ST. PAUL, MINN., — Another new world record. This time it is Davis Straub in the news with a stunning 347 mile flight on August 9th! Of course, both Dave Sharp’s ATOS flight reported last month and the new one this month are Class II gliders when the record they broke was Larry Tudor’s in a Class I, but nonetheless, these things are still "hang gliders." ••• Straub flew his ATOS for 347 miles or 555 kilometers. Only three weeks after Dave Sharp hit 311 miles for a record, Straub’s effort also came as a result of the now-so-aptly-named World Record Encampment. As with Sharp, Straub flew north in favorable conditions from the far southern Texas town of Zapata. You can read the entire trip report and see maps and altitude plots on his website (DavisStraub.com) but a few points are worth highlighting here. • Lift developed so that he could fly from 10 am to 8 pm, 10 hours of prone (whew!). For a great deal of the flight, he says he rarely got over 7,000 feet but that in trade he enjoyed flying in warm, moist Gulf air. Between thermals he reports speeds of 55-60 mph. The difference in a 35 mph average speed shows that he had to climb a lot (within the 7,000 ft. range). However, Davis willingly accepted this turn of affairs as it also came with less hard bounces and broken-up air. At 260 miles out he got to 8,000 MSL in better thermals. But way out at 320 miles — already having grabbed a new mark — Davis writes that he "got lucky, found a cloud, pure luck." Finally with smooth air and all clouds disappearing, he relied on "plenty of wind and heat on the ground." Gliding another 20 miles he landed at a farm near Sterling City, Texas. Needing witnesses for this achievement of flight, Davis "cut the flight a little bit short and landed at 347 miles." • While Davis thanked various people, he wrote, "Gary Osaba is the person most responsible for making it possible for me to set this record." The respected weather guru provided assistance in weather forecasting plus it’d been Gary’s suggestion to use Zapata in the first place. Ah, the age of computers and the Internet. Osaba performed all services from home in Kansas. Congratulations, Davis… and Gary. Jobs clearly well done! ••• Several contests sparked summer 2000. I feel confident you’ll see reports in the magazine, but my usual focus is on the gliders being flown. The Lone Star Champs had 32 flexwings while the Lakeview Nats had 50 flexwings and these two U.S. meets compare to the smaller but prestigious World Speed Gliding Champs in Mt. Olympus, Greece with 20 pilots — where, unusual in foreign contests — the U.S. contingent was the largest. At the latter, GW Meadows and Ken Brown honed their speed gliding talents and were predicted to look good at the Colorado Red Bull Wings Over Aspen speed gliding event (though that week appeared to be weathered out as this went to press). • Surveying all participants in the two U.S. meets of 82 pilots, I found Wills Wing on top with 32% of the combined field. They did especially well at Lakeview where they had 38% and a win by Bo Hagewood on a Fusion. Aeros was a fairly close second at 29% continuing their hot selling ways under boss GW Meadows. Popular contest pilot choices then followed with Icaro at 14% and Moyes at 13% in a tight competition for third place. La Mouette (4%) and single entries from Airwave and AirBorne filled out the field. • Compare this to the choices in Greece where regular winner Manfred Ruhmer took another first place. However, GW Meadows (as a competitor this time) and Ken Brown placed 4th and 5th respectively. • Among gliders flown by this speedy crowd, Aeros took a convincing 40% the field, followed distantly by Seedwings, Icaro, Wills Wing, Moyes, and UP. A lone Airwave competed. The field is too small and the contest too esoteric to judge much but one thing seems clear. The Ukraine organization called Aeros is very much alive and well on the world market. • Among rigid wings, Brian Porter continues to notch up wins in his Millennium followed by a number of ATOSes, sprinkled with a couple Ghostbusters, Exxtacys, and an Ixbo or so. It is also true that the number of rigid wing competitors are still not equaling the flex entries. New products take time to percolate through the market, but various factors appear to be holding back faster rigid penetration: sharply higher prices and the good relative performance of flexwings in well-matched contest tasks. • Among Yankee contest gurus destined for the U.S. World Team, Jim Lee still reigns, followed by hot new star, Paris Williams, Mike Barber, Glen Volk, Jersey Rosignol, Chris Arai, Bo Hagewood, Kari Castle, Steve Rewolinski, and Richard Sauer (this list is not intended to be an official ranking). • A.I.R. has released a small ATOS. According to early reports from Dave Sharp, the mini-ATOS has 125 square feet, a 37.5 foot span, 11.3 A.R., weighs 68 pounds, and accommodates a pilot weighing 112-198 pounds. It packs down over two feet shorter than its larger sibling and has one less rib with scaled-down flaps. Spoilers are said to be nearly the same size but with a different shape. Overall? It’s "quicker handling," says Dave. ••• The Oops! Department has a couple corrections: • First, though Seedwings’ Bob Trampenau appreciated "the plug in your column" the e-mail address was incorrect. It’s email@example.com (I’d forgotten the second "s"). • A second geek was mistakenly giving credit to Nene Rotor for the Tenax harness. Brain fade… of course, Nene makes the Rotor harness bearing his name (duh!). • Tenax is made by Woody Valley who also offers a Manfred Ruhmer version with personal touches much like on his Laminar MR2000 glider. The Tenax is marketed by AV8 in the U.S. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org ••• Hey, lots more news but outta room till next month. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine