OSHKOSH, WISC. — In a different location this month, "Product Lines" comes from the headquarters of the EAA or Experimental Aircraft Association, the folks who build their own aircraft. The occasion was the assembly of the USHGA Board of Directors Planning Committee. This group of some the industry’s most important leaders gathers with the goal of looking longer range for the health and capabilities of USHGA. It was my pleasure — and honor, I must admit — to keep company and work with this group. • The PlanComm meeting took place at EAA after Executive Director Phil Bachman and I had met with EAA president Tom Poberezny last May. He offered their venue (versus an hotel somewhere) and we jumped at the chance. After Tom addressed the committee on two occasions, most felt satisfied that we had gotten some sound advice. EAA represents 165,000 members, has 145 employees, and an enormously impressive facility which includes a very professionally executed museum. They are clearly doing something right and the group benefitted from meeting in Oshkosh. • Capping the event was a special hop-around-the-patch in a beautiful 1920s Ford Tri-Motor aircraft. The widest grin was sported by our co-pilot for the flight, Wills Wing’s Mike Meier, who had the controls for most of the curcuit. The Tri-Motor experience was a unique way to take a break from two intense days. s The committee will relate its work to the full board first and then announce plans to the membership. I’ll only express that I felt energized by the spirit I witnessed. If just some of the ideas born in Oshkosh are implemented, USHGA will remain a vibrant organization, I believe. This kind of leadership is tremendously valuable… and by the way, like always, the director’s time is volunteered. Included were Tim Herr, Gregg Lawless, Mike Meier, Russ Locke, GW Meadows, Dennis Pagen, Claudia Stockwell, Randy Adams, Bill Bryden, Phil Bachman, and myself. ••• On to product news… I haven’t gotten all the way through the pre-print version of Jim (Sky Dog) Palmieri’s new book, "Sky Adventures, Fantasies of Free Flight." We’ve had a few books Published in Hang Gliding Magazinehang gliding but this is proving to be one of the most readable I’ve found, for a couple easy-to-understand reasons. First, Palmieri is the editor, only writing one of the 36 tales himself. The writers actually form a broad group of names, some of which are not well known, but some that are, for example John Heiney (who also contributed the cover photo), John Harris, Paul Gazis, Claire Pagen, Davis Straub, Dave Broyles, and Samantha Jo Moore. Artist Mike Vorhis does the illustration work. What surprised me was the consistent readability of the stories I read. The 36 pieces are each relatively short, typcially 4-6 pages This breezy style makes for quick, interesting reading without loading up unmercifully on arcane detail. Some stories are humorous, others educational, but all I read were quite well written. My impression was that hang gliding has its share of good writers and story tellers. Jim Palmieri’s ability — along with numerous helpers including his wife, Maggie, to whom the book is dedicated — shows in his choice of writers, story ideas, and in the editing he added. I think "Sky Adventures" is an excellent gift choice for the coming holiday season and I think most readers will find it entertaining, the book’s stated goal. "SA" will have some advertising in it and Palmieri reports, "A portion of the proceeds from this book will go towards supporting the United States Women’s World Hang Gliding Team. All ad dollars will go to this purpose." Buy the book for $14.99 plus $2.50 S&H. Call 540-772-4262 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. ••• In preparation for (oh, dread) winter, Earth Cog Industries has released a new bar mitt design which is different by being removable in flight. They say, "…these trick mitts attach to the bar via velcro grip pads and velcro palm patches. The most positive grip you’ve ever had in a bar mitt and you’re not stuck on the base tube." Now handling your VG control won’t freeze your hand on cold days. Standard mitts are said to come with map pocket, grip pads, custom add-ons, and something called a "snot patch," about which I don’t think I want to know any more. These be-all mitts retail for $75. For this and other Earth Cog products (like their Speed Sleeves), call 505-242-7373. ••• Finally I want to clear up some confusion about the statistics presented in the May ’96 issue. I stated that paragliding seemed to be slipping in its growth and that hang gliding was strengthening slightly. The info did not represent membership statistics, but rather survey results of the aircraft respondents are flying. Paragliding continues to grow modestly but steadily according to current USHGA records. The figures in this column related to the PG glider brands surveyed pilots said they owned. As such, Edel was clearly in the lead at about a quarter of all types. My material was picked up by France’s Vol Libre who published it. Chief Editor Noël Bertrand reports, "Trekking is not OK with this!" Trekking feels it accounts for a quarter of all U.S. sales in the last year. This may or may not be true. I used statistics on what pilots own now, NOT what they bought most recently. My regrets for any misunderstanding. Statistics are useful, like polls, but both can be misleading. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Fax or V-mail to 612-450-0930. E-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine