ST. PAUL, MINN. — Flyin’ high over Telluride. Early reports trumpeted spectacular flying at the mile-high site of the largest hang gliding event in the nation (world?). Reminded me of those altimeter ads from more than a decade ago when one advertiser teased pilots who had not yet equipped themselves. The ad featured a geeky-looking pilot saying, "I gained… er, …gobs of altitude." Remember? It was funny and meant to goad us into buying their wrist altimeter so we’d actually know the altitude we gained. Now, I compare that to modern reports of great flying days. No one wants to state any number of MSL feet above 17,999. Anyway, suffice it to say, Telluriders gained, er… gobs of altitude. Thanks to Gerry Charlebois. ••• Speaking of getting high, Moyes announced new prices for their gliders. Many businessmen would agree that when sales are good is the proper time to raise prices and indeed Moyes has said sales were never better. The top-of-the-line Xtralite with Scrim now lists for $4,850. You can increase this with Mylar to five bucks short of five grand. Phew! But look at whatcha get. This is a very well built, successful machine of the mid-’90s. To keep things in perspective, the company has a trainer (the XL series) that starts at $2,795. ••• Moyes has used their success with the Xtralite and Tom Suchanek in a new video tape production done for them by Czech Television (what a multinational type outfit, Moyes). The 15-minute feature is done very differently than most HG company promo tapes. It shows nothing of the factory or glider detail, instead chronicling a winning period for the Xtralite. You’ll see lots of great flying scenes from Australian beach sites to the mighty Owens Valley at the ’93 Worlds. Very watchable indeed. Nothing is perfect, and one part of the tape drove me nuts. A voiceover murmurs "Moyes" in a man-from-Mars echo sound. Once or twice wouldn’t be so bad, but the noise repeats throughout the tape in some attempt to carry a theme. On whole though, this tape is a must-see. Call Moyes California at 818/887-3361 or fax to 702-0612. ••• While doing some video review, I also watched the Wills tape. A very short three-minute production by HG video impresario, Paul Hamilton, the WW edition is a thorough, methodical review of Wills, the company and its people. You tour the factory, see the employees and dealers, and watch a flying machine company in action. Wills is hugely staffed with talent and experience, so the 100% diologue-free effort still tells a powerful story of professionalism and success. Short enough to show non-flyers. Call any dealer to see it. ••• At the Sun ‘n Fun ’94 airshow, I had the distinct pleasure to fly the powered Swift. These days, such flying tends to be about all I can fit in, but at the Florida airshow, I get to do a lot of flying. The Sunshine State was wildly soarable everyday… except the day I flew the Swift. What a shame. Nonetheless, I know what to do with a motorglider. I shut off the electric-start engine every chance I could. In an hour and a half, I managed about 45 minutes of gliding with a few teeny bumps, but those minutes were excellent! What a neat aircraft! I expected a very pitch sensitive machine with sluggish roll rate. I got neither. Pitch was quite easy to control and roll was reasonably brisk. Even more important in places like the Owens is the control authority which is very positive. For landings, flaps pull on by a string like hang glider VGs. It feels odd to an ultralight pilot but hang glider pilots will quickly comprehend. HG pilots will also accept the anhedral look that is uncommon on powered aircraft. Here’s the best news for HG pilots considering the Swift: it switches between powered and unpowered in 30 minutes, so you can have it your way. I’m told it foot launches quite well in winds above five mph. Yeah, it’s pricey, but consider that it will last for many years and with solid 24:1 performance, you won’t need to buy another wing for a long time. My one complaint: lateral visibility is poor with your head between the flaps. The unpowered hang cage looks better in this area. Brightstar also has a Swift video. I suggest your club get a copy. Call 707/576-7627. ••• Ballistic ‘chute system maker, BRS, is a finalist in the 1994 Discover magazine Technical Innovations Awards. Reps from company will be brought to Disney World in Florida for a grand ceremony presentation of the winners in each of seven categories. BRS is one of five finalists in the Aviation/Aerospace category (out of 4,000 total entries!). The opportunity will provide exposure in the magazine following an introduction written by VP Al Gore. The Disney Channel will have extensive coverage; EPCOT has a summer exhibit titled, "Innoventions," specifically highlighting the achievements of the 35 finalists. CBS gave event and product coverage on their news show, CBS This Morning. The opportunity came after BRS won FAA approval for rocket ‘chute systems on certified aircraft and the saving of 78 lives to-date. ••• Next time: an update on that unusual test-bed hang glider, the Climax. 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