ST. PAUL, MINN. — Following on bits left over from October’s "Product Lines"… ••• In the land of hurricanes and tropical storms, we find the East Coast’s Turbulent Talent Triangle… I’m referring to the movement of talent, to headhunting (yes, within our little sport!) and to new relationships among leading east coast centers of hang gliding activity. But let’s set the record straight. The east may not have the mountain peaks or the sky-high reputation of the west coast but more students are trained in the east than anywhere in America. Look at the list published every month. Nine months into ’98, three schools accounted for 45% of all Hang Is issues and 35% of all Hang IIs issues (LMFP has 28% and 24% by themselves). From these flight factories come people with experience and that’s the point here. • David Glover, until recently manager of Wallaby Ranch is now at Lookout Mountain Flight Park. In doing so he completes a tour that included Kitty Hawk Kites and Wallaby Ranch, the Big Three of flight schools. In fact, many "trainees" came out of Kitty Hawk’s University of Hang Gliding Management & Marketing. Longtime LMFP owner Matt Taber himself apprenticed in the Outer Banks. • In turn Wallaby gave another bunch their jump-off, the group everyone now knows as Quest. So Wallaby’s success has spawned managers for two other sites as Kitty Hawk has probably done for more than a dozen schools. Kitty Hawk even had a west coast influence with the operation in Monterey, California. • But most of this torrid moving around occurred in the east. You could wonder if this has any connection to airparks. Certainly, hang gliding is steadily moving toward being able to provide training at more sites. This brings new students to spend money and create jobs which need management and marketing. Private sites allow commercial developments needed to add students and jobs. More of those seem to exist in the east. ••• For example, this summer I heard from the Rocket City Airsports bunch who told me they’ve "been enjoying our Moyes-Bailey Aerotug and the super skills of Aerotug pilot Mark Cizek since last October (’97)." They fly every weekend from the LZ at the foot of Keel Mountain, a site which saw Alabama’s first 100-mile XC last year. Foot launching is also available as are tandem lessons from experienced instructors. Local operator Rocket City Airsports is about two hours west of Henson Gap and Lookout Mountain, near the space-business capital of Huntsville. The business owns the Keel Mountain site and recently, "purchased eight more acres adjacent to the launch area and are building a better access, parking, storage, and plans for a new shop at Rudy’s Ridge." Training director Jeff Cole uses Falcons, has a great safety record they report, plus RAS offers a full line shop and, doggone it, they’re (rightfully) proud of it all but add, "Sometimes we feel that we are the best kept secret in hang gliding." You can eMail them at email@example.com (Robert Patterson). ••• Speaking of unsung heroes, Bill Genteman and Arlan Birkett have been serving the sport as Aero Wing in the Illinois/Wisconsin part of the country. I spoke to both these fellows at the giant airshow in Oshkosh last summer. Bill says he’s the owner of prototype Kolb tub (demonstrated for the crowds at the show BTW) and Arlan is Bill’s partner. Heartland individuals like these two show a quiet revolution is going on in hang gliding, a slow move toward towing (though mountains still dominate launches… we think). Midwest pilots can get information at 414-659-8594 (Bill) or 815-495-2821 (Arlan). ••• Here’s the Something Different Dep’t: If Amazon.com doesn’t have "Harry and the Hang Glider," they ought to… this is a dandy book for kids. I’m not sure of the age target as the book actually delves into introductory terms and techniques quite deeply, but it is beautifully done. Using 38 all-color pages, "Harry & the HG" is lavishly illustrated in detailed cartoon drawings by D. D. Mullins and typeset text. The book tells a story about a cottontail who finds a hang glider that has fallen off a hang glider pilot’s truck. The happy owner — a hang glider school it turns out — is glad for the rabbit’s honesty in reporting the loss. Skyhigh Hang Gliding offers lessons which the delighted hare eagerly accepts. Harry goes through intensive (always proper) training and finally flies while his little bird friend Ollie watches. It’s, well… cute, and you know what, kids might go for it. Better yet, bookstores might. Need a $25 kid’s gift anytime soon? Call writer and publisher Randy Kerchill at 520-628-8165 or eMail at firstname.lastname@example.org ••• In the Way-Different Dep’t is the not-for-sale "Selected Works of Bob Rouse,1982-1997." Not sure what I had in my hands at first, I became more and more amazed at the scope of what I was viewing. This 90-page book is literally a work of 15 years that starts with Bob’s early store-bought gliders, a Leaf Talon and a Phoenix Mariah. That’s when he began his own tinkering, joining parts of a Seagull IV with the Talon and the Phoenix to make an original glider. "Weird but dull," you say? Unusual maybe, but "Selected Works…" proved to be quite entertaining as I moved through the years with Bob. His artist’s studies — work leading to the actual art — showed fascinating development over the years. • Again you ask, "Is this just a hobby?" I’ll let Bob answer his way: "I design, build, and test fly original concepts in Hang Gliding — as an artform (his emphasis). I have a working studio in an artist colony called ‘Mother Dog’ in the old warehouse district of downtown Houston. I complete one glider per year and show it during the annual ‘Art Crawl’ — when the entire art-warehouse district opens simultaneously." A formerly active pilot, he says "all this fell away as I became more focused on my creative work." • As I got deeply into Rouse’s "art," I realized just how much energy he was spending on this. "Crazy!" you say? Maybe not. Listen to Bob’s story further: "At least one individual is investigating concepts that are non-rogallo and non-paraglider. And even though all my designwork comes from my personal bias and whimsy, it is still possible that I might stumble across something that is practical, or that contains elements/ideas of use to other designers. • By the most recent years Bob’s work has taken on some genuine birdlike appearances, elaborate constructions of immense detail every one of which Bob actually flies! Yet these unusual wings can sometimes also pack down to very small lengths. Too bad you may never see this compilation of art and artistic labor; Bob Rouse’s work deserves mention. ••• Well, couldn’t get to all the news. Next month, we’ll talk about some Mexico tours that are booking up already. Until then, for those that know they like these flying escapades, try Jeff Hunt’s Flymexico at 800-861-7198. ••• Got news or opinions? Send ’em to 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Vmail or fax to (new area code/same number) 651-450-0930 or eMail to CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine