Wills Wing

Oz Report

topic: Steven "Steve" Pearson

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Wills Wing News

Fri, Oct 15 2021, 4:56:34 pm MDT

Up and running and taking orders

COVID|Paul Voight|Steven "Steve" Pearson

Paul Voight writes:

On Wednesday night I participated in a video call with the new Wills Wing team and a few larger dealers from all over the planet. The new factory and staff are all set up in Valle De Bravo, Mexico and they are ready to start accepting orders.

There are still some supply chain issues (from Covid-19, basically), so some tubing and cloth options are still not in house yet, but they anticipate that these issues will be resolved in the not too distant future.

Obviously, they will take a while to have all the products in house (parachutes, helmets, wheels, apparel, etc), but eventually, they will be as functional as the previous version of the world class Wills Wing was.

They indicated that the design team (lead by Steve Pearson) will (as always) be looking to continue innovating and improving their product line.

All of this is great news for the sport. Wills Wing is arguably the most innovative, influential and proactive promoter of the crafts and products that have allowed this sport to develop to the point it has today. I, for one, am stoked.

Fastest Competition Speed?

Mon, Aug 23 2021, 9:53:41 am MDT

Task 3 at the Monte Cucco Piero Alberini International Trophy 2021

Filippo Oppici|Marco Laurenzi|Monte Cucco Piero Alberini International Trophy 2021|Steven "Steve" Pearson|triangle

The task:

No Leg Dist. Radius
1 0.0 km 400 m
2 Ss 2.3 km 15000 m
3 36.8 km 5000 m
4 56.8 km 3000 m
5 91.4 km 5000 m
6 113.3 km 2000 m
7 Es 119.4 km 1000 m
8 120.0 km 400 m

The task is almost an out and return from the start of the speed section (SS) to the end of the speed section (ES). The leg distances shown in the chart above are the optimized distances, those displayed on the map.

Three pilots had average task speeds of over 59 km/h (36.7 mph) in the speed section.

# Name Speed (km/h)
1 Filippo Oppici 59.4
2 Marco Laurenzi 59.2
4 David Gregoire 59.1

The optimized task distance between the SS and the ES is 116.939 km.

Steve Pearson asks the question, is this the highest task speed attained in a competition in Europe for a triangle or out and return task over 100 km?

A New⁢ Wills Wing »

Tue, Jun 8 2021, 9:20:04 am MDT

Moving to Mexico

Lookout Mountain Flight Park|Steven "Steve" Pearson

"Steven Pearson, Mike and Linda Meier" «Steve» write:

We wish to share with you some important news. During the next two and a half months, we will be finishing up orders currently on the books, winding down operations and preparing to shut down production at our Orange facility as part of a process of closing down the Company.

During that same period, we will be continuing work already in progress on developing a plan of support for a new successor entity, the goal of which will be to provide for the continuing supply of Wills Wing products, services and technical support to the hang gliding community. Heading up the new enterprise will be Rudy Gotes, top ranked competition pilot, and our long-time distributor in Mexico. Wills Wing president Steve Pearson will be joining the new company as a partner and will provide critical support in technology, manufacturing and customer support and product design and development. Production facilities for the new company will be headquartered in Valle de Bravo, Mexico, known around the world for its consistent, year-round flying. At the same time, we will be working here to lay a broad foundation of technical support to provide for an ongoing partnership between our long-time dealer Lookout Mountain Flight Park and the new company, in order to facilitate an enhanced level of domestic customer support going forward.

This transition will involve both challenges and opportunities. Wills Wing, incorporated in California in 1973, has had a good 48 year run, and with your support we have had the honor of leading the hang gliding industry for most of those 48 years. Nothing lasts forever, however, and a wide range of market and economic conditions, both currently and over the last several years have made this decision unavoidable.

First, thank you for all of the support that all of you have given to Wills Wing over the last 48 years. We’ve dedicated our careers and our lives to this sport, and in return we’ve been rewarded with lifelong friendships and incomparable experiences.

Plans for the new successor enterprise are still in development, and we have limited details to offer at this time. We can say that the primary goal for the new company will be to continue to provide the products, product support and services that you have associated with Wills Wing with the highest possible level of quality and with the minimum possible delay and disruption in the transition. You can expect further updates from the new company as plans develop and details are finalized.

With regard to our operations here over the next two and half months, we intend to, and we believe we will be able to produce all gliders and harnesses that are currently on order. New glider and harness orders placed going forward will be accepted on a provisional basis, and we will endeavor to keep you informed as to their status as we go forward. Those orders that can be produced before we shut down here, will be. For those that cannot be produced before we shut down, customers will have the option of re-ordering with the new Wills Wing once operations commence. We expect to be able to continue to fill parts orders here during most of the next two and a half months.

Once again, we thank you for your support over the years, and we wish all of you, and the sport itself to which we’ve dedicated our careers, all the best.

Support our new USHPA President

January 11, 2021, 5:31:15 pm EST

Support our new USHPA President

It's now your turn

PG|Risk Retention Group|Steven "Steve" Pearson|USHPA

Steven Pearson is reaching out to you, USHPA members and former USHPA members to help him instigate major reforms in how the USHPA and the RRRG deal with the hang gliding and paragliding community. It is up to all of us to respond forcefully and simply ask for what we want from these institutions. If you have issues that need to be addressed please contact him. If you want a new direction from our organizations, now is the time to ask for the changes that you want.

Please take a few moments and write to him at <director02>.



A Message from our USHPA President

January 11, 2021, 5:28:49 pm EST

A Message from our USHPA President

Time for a change

Paul Voight|Risk Retention Group|Rob McKenzie|Sara Weaver|Steven "Steve" Pearson|USHPA

Steven Pearson <director02> writes:

Thanks for that endorsement. I would add that Tiki, Paul Voight, Sara Weaver and Kimberly Phinney also deserve recognition for their support. With the last election, the governance restructuring is now complete—the executive committee is completely dissolved and every director has much more opportunity to participate and contribute to changes on behalf of the membership who they represent.

At the beginning of 2020, shortly after I as elected to the board, I wrote the following to the RRRG (in part) but never received a reply:


I supported the insurance initiative and have been unequivocally appreciative of the work that that the RRRG has done to make it work. That said, I think there are some problems with the risk assessment administration and leadership. I am encouraged with some of the proposed changes that are going in the right direction but more needs to be done.

The system is so complicated and nuanced that no member can be reasonably expected to understand it. Just last week (February 2020) I asked some simple questions about ACE events to both Martin and Randy and neither knew the answer. If the Executive Director, an RRRG director and liaison, and a USHPA director can’t answer a simple question, how can we possibly expect the membership to understand and have confidence in our system?

We’re never going to get the engagement and participation we need to make significant advances in safety by telling people what to do. There’s a limit to how much you can effectively push from the top when the change is required at the local level. From my perspective and many others in our community, the USHPA/RRRG often doesn’t listen and respond appropriately to feedback. I see little or no improvement at the sites I’m familiar with as a result of all the new rules and procedures—certainly zero in the two most significant incidents that resulted in a fatality and claim. Safety starts and is sustained in the local community, both in understanding the risks and behavior that are jeopardizing safety and affecting change. No one in the USHPA/RRRG knows better how to improve safety at Crestline, POM, Lookout, Wallaby, and Cowboy UP than locals like Rob McKenzie, Chris Santacroce, Matt Taber, Malcolm, and Tiki.

The alternative to expecting compliance with a long list of rules is to incentivize the behavior and outcomes we want. And we should celebrate and reward/award individuals and communities who have made contributions to safety. The USHPA Safe Pilot Award was a start but surely we can do more. Everyone should aspire to be a safe pilot.

I also don’t understanding how exclusions and riders for events like fly-ins and chute packing clinics are helping. Two big claims are associated with incidents that are explicitly excluded by the waiver and we’re piling on requirement for events that have no loss history and foster safety in our community. We should be incentivizing these activities rather than changing for them. Charging and regulating activities that have a huge benefit to our communities with very little cost (risk) to us is a mistake. The administrative cost alone for some low risk events exceeds the insurance cost.


I am hoping that we can make progress on these issues and more with strong consensus and support from the board. I would add that it’s not helpful to vilify anyone in the RRRG leadership. I trust and believe that they’ve worked long and hard to preserve the sites and schools in our community.

The bottom line is that we need both growth and safety but these two objectives are naturally oppositional. If you constrain every activity associated with risk then growth will be a casualty. There is risk associated with everything in our lives but no one should participate in HG/PG without understanding and acknowledging the increased risk associated with these activities. We need to find a way to include community supporting events like chute-packing clinics and fly-ins without additional administrative burden and expense, and to more fairly assess the cost of insuring competition.

Finally, I’m appealing to every member to contribute. Ten directors cannot solve these problems alone—we are only here to facilitate and support the will of the community. Please do you part to support safety and growth on social media, in your local club and at the flying site. One of our biggest problems and opportunities is attrition--reach out to members who have drifted away or are new to your area. Also, please recognize and support your local schools and instructors who are the foundation of everything we do and the source of all new members.

New USHPA President

January 8, 2021, 10:37:19 pm EST

New USHPA President

Steven Pearson

Jamie Shelden|Risk Retention Group|Steven "Steve" Pearson|USHPA

The USHPA BOD just elected Jamie Shelden and Matt Taber to the board. They also elected new officers, Steven Pearson as the President, Matt Tabor as the Vice President, Bill Hughes (the competition committee chairman) as Treasurer (a position that Mark Forbes held for many years) and Jamie as Secretary.

I would qualify that as a huge reform if not a revolution.

Steve has for years pressed the case for supporting small flight schools. We know that they have been severely impacted by the self insurance issues.

I ask all Oz Report readers to send Steve a note of congratulations and please send him any ideas about what you want to see from the USHPA and the RRRG.




Wills Wing Sport 3 Adjustments

November 30, 2020, 7:51:45 EST

Wills Wing Sport 3 Adjustments

More options

Steven "Steve" Pearson|Wills Wing Sport 3

Steve Pearson writes:

The tuning of the S3 is more user adjustable than a S2 or U2. In general, a Dacron S3 is noticeably lighter handling and more responsive than a Mylar sail but loosening the sail tension on the leading edge can make a huge difference. You have a much greater ability to configure an S3 to your preferences.

Pete Montgomery writes:

I especially like the leading edge length adjustment on the S3 (that wasn't on the S2). For those who don't know, it is a series of holes in the join of the aft leading edge tubes that lets you adjust leading edge tension really quickly and in very small increments. Correct if I am wrong here Steve but my understanding is that reducing the leading edge tension actually flattens the wing (increases trailing edge tension). I know a lot of folks think that to make a sail flatter you need to crank up the leading edge tension but this in fact has the opposite effect.

The Race is not a tuning spec. The Race is simply a pricing option that gives you the following at a discount over the sum of all each option separately:
Raked tips
Mylar upper sail
Mylar lower sail
Mylar leading edge
The Mylar sail is unlikely to have a performance benefit over Dacron at this level of glider. Believe it or not but the performance gain from Mylar is not so much from its slippery surface as many believe. There is a boundary layer that negates this effect. What gives the extra performance on a competing wing with a Mylar sail is the resistance of Mylar to stretch. So more span-wise tension in the sail gives you less twist and higher performance.

But in an intermediate wing the tension is less critical. So I doubt you will get much performance increase if any by going to Mylar and as others have said, the extra stiffness of the Mylar does detract very slightly from the handling. Having said that, the handling is so easy that a Mylar S3 is still a super sweet handling glider.

The Dacron is cheaper, will last longer and can be had in some really vibrant colors. The Mylar looks crazy modern and high tech and in theory is fractionally lighter (I mean, fractionally!).

So to conclude, it is more an issue of image and personal taste. A bog standard Dacron S3 will go just as well as a Mylar one and be cheaper. Personally I tend to recommend to my customers (I'm a dealer in the UK) to upgrade to a Mylar leading edge as our hills are always super muddy and Mylar is easier to keep clean and fresh looking than Dacron. The lower 'window' Mylar is my next recommendation as it looks super cool but without the handling and lifespan issue of going Mylar upper.

Raked tips - you will find some say they make all the difference and others say they don't have any effect whatsoever. So again, this is more personal taste than anything else.


November 21, 2020, 8:21:49 EST


A comparison

Steven "Steve" Pearson

Steve Pearson from Wills Wing writes:

The Quantum parachute is a copy of the LARA that is more expensive, isn't as strong, and doesn't perform as well.

1. The LARA was introduced long before the Quantum
2. The Quantum 330 is within mm of a LARA 175 (Quantum has a slightly tighter skirt)
3. I drop tested both side-by-side at 80 knots with 250 lbs payload. The LARA went out the door first and landed last (confirming the instrumentation). The LARA was undamaged and the Quantum tore a panel.
4. Quantum's are more expensive than LARAs

James Bradley Comes Back

October 23, 2020, 8:09:45 MDT

James Bradley Comes Back

The USHPA Election

James Bradley|Steven "Steve" Pearson|USHPA

James writes:

Steve Pearson says growth is one of the metrics we should pay attention to, like profit in a business. I agree with that and I said as much. What doesn’t work is to have it be the mission statement, or the primary basis for compensating the executive director.

Growth isn’t a purpose. Profit isn’t a purpose. Wills Wing doesn’t do what it does to make a profit. It has to make a profit to stay in business but profit isn't why Steve gets out of bed in the morning. In a crisis profit might be your driver, but that’s so you can get through and go back to delivering on why you’re doing this.

It’s funny that he mentions Apple as an example, because Apple illustrates my point. More than almost any company Apple has been driven by changing the world, not by profit. When they lost their way it was because their leadership had lost sight of this. Profit, and growth, have come for them — early and more recently — as a side effect of delivering well on an inspired idea of why are we doing this. If they had set their mission to be growth they’d be a footnote somewhere.

Steve rhetorically answers: Can anyone tell me why age is an essential diversity requirement and while race is not?

Remember we're talking specifically and only about USHPA. We picked age over race because USHPA is more age diverse. If the membership had a deep mix of races with most members in a narrow age range, we’d have made a different choice.

I don’t believe the right goal is to have a democratic process. I believe the right goal is to get USHPA the most effective board possible from the candidates available, to the maximum extent that this can be achieved with an algorithm. Nothing is going to please any one person every time, including elections with no matrix.

Somehow Steve ignores Tiki’s misrepresentation of issues and her baseless accusation against hardworking volunteers, as if these things don’t matter. I think they do matter.

Steve Pearson on Tiki and James

Thu, Oct 15 2020, 11:44:55 am MDT

Region, wing, age, gender

Jugdeep Aggarwal|Sara Weaver|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Tiki Mashy|USHPA

Steve writes:

I would characterize James' response to Tiki as somewhat misleading by suggesting that "in a combined last priority, at gender and age" are not a significant factor. As I recall, Tiki had the second highest number of votes and was eliminated by the age requirement. Can anyone tell me why age is an essential diversity requirement and while race is not? My personal opinion is that the diversity algorithm should be limited region and wing type.

James also questions Tiki's ability to work effectively with others, "A board of directors is a collaborative effort at leadership. Tiki describes herself as “battling”, “being like a dog with a bone”, “rarely backing down”, and “the most vocal person in the room”. Having watched her on the old USHPA board for six years I agree with those characterizations. None of them is a collaboration skill that leads to working effectively with other human beings." I would just say that I've known and worked with Tiki for 40 years and I have absolutely no reservations about working with her regardless of whether I agree with her on any particular issue. As I've said before, we need her on the BOD.

With respect to growth, James says, "It didn’t work, membership growth didn’t increase and no one involved in USHPA felt like they knew what they were supposed to do to make it happen. It wouldn’t work any better now. Growth has to be a side effect of doing other things well. Member numbers are one metric to look at in the question of how we’re doing, but they shouldn’t be the first or only one."

I beg to differ. I don't see why growth is fundamentally different from profit or any other business sustainability metric. Imagine if you are business that hasn't been profitable for many years--what should you do (Apple lost money for 12 years)? Should you resign yourself to the inevitable collapse or correct your mistakes and focus more urgently on opportunities?

As a review of the last election results:

Diversity algorithm process

The aim of the diversity algorithm is to ensure a diverse board by filling each of the following categories out of the national election: at least 1 director from each region, at least 3 of each wing type (hang gliding or paragliding), at least 3 under age 40 and 3 age 40 or older, and at least 2 women and 2 men. The categories are filled based on the number of votes received by each candidate, meaning that the results are determined purely by the algorithm and cannot be altered.

The algorithm first looks at the sitting board to determine which categories are lacking. For this election, we needed 1 director from Region 2, 2 more directors under age 40, and 1 more female director to meet our diversity goals.

Candidates were ranked by the number of votes they received and then the diversity algorithm was applied. For the first priority, region, we needed 1 director from Region 2. The candidate from Region 2 with the highest number of votes was Jugdeep Aggarwal, making him the first new director.

Because our wing type goal was already filled by the sitting board, we moved on to our final priorities, age and gender. These two goals are weighted equally, so the category that’s further from its goal number is prioritized. In this case we needed 2 more directors in the age category and just 1 more in the gender category, so age became the first criteria. Sara Weaver had the highest number of votes of the candidates under age 40, so she became the second new director. Since we needed two directors in this category, the candidate under age 40 with the next-highest number of votes, Kimberly Phinney, became the third new director.

Sara Weaver’s selection also satisfied the final priority, gender, which needed one more female director. Since all the diversity goals were met, the final seat went to the candidate with the most overall votes, Steven Pearson.

For more details on the election and the diversity selection process, please click here.

Thank you once again to everyone who voted, and congratulations to our new USHPA directors

Mark Forbes
Elections Committee Chair

VG Setting on Aerotowing

September 25, 2020, 5:49:33 pm MDT

VG Setting on Aerotowing

One half VG

Steven "Steve" Pearson

Oliver Moffatt writes:

Excellent and experienced aerotow pilots I have spoken to, including multiple British champions and the UK Moyes importer, tell me that 1/3 to 1/2 VG is essential for a normal-weight pilot on an RX, with more VG possibly required for a pilot lighter in the weight range. I am light on this glider and I typically use just over 1/2 VG, which works very well.

Steve Pearson writes:

1/2 VG is recommended for aerotowing all Wills Wing gliders configured with VG systems. Towing at less that 50% VG is more difficult because the pitch pressure can be excessively high and that in turn contributes to PIO.

One More Update from Wills Wing

March 18, 2020, 7:48:10 pm EDT

One More Update from Wills Wing

They are going back to work

Steven "Steve" Pearson

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> writes:

I’m not sure the county officials have made up their minds yet, but in the meantime:

Following a clarification of the intent of the Order from the County Health Officer, Wills Wing will reopen for business at 6:00 AM tomorrow, Thursday, March 19th.

You may come in to work at your normal time – taking note of the following:  Maintain a minimum of six feet of separation from all other persons at all times. (If you are unable to do so, talk to Steve or Mike about an alternate work schedule). Wash your hands frequently, wipe down surfaces in your area regularly with the alcohol spray, do not touch your face. Do not use the coffee machine, microwaves. or toaster – bring your own coffee and a cold lunch and snack. If you have a cough, are sneezing, have a fever, or feel unwell, stay home.

Wills Wing Further Update

March 18, 2020, 6:09:45 pm EDT

Wills Wing Further Update

The county retracted some of its press release

Steven "Steve" Pearson


Note: This press release from the County of Orange is in response to an earlier press release about the recent Coronavirus health order, which officials acknowledge has created some confusion.

Public Health Order is NOT an Order to Shelter in Place

Today’s order from County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick is NOT an order to shelter in place. It is not a lockdown. It is important for all Orange County businesses to remain open while practicing social distancing consistent with the Governor’s guidance. However, following State guidelines, all bars and other establishments that serve alcohol and do not serve food shall close. All restaurants and other business establishments that serve food shall close all onsite dining. Pickup, delivery and drive thru services may remain open. It is important for all Orange County residents to read the order in its entirety.

Unfortunately, the order as written caused wide-spread confusion. In order to provide additional clarity requested by Orange County residents and businesses, the County will be issuing an amended Health Officer’s Order.


Steven Pearson <<Steve>> writes:

We're trying to adapt to the 'clarification' and I expect we might be able to operate at 50% capacity. I was planning on working full time anyway but the main problem is that Wills Wing depends on several people who are at high risk and for whom we don't have any replacements. For example, the guy who makes airframes has been here since 1982. We don't have extra resources to replace him and even the most qualified would struggle to match a fraction of his performance. We'll get through this one day at a time.

Results of the USHPA Election

October 30, 2019, 4:29:37 pm PDT

Results of the USHPA Election

Tiki out

Jugdeep Aggarwal|Paul Voight|Sara Weaver|Steven "Steve" Pearson|USHPA


The election closed on October 28 at 5 pm MT. Thank you to everyone who voted in the board of directors election to fulfill the 10% quorum requirement. In total, 18% of members voted and the results are posted here. These directors will take office January 1, 2020, and serve through the end of 2021.

2019 Election Results

Jugdeep Aggarwal
Steve Pearson
Kimberly Phinney
Sara Weaver

Congratulations to our new directors, and thank you to all the candidates that ran for the board! We'd also like to sincerely thank our outgoing directors for all their time and work on the board. We encourage anyone interested in working with USHPA to volunteer on committees and to run for the board again.

The full 2020 board will consist of the following directors, plus an additional 2 directors that will be appointed by the new board per the bylaws at their first meeting in January:

Jugdeep Aggarwal
Ken Andrews
Alan Crouse
Mark Forbes
Kate Griffin
Mike Holmes
Doyle Johnson
Daniel Lukaszewicz
Steven Pearson
Kimberly Phinney
Randall Shane
Paul Voight
Sara Weaver

Steve Pearson on carbon fiber batten reinforcement

June 21, 2019, 7:02:45 MDT

Steve Pearson on carbon fiber batten reinforcement

Available on the Wills Wing T3

Steven "Steve" Pearson|Wills Wing T3


Carbon Fiber Over-molded Battens

Our carbon fiber over-molded battens are produced in-house and are available for the longest 4 battens which are most subject to destabilizing and performance-robbing deformation in high-speed glides. The unidirectional carbon fiber adds only 20 grams of weight per batten but increases the strength and stiffness by a factor of 3. Carbon reinforced battens are standard on the Team Edition and optional on lower trim levels.

The DIY variety: https://ozreport.com/23.117#2

The discussion about doing this: https://ozreport.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=60002

Steve Pearson answers:

1) The battens are a non-critical component without any consequence to the airworthiest and structural integrity of the glider, and they are easy to inspect

2) Aeros, Moyes and Icaro have been using spliced carbon/aluminum shafts for years without any issue, and that construction is very subject to corrosion from moisture entering the joint without anodizing on the aluminum ID

3) Our battens are epoxy prepreg cured at 150 psi over an anodized aluminum tube

4) I sent a variety of carbon/aluminum samples for accelerated salt spray testing 2 years ago to access my concerns with other carbon aluminum interfaces on the glider. The samples fared much better than I expected

5) All of our bonded joints have spacers to ensure a uniform and thick bond line isolation

6) Some of our parts like the carbon spar also have a layer of glass between the carbon and aluminum

7) Danny Howells isn’t the only engineer in the world, not that it even takes an engineer to figure this out. Only a little research, a lot of testing, some basic engineering awareness and more-than-anything, real-world experience.

8) 7075-T6 is very subject to corrosion, and there was an almost manic reaction to us introducing 7075 air frames in 1984. Moyes and other competitors fueled the FUD speculation and predicted all sorts of catastrophic failure. History has shown that reaction to be unwarranted although it’s still true that 7075 is much more subject to deterioration in corrosive environments as 6061. None of this happens overnight and we have ample opportunity to inspect our gliders. I’m more worried about pilots not pre-flighting their gliders and lack of routine maintenance like replacing damaged side wires.

Wills Wing T3 trailing edge re-enforcement

June 17, 2019, 7:37:34 MDT

Wills Wing T3 trailing edge re-enforcement

A couple of options

Facebook|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Wills Wing T3


Steve Pearson writes:

The white laminate is "UVPXW10" which has been available for many years and is now included in the lowest option level T3. It's extraordinarily durable with great in-flight visibility but structurally can't match the low stretch performance of the Technora laminates UVODL04/06. UVODL04/06 are included in the race and team editions. You can't tell any difference in handling and I can't imagine a significant difference in performance so I often recommend that configuration for anyone other than top comp pilots.

A big part of it is the cost difference. This UV polyester laminate is more than 3x the price of woven, the UV Technora laminates are 50% more. T3s handle the same with either but benefit from the extra stiffness of Technora to control twist. Technora is overkill (doesn't add any value for performance or durability) on models with less tension in the sail. Most T3s have heavier technora (UVODL06) on the leading and trailing edge (where you see white) and lighter technora (UVODL04) in the panel between. The carbon tape is even stiffer and stronger than the technora and manages off-axis loads.

Batten Carbon Fiber Reinforcement

Tue, Jun 11 2019, 7:10:46 am MDT

DIY - after market

battens|Battens|carbon fiber|Carbon Fiber|Ian Duncan|Steven "Steve" Pearson

Carbon reinforcement for the battens of any hang glider, both 10 mm and 12 mm. The reinforcement guarantees better performance, strengthens the battens with only a few extra grams. For information: «darkblade55» cell.+39 3488230794 (whatsapp).

Ian Duncan writes and Steve Pearson agrees:

The big problem with this is that the carbon sock is all off axis fibers and therefore does very little work for weight added. You would be far better adding well bonded unidirectional fibers. If you are going to use 'sock' then using a far larger diameter sock compared to the diameter of the batten and stretching it lengthways would be preferable as this would pull the fibers closer towards the 0 axis of the batten.

Zac Majors on the Wills Wings T3

June 5, 2019, 3:01:06 pm MDT

Zac Majors on the Wills Wings T3

Getting used to it

Mike Meier|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Zac Majors

Zac writes:

Over the last two weekends I've put another ten hours on my T3, and I have to say that this glider is an absolute pleasure to fly!

Over the years, I've had many T2Cs and each time I was always impressed by the incremental improvements. The T3 however, is a big step forward.

Everyone wants performance; and this wing will not disappoint. A T3 glides with the best, but truly shines when you pull on the speed, and the new carbon reinforced battens hold their shape, allowing you to leave everyone in your wake.

As for climb, this year in Florida showed me I am doing better against my competitors. Is it the sinkrate? It must be better, but the real difference is the handling. The Bearing Tips are an innovation that took a lot of time to perfect, and the wait was worth it.

For me, it took some adjusting to, because the roll rate is so much faster and more responsive. This translates to being able to turn into thermals easier and stay locked into the core for better climb rates. The ease of handling means less fatigue and a general sense of joy.

Thanks to Steven Pearson, Mike Meier and the Wills Wing family for producing an awesome glider that all advanced pilots will love to fly, and supporting me with the tool I need to beat the World's best.

Wills Wing Sport 3 Vs. U2

May 23, 2019, 8:13:09 MDT

Wills Wing Sport 3 Vs. U2

A smaller difference than you might think

competition|Daniel Vé|Daniel Vélez Bravo|record|Steven "Steve" Pearson

Steve Pearson writes:

There's much less performance difference at speed than than one might think.

There are two recent examples to support the relative performance parity, El Penon 2018 and 2019.



The El Penon Sport Class meet is big air racing. In 2018 it became a match race with two world-class pilots, Daniel flying a U2 145 against Rudy on the proto S3 155. I replayed their glides on Airtribune and couldn't believe how fast they were flying, sometimes over 80 kph between thermals.

Rudy would slowly climb through Daniel and then lose 100 to 200 feet on the 5k glide at 50% above best glide speed. That exchange repeated several times with Rudy keeping pace with Daniel until Daniel eventually prevailed.

In 2019 Daniel flew an S3 against a mixed field of S3s and U2s and won again. This time Rudy was flying a U2 but he was a little disadvantaged by taking off late while administering the meet.

The bottom line is that the better pilot will win independent of choosing an S3 or U2. What the S3 gives up in high speed glide, it makes up for in climb. I can thermal an S3 155 at the stall speed of a U2 145.

Calvin Hadley writes:

I have flown both, but a long time since I have flown a u2 with four years of flying a T2C between. Every time I fly the Sport 3 I am amazed at the climb rate the Sport 3 has and amazed at the glide it has. In my opinion it is a very high performance glider and I love the lightness, which older people would love.

Luke Waters writes:

Luke Waters I can't think of a pilot who I'd recommend buy a U2 instead of a S3.

David Aldrich writes:

 I can - someone newish, up-and-coming and looking to eventually fly a topless glider. The U2 is a much better "transition" glider in that it flies more like a high aspect ratio glider then a S3 (which flies more like a low aspect ratio glider.) Pilots who spend a season or two or three on a U2 generally seem to have a much better time on the T2/T3.

Steven Pearson writes:

David Aldrich that’s right. The U2 is best suited as a transition to or from a T2.

Daniel Velez Bravo writes:

U2 and U2C are for those who wants to out perform the other sport class pilots in competition flying. S3's are for those pilots that don't care about beating everybody else (but its happy if it happens from time to time) and want to enjoy the all around performance of a nice sport class glider, landing with a nice smile every time even when outperformed by a U2 sky dog.

I love the S3 and would recommend it for casual flying and for some XC adventures with low stress in mind. But would go for a U2 if I'm into competition flying, personal records or are looking for moving up to a topless glider at some point.

On my winning El Peñon classic race  2018, I'm confident that the U2 gave me the possibility to keep up with Rudy on his S3, playing it safe, pulling out that extra performance at the end.

This year 2019 flying the S3 was more demanding. I knew that I couldn't afford to be side by side with a U2 when getting to final glide, nor even with Zac with his higher s3 loading and fast glide experience. Rudy was not only too worried about organization but was also on a bigger 160 U2 that's not an advantage when climbs are over 2.5m/s average and glides where fast.

Just one last thing, during the 2019 competition on the S3 I got stuck low during a task and would have probably landed if I was on a U2 but the S3 gave me the confidence (sense of control) to deal with broken lift drifting over small landings and climb out. So when low, I prefer to be on a S3 and when high I would love to be on the U2.

More Alpha

May 22, 2019, 8:12:09 MDT

More Alpha

Easy and fun

Steven "Steve" Pearson

Steve Pearson writes about the Alpha:

It’s so easy and fun to fly. It’s impossible to pretend to be a student, but flying a new Alpha compared to Falcon even with conventional techniques has to reduce training by more than 50%.


May 20, 2019, 8:37:59 MDT


A better tool for instruction

Steven "Steve" Pearson

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> writes:

We are getting closer to something better for teaching. I have a much improved Alpha 235 to replace the 210. In the latest configuration it’s just a hoot—I flew it mid-day in strong conditions and it’s so benign but so capable. There isn’t a glider we make that can compete in climb or slow flight--like the best of a Condor 330 and a Falcon 170.

That combined with the ‘Stand-up EZ-flyer’ that Matt and Phil have been developing (a quad with 2 turn-around pulleys, an Alpha on fixed gear with a super tall control bar and tail) makes training pretty much easy enough to teach bags of sand. The difference between an Alpha 235 and a Falcon is as much or more of the difference between a Falcon and Sport 3.

Support for instructors

May 3, 2019, 7:47:40 pm EDT

Support for instructors

What are the burdens that have been placed on instructors?

Foundation for Free Flight|Paul Voight|PG|Risk Retention Group|Rob Kells|Steven "Steve" Pearson|USHGA|USHPA

D. Randy Leggett, RRRG Customer Service Officer, <<randy.leggett>> writes:

I had been unaware of your railing against the work we have been doing to keep everyone interested insured and drive down the number of accident/incident events.

Your Oz Report comments that we have done nothing to help the small instructors is misleading at best and just a plain lie at worst.

Just what I personally have been involved with (and I am certainly not the only one involved):

1) Developed and implemented a Foundation For Free Flight Grant system for a $500 award for anyone successfully completing PASA certification to offset initial costs.

2) Reduced the cost of SBSF PASA dues 18% between 2016 and 2017.

3) Increased the number of flight schools with risk and safety management plans and commercial liability insurance operating in the US from (9) 2014 to 66 in 2018.

4) Kept open approximately 250 hang gliding sites nationwide that would have closed without landowners insurance.

5) Developed a one on one outreach to every instructor nationwide who wanted to continue teaching to guide them through the insurance program.

Virtually every school we insure has experienced steady growth over the last three years except for two of the largest hang gliding operations. Many small hang gliding operations have experienced year over year increases.

Striving to improve professionalism, safety and long term viability has been the concerted effort of all three (USHPA, Foundation for Free Flight, RRRG).

Railing that Risk Management is at the epicenter of hang gliding's decline and that the volunteers and staff aren’t doing enough is a sad excuse, counterproductive and just plain wrong.

The small hang gliding schools that you lost refused to do 10 hours of homework and invest less than $1000 to continue to grow in a professional environment. Instead they quit. And that’s our fault? While none of them accept responsibility for injuries and fatalities that precipitated the loss of their25+ year run of virtually free liability insurance.

Wills Wing should have championed our efforts and set an example by partnering with us to improve the programs and the sport. Helping each and every small hang gliding school develop. Instead you rail against our efforts.

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> responds:

I’m sorry you feel that way, but it’s clear from your tone that you’ve entirely mis-characterized my comments.

1) Unconditionally great

2) Unconditionally great

3) I’ve seen nothing but a sharp decline in the number of hang gliding instructors and new hang gliding students since the new programs. I would have no complaints if the number are up. I’d appreciate if you can share the data that supports your contention that these programs and administration are consistent with supporting and growing our community.

4) Great, but keeping sites open is totally independent of increased costs, bureaucracy and overbearing administration. I don’t seen any increase in safety as a result of these policies and in fact I can point out several example of how excessive focus on risk mitigation has compromised safety. A glaring example is the accident reporting system that was discontinued for years and is now neutered. Very few programs rise to the level of advancing safety in aviation communities as effectively as accident reporting. This was a fundamental program at the USHGA for years initially administered by RV Wills, an attorney and father of Chris and Bobby.

Ironically, the biggest threat to our local flying site was an aerobatic event promoted by the USHPA over our strong objections that resulted in a fatality and almost setting the National Forest on fire. I still remember the shock in the face of a mother after watching someone die in front of her—meanwhile the next round continued. I’ve got lots of other examples but I don’t want to belabor the point.

5)Your contributions have been very helpful and I’ve used your volunteer efforts as an example of the best intentions of efforts of USHPA staff and volunteers.

You said, “Virtually every school we insure has experienced steady growth over the last 3 years except for two of the largest hang gliding operations. Many small hang gliding operations have experienced year over year increases.”. I’m hard pressed to think of more than one or two hang gliding flights schools whose business is up since the new insurance was implemented. What am I missing? Where is your information coming from? If I have to distill it down to 2 points (1) hang gliding is participation is sharply down since the new insurance rules (2) safety is not up.

You said, ”Instead you rail against our efforts.” Please read all of what I wrote before you rush to judgment. While I appreciate and respect your position, I think it’s fair to say that the overwhelming response to my comments has been positive with you, Steve and Alan dissenting.

I’m not trying to pick a fight. I somewhat reluctantly shared an email that I sent to Bruce (to be shared with the USHPA) with Davis. This followed several other emails, a trip to CO where we listened to the USPA executive director share how they turned around our sister sport skydiving from the same magnitude of crisis, several phone calls with you, a meeting with Alan, and many-many conversation with dealers about their common concerns—all acknowledging problems but without any corrective action. Almost none of this is addressed by your comments.

I’ve been flying hang gliding for 46 years and working 3000 hours or more per year at WW for 42 years so I’m looking at this from a comprehensive outside perspective—not to say I’m right, only that what I’m saying represents many in our community and deserves an audience.

How many at the USHPA who as contributed as much WW in terms of USHPA meetings attended, USHPA programs authored, trips to DC for ARAC on behalf of the USHPA, promoting and facilitating the merger of the APA and USHGA, conducting the first (and free) paraglider SIV course in the US, free dealer seminars, parachute repacking clinics, instructor clinics, administration of the HGMA, numerous magazine articles like “how do we get a handle on this safety thing”, and countless other community support activities. I think we deserve a little slack for our contributions.

Maybe you’re not aware that the roots of PASA at KHK is from Rob Kells, John Harris and others working to develop a professional dealer association. Finally, I’ve identified the failures of manufacturers (me - Wills Wing) as more at fault for the long-term decline of hang gliding by failing to address the fundamental issues of hang gliding than the USHPA. I don’t expect you to fix hang gliding. I don’t expect the USHPA and PASA solve safety issue. I do hope for an objective accounting of the impact on the insurance program in hang gliding activities and growth. In my dreams, I would hope that the USHPA would invest and incentivize growth as we do with product development at WW.

Two of the examples I shared were Paul Voight and Zac. Paul, as you know is probably the most experienced pilot and instructor on the board aside from Matt. Why is it so out of bounds for me to suggest that the head of safety and training and the tandem committee should be able to conduct am instructor clinic at our local site?

I know all the work-arounds, like having Andy hire Zac, the only west-coast tandem administrator, for a weekend so he can participate in a clinic to train other instructors. How is this advancing safety?

How are the event fees that are now applicable whenever we want to designate a day for a barbeque and fly-in helping? How about the vague restrictions about me conducting a free clinic to improve pilot skills and safety without an event fee?

My email to you yesterday was to help address and diffuse a high degree of anger from a local instructor who said that Tim required him to pay for an additional site (3 in total) to use our local landing area. As I said to you, there are at least 6 take-offs that I routinely use at Crestline and it’s crazy that would require me designating 4 addition sites as a small school application.

I can retire and walk away, and that’s what I’ll do if your comments represent the consensus of our community and USHPA leadership. If so, I truly hope you are right.

What's a site?

May 3, 2019, 7:47:06 pm EDT

What's a site?

As far as PASA and the RRRG are concerned.

Risk Retention Group|Steven "Steve" Pearson|weather

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> asks:

I’ve been looking through the PASA website looking for the definition of a site. For example, in the case of our home site at Andy Jackson we launch from at least 4 regular launches depending on wind and weather conditions with a destination of the Andy Jackson landing area. My understanding is that you are allowed 2 sites with the basic application and additional designated sites are extra cost. In my example, how many sites would that be?

Randy Leggett <<randy.leggett>> responds:

The algorithm we use is different for Small Business Flight Schools and Large Business Schools. What is your plan? Looking forward to working with you,

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> replies:

The question is pretty simple—if I was operating a small school at Andy Jackson, how many sites would I have to designate and pay for to allow for operations from the training hill, 400, the 750, the Regionals, Marshall peak, Crestline and Pine Flats. All of the launches and more are associated with the ALX landing field routinely used depending on wind and weather conditions.

Randy Leggett,  RRRG Customer Service Officer, <<randy.leggett>> answers:

Thank you for the clarification that you are considering a Small Business Flight School. The simple answer is (2). That would be the two included in base dues. On the PASA Dues chart you also have the column for (2) additional insureds @ $1,000,000 aggregate. Please let me know if I can help,

The conversation took a turn this morning which I get to below, but to finish up, Steven Pearson <<Steve>> writes:

My email to you yesterday was to help address and diffuse a high degree of anger from a local instructor who said that Tim required him to pay for an additional site (3 in total) to use our local landing area. As I said to you, there are at least 6 take-offs that I routinely use at Crestline and it’s crazy that would require me designating 4 addition sites as a small school application.

Who's complaining now?

May 2, 2019, 7:47:55 EDT

Who's complaining now?

An attaboy for our selfless volunteer BOD members.

Steven "Steve" Pearson|USHPA

Steve Pearson writes:

The USHPA is one of many entities, Wills Wing included, who have failed to stem the decline of hang gliding over the last 40 years. No one is blaming them for that. However, they are solely responsible for the precipitous decline in the US over the last few years that is directly associated with the implementation and administration of the insurance program, which imposed unreasonable burdens on schools and instructors without any corresponding increase in safe practice. Further, they have dismissed and ignored all rational appeals to remedy these issues and invest in the growth and stability of our community. All I expect from them is to do no harm. The USPA is an example of what a well-functioning organization can contribute to a community like ours.

Another Oz Report reader writes:

First do no harm.

Flight schools make new pilots. It is a simple formula, one that works. Flight schools need revenue from tandem intro flights. That part needs to be easier.

I've watched Houston go from almost no pilots to a steady addition of pilots every year because of the school there. It is simple and works - nothing to do with gear being easier to transport, etc - all of those arguments fall apart quickly.

First do no harm -

Take payout towing - why would someone need a HG rating to tow a glider? The new tow tech rules aim to reduce accidents not by making towing safer but by making it almost impossible to participate in the activity. No activity, no accidents.

Who is in charge at the USHPA?

April 29, 2019, 10:31:35 EDT

Who is in charge at the USHPA?

Is it the board or is it the executive and the house lawyer?

PG|Risk Retention Group|Steven "Steve" Pearson|USHPA

On a day to day basis it is likely Martin and Tim. Month to month there is input from the executive committee. Twice a year the BOD meets and makes some policy decisions. But there are important, in fact crucial matters left up to Martin and Tim because basically no one else is taking the time or has the time to provide the strict guidance that the day to day people need if they are going to act in the best interests of the organization as defined by the BOD.

It is this issue of guidance and control that is the main driver behind restructuring the BOD so that it can meet and make decisions on a monthly basis and not leave Martin and Tim to make these decisions on their own.

This is particularly crucial now because of the major failure of the USHPA to address the primary failure of the organization, which is to strongly build the sport of hang gliding through encouragement and subsidization of instructors. The day to day leaders are doing what it is front of them (the insurance crisis) and they have failed to deal with the 40 year long problem of declining hang glider membership.

One question that comes up, are all the issues within the USHPA (including failures of management) provided to all the BOD members? For example were there any failures of IT projects that were not reported in full to all the BOD members. IT project failures happen all the time in organizations.

Do all the BOD members have access to their employees compensation packages?

Is the USHPA properly staffed? Is it run with the barest bones possible or are there positions that could be handled by other personnel?

Is there a platform of principles for prospective directors to endorse, including prioritizing growth and administrative transparency.

While creating our own insurance system was critical did we do it at the expense of the possibility of long term growth?

Is the fact of dual focus (paragliding and hang gliding) keep us from recognizing that we have failed the hang gliding community and allowed us to assess that hang gliding is the problem, not the organization?

Are the real crucial decisions being made by just two people?

Can we create an organization that rewards the outcomes that we want rather than good intentions.

Are Martin and Tim the right people to be guiding the organization?

I'm quite certain that all the USHPA BOD members, USHPA personnel, the RRRG volunteers, and Tim Herr have the best interests of the organizations and membership at heart and that they work hard to do the right thing. The problem is the solutions that they have come up with are killing the sport.

Please use the model of the https://uspa.org/ to see how we should organize ourselves for substantial growth.

Steve Pearson writes:

The director of the USPA explained why their insurance costs are lower, and many other successful initiatives that helped revitalize their sport. Honestly, I was stunned at the level of support that they provide their community but it seems that no one other than Matt and I took anything away from that meeting.

We talked about these issues and many more when USHPA leaders visited Wills Wing. In the letter I shared with Davis and the following comments, I omitted some of the most contentious and egregious issues and examples. I'm not trying to pick a fight, I'm trying to save our sport. We can't do that without more support for instructors and schools which have been decimated by the insurance and bureaucratic changes of the last few years. Many if not most of these changes do nothing to advance safety.

If it wasn't for the success of the USPA in growing their sport I would feel that the decline in hang gliding numbers was just a fact of life. Their success makes it appear as though it is a failure of the USHPA to adequately address the situation and focus like a laser on this issue.

This failure is not a failure of moral character, but represents an opportunity for change. For change to occur the failure must first be noted, accepted, and embraced. There can be no excuses for the failure attributed to outside forces.

Once the USHPA embraces its failure it can make success its goal.

Steve Pearson writes:

Hang gliding has been in decline for 40 years but there has been a precipitous change in the rate of decline since the additional rules and bureaucratic burdens associated with the insurance crisis which effectively decimated the number of small schools and added a monstrous burden to those who remained. There has been no substantive progress or initiatives to prioritize growth or provide relieve for schools and instructors despite innumerable meetings, calls and emails over the last few years. We are on the threshold no recovery RIGHT NOW.

2019 Nationals (week 2)

April 25, 2019, 0:20:37 EDT

2019 Nationals (week 2)

Counter clockwise around the Green Swamp

Belinda Boulter|Bruce Barmakian|PG|Steven "Steve" Pearson|US Nationals 2019|weather|Wilotree Park|Zac Majors

The forecast:



Sunny, with a high near 87. Calm wind becoming southeast around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Surface wind 5 mph, southeast

HRRR 3, 2 PM:

Updraft velocity: 660 fpm
TOL: 5,600’
Wind TOUL: 6 mph, east
B/S: 10
Surface winds 2 mph south
A chance of cu’s.

The task:

No Leg Dist. Id Radius
1 0.0 km QUEST 400 m
2 SS 4.6 km QUEST 5000 m
3 11.7 km T50469 1000 m
4 28.2 km KOKEE 3000 m
5 45.7 km DIARIA 5000 m
6 67.3 km T98471 1000 m
7 78.6 km FAMISH 2000 m
8 93.5 km T47433 1000 m
9 ES 110.1 km QUEST 400 m

The replay: https://lt.flymaster.net/bs.php?grp=2696#

The flight on-line: http://www.paraglidingforum.com/leonardo/flight/2255169




The narrative:

Steve Pearson, Zac Majors and Wolfgang Seiss let me borrow the Wills Wing TIII that is here at Wilotree Park and in Wills inventory. So I'm back on the TIII.

After the pilot meeting I go over across the runway to setup the glider. This keeps me from hearing that the task has changed slightly. A waypoint is added at Famish. The meet director, Belinda, forgets to call another pilot meeting at the launch site, forgets to tell the volunteers working the line to mention the task change to pilots, and doesn't have the safety committee review the task change that was made because of pilot input for safety reasons (which were bogus).

She does call a pilot meeting at the normal location but at least three of us are far away near launch and don't hear the whistle. She brings over the amended task board to the launch, but we don't see it. She doesn't even mention it to me. The small blank task board is not used to highlight the task change in the line.

Many of the pilots skip their launch spot given what happened the day before with so many relaunches. There are no cu's in the sky, but Larry thinks that they will show up (he's right).

We go through the list again and with evidence of good lift we all get pulled up. Numerous gaggles form with the lift working and soon a bunch of us head to the edge of the start cylinder as it's only a few minutes before the first start time. We hang in weak lift near the top of the lift at 4,000'.

Ten or so of us head out but don't go very far before turning in more weak lift. I can tell right away that this group is going to turn back and take the next start gate. We come back from 2 km out with 5 minutes to spare and take the 2:20 PM clock.

We're racing west along the north edge of the Green Swamp. The lift varies from 85 fpm to 300 fpm. Mostly it is less than 200 fpm. Pilots are jumping from gaggle to gaggle.

We've got a 3 km turnpoint cylinder at the northwestern edge of the Green Swamp. After finding 300 fpm on the northeastern edge we again find 300 fpm on the northwestern side and climb to 4,400'. It's after 3 PM. We find the first cu's, which then populate the western edge of the Green Swamp.

The lift gets good. We head south and find 300 fpm, 300 fpm, 400 fpm, 300 fpm and 450 fpm in the next thermals to over 5,500', not quite cloudbase. Larry Bunner and I are working with each other to make sure that we find the best lift.

Larry and I head south to the cu's west of the turnpoint at the bottom of the Green Swamp. Those pilots who took the more direct route are down below us as we get nearer the turnpoint at 471 and 98.

Larry and I climb out at 350 fpm to 5,400' under the sweet looking cu's that we come to expect when we do the Green Swamp task. There are more in front of us and we are able to take advantage of them.

I'm cruising along at 5,500' over the Green Swamp when Larry comes back at me from the south and asks if I got the turnpoint at Famish. This is the first I've hear of it. He had just gone to the south to get the turnpoint. I'm quickly fiddling with my instruments to see how far away the two kilometer cylinder around Famish is. I get within less than a kilometer of Famish itself before turning back to parallel the course line.

I head out over the pasture lands, not the forest land toward little wisps. Down to 2,600' I work 190 fpm to 4,400' and then scoot back over the forest to get to 5,000' under some wisps. Based on the latest transmission from Larry who is near the turnpoint 8 kilometers away I should be able to find lift there and can leave at 5,000' to get to it.

Sure enough there is plenty of lift just north the 474 to 5,000' and that makes the glide into goal easy.

Controversy erupts when Belinda comes up with a way to score the day with a bonus for those pilots who made the Famish turnpoint. Only Bruce Barmakian and Kevin Dutt didn't.

USHPA Governance »

April 19, 2019, 5:09:22 pm EDT

USHPA Governance

Who's in charge?

Steven "Steve" Pearson|USHPA

I wrote to Steve Pearson:

It doesn’t matter how hard you work.
Or how good your ideas are.
If someone doesn’t get the appropriate committee to pass and then the BOD to pass the specific proposals nothing will change.
I can write all I want, but it takes the next step.

Steve replied:

What you said is so true which is the principal reason that I haven’t spoken sooner. This goes to the root of the problem at the USHPA – some very capable people working hard but without the appropriate oversight and accountability.

This situation is self-correcting in business. It doesn’t matter how hard you try or even if the rules are fair (e.g. currency fluctuations, China, etc.), you eventually have to close the doors if you can’t pay the bills.

The manufacturers and flight schools who have survived the last 40-50 years have generally identified and provided the products and services that are important to their customers. The USHPA needs to do the same. They will have succeeded when membership (the only product they sell) renews because of the value of the services provided rather than the threat of disciplinary action.

Talk is Cheap

April 15, 2019, 7:41:33 EDT

Talk is Cheap

And ineffective

Steven "Steve" Pearson|USHPA

Steve Pearson has written some interesting articles lately about the failure of the USHPA to stem the bleeding. He says that it has only one product to sell, membership, and it doesn't have a program for product development.

Publicizing what Steve (and many others) believe should happen at the USHPA is all fine and good but it doesn't mean that there will be actual change. For that you need to get proposals championed by Regional Directors that meet in committees and get the proposals passed by the committees and then by the BOD. You can't just complain that the people in charge are not up to the task.

If you've got a specific proposal that you want implemented, write it up, pass it around get feedback, refine it, get your Regional Directors (and more) on board with it, make sure its on the committee's agenda for the next BOD. Yes, it's all time consuming and not direct democracy, but it's the structure that we are stuck with.

The Lack of Instructors

April 15, 2019, 7:41:15 EDT

Lack of Instructors

A response

Steven "Steve" Pearson

Daniel Guido <<flyboy5131>> writes:

I think Steve Pearson nailed it. We have a lack of hang gliding instructors and schools somewhat caused by our own policies. Over the years our organization has made it difficult to become and maintain certification. I remember when an examiner could hold certification clinics. Our club had several basic and advanced instructors at all times. Most now are not willing to take several weekends, travel and pay to help train at a school or just teach a friend.

We need to enhance our administrative program with support from our organization. If there are clubs that need help we should do everything possible. The thought of taking away the observer program discussed last year is an example what I mean. The though was observers are appointed and don’t have any formal training. Well lets offer it with support form the org. Let’s make it easy for schools and instructors to be insured by not over regulating ourselves.

Let’s open up club sites for tandems. As it is now if the site has our insurance the tandem pilot must be affiliated with a certified school. The list of what we can do goes on and on. We need to ask the schools and instructors what would work best for them. As an instructor for many years I feel we have no say as to what works best for us.

How tight the battens?

April 15, 2019, 7:40:20 EDT

How tight the battens?

You need to keep these adjusted

Steven "Steve" Pearson

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> writes:

Don’t forget to monitor your batten tension, I had to turn some out 3-7 turns after sitting around for a day

Regarding the 30 degree and 15 degree rule, 15 degrees is fine, 1-2 turns past clicking with resistance. 30 degrees is pretty tight.

Used to be looser root, tighter tip. Now I do them all about the same ( with the glider completely assembled). Maybe near the root one turn tighter.

The basic idea is to have your battens tight before you launch. Steve has noted that the sails expand here in the warm Florida sun and he has had to turn the battens three or four turns each to get them tight after a day in the heat.

The Wills Wing T3

Fri, Apr 12 2019, 11:15:42 am EDT

The T3

Steven "Steve" Pearson|Wills Wing T3

Steve Pearson and David Aldrich «Dave» write:

We have had a new model under development for almost three years to replace the T2 and T2C. It will be designated the T3 and will be available at 3 trim levels.

All T3's feature a system of bearings integrated into the tip wand receptacles. This configuration provides a significant improvement in handling and control authority that is especially and increasingly evident as more VG is applied. It’s like having the same control authority with 50% more VG activated—so VG 100% feels like VG 50%. At lower VG settings, it’s more like flying a Sport 3 in that you don’t have to plan as far ahead to initiate a turn which allows you to work small scraps of lift more effectively.

Climb performance is unquestionably improved compared to the T2C. With full VG on glide, you are unlikely to get overpowered by rough air. It also seems to help performance throughout the speed range probably because the sail adapts more effectively to the lift distribution throughout the wide angle of attack range from stall to Vd, and because you can control the glider more precisely at all speeds.

The sail has been through refinements to the planform, to improve the fit and finish, and new bottom surface pattern. The bottom laminate extends to the trailing edge panel without a stripe in the rear, and you can chose colors for 3 graphic elements—forward of the W (red), the W (white) and the central area behind the W (black).

The base model T3 is loaded with options, comparable to a T2C with speed battens and carbon raked tips in place of carbon inserts. We are not offering lower trim options without carbon rear leading edges comparable to the T2.

The Race model T3 adds full technora sail with carbon reins and laminate bottom surface, carbon stinger, carbon-Kevlar leading edge inserts and other options typically chosen by serious and experienced comp pilots.

The Team model T3 adds every remaining option including carbon front leading edges, over-molded carbon reinforced battens and our new extended-length molded carbon leading edge insert

The new carbon leading edge inserts that are made from high-temp prepreg, and are produced at WW in aluminum molds. They precisely fit the leading edge airfoil curvature and have additional geometric features to make them stiffer than simple carbon sheets. These inserts are longer, don’t compromise the handling as much or at all, and support the leading edge panel far more effectively at higher speeds.

Some of our competition pilots have had the opportunity to fly the prototype T3’s in competition and have been extremely enthusiastic about both the handling and performance.

Main new features:

Bearing tips - ball bearing supported tip wand receptacle. Allows with tip to rotate and flex without binding. Significant improvement in handling, especially higher VG settings.

ACLER - Advanced Composite Leading Edge Reinforcement. Custom molded in house to a close approx of the leading edge shape. Carefully balanced stiffness to be stiff enough to form the shape, but flexible enough to flex and conform to the wing shape (as it changes with G and flight loads). Minimal or zero effect on handling.

Without and then with carbon fiber inserts (click on picture to get high resolution version):

Carbon fiber overmolded Battens, 9-12, root Battens. Custom molded in house. Adds only about 20 grams per batten but makes them much stiffer and stronger. Less deformation in high speed flight.

The section of the batten with the carbon fiber is three times as strong as that section without carbon fiber (although this hardly matters as these battens are very strong and I've never heard of anyone breaking them).

The main point of the carbon on the batten is to reduce bowing out or deflection during high speed runs. Their deflection is reduced by 60%, so if previously the battens would bow out 1/2" now they will bow out less than 1/4."

An example of how some USHPA rules hurt us

April 12, 2019, 8:56:17 EDT

An example of how some USHPA rules hurt us

Because they don't make any sense.

Paul Voight|Steven "Steve" Pearson|USHPA

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> writes:

We didn’t have a local admin to run an instructor clinic here at Andy Jackson Flight Park in San Bernardino, California so a group of local pilots paid Paul Voight to fly out. Despite Paul’s experience and credentials (let's us just say that they are vast), he wasn’t allowed to conduct the clinic at Crestline. Same story for Zac, who until recently was the only west coast tandem administrator, but wasn’t allowed to give clinics at any USHPA sites. The USHPA should have paid all these expenses, and clinic administrators should have blanket coverage at all sites.

The USHPA is being managed by Martin, Tim and the leadership from a narrow perspective of minimizing liability at all cost, and the practical and effective result of that policy is reducing the number of instructors, schools and pilots. No pilots, no exposure. I would also note that this policy is distinct and not entirely consistent with advancing safe practice. So many opportunities for improving safety are ignored while bureaucratic initiatives are advanced. I don’t even understand why Martin and Tim have any authority to advance their agenda when they are neither elected nor have any significant experience with the programs and policies they are administering. A smaller and less experienced board is only going to compound the problems as they will increasingly defer these decisions to administration.

Here are two of the most advanced and experienced instructors and pilots within the USHPA. They are prevented from providing their expertise to the hang gliding community by rules that do not make any sense what-so-ever. These rules tie instructors to specific sites and do not allow for instructors who do not have a specific site or who visit other sites. This certainly is a disincentive for obtaining USHPA site insurance.

USHPA - the not so slow suicide »

April 11, 2019, 8:31:49 EDT

USHPA - the not so slow suicide

Death by a thousand cuts

Belinda Boulter|Jamie Shelden|Jim Shaw|Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|Mitch Shipley|Risk Retention Group|Steven "Steve" Pearson|USHPA|Wilotree Park

For me, personally, the USHPA works great. I have excellent interactions with Beth Van Eaton regarding all my competition requirements. I work with volunteer Mitch Shipley on the Tow Device Supplement Applications, but then he lives at Wilotree Park part time. I send our competition results in to volunteer David Wheeler. Volunteer Jamie Shelden contacts me regarding membership on the national team.

The incident report system is up and running. It's easy to renew my membership. Same for Belinda's family membership. We, obviously, have very specialized needs when it comes to dealing with the USHPA.

But the bigger concerns are with both the short and long term health of hang gliding and our association Steve Pearson has some concerns about how the USHPA is handling these bigger concerns. He writes:

1) There has been an extraordinary amount of discussion and good ideas shared over the last 20 years. (2) These ideas and efforts have been ineffective at arresting the decline of hang gliding.

I would argue that there is no recipe that the USHPA can conceive of that is likely to be adopted and implemented by, or even that is even helpful to a successful school. That’s not to say that the ideas are flawed, but that they are in conflict with our experience. Make a list of the top schools in the last 45 years—KHK, Lookout, Windsports, Mission, Morningside, Wallaby, etc. and ask if any of them would have been receptive to adopting a USHPA business plan for managing their business. Every school and community is unique—what works in Kitty Hawk is different from Morningside, LA, Chattanooga and San Francisco. The ideas that have been shared are a great resource for schools to consider for business development, but they are not a stand-alone solution.

I’m suggesting that revisiting this subject with clean whiteboards and new participants is unlikely to do any better—we are looking at this from the wrong perspective. It’s like trying to push a rope uphill—forcing top-down management on a system that doesn’t respond to that approach.

Let’s recognize that new pilots only come from flight schools (rather than marketing programs). That the root of our problem is that sustaining a flight school is near impossible, and compliance with the rules, regulations and expenses imposed by the USHPA is a significant burden. And ultimately, the only mechanism for stabilizing hang gliding is to make teaching both easier and more rewarding.

There are a couple of familiar refrains that we need to address head-on: (1) commercial interests are in conflict with the best interests of the association and (2) ideas for promoting growth are too expensive or otherwise subordinate to other priorities.

1. There is a direct and immutable correlation between the health, safety and vitality of every hang gliding community and the status of the local flight school. When flight schools close, even thriving communities of pilots diminish within a few short years. I can’t even think of any exceptions to this. Schools, more than any other factor, are the foundation of our association and we need to stop seeing them as beneficiaries and sources of revenue. We should be supporting them, not taxing them.

2. How can we pretend to have be successful association with unrelenting declining membership? Membership is the only product that the USHPA sells, and all of the associated services are to support membership. We could argue that there are a lot of metrics to evaluate the performance of a business, but I can’t imagine not including product sales. Most successful and sustainable businesses invest the majority of their discretionary resources in product development and those who don’t more-often fail. That’s not to say that investing in product development is any guarantee, just a fundamental requirement.

Why don’t we try something different, like investing in and listening to individuals who have demonstrated aptitude and commitment to achieving our goals? Instead of analyzing and dictating the minutia of how to run a successful flight school, why not ask our instructors, “what can we do to help?” What incentives (product and services) can we offer to achieve the outcome we want (growth and pilot retention)?

What specific actions can the USHPA implement develop hang gliding, i.e. to support schools ?

1) Provide financial incentives for the development of new pilots. I’m suggesting that a program like rebating the entire 1st year membership fee, and 50% of the second year would relatively increase membership and long-term income for the USHPA. It would also focus the efforts of schools on making pilots rather than other income opportunities like tandem rides.

2) Mandate a reduction in the administrative burden of PASA/RRRG compliance.

3)  Reduce the instructor fee, and perhaps even make the first year free.

4) Provide funds and support for instructor clinics rather than requiring participant to organize and pay for them. Wills Wing did this for years—we paid for Tim Morely, Jim Shaw and others to give clinics around the country. More flight schools = more pilots = more glider sales.

5) Reduce the administrative costs and requirements for sanction competitions.

6) Eliminate all fees and requirements for local chapters to hold fly-ins and other community events.

I don’t mean this to be an exhaustive list, just the first things that occurred to me. Certainly we can do better than this?

Finally, these new policies don’t address the structural problems with hang gliding like how long it takes to learn, or the physical requirements, or the inconvenience of carrying and storing bulky equipment. That’s for us to solve.

The proper balance for high performance

April 10, 2019, 8:20:17 EDT

The proper balance for high performance

Climbing performance Vs. Gliding performance

PG|record|Steven "Steve" Pearson

Gerolf writes: "Exactly my point, Petr - better handling is the REAL performance gain on modern topless hang gliders."

Steve Pearson writes:

The current competition hang gliders from all manufacturers are very refined with few opportunities for performance improvement. In terms of configuration, we’re between two poles that each offer compelling advantages—rigid wings with extreme aspect ratios have extraordinary aerodynamic efficiency but it’s paragliders, at the other end of the spectrum, that have been much more effective at expanding the soaring and cross country envelope. So hang glider designs are evolving consistent with the same optimization problem that resulted in a corresponding diversity in nature from the albatross to the eagle.

To naive observers, it often seems that ‘more glide’ is the answer to our performance aspirations, and an incremental improvement is as simple as increasing the aspect ratio. Who hasn’t looked at the glider specifications expecting those numbers to somehow characterize the  aircraft? I know I did several times over the last 40 years with design decisions. 15 years ago I built a number of progressively higher aspect ratio T2s that flew great and it’s still hard to appreciate how something that looked so promising didn’t perform better.

There are a few issues that constrain the design problem. The first is handling, which is largely influenced by wing span. Handling and control authority are fundamental to performance and progressively diminish with bigger spans. The second is stall speed which depends primarily on glider area, so with increasing AR constrained by span you end up with a higher stall speed which compromises the ability to climb in small thermals. The third is weight which is related to glider span, and heavier gliders are generally undesirable. So, in our development program the test glider that we flew ended up with a little more span than the T2 154 and the area of the T2 144. The handling was similar to a 154, the stall speed like a 144, and the weight was 5 pounds heavier than a 154 (because it required a stiffer airframe to control twist at higher speeds) by the time it was configured for comparable performance. In short, the effective performance was diminished. The other implications of this example are that even the best design intensions offer no guarantee of meeting expectations, and that it’s often easier to screw things up than improve performance.

The question remains, how do we improve performance? Comp and record flying happens more in climb and racing than at best glide speeds. Climb depends more on handling and low stall speed than minimum sink rate. Racing at speeds 1.5x best glide or higher depends on low twist. So there are probably better opportunities for improving performance than increasing aspect ratio and the associated reduction in induced drag, and it seems that we should look more to improving low speed performance.

We use 2 launch elevations at our test fly site—the 750' for Falcons and Alphas and the 1500' Regionals for S3s and above. The interesting thing is that at the lower launch, the performance metrics are inverted. The model that is most likely to soar and climb out is the Alpha and the least likely is the T2. The handling and slower speed of the Alpha allow it to exploit lift that you can’t manage in a T2. The T2 has a much lower sink rate than the Alpha but it’s hopelessly disadvantaged in this task. From my perspective, I’d rather improve the ability of the T2 to work challenging lift to match the Alpha than gain a bit of glide performance.

With and without the UV resistant layer

February 21, 2019, 7:37:43 EST

With and without the UV resistant layer

Put the UV resistant layer on the top side on the outside.

John Simon|Steven "Steve" Pearson

A side by side comparison of two sails about two years old:

This sail is on John Simon's Aeros Combat C 12.7. It does not have a UV resistant layer. John is getting a new sail that will have the UV resistant layer, hopefully on top on the outside.

This is the Wills Wing T2C 144 that I fly. There is no UV damage that I can detect and the sail is in excellent shape.

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> writes:

This is consistent with our experience comparing off-the-shelf laminates with our custom laminates produced with UV-stable-film

Any laminate without UV film becomes brittle with cracks and flakes starting in the outer layer in as little as one year of harsh UV exposure. UV film doesn’t become brittle with 5x as much exposure (although it is still subject to scratching and wear-and-tear). The problem remains that most manufacturers claim that their laminates have UV protection which is misleading at best. Anything other than special-order UV film is ineffective at extending the life of laminate sails. John Simon’s sail material has “UV-protection” but it does not have UV film.

Cooperation and community

February 13, 2019, 8:27:44 EST

Cooperation and community

The pre-Worlds starts at Wallaby Ranch

Facebook|Malcolm Jones|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Wilotree Park



The Wills Wing Demo Days at Wallaby Ranch end with a big party put on by Wills Wing on Saturday Night, April 13th. Saturday is also the check-in and practice day for the pre-Worlds at Wilotree Park. We have teamed up with Wills Wing to host the dinner and have the pilots and companions coming to the pre-Worlds join up with the pilots at the Wills Wing Demo Days.

When we first saw that Wills had scheduled their Demo Days in the days proceeding the pre-Worlds (see here: https://airtribune.com/2019-quest-air-nationals-week-1/info/details__info) we immediately contacted Steve Pearson at Wills Wing and suggested that it would be a great opportunity to build community relations by bringing down the pilots coming to the pre-Worlds at Wilotree Park. We would, of course, use the funds from the pilots' entry fees set aside for the opening night to help Wills Wing pay for the dinner.

It's Wills Wing's party and Steve Pearson asked Malcolm Jones, the owner or Wallaby Ranch, if this would be possible. Malcolm agreed immediately and now we have a great opportunity to share in a communal event.

We have often flown into Wallaby Ranch during our competitions and Malcolm has often provided the beer at the end of the flights. We wish to continue build strong community ties.

Episode 80 – Can Hang Gliding be saved?

Fri, Nov 30 2018, 7:19:10 am PST

Cloudbase Mayhem podcast

Cloudbase Mayhem|David Glover|Dustin Martin|Francis Rogallo|Larry Tudor|PG|podcast|record|Steven "Steve" Pearson|USHPA|Wright Brothers


Hang gliding is arguably the first “extreme sport” in human history and its influences radically changed the world. Drawing inspiration from Leonardo Davinci, Otto Lillienthal built the first foot-launched hang gliders in the late 1800’s. His wings inspired Octave Chanute and his assistants to make thousands of flights at the turn of the last century on the shores of lake Michigan which led to the Wright Brothers’ remarkable inventions and humans take to the skies.

Orville and Wilbur Wright’s flights in the early 1900’s are still hard to wrap your head around. Imagine picking up a 150 pound glider built out of bamboo, balsa and muslin cloth in 30 miles per hour of wind and actually soaring! Their flights in 1911 wouldn’t be matched until the early 1970’s!

Their passion for flight lead to the rapid development of powered aircraft which had a massive impact in the devastating air campaigns of World War I and World War II. Interest in unpowered flight returns after the Wars and the arrival of Francis Rogallo and his genius leads to Hang gliding as we know it. Suddenly we can chase the birds, fulfilling a shared dream that has existed from the beginning of human history.

The sport goes crazy in the early 70’s, over a hundred manufacturers get into the game, performance gains go through the roof, but then so do the accidents. In the late 70’s the Hang Gliding Manufacturers Association creates a certification process and the sport becomes more interested in safety than just getting off the ground at any cost. Gliders continue to innovate at an insane pace and incredible distances are flown: the first 100 mile flight goes down, then Larry Tudor flies 200 miles, then 300 but as wings get more and more sophisticated and fast, they also get more difficult to fly and importantly- to learn.

In 2012 Dustin Martin flies an unbelievable 475 miles in Texas, the farthest anyone has flown on unpowered aircraft but the future of hang gliding is anything but encouraging. What’s next for the sport, and has what’s happened to hang gliding foretelling of paragliding’s future? This is a remarkable tale told eloquently by the legendary Bruce Weaver from Kitty Hawk Kites, the president Wills Wing Steven Pearson, the former president of USHPA and former world record holder David Glover, the “Dark Prince” Larry Tudor and the current world record holder, Dustin Martin.

Feathery tips

October 2, 2018, 8:58:08 MDT

Feathery tips

Tried that in 1977

Steven "Steve" Pearson

Scott wondered why our gliders don't have tips like this:

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> wrote back:

Already tried that in 1977. Wills Wing had an SST proto called the ‘sawtooth’ with overlapping panels that were somewhat free like feathers. There’s been more research done over the years (see http://bamlab.mechse.illinois.edu/barbule/) but we don’t have anywhere near the time and money to pursue a small fraction of the promising ideas. Realistically, it could improve Cl max by 10% which would be about 1 mph stall speed reduction.

Test flying the Wills Wing Sport 3 - 155

April 6, 2018, 8:29:43 EDT

Test flying the Wills Wing Sport 3 - 155

A late evening flight

Paul Voight|Quest Air|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Wills Wing Sport 3

I had an opportunity to fly the Wills Wing Sport 3 at the Wills Wing Demo Days at Wallaby Ranch on Thursday. It was late in the afternoon almost evening and the sky was still covered with thick high clouds that substantially reduced lift all day. The winds were light out of the northeast.

I pro-towed the glider and there was no bar pressure. The tug pilot later said that he was flying at 25 mph. Steve Pearson had told me earlier that the bar pressure was very light. There is no need for a three point tow bridle setup with this glider.

I could "feel" that I was flying a "bigger" wing than the Wills Wing T2C 144. That did not appear to affect the handing, which was very light. I would just give a slight bump to the left or right and the glider would respond right away. Pulling didn't require much effort.

The VG line was an easy pull. I didn't have a way to see if it changed anything other than the bar position. Steve said than unlike the Sport 2 you can comfortably thermal with the VG on say half way or more. I did have a chance to thermal it in very light lift and it was responsive and easy to fly.

Steve tells me that you can fly it at the top end 7 mph faster than the Sport 2. I didn't have a chance to pull the bar in all the way. I was mostly floating around and seeing how it penetrated at mid-range speeds. It seemed to have no issues with getting back to Wallaby.

I came in for a landing and despite having all my muscle memory tuned for the T2C it was easy to do the approach. Actually landing it was vastly easier than the T2C and basically the same as a Falcon. It stopped instantly when I flared in very light winds.

I think that David Aldrich will have one here at Quest next week as he gets ready for the 2018 Quest Air Nationals. I'll attempt to give it a longer test flight and report on that.

Steve Pearson said that there is too little competition in the hang glider market place. He had wanted to produce the Sport 3 for quite a while now and only when the Moyes Gecko came along was he motivated enough to go ahead and go through the pain of development and production.

Paul Voight at the Wills Wing Demo Day at Wallaby Ranch flies the "race" version of the Sport 3 that I flew.

Hang Gliding Renaissance?

March 27, 2018, 8:19:04 EDT

Hang Gliding Renaissance?

The committee

David Glover|James Bradley|Jayne DePanfilis|Joe Greblo|Mike Meier|PG|Steven "Steve" Pearson|USHPA

James Bradley <<jb183>> writes:

Before the recent USHPA board meeting in Golden, Colorado, there were two several-hour sessions about creating a new future for hang gliding. Led by Bruce Weaver and facilitated by me, they were also attended by Matt Taber, Jayne DePanfilis, David Glover, Paul Murdoch, Martin Palmaz, Joe Greblo, Steve Pearson, John Harris and Nick Greece. They weren't official USHPA sessions, just some of us sitting down in a room for the first time.

These notes are mine and do not necessarily represent the thoughts of everyone in the room, though we had a pretty united look at it.

I believe the success of this effort will depend on

1. A real willingness to change, including things we/you might not feel like changing

2. A real willingness to experiment, try new things that no one has tried, learn from what happens and try again

3. Serious time and effort from volunteers who are already busy with other things in their lives

4. Some good luck that we can’t anticipate, but that #1-3 might put us in the way of.

Here’s a sketch of what we did:

(1) Identified issues: then moved on, because focusing on what’s wrong leads only to incremental changes

(2) Drafted a “success fantasy”: it’s 6 years from now and our efforts have gone very well, what does hang gliding look like in the US?

(3) Grouped the qualitative success fantasy elements into categories so we could consider approaches to each

(4) Teased out “First Steps" to do now that might have a chance of leading to the 6 year goals being realized in 6 years; all of these are experiments

(5) Made individual commitments to accomplishing all of the identified First Steps, by July 15 of this year.

Among those commitments was one by Steve Pearson of Wills Wing, to create a beginner hang glider model that is much easier to launch and land. A few days later Mike Meier of Wills Wing sent a note to a small list suggesting that as hang gliders have chased more performance they have become much more difficult to fly—ever since 1975! I’ll let him decide when to share his detailed thoughts more widely, but he appears to agree that among current gliders even the beginner models are much too hard to launch and land, meaning they are dangerous and therefore require a high skill level to teach (high skill at both teaching and hang gliding). With this in mind our conversation included a fundamental reimagining of how hang gliding is taught and learned in the beginning stages, looking toward making it much easier to start and run a hang glider flight school than it is today, including the equipment, skills, planning and business prospects. What if it were easy enough that a moderately experienced hang glider pilot could get their instructor rating, buy a complete package of gear including teaching manuals and student workbooks, and start a flight school on any flat piece of ground with excellent student fun and safety?

We also had a frank discussion of the past and current culture of hang gliding, which has often not been inclusive, even of new hang pilots. Of course it’s far from everyone who has acted this way, but negative interactions are unfortunately the most memorable. Personally I’ll never forget a hang glider pilot screaming “no frame no brain!!” during one of my first paraglider launches in New England in 2007, and I don’t remember anything else about that day.

Culture change is hard. This piece alone might need disciplined determination from every US hang glider pilot, not just to be welcoming and inclusive yourself, but to no longer tolerate another hang glider pilot acting like a dick. You have to be willing talk to those people. This difficult effort is required because we don’t have time to wait for a generation to die off.

I hope the whiteboards memorialize most of our discussion, and as they were aimed at the people who were there they might be hard to follow. I encourage you to contact your colleagues who were in the room to fill you in. Most especially, if you would like to participate in this effort to reinvigorate hang gliding, please contact Bruce Weaver, who is leading the charge, at bruce (at) kittyhawk (dot) com.

I believe two things are vital to remember:

The age profile curve of USHPA’s hang glider membership means that we will see dramatic drops in hang gliding numbers over the next few years, even if our efforts are successful. We have to remember to measure our success by other metrics than whether the blue line continues to slope down for awhile. It will, that's out of our control and it needs to be expected in the plan.

This isn’t going to be a quick fix. It’s going to take a sustained and determined effort by people who are willing to fail.

I came out of the meetings with a lot more optimism about hang gliding’s possible future than I had before we started.

For the whiteboards here: http://ozreport.com/pub/images/HGmtgWhiteboardsMarch2018.zip

Flying in the 2017 Quest Air Open

June 5, 2017, 7:15:47 CST GMT-0500

Flying in the 2017 Quest Air Open

The long of it

cart|Davis Straub|John Simon|Larry Bunner|Quest Air|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Tim Delaney|weather

Philip Siscoe <<psiscoe>> writes:

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017. I’m at work and on a call with my colleague John.

- Phil, John says – Canada’s Department of National Defense (DND) is going to require national level review of the software change you are planning for the classified training system.

- Crap, I respond. How long will that take?

- Four to six weeks, John guesses.

- Well, it is what it is. Guess I’ll have to tell Larry this project is going to be delayed by a month or two, I say.

John and I end our call. I feel sunken. I had been planning to travel to Halifax to install and test this updated software on the helicopter simulator system in late April.

Larry, my boss, a manager at a major helicopter manufacturer, had been whining to me just a couple of weeks earlier that I cost too much. Larry takes good care of me, and I’ve got it pretty good in this steady contracting gig that has been going on for years.

Larry isn’t going to be thrilled about the delay. And I also feel a little concerned about his perception of carrying me while we wait for DND review and approval of the software change. I also loathe twiddling my thumbs.

- Hang on! I think. This could be awesome :)

I have a scheme that will ease up on Larry’s budget and make me a happy boy. Why not take this opportunity to drive to Florida for a couple of weeks and get re-acquainted with my hang glider? – a Wills Wing 141 Fusion SP

I had bought this 141 Fusion SP in 2001, straight out of the Wills Wing design and test process. It was the first newly redesigned smaller version Fusion out of the factory. Steve Pearson had told me that if it performed well in test flight, I could have it. They built it to my color scheme, tested out the redesign, and shipped it to me in Calgary, Alberta. My first flight on it out of Golden, British Columbia (Canada’s hang gliding Mecca) was awesome. What a great wing.

A couple of years after taking receipt of the glider in July 2001, I got married. A couple of years after that we had a beautiful baby girl. When my daughter was two, we moved from Calgary, where flying opportunities were plenty, to Ottawa, Ontario where I rarely fly. Out of Ottawa, I’ve only flown on the very rare occasions when the stars align and my best friend Jim is free to aerotow. A handful of others pilots and I aerotow up behind his Flightstar ultralight. This happens maybe once or twice a year.

In 2014 Jim did introduce me to Wallaby Ranch, where I spent a week. Then, in 2016, I spent a handful of days at Quest, tagging this onto a work trip to the helicopter test facility in West Palm Beach, Florida.

But, all in all, not much flying to speak of since 2004 or so.

Larry is cool with me taking the time off. As is my ex who will need to look after our daughter Sammy single handedly while I’m away. I still have some insecurity about the idea: money; time away from work; time away from the work I need to do on the house, etc.

In a chat with Jim on whether or not to do it, he says – Phil, you have to decide to do these things or they don’t happen. That clinched it. I’m doing it.

This is great! I just love a road trip in my truck loaded up with gear. Yahoo! Reminiscent of my days in Calgary heading west to the mountains to play!

0030 hrs, Monday April 10th, 2017. Two fourteen-hour days of driving later, including an overnight in a Walmart parking lot, and I’m at Quest. Staying there for two weeks.

I booked myself into one of their rental trailers out back, as I have the (misguided) notion that I might actually do some work while I’m there. As it turned out, the weather and flying was so amazing that after a couple of days, the notion of work became a very distant thought.

So here I am, at Quest, meek as heck. Barely 200 hours under my belt, and haven’t flown much in the past 12 years.

I don’t know how many times I say to folks:

- I haven’t flown much in the last decade.

- I just want to get comfortable in my hang glider again.

- Oh, there’s a comp next week? Am I participating in it? Heck no, I have no such ambitions.

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017. The rust removal process begins.

I convince Spinner I’m confident towing up solo in a Falcon. I do two early morning tows. Man – I just love flying that glider. I’m so relaxed and confident on it. I love heaping on the speed on final and driving that thing to the ground with authority. What a great confidence boost.

Then I move onto my friend Andre’s U2 that he keeps at Quest and has graciously offered to me. Over the next few days I do a bunch of morning and afternoon flights on the U2. On the first landing approach, I get a brutal reminder of the phenomenon of wind gradient. Nothing broken, but it came close. Let’s just say that, after that, I always, always, come in on final with heaps of speed.

One of the best parts of flying at Quest is the people you meet. There are new people arriving every day. Over the days, as my confidence re-develops, I find myself being less timid socially and eagerly introducing myself to folks. Enter Tim from Colorado.

Despite my higher level of confidence, I assert to Tim:

- I haven’t flown much in the last decade

- I just want to get comfortable in my hang glider again.

- Yeah, I’ve heard of the comp next week. Am I participating in it? Heck no. I don’t have any plans of going XC. But I could drive for you and your crew.

Over the next few days, I meet the rest of Tim’s crew, Matt and his wife Julia who drove out from Colorado with the gliders.

0700hrs Friday, April 14th, 2017. I set up the Fusion for the first time in four years. I have an early morning flight on it.

Oh my! Yeah, this wing wants to go! I am struck by the zip in this wing. I find myself enjoying a few wing overs above the LZ, and my adrenaline and enthusiasm spike. Not to mention my grin :)

My tune changes some.

- Hey guys, I don’t see myself seriously participating, but I’ll sign up for the Sport Class of the Quest Open comp to be a team player and support the event. What? No T-shirt? Oh well, it’s all good.

1100hrs Monday, April 17th, 2017. Day 1 of the comp. I’m all butterflies because I’m gonna to fly, or try to fly, the task. Goal is a reasonable 41km. I hand bomb a couple waypoints into my old Garmin 12 GPS, and I’m set. Tim and Davis Straub explain to me that to submit a track log for scoring of my flight, all I need to do is have Airtribune running on my iPhone in flight.

There are about six of us flying the sport class: Tim, Matt, Dave, Ricardo, Mike, and me. We quickly become a very supportive and bonded group. After the daily pilot meetings, we gather in Dave’s Taj Mahal 5th wheel to take in a Google Earth view of the task and collaborate on strategy, like avoiding swamp etc.

That day, it turns out only Tim makes Goal. Way to go Tim! I wind up flying about halfway there. I land on the 16th fairway of the Royal Highlands Golf community… in the rough. Ginny, a retiree (they’re all retirees), shouts out her back door and asks if I’m all right. She invites me in to have a seat and enjoy some cold water. I head back out to the glider on the 16th fairway where Golf cart after golf cart drives by. I get many offers of water, pop, beer, etc., and lots of offers to help me pack up. It’s a lot of fun.

Checking out the 16th fairway.

New friends at Royal Highlands

Back at Quest, everybody is so friendly and the Open guys want to hear about our flights. Larry Bunner, John Simon, and other Open class pilots offer us some pretty good advice on how to stay up and get to goal.

Day 2 Pilots meeting. The task committee does a fantastic job laying out really good tasks for both the Open (serious dudes) and Sport (fun dudes) classes. The Sport Class pilots congregate after the meeting, strategize, and get ready.

We Sport dudes try to fly as a gaggle, but we don’t seem to be able to get it together that day. I climb to cloudbase and head out to the first waypoint on my own. My glide is great and the tailwind helps. I’m hoping to come across some lift on my glide, but my rusty skills don’t pick up on anything. After a few failed attempts to work some light lift, I aim for a sunny field a bit upwind of what looks like a good cloud. I’m down to 1000’ AGL, which makes me psyche up for landing. I’ve already exceeded any expectations I had for the trip and I’m ok with the idea of landing. Then, all of a sudden, I fly through some firm and well-defined lift. I bank the glider steeply and climb that baby all the way up :)

Where is cloud base exactly?

After another lengthy glide, it’s déjà vu.  I’m over a sunny field, 1000’ AGL, getting psyched up to land. What a great flight. Just as I’m thinking “I’m ok with the idea of landing”, I find another thermal.  A good bank and a few minutes later I’m back up high, like 6000’ AGL.

What the heck?!  This is amazing!  Do I have goal on glide?

A little while later I overfly goal and scan the ground for the best place to land.  I choose a fenced field on the edge of a residential neighborhood to land in.  My chozen LZ is next to another field speckled with cows.  I’m on final, and I’m about to overfly the barbed wire fence at 20 feet, when I notice one cow leaning against the fence in what is to be my LZ.  One cow?  Crap!  That cow has horns!  That cow is a bull!  Shit.  Oh well, too late, I’m committed.

I land and unhook.  I look at the bull.  And he looks at me.  We come to an unspoken agreement to keep a good peaceful distance from each other.

I made goal!!

As the Quest Open comp progresses, I get gradually more comfortable and start really enjoying the flying and the camaraderie.  That’s not to say everything went smoothly.

I can’t remember if it was on day 3 or day 4 of the Quest open.  I’m hooked in, prone, on the cart, in the launch line up, and I do a hang check. Aw crap!  One of the pins that secure my reserve parachute into the harness has slipped out.  That’s a no go for launch.  I pull out of line, and take the time required to make it right.  I wind up towing up an hour and a half after everyone else.  I have a great flight nonetheless. I am focused and relaxed having taken the time to get things right.

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017.  Day 6 of the 7 day Quest Open competition. Day 12 of my hang gliding vacation. Another snag.  I’m all set to launch, and I see my chest bridle has come apart.  No problem, Rich (one of the volunteers helping with the comp) loans me his chest bridle and within 5 minutes I’m all set. (Thanks, Rich).  Go-go-go - the tow plane fires up, and I start rolling on the cart.  I feel the wing start to fly, and I let go of the cart for a graceful lift off.  Right after lifting off from the cart I loose thrust.  Somehow the tow line had released as I left the cart.  No worries. I get my feet down out of the harness and focus for a graceful landing.

Not so much.

I let the nose get high, stall, whack, and bend a down tube. Crap! #@$%!  I’m annoyed, disappointed, and pissed off.  I move the glider off to the side of the clubhouse as some repairs will be needed.  Everyone has launched and is on their way to goal. I realize I’m pretty wound up and take some time to calm down.

A little while later, Julia, the nicest, most caring, and sweetest retrieve driver I’ve ever had, wanders over to me and asks how things are.  I show her the bent down tube :(  I continue to cool off and examine the downtube with a finer eye.  The bend is quite even and long.  There are no creases, dings, or cracks in the tube.  It’s the old faired style tube from the 90’s.  This is where my soccer skills come in handy.  A couple of finely measured strikes with the sole of my New Balance adorned foot, and the downtube is right as rain.

I take a little while longer to make sure my mind is right and have a fourth and fifth look at the downtube.  I decide to tow up again.  It’s not a great day for thermals, there is a lot of overcast, so I tell Julia I will likely just tow up and come down and land a couple times. If I manage a climb, maybe I’ll decide to attempt the task, but I’m not at all hopeful.

Quest musters up a tug for me, and I launch smoothly without incident.  On the tow up we get bounced around a little - there’s some thermal activity.  At 1800’ I release and immediately turn back for a thermal we had just flown through and what do you know…a little while later - guess who’s approaching cloudbase?

I admire pilots who can work the light lift and fly for several hours.  I’ve long thought that a big factor that might help me perform better and improve my endurance in the air is relaxation.  So that’s what I decide to focus on as I point the nose of the glider towards goal.

I’d like to tell you that it all came together and I won the day.  That didn’t happen.  But I felt I achieved a great personal victory.  After nearly two weeks of daily flying, I felt good in the air and in my Fusion SP.  The sky was getting increasingly overcast and the lift was really light.  I was relaxed and much more attune to the air.

I glide on and work a little light lift near a small grass fire that had been smoldering for a few days.  A little glide from there and I find that manure field that the guys had been talking about the day before.  Believe me, as I circled above at 2500', I had no doubt it was manure.

After a little more gliding and some gentle climbing, the ground shades over as far as the eye can see.  I look out ahead towards goal and see the Florida turnpike on what seems like a shallow but possible glide.  Let’s go.

I enjoy a nice long glide.  No lift to speak of, but my sink rate is light and the turnpike stays at the same down angle - I have just enough height to make it.

I overfly the turnpike right at the Okahumpka Service Center and I’m able to eek out a couple more kilometers.

For my LZ, I choose a beautiful field aligned perfectly with the wind right along the turnpike.  I really feel the performance of the glider, and can totally visualize my glide and approach.  Pulling the bar back and increasing speed, I fly downwind behind line of trees at the end of the field.  I do a continuous turn through base to final, and my baby and I fly beautifully through a gap in the trees.  Into ground effect we go, the wing wonderfully steady.  As I let the nose trim up, the glider slows down. I feel it at trim and push out and up an authoritative flare.

The glider rotates perfectly but I’m just a touch high.  The flare kills all forward speed, I keep my arms stretched up so the nose of the glider doesn’t drop, and I come straight down onto both feet perfectly, no steps.  The downward momentum and weight of the glider however are just a bit much, and I can’t support the glider after my feet hit the ground.  Immediately, my knees bend and I crouch down with my hands on the downtubes and come to rest the base tube of the control frame onto the ground.  I’m just like Iron Man putting in a righteous landing. Yes!

I had flown 32km.  Not a personal best.  But one of the best flights I’ve ever had.  What a fantastic note to end the Quest Open and my little vacation on.  After the blown launch, bent downtube, and considering how overcast the conditions were, this flight was a gift.

Sunday, April 23rd.  Day 7 of the Quest Open.  The last day of the Quest Open was called off due to developing bad weather. Consensus amongst the competitors was that we had all had a great 6 days of flying and could afford to not fly.  So we held the awards ceremony and shortly thereafter I packed up and hit the road bound for Ottawa.

1600 hrs Sunday, April 23rd, 2017.  I’m on the road home.  I don’t know if I’ve ever been so content, blessed with so many unanticipated gifts.  The two week hang gliding trip; the great weather; the Quest Open comp; the wonderful community of pilots and new friends; and wrapping it up with a great flight on a day that could have gone otherwise.

I’m doing the Quest Open again next year.

From left to right: Philippe Michaud and mother Sylvie (Quebec), Tim Delaney (Colorado), Julia Thakaberry and husband Matt Brown (Colorado), Phil Siscoe (Ontario)
From left to right: Philippe Michaud and mother Sylvie (Quebec), Tim Delaney (Colorado), Julia Thakaberry and husband Matt Brown (Colorado), Phil Siscoe (Ontario)

Seated hill launch

April 12, 2017, 8:12:26 EST GMT-0400

Seated hill launch

Marshall launch next

Steven "Steve" Pearson|video

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> writes:

The training hill flight was a short roll in no wind. The cool thing is that you don't set the angle of attack or 'wings level', just sit and roll.


April 1, 2017, 11:24:06 pm EST GMT-0400


Do pilots really fall for this?

