ST. PAUL, MINN. — Our Just Fly U.S. Nationals are over and I heard little about the influence of the so-called topless gliders. I didn’t think much about this, being unsure if this idea is good design or merely good marketing. ••• However, German team leader Ernst Schneider sent E-mail which suggests that topless acceptance by contest pilots in Europe is much stronger. He writes, "Kingpostless gliders have gained popularity amongst competition pilots in Europe very fast this year and showed very good results at recent competitions." The results he listed put topless gliders in winning positions at the German Open (a Guggenmos "Cut RCS" won, followed by a UP "Speed") and six of the top ten at the German League were topless. Interestingly, though they showed well in the latter meet, the top three were "conventional" hang gliders. ••• In a related item, this German correspondent also states, "Market share of U.S.-built gliders in Europe has decreased significantly during the last years and it rather looks like this will continue." He notes that Americans may regard European gliders as having low standards of quality, safety, and performance, but adds, "…it looks definitely that the U.S. manufacturers ignore the latest technology step on gliders without kingposts." As I’ve expressed before, time will tell if this is the newest direction of hang glider design or just another short-lived idea like air scoops. Thanks to Schneider for his info on glider technology and trends. ••• One of those non-topless glider winners was eighth-time (!!!) German champion, Bob Baier. As Moyes was happy to observe in their latest mailing, he won flying an Xtralite 147. This was his sixth consecutive national title. The Down-Under company also congratulates winner Mark Tulloch at the Canadian Nationals — the first, by the way, to be held from a towing site; 32 pilot participated. Naturally, Moyes also spoke to their contest performance at the Dinosaur Nats, with their newest SX4 finishing in second (Suchanek), fourth (Brad Koji), and eighth (Brazilian Andre Wolfe). • Moyes is also promoting their newest glider cloth, called "Airfoil Diax," available in opaque or with hologram spectrum colors. ••• As long as we’re hopping around the globe so easily, Mexico is coming back as a winter flying destination. Following a couple years of less news on south-of-the-border tours, two operators are again pursuing Yanquis who want some good air while the chill winds blow up north. • Returning is well known Ole Olson. "We’re going to base [Safari] Sky Tours in Valle de Bravo this year." He’s used this location before as two sites are within a half hour. La Torre (The Tower) is known for its gentle breezes and consistent ridge soaring. El Peñon del Diablo (The Rock of the Devil, or simply El Penyon in gringospeak) is a "booming thermal site where… we sky out on a regular basis," says Olson. He claims to have gone to Peñon 212 times and never been unable to fly due to conditions. Olson reports many tour takers have raved over Peñon, quoting Paul Voight as saying, "What is it with this place anyway? Is it always this good? Don’t you ever get a day off?" • Olson reports that he and partner Eric Rasmussen will offer tours both for hang glider and paraglider pilots. Watch for Safari Sky Tours’ announcements in HG, or you can E-mail to Elvolador@aol.com. ••• A newer operator is Mexican-based Chal Hale and his Fly Mexico enterprise. Also serving both HGs and PGs, tours are available from $350 a week and can include accommodations, breakfast, ground transportation, and instruction. Hale advises, "Organize a group of four or more other people and you get to come for free!" He adds that the optimum season is from November to April. [From the USA], dial 011-52-726-20082. ••• Zapping back home again, good news up in New York where Mountain Wings owners Greg and Judy Black have again secured a facility to perform static towing. A bureaucratic battle went on for eighteen months but you can again get tows for either hang gliders or paragliders should the winds not favor the popular Ellenville mountain launch site. For details, schedules, and prices, call 914-647-3377. ••• On the Lighter Side… popular cartoonist Harry Martin has launched his new Internet page where newsletter editors can take his offer of free clip art. "Due to steady requests for artwork to place into newsletters, I’ve decided to set up a home page to make some artwork available to non-profit organizations only," says Martin. His service is aimed at HG/PG newsletter editors and offers artwork in the standard GIF format. Editors can also request artwork they don’t see now. He’ll update the page monthly and a limited number of available files will grow, he promises. Here’s his URL — http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Harry_Martin_. ••• Geek Reporter Dept.: When describing Peter Birren’s new towing release, the Linknife, I neglected one kinda important detail. The point was how it works… which is by cutting the actual weak link that is used on nearly all tow launches. After relying on the weak link to do its job enroute, the release is made by pulling on a cord that causes the two razor blades to cut the weak link. My apologies for any misunderstanding. This thing is so modestly priced you may have overlooked it. Try again by E-mailing Birren at RHGPA@aol.com. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. V-mail or fax to 612-450-0930. E-mail CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine