St. Paul, Minn. — The buzz continues over power and USHGA. Actually, most of the racket appears to be emanating from a vocal few while most pilots are either ambivalent or fence sitters. • Invited to vote, hopefully all pilots studied the USHGA position and then expressed their interests. Ten years ago, in 1993, USHGA accepted all APA (American Paragliding Association) members into our club. The assimilation worked with few problems. Now the same decision is facing us with power for soaring. You got your voting card. Did you send it? We’re all waiting for you… ••• Executive Director Jayne Depanfilis writes that one reason to think carefully about HG&PG power in USHGA is because FAA is all-but advising the association to take these aviators under our wing. • With that in mind, Jayne asked if I’d go listen to the new FAA administrator speak at the Oshkosh airshow in late July. Here’s some highlights of her talk. As expected, none of her remarks focused on hang gliding as Part 103 operations are unaffected by the new rule. • Brand new FAA boss, Marion Blakey, spoke at Oshkosh on July 31, 2003 in a session called “Meet The Administrator.” While she started with issues related to general aviation pilots, Blakey soon got to Sport Pilot / Light Sport Aircraft (SP/LSA). Reporting that she’d signed off on the new rule for FAA the day before generated the loudest applause of her speech. Listeners overflowed the large forum in which she spoke, many keen to hear about Sport Pilot. However, except to confirm sign-off on the final version of the rule, Blakey revealed little. • Experiencing deja vu? Yes, FAA already sent this rule off to OMB (budget) and DOT (transportation) before but that was the proposal. Now, FAA’s sent the final. When Blakey stated that the process would take 6-12 months some experts felt she didn’t “spin” her message well. Could this long-overdue rule still be a year away? With 90 days allowed to each agency, OMB and DOT “should” have the rules back to FAA for public issuance by February 1, 2004. As the man who once pushed Part 103 through FAA’s bureaucratic machinery, Mike Sacrey was more upbeat. “This puts the [SP/LSA] rule within field-goal range,” he commented. • Blakey reported that 4,300 responses had been received to the proposal, a large figure compared to other NPRMs. Of that outpouring, a significant percentage came from the hang gliding community regarding towing. Congratulations commenters; you were heard loud and clear. ••• Nanotrikes at Oshkosh! These lightweight structures use powered paraglider engines and are aimed at hang glider soaring pilots. They are closer to a powered harness than a conventional powered ultralight trike. No less than four models were shown, two of them brand new. • Seagull Aerosports’ Pod was the only fully enclosed nanotrike. Mike and Linda Riggs showed their Escape Pod, the powered model, with an almost-identical but engine-less Pod Racer to follow. I wrote about this quite a bit last month so I will only add that my excitement continued when I saw the actual Pod. For years, I’ve been seeking a soaring trike which minimizes drag and weight. Seagull’s Pod series is an elegant answer. It displayed in mockup form as final details prevented a finished, flying product. But it was good enough for me to hand over the $1,000 (deposit) check I’d promised in this column years ago. FMI: 952-473-1480 or Mike@fly-seagull.com • Lookout Mountain Flight Park had on their space the PowerLite imported from Australia’s Airtime Products, also the supplier of the Explorer Powered Harness. Their’s is a minimal trike that looks more refined than any other nanotrike entry. It was even smaller and lower than LMFP’s own SkyCycle, displayed with some new features like side storage bags. Powerlite uses the same engine selected by Seagull for their Pod — Cors-Air was first developed for powered paragliders. LMFP’s SkyCycle uses the well-proven Zenoah and their carriage looked like it could handle harder use than the tiny Powerlite. Logically then, you might start with a SkyCycle and move up to a Powerlite. FMI: 706-398-3541 or email@example.com • Or you might consider Steve Rewolinski’s one-off soaring trike. Steve smiled that big grin of his and hinted at possible production by a local business currently producing powered parachutes (Skymaster). It seems a good way for a fully-employed Steve to deal with inevitable interest. His is a competition-pilot-designed trike with all streamlined tubing, hand-deploy parachute, and a suprone posture. A narrow pod between his knees had room for instruments and some limited storage underneath the faceplate. With his MR700 Icaro hang glider doing the lifting, Steve’s nanotrike climbs about 600 fpm, he reported. He added that he’s already logged many engine-off hours soaring this rig. • In successive columns I’ll write more about each of these nanotrikes because every single one of them is aimed at soaring flight. I’ll also tell you about a new hang glider tug unveiled at the big show. Summary: looks good with a lower price than Dragonfly. ••• Wrapping up, I’m pleased to say USHGA again displayed at Oshkosh. It proved a good year to return as the giant airshow enjoyed its best attendance in three years. Working the booth steadily was Brent Mueller, USHGA’s summer marketing intern, who said many people tried out the slick hang gliding simulator provided by Raven Sky Sports. As for most vendors, this doesn’t necessarily translate into revenue (or memberships), but it gave hang gliding a highly visible presence at a week-long event that draws nearly a million flight-oriented people. • USHGA’s booth space was made possible by Brad Kushner who purchased the location. Naturally he also promoted his towpark which is conveniently located only a couple hours away. FMI: 262-473-8800 or hanggliding.com ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ‘em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930. E-mail to News@ByDanJohnson.com or CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine