Orlando, "the landowners are friendly and the landing zones are forgiving to any skill level pilot." ••• As long as we’re in Florida, might as well head all the way south… to Miami where Jose Casaudoumecq is running Bräuniger USA. Can you guess what he does? Natch, he sells the line of instruments, but Jose is also involved with selling and distributing La Mouette’s Paramotor plus giving lessons. For those who’ve missed this, the French company’s gizmo is a power pack for paragliders. Yeah, dark memories of "Fan Man," but this device has now been on the market for four years and has received it’s share of refinement including a two place model. Even more amazing is a little teeny, tiny "trike" to use with your Paramotor and paraglider. I shouldn’t be surprised. After all we are all involved in what some call "alternative aviation." ••• The Bräuniger alti/vario is a nice device that can match many features with the Afro, Digifly, and Ball offerings. Like Afro, Bräuniger uses three models to fill its line: the Basis SP basic model, the Classic, and the Competition. The latter two are very similar complete with total energy compensation and FAI-approved barograph. The Comp’ model adds a Speed-to-fly calculator among other sophistication. The Basis is more ordinary in every way. It doesn’t have TE compensation, a speed probe, or the same power (e.g., altimeter only to 16,500 feet not 30,000). But for only $490 with clamp, bag, and even a battery, what more do you really need? Call Jose at 305-639-3330. ••• Hey! Done again. So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Fax or V-mail to 612/450-0930. You can E-mail to: CumulusMan@aol.com THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine