ST. PAUL , MINN. — Wills Wing was surely pleased by the recent performances of Nene Rotor who won the Brazilian Nationals in his Talon, and by Chris Zimmerman, who won the US Open on a Talon. Jim Lee came in third on another Talon. lll About their topless entry, Wills Wing says, “After a lot of development and wide ranging experiments… production 2002 Talon 140s and 150s sport a significantly improved sail design, and several new features which are immediately apparent, including an extended tip chord and an extended double surface which fairs in the hang loop, enhanced handling and slow speed capabilities, and improved L/D across the speed range.” s In June I wrote about one of Wills Wing’s experiments seen at the 2002 Wallaby Open — variable reflex. This clever system showed promise but Wills said it “would require a significantly more refined execution in order to be viable on a production glider.” The U.S. member of the world’s Big Five hang glider manufacturers says that “a number of other, less visible experiments were also being conducted at the same time, and while none of these will see production at this time, we will continue to work on these and other ideas as we continue to refine and develop the Talon for the future.” lll Wills also performed evaluations of their Falcon Tandem glider. They flew it at Wallaby Ranch on a fixed-wheel setup with hook-in weights from 180 to 500 pounds (!). Even at these extremes, Wills says, “The Falcon Tandem does not exhibit the spiral instability seen on most previous tandem gliders when the payload goes over 400 pounds.” The company also reports that Ken Howells and Rob Kells foot launched and landed it in no wind at 440 pounds. They say the big tandem model “rounds out and glides in ground effect, rather than requiring a dive at the ground and an almost immediate flare like the Falcon 225.” Unlike the Falcon 225, the Fly 2, and Double Vision, Wills says there “is no ‘wall’ in the flare. The glider flares easily… almost like a Falcon flown solo.” s WW dealers also made observations. Michael Robertson of High Perspective has been making his living for years teaching hang gliding, and has thousands of tandems on all the available commercial tandem gliders. Robertson flew the Tandem at Wallaby, did some midday soaring with the big glider, and reported that he wanted one “as soon as possible.” Another experienced instructor, Rob McKenzie, says he’s logged more than 7,500 foot launch tandem flights. About the Falcon Tandem, Rob writes, “It is nice to finally have a tandem glider that performs well, has light and neutral roll response, and flares smoothly with full rotation without that feeling of pushing against a brick wall.” If you’re instructing tandem, sounds like you ought to demo the new trainer. s The Tandem is not the 225 Falcon 2 model nor is it Wills Wing’s hillside trainer, the Condor. Instructor or not, any pilot might enjoy this reasonably priced ($3,675) glider. FMI: willswing.com (then click on “Falcon 2”). lll In rigid wing news, La Mouette is making more ripples than I’ve noted for some time, with David Chaumet performing well on a Top Secret in several contests. Some observers felt it outglides and outclimbs some other rigid wings. Though Chaumet’s Top Secret had no new model designation, the previous examples did not appear to perform as well. Chaumet was said to be doing as well as Icaro’s Stratos and A.I.R.’s latest ATOS-C. Contest writer, Davis Straub, indicated, “This is the first time that another rigid wing glider has been able to challenge the ATOS as the top rigid wing.” At press time, no word on production changes for the Top Secret, but I’ll try to snoop around on an upcoming visit to Dijon , France , home of La Mouette. FMI: lamouette.com/pdelta1.html lll Reports of several tucks or tumbles have surfaced during 2002’s soaring season. While you might escape such mishaps by flying in milder conditions or places, some appear difficult to avoid completely including one at Tiger Mountain near Seattle . Even though Washington pilot Steve Becker’s parachute did not get out, he survived impact with the ground. Lessons: avoid strong conditions and make sure you’ve got a parachute (and that you’ve repacked it recently). s You might also consider one of Mike Riggs’ Pods when he gets them ready for the 2003 season. Damage to wings resulting in parachute deployments often involve the pilot falling into — and breaking — the glider. But a conventional, non-rigid harness may not be your only choice next year. s Riggs recently signed documents on an SBA Loan and his Seagull Aerosports company plans to start production of the first retractable-gear pods by fall of 2002. The concept of a sleek soaring trike (or “pod” in Seagull parlance) was spurred by my own interest so I’m in line for for one of the first models. Presently, Riggs won’t accept your money, yet the first 20+ Pods are already spoken for, figures Mike. Interest in this new style of “harness” appears to be growing steadily. FMI: firstname.lastname@example.org Next month: tucks and tumbles and tails and winglets. Rigid wings are adapting controllable surfaces. Will flex wings also go this route one day? s So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset , St. Paul MN 55118 . Messages or fax to 651-450-0930; please note my new e-mail address of News@ByDanJohnson.com… but you can still use CumulusMan@aol.com for the foreseeable future. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine