Wills Wing

Oz Report

topic: tandem (31 articles)

Hang Gliding Instruction in North Carolina

Mon, Nov 22 2021, 8:31:30 am MST

4000 tandems

aerotow|Craig Pearson|Facebook|instruction|Moyes Delta Gliders|North Wing|picture|scooter|tandem|Thermal Valley Hang Gliding|towing|video|Wills Wing

Craig Pearson «craig» writes:

We own and operate Thermal Valley Hang Gliding and operate in Lenoir NC. Our website is http://www.thermalvalley.net . We are on Facebook and Instagram and have been in business since 2011. We primarily aerotow tandem discovery flights but teach aerotowing, foot launching, and scooter towing. We have flown nearly 4000 tandems and are Wills Wing, Moyes and North Wing authorized dealers (although Wills Wing dealership status is unknown for now).





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Constant tension electric winch

Tue, Nov 2 2021, 11:42:49 pm MDT

The Vortex SmartWinch

electric|Instinct Windsports|Mark Dowsett|Nick Jones|Ryan Wood|safety|scooter tow|stationary winch|tandem|tow|Vortex SmartWinch


We are ready to announce this exciting project we have been working on all this season - we are manufacturing the first commercially-available all-electric hang gliding stationary winch!

We feel it could be quite revolutionary in the industry. The power is there to even tow tandem hang gliders. The intelligence is there to automate the winch operator's job to make it easy for new winch operators to increase your flying communities number of flights.

AND, the foundation is there for us to implement remote-control winch operating - imagine being able to tow yourself up where you want, when you want… all with no need for crew to assist you!

The key feature is the torque-regulated abilities… you just dial in the desired max tow tension and the winch moderates the speed the drum turns to automatically adjust to give the pilot a constant tow pressure, regardless of hitting a wind gust, thermals or sink while on tow.

It is also incredibly portable! There are three components - the motor/drum, the controller box and the battery. All are light enough that they can be taken in and out of an SUV trunk and mounted on your trailer hitch as desired. No storing an entire trailer somewhere - take your winch home and go out to fly where the conditions are prime - rather than relying on a dedicated club site.

We will be taking pre-orders right away with hopes of spring 2022 delivery. We have flight tested the prototype to our satisfaction but are making some alterations for the final configuration. Prices aren't finalized yet but are working on some accurate ball-park figures. As we add features and improve some components, the prices will only go up from what we have listed.


The Vortex is a tension-controlled winch. This is opposed to a speed-controlled (or throttle-controlled) winch.

A speed-controlled winch puts a great amount of responsibility on the winch operator. If they only have speed control, they have some work to do to manage the tension on the tow line throughout the tow.

Some hydraulic winches are smoother but hydro-static winches still require the winch operator to visibly monitor a pressure gauge and adjust their hydraulic flow to attain and maintain a desired tow tension. And the tension can and will change throughout the tow due to glider speed changes, lift/sink, wind gusts and thermals. With a tension-controlled winch, the intelligence of the winch takes care of all that… resulting in a much smoother tow and way more efficient with increased safety.

Scooter winches are notorious for rough tows. All you have is a gas throttle to adjust and most scooter-winches don't have a pressure gauge to monitor. This requires an even more skilled winch operator and often a very rough ride. For this reason, scooter winches are usually only used in low, smooth winds for rather low-tension training tows.

There are also winches based on the LSD (Limited Slip Differential) transmission of a car. These are strictly gas throttle controlled as well and have the same problems as a scooter. They do have the added feature of setting a max tension that the transmission will slip if that max tension is attained to limit the tow from going over the max tension. This adjustment is very hard to set and calibrate as you have to test manually with a gauge and is often set way too high.

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Valle de Bravo 2021-2022

Wed, Sep 1 2021, 5:31:55 pm MDT

Tours with Rudy

COVID|El Peñón Classic Race 2022|Rodolfo Gotes Navarro|tandem|Wolfgang "Wolfi" Siess|XC|Zac Majors

"Rodolfo Gotes Navarro" «rudygotes» writes:

Valle de Bravo, Mexico, has perfect flying conditions that allow us to fly all year round. El Peñón is one of the most consistent sites in the world.

Mexico is open to receive guests from all over the world, regardless of the COVID situation. We have been privileged because all our activity is outdoors and Valle has been very careful keeping all safety protocols.

If you want to escape the cold winter and experience a week of great flying, then we invite you to book one of our tailored hang gliding tours. Our tours run from November through March. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced pilot, you will make the most of this adventure. You will do lots of air time, do small or big tasks or go XC. You can also enjoy the good food and beer at the landing area, where you can share your experience with the rest of pilots that visit us from all over the world.

We can do two to three flights a day. We offer tandem instruction flights and radio-assistance guided flights, to improve your level and skill.

This coming season, we will have international pilots like Wolfgang Siess and Zac Majors, helping us and training for our yearly El Peñón Classic Race from February 20th-26th, 2022.

After flying, Valle de Bravo’s town is worth visiting and walking through its cobbled-stoned alleys, eating at its restaurants or visiting its market and crafts shops, and it offers great value for money.

You can learn more at: https://vuelolibre.mx/en/tour/hang-gliding-tours/

Monarch Tandem

March 31, 2021, 8:55:42 pm EDT

Monarch Tandem

A butterfly from both sides

Maria Garcia writes:

It was quite a success:

The test flight was successful and fun! Kacey was the tug pilot, Pedro was the pilot, Maria the passenger and Victoria was ground crew! Pedro is loving flying the new Falcon 4 Tandem (Paradise Airsports upgraded from Falcon 3s to Falcon 4s this year).

We had about 4 tandem flights yesterday evening and the passengers loved the colorful Monarch sail pattern too; we even had a "walk in" simply requesting information for future flights who then walked up to the glider just to take a couple of pictures of it parked at the pole barn!

We even had a photo shoot session and a mini-parade when we taxied passed the pilots waiting by the Magic Circle.

It was a small yet quite complete debut for the new member of Paradise Airsports' Fleet.

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Penn Jillette Goes Tandem

March 4, 2021, 8:34:39 EST

Penn Jillette Goes Tandem

With Owen Morse

Owen Morse|Penn Jillette|Tandem|video


Owen Morse writes:

Pre-pandemic, Penn Jillette tells the story of hang gliding with me on his podcast, “Penn’s Sunday School”.

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birdlike hang gliding

Tue, Dec 3 2019, 7:48:20 am PST





Lennox Head incident

Mon, Nov 4 2019, 7:46:52 am PST

Failure to hook in



From the Oz Report forum:

Tandem pilot didn't clip himself in, but did clip passenger in. Pilot fell to his death. Passenger did his best but crashed back into rocks pretty bad.

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Annecy video

Mon, Jun 8 2015, 7:41:51 am EDT


Francois Isoard|video|tandem|PG

Francois Isoard «Francois Isoard» writes:

Video clip of hang gliding over Annecy, filmed from tandem paraglider, testing stabilized cam with Gyro Kenyon KS4: https://vimeo.com/129864507.

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Birds in Paradise fatal crash

Wed, Mar 12 2014, 5:30:01 pm EDT

Gerry Charlebois dies

Gerry Charlebois, Mark McKenzie

Birds in Paradise|fatality|Foundation for Free Flight|Gerry Charlebois|Michel More|Peter Michelmore|PG|tandem|ultralite|video


Firefighters have recovered the bodies of the pilot and passenger involved in Tuesday's aircraft crash in Waiakamoo Valley in Polihale.

Officials haven't released their names, but several friends identify the pilot as Gerry Charlebois, the owner of Birds in Paradise, a powered hang glider school and tour company on Kaua'i.

Friends say Charlebois was not just well-known and respected, but describe him as "Hawai'i's ultralight pioneer".

Peter Michelmore, the Hawai'i regional safety director for the U.S. Hanggliding and Paragliding Association, called news of Charlebois' death shocking.

"It would be like hearing that the best surfer in the world just died surfing. Gerry Charlebois was probably one of the world's top ultralight pilots," said Michel More, who has known Charlebois more than 20 years.

Birds in Paradise fatal crash

Tue, Mar 11 2014, 11:06:22 pm EDT

Gerry Charlebois's operation

Gerry Charlebois, Mark McKenzie

Birds in Paradise|fatality|Gerry Charlebois|tandem|ultralite


Two people died Tuesday on Kauai in the crash of a motorized, seated hang glider owned by a company that markets itself to visiting travelers even though federal regulations prohibit the aircraft from being used for tours or thrill rides.

The identities of the victims aren't known, Kauai County said in a statement.

The light sport aircraft crashed on the side of a mountain near Polihale Beach, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said. The site is in Waiakamoo Valley below Kokee in the western part of Kauai, the county said.

The aircraft — an Evolution Trikes Revo — is registered to Birds in Paradise LLC, a company that advertises scenic flights for tourists billed as introductory flight lessons rather than aerial tours. A message left on the company's answering machine was not immediately returned Tuesday.


Over/under - new harness from Dustin

November 11, 2013, 7:53:56 PST

Over/under - new harness from Dustin


Dustin Martin|harness|Quest Air|tandem

Dustin Martin <<flydustin>> writes:

I just replenished my inventory of over/under tandem harnesses. The latest cut with all options included. Butter-smooth AustriAlpin buckles throughout, ultra wide spreader bars, 420 diamond ripstop outer shells, and an improved foot ladder system that needs no adjustment for any passenger.

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FAA/USHPA Tandem exemption extended to 2014

July 2, 2012, 8:10:37 CDT

FAA/USHPA Tandem exemption extended to 2014

We can still offer "instruction"


"...for the purpose of sport, training, and recreation."


New USHPA tandem exemption operating limitations here.

Guatemala Maya Open

Tue, Feb 7 2012, 1:30:31 pm MST

An all included package

competition|FAI|Guatemala Maya Open 2012|Mario Palacios|tandem|transportation

Fly Guatemala «Fly Guatemala» writes:

Hang Gliding Guatemala Maya Open: FAI Class 1 and Sport Class Cross Country Foot launch competition from 4 to 10 March 2012

Maya Open Special offer: glider, all transportation, guide, entry fee and lodging: $400 a week

For more information contact Mario Palacios: «Fly Guatemala» or visit: http://www.hanggliding-guatemala-tours.com

Tandem pilot beginner's instructor wanted

ATOS tandem

Mon, Dec 12 2011, 9:19:04 am PST

Christoph and his wife

Christoph Lohrmann|tandem

Christoph Lohrmann «Christoph Lohrmann» writes:

My wife and I tandem flying at the "flight festival Tegelberg" in October.

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Lift Coefficient of eight or ten

Sat, Nov 27 2010, 1:37:31 pm MST

Blowing air over the wing and out the flap


Rendering of proposed CESTOL aircraft. This computer-generated graphic shows a model of the cruise-efficient, short take-off and landing (CESTOL) aircraft design that GTRI researchers are investigating. Credit: California Polytechnic State University


Over-the-wing (engine) placement is a key design element because it enables very high lift while still providing the engine thrust necessary for take-off and high-speed level flight. It also offers important reduced-noise benefits.

…single wing flap is used in tandem with a novel element based on circulation-control technology. A narrow slot, capable of pneumatically blowing out air, runs along the entire trailing edge of each wing, just above the flap. This system is powered by its own compressed air source located inside the wing.

This procedure, called flap-blowing, performs two functions: it increases air velocity over the top of the wing, and it deflects the ambient wind stream downward so that it curls under the wing. The combined forces generate a lift coefficient that can be two to four times higher than a conventional mechanical flap.

During take-off and landing, air flow from the slot interacts with the engine exhaust and pulls this powerful exhaust blast down onto the wing. This process, called entraining the exhaust, greatly increases the velocity of the air passing over the wing and results in highly augmented upward suction and lift.

"This strategy allows an aircraft to be flying at a very low speed, while the wing is seeing much higher relative wind speeds on its curved upper surface due to this blowing and thrust-entraining combination," Englar says. "We have measured lift coefficients between 8.0 and 10.0 on these pneumatic powered-lift wings at a level flight condition during testing. The normal lift coefficient on a conventional wing at a similar flight condition is less than 1.0."

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CAA takes over commercial hang gliding operations in New Zealand

Fri, Sep 3 2010, 4:03:56 pm MDT

Let this be a warning



Seven years after the death of a Greek tourist triggered a re-write of aviation law, a new rule has been drawn up for adventure tourism sector flight operators.

All adventure tourism businesses will require "air operator certification" for tandem hang gliders and paragliders, hot air balloons and microlights, a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesman told NZPA today.

The rule change will require approval by cabinet.

Until now, commercial hang-gliding and paragliding have been governed by CAA through the New Zealand Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association: all hang-glider and paraglider pilots wishing to fly in New Zealand have to be members of the association.

Earthbound - Wallaby Ranch in the movies

Thu, Mar 4 2010, 7:03:22 pm EST

Hollywood comes to Wallaby Ranch


http://www.wallaby.com/articles/in the movies.htm

EARTHBOUND, a romance film directed by Nicole Kessell (The Woodsman) and starring Kate Hudson, Kathy Bates, Whoopi Goldberg, Gael Garcia Bernal, Treat Williams and Rosemarie DeWitt tells the story of a tough and disillusioned ad executive (Kate Hudson), who battles cancer and falls in love with her doctor (Gael Garcia Bernal).

As part of the story line revolving around her wish to fly, Kate Hudson's character (Marley) and her love interest (Julian) take simultaneous tandem discovery flights at "The Wallaby Ranch Hang Gliding School" and together enjoy an aerial ballet of sorts as they each soar with their tandem instructor.

Cowboy Up Tandem Clinic

Wed, Mar 4 2009, 7:58:40 pm CST

In May in Alpine, Wyoming

Bart Weghorst|Cowboy Up|tandem

Bart writes:

Cowboy Up Hang Gliding is conducting a Tandem Clinic the last weekend in May. Not Memorial Day weekend but the weekend following: May 30th and 31st (Saturday and Sunday). Ratings of T1, T2 and Tandem Instructor are available to qualified pilots who successfully complete the clinic. Email («fly») or call (307) 413-4164, for more details.

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Flavia and Drew, sports heroes

Mon, Jan 28 2008, 1:56:43 pm MST

Flavia and Drew

Their picture used to capture the spirit of flight

Andrew "Drew" Harris|Jeff O'Brien|Quest Air|tandem


This is a photo of Drew Harris and Flavia flying tandem at Quest Air.

Thanks to Andrew Harris and Jeff O'Brien.

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Jack goes tandem for life

August 9, 2007, 7:46:38 CDT


Or at least that's what he said

Angela Slocum|tandem

Angela Slocum «angela.slocum» writes:

My brother, Jack, is an avid hang glider pilot. So much so that hang gliding was included in the wedding. You'll see a very well dressed hang glider pilot and his bride, Peggy, doing a tandem flight as their walk down the aisle at Harris Hill near Elmira, New York..

Tandem - continues to kill hang gliding »

May 23, 2007, 9:29:45 EDT


They almost all bail out of teaching hang gliding

Jon "Jonny" Durand jnr|Jon Durand jnr|PG|Rohan Holtkamp|Rohan Taylor|Tandem

I've been in touch with folks in Australia recently. Apparently, unlike in the US, the HGFA has a lot to say about whether any one can become an instructor. You have to jump through a lot of HGFA hoops before you can become an instructor. In the US is appears to be a lot easier.

I was speaking with Jonny Durand and he said that one problem was the almost all instructors quit instruction and just do tandems. This is definitely not true at http://www.hangglidequeensland.com.au/ where Jonny works sometimes, nor at http://air-sports.com.au/ with Tony Barton or at http://www.dynamicflight.com.au/index.html with Rohan Holtkamp or http://www.hangglide.com.au/index.html with Shaun Wallace, for example But you'll find that there are very few true hang gliding instruction outfits in all of Australia.

But the problem as Jonny pointed out many instructors soon learn that there is a lot more money in doing tandems than in doing instruction. When there is a competition for the scarce resources (hang gliding instructors), doing tandems is taking away resources that could be used for instruction.

This reminds me of the problem with paragliding, especially in Europe, where hang gliding instruction has collapsed because instructors could make a lot more money instructing paragliding and then selling paragliding equipment.

I'm trying to encourage the spread of a hang gliding instruction business model that can provide adequate income for the individual instructor. Matt Taber has pointed out how one who can afford to see the big picture (a larger operation) can make money from hang gliding instruction. Some people seem to be listening.

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Tandem pilots desperately needed in New Zealand

October 16, 2006, 7:24:06 pm PDT


Young people just want to have fun

job|PG|Simon Lynn|tandem

Simon Lynn at Queenstown Tandem Hang Gliding Ltd «gottafly» writes:

Tandem hang glider and tandem paraglider pilots wanted for our summer season in Queenstown New Zealand . Immediate start through to April 2007. Foot launch experience preferred .

Jim Rooney hurt in New Zealand

February 21, 2006, 2:40:15 pm CST

Jim Rooney

It's in the MSM on the Oz Report web site.

crash|injury|Jim Rooney|tandem

See more news here and here. Jim is a well known tandem pilot and has been a very active contributor to the Oz Report forum.

Boat Towing »

Fri, Nov 18 2005, 11:00:04 am GMT

Unlimited roads in all directions for payout winch towing.

Gregg "Kim" Ludwig|students|tandem|tow

Boat Towing

Gregg Ludwigg «Skycruiser3» writes:

For the last two years we have been towing (I like to say) an "old way a new way" with the MalibuLaunchSystem (MLS) on a large inland lake north of Houston, Texas. Our standard tandem tow is to 2,000' but usually ends up being 2,500-'3,000'.

This lake area is ideal because it is very hot during a long summer with little wind. We have had some students walk up and solo after three days and get their h-2/PL as follows:

- day one….3 tandems

- day two…..2 tandems

- day three..1 tandem check ride/ 3 solos

Some students will need additional tandems.

Having a boat and winch is much more expensive than just a winch but our "tow road" becomes unlimited with circle tows and we always are able to launch into the wind. We are also able to take or pick up tandems where the people are.


Fri, Sep 2 2005, 3:00:00 pm GMT

Two very unnecessary deaths.

Arlan Birkett

accident|altitude|Angelo Mantas|Arlan Birkett|Cloud 9|competition|crash|fatality|Gary Solomon|Guy Denney|Hang Glide Chicago|HG & PG Magazine|Joe Gregor|John Licata|Krzysztof "Krys/Kris" Grzyb|Mike Haas|Nathan Martin|news|Peter Birren|PG|power|sport|tandem|tow|tug|weaklink

Peter Birren «peterb» writes:

It is with a sad and heavy heart that I report Arlan Birkett and a student died Saturday evening, September 3, during a tandem flight at Hang Glide Chicago. Arlan's family in Madison, Wisconsin has been contacted with the news and arrangements will be forthcoming.

From the south end of the NS grass runway, John Licata saw the take off. Arlan was towed to the north, across low power lines and a highway, then appeared to have a major problem with the glider. At a height of about 250 feet, the glider turned 180º and, John says, fluttered to the ground like a wounded bird, tumbling and spinning as opposed to a so-called lawn dart. The impact was in a corn field north of the airport. The student's girl friend was present and was interviewed by the police.

A few possible scenarios and situations can be imagined but they are only speculative. The description, however, seems to point to some sort of a structural failure. More information and suppositions will be available tomorrow when the wreckage is thoroughly inspected.

Arlan and Hang Glide Chicago were just this month featured with a nice 2-page article in Hang Gliding & Paragliding Magazine. Arlan had been an instructor for about 10 years (longer?) And contributed greatly to a sport he loved so much.

Angelo Mantas «Angelomant» writes:

I'm stunned. I'm having a real hard time processing this on a personal level. Last year Mike, then another good friend and former HG pilot was killed last month in a motorcycle accident. Now this.

I have very little info on this. Apparently the glider got off line, then the weak link broke at the tug. This happened around 250', according to the tug pilot, Gary Solomon. Despite the altitude, it sounds like they impacted at a fairly steep angle, although this information is third hand. John Licata witnessed this, but didn't want to talk about it anymore, which is understandable since he also witnessed Mike Haas' crash.

Given the time of day, conditions should have been smooth. There are some thoughts pilots have shared with me, but they are pure speculation so I won't mention them at this time. John and Kris Grzyb are supposed to look over the glider tomorrow.

Arlan was a great guy. He was involved with banking, but walked away from that to start a HG business because that's what he wanted to do. When I got recertified as an instructor last year, instead of seeing me as competition, he thought it would be good to have someone around to do hill training, and gave me an old but airworthy trainer. His efforts gave lots of pilots a great place to fly or just hang out. His quiet demeanor and droll wit will be sorely missed.

Nathan Martin «natdogg1» writes:

Easily the best man I've ever met died today and his student barely older than I (20s). Arlan Birkett and Jeremia died on impact today around roughly 6-6:30 PM. Apparently what can only be described as a freak accident occurred. The glider got out of whack and wasn't corrected soon enough, this progressed into a lockout. At this point no-one is yet sure why, but it is known that the weaklink failed to break (250lb) and as far as we understand the tow rope broke (400+lb test) they were at a high angle of roll and had no time to recover. This all occurred immediately after takeoff and they couldn't of been higher than a few hundred feet.

I had known this man nearly six years of my life and had never witnessed anything less than great respect and kindness to all he knew. Jeremiah was in his 20s I believe and was thought to be a slick pilot by other instructors and was expected to solo. Both will be missed greatly and the holes in our hearts will take some time to mend.

(editor's note: These are very preliminary observations. Guy Denney «guydenney» will be writing up a report and sending it to Joe Gregor and hopefully to the Oz Report. Recent reports indicate that there was apparently no problem with the tandem glider in advance of the lockout. I have asked Guy the following questions:

How heavy was the student? How heavy was Arlan?
How many flights did this student have before this flight?
How long was the tow rope? Was it longer than the regular rope used for towing regular pilots? Was it 300 feet long?
Could the tandem have hit the prop wash? Was the tandem below the tug?
Did Arlan have extra handles on the down tubes to allow him to have extra control (like they do here at Cloud 9)?
What was the strength on the tandem side of the weaklink? Was it stronger than the tug side weaklink?

Arlan used an over/under style harness and the student pilot was on the bottom.

Here is the tandem over/under harness setup at Cloud9.)

Discuss "Arlan" at the Oz Report forum   link»  

At the Moyes Factory

Mon, Nov 15 2004, 4:00:00 pm GMT

New developments hinted at by a Moyes factory pilot.


Curt Warren|equipment|gear|Moyes Delta Gliders|tandem

Curt Warren «curt» writes:

I'm at the Moyes Factory today in Sydney, rounding up some equipment after being a tandem pilot/surf bum the last couple of months here in Oz. Wow, Gerolf and crew impressed me with all sorts of mods' to the gliders. I truly admire their focus, commitment and desire to continually improve these gliders! They just don't stop.

-Cleaner sails, stronger and lighter gliders, and easier to handle is the factory buzz right now. I won't go into specifics at the moment, not knowing what is ready to be publicly announced, but it's got me excited enough to dust off my comp gear.

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DHV tandem tests for the ATOS VX

A.I.R. ATOS VX|DHV|tandem

May 14, 2004

The "translated" version of the test flights at the DHV for the VX.



Flytec Championship - day nine »

A tough day, made that way by the task committee (on purpose).


Sat, Apr 24 2004, 7:00:00 pm GMT

A.I.R. ATOS|A.I.R. ATOS VX|Aeros Combat|Aeros Combat 2|Aeros Ltd|Alex Ploner|Brett Hazlett|Brian Porter|cloud|competition|Eric Paquette|Flytec Championships 2004|Flytec Championships 2005|gaggle|Jacques Bott|Johann Posch|Just Fly|Kraig Coomber|Manfred Trimmel|Mario Alonzi|Ron Gleason|Swift|tandem|Worlds 2004

The results will be posted here: http://www.flytec.com/flytec_champ_04/index.html

We are back to east winds again like for most of the meet. The winds are forecasted to be higher at higher elevation, up to 19 knots. It also looks like the clouds will be thin or not there at all. The top of the lift is forecasted to be 7,400' with lift at 640 fpm, so it should be strong and high enough to come back into the wind.

We hold everything back half an hour as there are clouds forming and we want them to fill in a bit. The rigids will start at 2 PM and the flex wings at 2:30. The clouds do start to look good just on the north side of Quest.

The flex wing contest is very tight with Mario Alonzi in first by less then 40 points over Oleg Bondarchuck. Both these top two pilots are flying Aeros Combat L's. Of course, Bo who won yesterday, is flying the Aeros Combat 2 (not the L). So this day could determine who wins the meet.

The rigid wing contest is not particularly tight (for first at least). Alex had hoped to be 1000 points ahead so that he could go tandem on the AIR ATOS VX today, but he was only 600 points ahead of Worlds Number 1, David Chaumet, on the Tsunami. Alex has won every task. Ron Gleason has a chance to move into fourth behind Eric Paquette (see below), if he does really well today.

We get reasonable climbs to cloud base at 5,000' staying out of the fourteen mile start circle centered around Kokee, 19 miles to the west, northwest. One flex wing, maybe Chris Chris Zimmermann is the only one to go with us, unlike Bo the day before. The rest of the flex wings will wait until later to start.

I'll go down early missing the second thermal, so I'll get a chance to see how the rest of the crew does waiting at goal. Alex Ploner is the first pilot in, with Mark and Brian closely behind him (starting fifteen minutes later). After a bit of a wait David Chaumet comes in, followed by Jacques Bott, Eric Paquette and later Ron Gleason. Then it is a long time until Kurt Schumann gets home and a long time later Johann Posch. The question remains whether Ron will gain enough points to pass Johann for forth.

Now it is time to wait for the flex wings to make it. The sky has been washed clean of clouds for the last hour, but Alex says that he find plenty of lift on the way home. He said he struggled getting to the second turn point, but the guys who came along a little alter timed it perfectly and had clouds form out in front of them as they made it to the second turnpoint to the north at Coleman.

The winds were switchy out on the last leg into Quest from Coleman. So it wasn't as hard making it in as we had thought.

As we break down Alex's VX, we catch site of four flex wings coming in low and fast. In the lead is Oleg Bondarchuck, with Antoine right behind, followed closely by Kraig Coomber and Brett Hazlett. These four are the first gaggle and they are a good ways in front of the next group that includes Mario coming in low and fast just over the trees.

It looks like Oleg has been able to grab the lead back from Mario. It looks like for the first time the Aeros Combat has been the glider selected by the top two place finishers in a major hang gliding meet (outside the Ukraine, that is). Congratulations to Oleg, Mario, Bo, and the folks at Just Fly and Aeros.

The new AIR ATOS -VX, with the very excellent Alex Ploner piloting, it has proven to be the glider to be in in light conditions. It is still not clear what he will be flying at the Worlds in the Alps. Manfred Trimmel won the first day at Bassano in a VX.

Alex, Christian, ad David Chaumet have to be the top favorites at the Worlds coming up in six weeks. Alex and Felix will have an interesting decision to make.

Brian Porter has been flying a very heavily customized Swift with a much smaller cage. He will be flying this in the Worlds. Will this be enough to beat Manfred? We'll see.

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Chad Elchin »

Fri, Apr 11 2003, 12:00:04 pm EDT

accident|aerotow|Chad Elchin|Dragonfly|fatality|flight park|Highland Aerosports Flight Park|instruction|record|school|sport|tandem|tow|towing|ultralite|USHGA|world record


G W Meadows «gw» writes:

I would like to take a moment to introduce you to a great person who died today. Chad Elchin started hang gliding at Kitty Hawk Kites about 12 years ago. He was originally from Pennsylvania. During his time at Kitty Hawk Kites, Chad became quite the hang glider pilot. He could often be seen out soaring the dunes or towing up from the flight park. During his tenure there, Chad achieved his instructor rating as well as his tandem instructor rating and managed the flight park for a year.

It was at KHK, that Chad met Sunny, another tandem instructor and fellow Pennsylvanian. The two of them together, decided to start a flight park. After much searching for the right location, they settled outside of Baltimore - on the 'eastern shore' of Maryland. Ridgely Maryland became the home for "Highland Aerosports". This was about 5 years ago.

Since starting the business and living on a 'shoestring' due to the nature of hang gliding schools in general, the guys grew the business until they had two Draggonfly's and had just purchased a FlightStar for 'side by side' ultralight instruction. These guys tried very hard to reinvest into the hang gliding community every way they could. They produced dozens of hang glider pilots and supplied not only product but friendship to the pilots in the area.

At this moment, Sunny must truly be wondering how he can go on without his partner. I can tell you that running a hang gliding business is a 'high wire act' of cash flow management.

It is for this reason, that I have opened a 'Chad Elchin Fund' for the hang gliding community to donate to this much needed flight park. Today, a great guy passed. Chad was a fellow who you could always depend on to be there for you. No questions asked - you needed him - he was there for you. During his accident, a $40,000 tow plane - specifically purchased for towing up tandem instructional flights was destroyed, so now not only has a major partner in the business died, but also one of the most important tools of the trade has also been rendered unusable.

We have way too few people teaching hang gliding as it is in the U.S. I am asking that we rally around Highland Aerosports and Sunny, Adam (Chad's brother) as well as the other people who have dedicated their recent lives to show the masses the beauty of our sport.

Sunny does not know that I have decided to do this and he is not asking for money. I am just intimately familiar with this (and other) hang gliding schools and I know that catastrophes like this can put them under. We need this hang gliding school to survive.

Please donate what you can to:

The Chad Elchin Fund

This paypal account: «chadfund» or

By Mail: Chad Elchin Fund attn: June Livesay BB&T (Branch Bank and Trust) North Croatan Highway Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina 27948

100% of the money raised here will go to paying the bills directly associated with this flight park. Please donate what you can.

We have lost a truly great person today.

Chad Elchin has been teaching for 10 years. He holds USHGA Advanced Pilot, Advanced Instructor & Tandem Instructor ratings along with the United States Ultralight Association Basic Flight Instructor rating. Chad is also a Tandem Administrator and Aerotow administrator for the USHGA. He has taught over 3,000 tandem lessons and towed more than 5,000 gliders in the Dragonfly. Chad is the world record holder for consecutive loops in a hang glider - 95 loops from 16,000 feet!

(editor's note: By passing the hat we raised $2,400 here at the meet.)

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Mon, Dec 20 1999, 6:00:02 pm EST

aerotow|battery|crash|dolly|job|movie|NASA|nylon|power|powered|record|sailplane|tandem|tow|towing|transport|tug|TV|Wallaby Ranch|weaklink|winch

Mark Stucky, «stucky_mark», writes:

Many months ago I wrote to you with the idea of trying to do some hang glider aerotow testing, the intent of which was to define the actual loads encountered under differing conditions of tugs (low and high power), gliders (beginner, intermediate, and advanced), and pilot weights (single and tandem). Due to the magic of your Straub Report, instant interest was gathered and Malcolm at Wallaby Ranch was quick to call, leaving a message that he would be glad to sponsor the testing.

The brains behind the effort was Jim Murray, a NASA engineer who specializes in flight dynamics and is a true-life "Maguiver" with a reputation of being able to instrument a gnat's knee. Early in the Eclipse (aerotowed F-106) program, in which I was the test pilot, the computer simulation revealed the existence of an oscillatory tension mode in the towrope. The computer predicted something like a 12,000-pound steady-state tension value but overlaid on top of it was a continuous cycling value of several thousand pounds. In some cases this "bungee" mode would grow unstable and eventually exceeding the 24,000-pound weaklink. The level of bungee present was dependent upon the two aircraft, the stability characteristics of the tethered pair, the towrope attachment points, and the towrope itself.

Like the Spectra line used in many hang glider tow operations, the exceptionally strong Vectran towrope we were planning on using had low stretch characteristics. This meant low shock absorption and increased chances of encountering the bungee mode. At the other extreme a nylon towrope would have been too springy and it too could result in dramatic (traumatic?) bungee oscillations. The computer predicted a certain level of stretch would give the best tow characteristics. For our initial flights we planned on adding a 50 foot section of nylon strapping in the middle of the 1000 foot length of the ¾" diameter Vectran rope.

There was some skepticism about the mere existence of this bungee mode. The Germans had towed unconventional aircraft during the war years -- large troop-carrying transport aircraft, even multiple aircraft were towed. They also towed the swept wing Me-103 Komet, the first rocket-powered fighter. Pilots hated towing the Komet and a USAF test pilot who got the lucky straw to tow a captured Komet described the tow as the scariest experience of his life. Even NASA's predecessor, NACA had towed a propeller-less P-51 Mustang in an aborted attempt to compare it's real world L/D to what had been obtained through wind tunnel testing. The steel tow cable broke wrapping around the aircraft, interfering with control, and resulting in a crash.

In all these tests there was never any mention of any bungee mode - did it really exist or was it some computer artifact? The answer was to run the simulation using conventional glider and tow aircraft numbers. The simulation indicated the bungee mode existed in normal everyday towing of sailplanes. Some of the old-time sailplane pilots expressed doubt over the simulation because over their years of towing experience they hadn't noticed any bungee mode. One said, "I've never felt no stinking bungee" (or words to that effect).

So Murray made up a couple of battery powered instrumentation packages, each about the size of a lunch box. We put one in a rented Pawnee tug plane and one in a rented Grob sailplane. The one at the front of the towrope read tow tension (using a solid state metal link at the attach point). The package in the Grob read longitudinal acceleration.

We launched in early morning conditions and the tug looked for level flight in smooth air. We flew at a couple different speeds and tow positions but most of the data was gathered at 55 mph, which was published L/D max for the Grob.

The data showed the bungee mode was very evident and I swear I could feel it. It was always present to a minor extent but was easily excited by turbulence or maneuvering, in which case it took several cycles and perhaps twenty to thirty seconds to reduce it back down to it's normal small oscillations. Probably the greatest excitation of the bungee occurred during the takeoff roll, most likely due to bumps in the dirt runway.

So what about the issue of the bungee mode and its effect on the Eclipse program? We found that as predicted, there was a stable region on low tow where the bungee was minimized and where the F-106 was extremely easy to fly on tow. Outside of that stable region the bungee became more of a factor and the F-106 became more and more of a handful to fly. In fact, in a conventional high tow position it was quite unstable and if I wasn't extremely careful the weak link would fail within several seconds.

Without doing any dedicated tests with hang gliders I can only guess but I think it is reasonable to expect the bungee mode is present in hang glider towing. In fact, I think we've all felt it while platform towing, the surging of tension that occurs when the drum is slowly unwinding at the end of the tow. I attributed the pulsing in tension to the difference in the static and dynamic friction coefficients of the disk brake. While this may partly be true, the cycle itself could be caused by the bungee mode of the towrope.

So what does this mean to hang glider towing and weak links? It means that a weak link that is the perfect value on a spectra towline would be the wrong value on a polypropylene rope. It means a weak link that is perfect on a 150 foot towline could be less-than-perfect on a 200 foot length. It means that a weak link that is perfect on a large-diameter wheeled dolly on a concrete runway could be too weak on a rough runway or a less absorbing dolly. It means a weak link that works with a lightweight tug won't be right for a high-power, high mass tug. It means the towrope attachment point can be critical and the effect may be exacerbated if not in the proper tow position or if flying tandem.

It means that towing may be easier and weak links less prone to breaking if a small amount of shock absorption was added to low-stretch towlines. Perhaps a few feet of nylon rope on the end next to the pilot would be sufficient. I remember the smoothest tow I ever had was on a stationary hydraulic winch in Canada. I attributed the smoothness to the hydraulics but perhaps a contributing factor was the twenty feet of ½" nylon rope that was added to the end of the towline so it would hang down below the inside wingtip during turns on a step tow.

One last point to make is the breaking strength of rope is very dependent on the radius of any knot or bend in it. A weak link that is looped around a metal ring will fail at a higher value than one looped around a narrow loop of nylon.

Obviously, the correct weak link depends on many variables and identifying what works best would take a bit flight research (perhaps just a single day worth of smooth air flights). This did not occur because several things happened since I first wrote to you. First, Jim Murray was shipped off to the east coast to work a temporary assignment on the "Mars Flyer" -- a remote aircraft designed to fly in the atmosphere of Mars on the centennial anniversary of the Wright brothers first flight. Secondly, I decided to leave what on the top surface was my dream job as a NASA research pilot to pursue a job with the airlines. There were many reasons for this decision, not the least of which was NASA's continuing aeronautical budget cuts, emphasis on unpiloted aircraft, and their seemingly inability to get things done.

The NASA administrator's "Faster, Better, Cheaper" mantra has become a joke in the industry, reminding me of Jack Nicholson's presidential proclamation in the movie "Mars Attacks" when, in the midst of mass destruction, he gets on national TV and says something along the lines of, "I know I promised you these three things but hey, two out of three ain't bad." Unfortunately, with NASA's current record the quote would be more along the lines of "hey, none out of three ain't bad."

Until we ever do a real hang glider aerotow research project we can only make semi-educated guesses on the bungee mode and its effect on the towing of hang gliders. The intent of this writing was to point out some of the issues and to apologize for my failure to follow through with the research that I hinted at so long ago. A number of pilots sent emails to me at NASA asking me about the status of the project and encouraging me to pursue it. Unfortunately, when I went to retrieve all of those archived messages in my last week at NASA I found I had already been locked me out of the email system so I can't answer those emails individually.

Someday I may be able to get together with Murray and do the research. In the meantime, if you are ever flying the "friendly skies of United" look for me in the right seat of a Boeing 737 (especially if you are flying any of the west coast "Shuttle" routes).

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Rigid Wing News

Sun, Jan 3 1999, 6:00:00 pm EST

carbon fiber|cost|Exxtacy|Felix Ruehle|Ghostbuster|news|side wires|site|tandem|towing|USHGA|Wallaby Ranch

AIR, manufacturers of the ATOS, have a new, as yet incomplete, web site:

http:/home.t-online.de/home/felixruehle/index.htm. You can also see ATOS photos athttp:/www.davisstraub.com/ATOS. We hope to add photos of other rigid wings, also.

The latest word on the production schedule for the ATOS is that we won't see the first couple here in the US until April. Hopefully just before the Wallaby Open - April 18th - 24th.

Felix Ruehle will be at the USHGA meeting and show in Knoxville at the end of February to show off the ATOS. There is a possibility that ATOS towing close to the site of the show will be available.

I spoke with GW Meadows (http:/www.justfly.com) today here at Wallaby Ranch. He said that he expects to see the new rigid wing glider from Aeros also available in April. Only a few details are available. It isn't flying yet. 78 pounds. There will be lower side wires to the wings to cut down on the weight. Control surfaces will be activated at the hang point. 39 foot span. 143 square feet. High aspect ratio. Carbon fiber construction with a cross bar. We expect it to come in at a considerably lower cost then other rigid wings, as per the Aeros tradition.

Matthias Betsch at Flight Design (http:/www.fun2fly.com for the US distributor) has announced the Ghostbuster as well as modifications to the Exxtacy for 1999 (should be on the new ones that have arrived lately in the US). We don't know if the Ghostbuster is flying yet. See below for more details.

QuestAir has a tandem/wheeled version of the Exxtacy. Perhaps you can contract with them for conversions.

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