ST. PAUL, MINN. — Told you last month I had new info on Dick Boone’s unusual Climax experimental design. I say "experimental" as that seems appropriate, it being a test bed. Nobody is planning to produce it yet, but perhaps Climax ideas will appear elsewhere or on a new hybrid design from Boone. After all, Dick has something a reputation for contributing notable achievements to hang glider design. ••• His work is continuing. Some expert pilots who’ve taken a flight on the Climax said they felt completely out of control, partly owing to its joystick linkage and lack of centering mechanism. The net effect apparently was that virtually every control input became an overcontrol. A cable controlling the twist — attached to the rear spar, where you’d expect to find the crossbar — runs through the control bar base tube. As Boone acknowledges, "If the cable is centered the glider will fly straight. If the cable is off centered, either to the right or left, the glider will turn to the side that is creating the most twist… there is no aerodynamic force keeping this cable centered." You had to use some force to return the joystick control to center. Dick adds, "Very small amounts of input were needed to put the glider into a turn but a great amount was needed to pull the glider out of the same turn. The cable never wanted to be in the middle position." ••• Eureka! Boone has installed a new system. He explains, "It is a very simple device that has two opposite cams (one for each wire) that creates additional cable tension on the side to which the glider is turning. This change gives the glider a roll stability. Boone has spent time releasing the stick and flying via weight shift. "All seems to be going well," he said, indicating some hardware is being changed to facilitate the new idea. I’ll keep you posted as best I can. ••• Back to what you can buy today… Wills Wing announced a new size of their Falcon, the 195 model for pilots hooking in at 150 to 275 pounds. Though they’ve upgraded the airframe and added larger wires, they’ve still kept the weight down to only 50 pounds. It’s priced at $2,695 which sounds pretty reasonable. Certification was earned in August and production has started. ••• One speculative benefit of the Climax is reduced glider price, a worthy goal. Reviewing Will Wing’s latest price schedule reminds me of the way autos are sold. Falcons, for example, sell for a "base price" ($2,695) but you can add options, many of which you probably think you can’t fly without. If you add all the good stuff — choice of colors, streamlined legs, and folding speed bar — you’ll ramp the price up 23% to $3315. Similarly equipped Spectrums go from $2,995 to $3,615. Super Sports and RamAirs are sold as fully equipped ($3,895 and $4,495 respectively). ••• Wills Wing is increasing its presence in accessory items. WW’s Pro Line has become the U.S. Distributor for the Avocet pilot watch (introduced to HG pilots by Owens Valley Soaring). In addition to supporting their dealer network, Pro Line will also sell direct at retail prices. Such direct-sale products are limited to T-shirts, videos, books, and instruments. Gliders, harnesses, and parts will be sold only through dealers. Besides the Avocet, Wills is also distributing the Digifly VL-100 vario. I’ve looked over Digifly’s powered ultralight instrument and found it laden with features (enough so that you’ll have to read the manual to learn it all). The VL-100 is a vario with three altimeters, three audio levels, a timer, and a thermal averager which runs 200 hours on 2 AA batteries. With a one year warranty, it retails for $575. Pro Line will also sell the Flightmate Pro GPS unit for $995. I use one of these and they’re just great. When the day’s flying is over you can carry it around with you and pretend you’re Jordi from Star Trek holding a tri-corder. ••• Putting flight gear prices into perspective, one only need look at Drachenflieger magazine from Germany. Their comprehensive annual market review lists gliders from 28 hang glider manufacturers and 32 paraglider builders. Consumers can choose from over 300 different brands, models, and sizes of paragliders with fewer choices on the hang glider end. And… you think Yankee prices are high? In Europe the RamAir tops the list at the equivalent of $6,175, followed by the TRX at $5,700 and the Klassic at $5,600. Be glad you live in the US of A. The cheapest glider was the VK 3 Rebel from Wujasin for a mere $2,195. Never heard of it? Neither had I, but the German DHV certified it under their rigorous program. ••• Outta room this month. In November, I’ll have some more statistics for you and I’ll begin looking at goodies suitable for Christmas giving. If you sell something that fits, let me hear from you. Better yet, just send your literature and a sample if appropriate (evaluation items are only returned if requested). So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Fax or V-mail to 612/450-0930. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine