ST. PAUL, MINN., — We have a Brand New World Record! Of course it has to be verified (or homologated) by authorities but Dave Sharp flew 311 miles (501 km) on his A.I.R. ATOS on July 19, 2000. Sharp and several others have been HQ’d in the unlikely-sounding spot of Zapata, Texas for the World Record Encampment. This boondocks location is estimated by weather guru and soaring technowizard, Gary Osaba, to be the most likely place in the U.S. for a record flight. He’s done well supplying weather forecasts to help meet directors plan cross country tasks, and it turns out he was right on the money again. • Oz Reporter and X-C enthusiast, Davis Straub, reports on his website (davisstraub.com) that on Sharp’s record distance flight, he also "took a FAI sector photo of Barksdale, Texas at 200 miles to set the world record for distance to goal for Class II gliders. This is the first time a foot-launched glider has been flown to the diamond distance." • It’s been a while coming but the straight line distance finally betters the Class I record of 308 miles set by Larry Tudor on a Wills Wing Ram Air. Sharp’s ATOS flight also bests the Current Class II record of 405 km (253 mi) by Ramy Yanetz of Israel. • A fascinating aspect of Dave’s flight achievement is that he did this on a "beater" ATOS. Actually one that had been damaged in shipping, Peter Radman of Altair (ATOS importer) declared it "almost unrepairable." He elaborated saying that they spent two weeks fixing broken D-cells, ribs, a broken keel and patching holes in the sail. Assembled from parts Altair had or cobbled together Radman adds, "It was never meant to leave the shop. It was pieced together to test the repair that was done on the d-cell… Far from the ideal glider one would want for setting world records don’t you think?" • Indeed. And congratulations, Dave! ••• Surveying the gliders chosen by the competitors at the 2000 PreWorlds in Spain, a couple interesting facts arose. As is common at European venues like Spain, Icaro did very well, but they did not dominate, nor even lead the parade. Among 78 Class I pilots, the sleeper was Moyes, whose Australian gliders came in at a convincing 36% of the field, a full 10 points ahead of the next closest brand. Icaro came in second at 26% of the field. What surprised me — since this name hasn’t shown up strongly in competitions for some time — was the very strong third place finish of La Mouette, whose Topless was flown by 21% of the contest pilots. It speaks well of La Mouette sales to the Spanish market. • Trailing well behind was Aeros at 10.0% (the Ukraine brand has had a higher percentage of entries entries in many recent meets). Way back with a minor presence were Wills and Bautek at 3%, and Seedwings and UP with a single entry each. • Congratulations to Betinho Schmitz (1st) and Gerolf Heinrichs (2nd) in their Moyes Litespeeds. ••• Most of the big contest names were at the recent European championships. Pilot choice of the Icaro Laminar dominated here with six in the top ten and many more clumped throughout. A few Moyes Litespeeds and Aeros Stealths were listed and here or there a La Mouette Topless or other European brand you may not even know. Not a single American name showed up near the top. • You may find this Interesting given the love of American aviation products among many Europeans. Once America lead with hang glider developments, but now it appears we are but one nation among many. One occurrence I can observe, however, is that Team USA is doing better at establishing new airparks. Of course we have the land (in some locations) that Europe doesn’t. Even while we fight against loss of any mountain flying site, we do create more tow-based operations. ••• Since I mentioned James Tindell of Miami Hang Gliding and his new tow park last month, I again wish to draw attention to the southern Wisconsin airpark operation of Raven Skysports (www.hanggliding.com). Raven SS is based near Whitewater, Wisconsin which is west of Milwaukee and an hour or so from the huge Chicago metro area. Brad Kushner’s operation is frequented by many central/northern-states pilots. He operates four Dragonfly tugs, a trike tug plus other equipment. • Even newer operations include another Dragonfly-based tow operation at the Superior, Wisconsin airport (very close to Duluth MN) and Ray Leonard and partners’ development in Nevada. Since flatland soaring and cross country potential are now well documented, many veterans see the future of hang gliding in the tow park, a place which can offer launches and good flying plus amenities that are tough to duplicate on a mountain top or remote LZ. (Remember, both Dave Sharp’s recent achievement and Larry Tudor’s of some years ago started from flatland, tow-launched flights.) • If this towpark phenomenon is real, then America continues to blaze new trails. ••• 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