Steven "Steve" Pearson

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> writes:

Polyant "Liteskin" is a non-woven replacement for conventional taffeta. Neither taffeta or "Lightskin" add any strength to the laminate, and both add roughly a 25% penalty. The structural properties of laminates are a composite of the fiber and film properties, with the fiber (polyester, PEN, Technora, Carbon, Aramid) mainly handling the orthogonal directions and the film controlling the bias (45).

The advantage of taffeta backed laminates is increased durability which is why we used them almost exclusively before UV films were available. Also, without taffeta, we have to add more local reinforcements to support the stitching.

The idea that a LiteSkin laminate could improve the performance of a hang glider compared to a comparable taffeta laminate, or the non-taffeta laminate with a higher specific strength is not substantiated by the evidence. I don't have a problem with promoting the appearance but claiming increased performance is a misrepresentation.

Test flying a glider that is coming here soon

February 3, 2017, 9:11:47 EST

Test flying a glider that is coming here soon

On its way

Steven "Steve" Pearson

Steve Pearson wangs it a bit at Andy Jackson flight park.

Full carbon Wills Wing T2C coming here soon

February 1, 2017, 4:33:36 pm EST

Full carbon Wills Wing T2C coming here soon

But not soon enough

Steven "Steve" Pearson

Steve Pearson sends:

Wills Wing Demo Days

January 31, 2017, 8:19:07 EST

Wills Wing Demo Days

The upcoming calendar

calendar|Paul Voight|Rob McKenzie|Steven "Steve" Pearson


Cowboy Up Demo Days 2017 – April 8th and 9th

We’ll be returning for a weekend at Cowboy Up on the way to Wallaby with the full demo fleet. Can you think of a better way to kick of the season than with a little Texas flying?

Wallaby Demo Days 2017 – April 12th through 15th

21st consecutive fly-in and party to celebrate our 45th year in business

Wills Wing Wallaby 2017 Demo Days and Fly-In will be held Wednesday, April 12th through Saturday, April 15th, with our traditional party and dinner on Saturday night. The Wills Wing demo trailer will be stocked with a full fleet of the new laminate Falcon 4s, Sport 2s, U2s and T2s. Come on out, fly and check out the latest gliders, see some old friends and help us mark the occasion!

Tennessee Tree Toppers Team Challenge and Demo Days 2017 – April 16th through 22nd

We’re excited to be returning to the Tennessee Tree Toppers 2017 Team Challenge event on April 16th through 22nd immediately following Wallaby 2017. Don’t miss this opportunity to get some coaching and advice on transitioning to higher performance wings.

Crestline Demo Days 2017 – to be determined (most likely April 28-29 or May 6-7)

Join us for a fun weekend at our home site, supported by the Crestline Soaring Society, the adjacent Cross Country Ranch and Rob McKenzie’s High Adventure flight school.

Kitty Hawk Kites 45th Annual Spectacular – May 19th through 22nd

It’s hard to beat the Spectacular for a fun weekend getaway on the dunes and beaches of Jockey’s Ridge State Park. We’ll have a selection of demos for Dune flying and a more gliders for aero-towing at Currituck. Steve Pearson and Paul Voight will be supporting the event.

Lookout Demo Days 2017 – July 1st through 4th

We’ll have the full fleet of demos available for our annual Lookout 4th of July bash. This is a great opportunity to check our our demos at Lookout’s great training hills, with their aerotow fleet or off the ramp on to the great ridge.

Wills-Icaro price comparison

January 2, 2017, 8:36:21 EST

Wills-Icaro price comparison

Apples and oranges

Steven "Steve" Pearson

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> writes:

Urs writes, "The Euro is at its lowest point in 15 years. That means Icaro gliders are less than their competitors."

Despite highly unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates, Wills Wing gliders are still (by far) the best value in the marketplace. Obviously, the comparison would be even more favorable to Wills Wing if I included the lower market price for our gliders which is what Urs is using. Also, a Wills Wing T2 (https://willswing.com/hang-gliders/t2c/) is better equipped with a competition control bar (Icaro uses my design without license) with aluminum speedbar and other features that are optional or not available on the Icaro Laminar.

Of course, there are more important factors than price alone to choose a Wills Wing. We are the only manufacturer that has consistently supported flight schools that are essential for the growth and stability of our sport, that invented "demo days" and provides multiple events across the country for pilots to test fly our products, and that provides factory support to all customers by the individuals who design, manufacture and flight test our products.

Gider model WW (published factory retail price) Urs (discounted local dealer price)
WW T2 $6,975
Icaro Laminar $8,472
WW Falcon $3,875
Icaro RX2 $4,200

Building Dreams Interview Extras 4: "The Origin of The T2C 136

September 26, 2016, 9:48:29 MST GMT-0600

Building Dreams Interview Extras 4: "The Origin of The T2C 136

The extras

Steven "Steve" Pearson|video

Again the original: https://youtu.be/k1utuIlstqs

Extras 4: https://youtu.be/hsAjftl5pSg

All the extras: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZbAxl62ULQt8KO1uyHemnQQARh-ZqBOb

Building Dreams is the story of Wills Wing President and Principal Design Engineer Steve Pearson. In the film Steve shares with us his passion for hang gliding as well as his insights into what it takes to design, build and test some of the world's most advanced hang gliders.

A little of Dustin's history with harnesses

September 19, 2016, 8:59:18 MST GMT-0600

A little of Dustin's history with harnesses

I was pretty amazed when I heard from Dustin that he would become the US distributor for Rotor

Dustin Martin|Jeff Shapiro|Larry Bunner|Steven "Steve" Pearson

First Wills Wing was the US distributor for Rotor, but it was difficult to communicate with Nene Rotor in Brazil (language issues, for one). I purchased a Rotor harness during that time. Loved it and still have it.

Then Jeff Shapiro designed the Covert to be the next step and worked with Wills Wing to represent the Covert. Dustin at times worked for Jeff in Montana at Jeff's house producing Coverts.

Then Wills Wing took over Covert production when Jeff wanted his life back and Dustin worked at times at Wills in California producing some Coverts.

I purchased an original Covert from Jeff and then had it upgraded by Wills and Dustin to the latest version when Dustin came up with some new ideas to lighten the harness. I sent my carbon fiber back plate with Steve Pearson back to Wills and it was used on my latest Covert. You'll see Zac, Wolfi and Larry Bunner as well as others flying them

Now, with Wills apparently unable to get American made carbon fiber back plates at prices that compare with those produced overseas, they are not in a position to produce new Coverts (but continue to support pilots who have them) Dustin is free to use his Portuguese language skills to professionalize the connection between Brazil and the US with respect to harness distribution.

Anyway, that is the story as I can construct it.

Building Dreams

September 1, 2016, 8:02:39 MST GMT-0600

Building Dreams

The story of Wills Wing President and Principal Design Engineer Steve Pearson

Steven "Steve" Pearson|video


Removing the last barriers?

Building Dreams Interview Extras 3: Timeline of Hang Glider Development

June 8, 2016, 7:40:32 MST GMT-0600

Building Dreams Interview Extras 3: "Timeline of Hang Glider Development"

Interview with Steven Pearson

Steven "Steve" Pearson|video


Building Dreams Interview Extras 2: The Partnership

June 7, 2016, 7:29:02 MST GMT-0600

Building Dreams Interview Extras 2: "The Partnership"

Interview with Steven Pearson

Steven "Steve" Pearson|video


Building Dreams Interview Extras 1: Steve's First Gliders

June 6, 2016, 7:24:46 MST GMT-0600

Building Dreams Interview Extras 1: "Steve's First Gliders"

Interview with Steven Pearson

Steven "Steve" Pearson|video


Steve Pearson at Cowboy Up

April 8, 2016, 6:38:28 pm EST GMT-0400

Steve Pearson at Cowboy Up

Heading east one flight park at a time

Facebook|photo|Steven "Steve" Pearson


April 6, 2016, 8:42:22 pm EST GMT-0400


Heading east

Facebook|Steven "Steve" Pearson

Steve Pearson writes:

Getting loaded for Cowboy Up, Wallaby and Team Challenge. Need to find room for almost 30 gliders.

Wills Wing Demo Days

April 1, 2016, 6:16:46 pm EST GMT-0400

Wills Wing  Demo Days

Coming to Texas

calendar|Dustin Martin|Facebook|Steven "Steve" Pearson



Steven Pearson <<Steve>> writes:

Zac will be with me at Cowboy UP and Ryan is joining us for Wallaby. Zac, Dustin and Matt Barker will be at the Team Challenge and then I’ll return home the following weekend for demos at Crestline. I have a full selection of demos for each event including blinged out Falcons, S2Cs, U2Cs and full-carbon leading edge T2Cs.

Grease your glider

March 23, 2016, 8:46:18 EST GMT-0400

Grease your glider

DuPont Teflon Bearing Grease on Crossbar Hinge

Jonathan Dietch|Steven "Steve" Pearson

Jonathan Dietch <<nmerider>> writes:

My previous article about replacing all the pulleys on my T2C 144: http://ozreport.com/1427719439

My 2009 T2C 144 now has about 1060 hours on it with about 536 hours on its second sail. During the past year I noticed an increase in resistance from one flight to the next when pulling on the VG rope. I recalled that I had not re-lubed the crossbar hinge pins in about 3 years and the last time I did so I did not do a very though job of cleaning off the oxide and old grease. I also could have done a better job of applying DuPont Teflon bearing grease to the pins and the contact surfaces.

A few weeks ago I removed the crossbar pins and thoroughly cleaned every surface with Coleman fuel (white gasoline). I applied a generous coat of DuPont Teflon bearing grease to every contact surface before reassembly. I have logged another nine hours since re-greasing the crossbar hinge and it feels like new. With only moderate effort I can go right past the factory setting for full VG. The VG limiter has been removed and I can pull roughly 15" more rope with the 3:1 reduction system.

I learned about the use of DuPont Teflon bearing grease for extreme pressure application from this source: http://www.sandsmachine.com/grease_t.htm. For a period of time it was out of stock in the handy 20gr syringe but later came back on the market thanks to Finish Line: http://www.finishlineusa.com/products/bicycle-greases/extreme-fluoro-grease.

For other high-hour topless gliders out there this may be worthwhile considering in order to keep VG rope pull running free and smoothly. Doing the hinge re-lube also made the glider much easier to set the haul-back as well as release it and to bring the leading edges together.

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> writes:

Thanks for the info. I honestly never considered that friction in the hinge pins would increase the VG activation forces that much. We start with a pretty good quality grease but I doubt that it lasts more than a year or two. I'll add your experience to my maintenance recommendations.

2016 Team Challenge Update

March 22, 2016, 8:39:16 EST GMT-0400

2016 Team Challenge Update

April 17 - 23

James Stinnett|Oliver Gregory|PG|record|Risk Retention Group|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Tennessee Tree Toppers|Tennessee Tree Toppers Team Challenge 2016|weather|Zac Majors

Oliver Gregory <<olliettt1955>> writes:

TTT Team Challenge is coming up soon. We anticipate a great teaching meet with one of the best lineup of cross country mentors ever! Fifty one of sixty slots are taken, but there are always last minute cancellations and opportunities to participate! Sign up now folks! We are having a great spring so far with thermal tops over 7,000 above launch and many personal bests already! We have two launches on both sides of the valley so we can handle a crowd!

As many know, Wills Wing is bringing Demo Days to Team Challenge. Pilots can try out one of the fabulous new WW gliders! I can't wait to run a demo off one of our super easy launch sites! Steve Pearson, Zac Majors, Matt Barker, Corey Barnhart, James Stinnett, Maria and Pedro Garcia and many other cross country dogs are coming to lead cross country seminars and mentor teams!

Paragliding pilots will be excited to meet Koen Vancampenhoudt who has the Belgium cross country record of 383km in Brazil and is coming to give seminars and share his great flying experience! So far it looks like we will have 1/3 para and 2/3 hangie pilots this year!

We have great plans for seminars, parties and raptor exhibits to keep the learning and fun going full speed all week! Good food is available all week on site. Camping is great at the Henson Gap launch site.

Go to http://tttmember.org and register now. If you've donated $175 or more to the RRG after January 9th, that donation can serve in lieu of payment for Team Challenge registration! So just send us a copy of your donation receipt, join the club for $100 and come fly!

Free fliers and lift technicians are welcome before and after competition launch Windows and during lulls in the competition launch cycles. Come camp with us and enjoy the spring weather, the seminars, parties and great flying!

The registration/check-in is set or Saturday afternoon, April 16th. The meet starts Sunday April 17th and finishes with the award party Saturday April 23rd.

Looking forward to seeing you at the Tree Toppers! We are going to have a great time!

Moyes carbon base bar protectors

March 14, 2016, 7:35:49 EST GMT-0400

Moyes carbon base bar protectors

He actually sold some

Gordon Rigg|Steven "Steve" Pearson

Sebastian Domingo <<nlrsystems>> has sent me two $5 rewards for the two sales that he made from his two sales (out of forty in the box).

So apparently at least a few of you want to protect your Moyes base tube.

I was contemplated making a 2 part unit that bolted together but vg rope routing and really the way it looked would not be good when we saw the model. It looked pretty lame in fact. These are specific purpose. Don't land on them they are not landing skids. These are profiled and look awesome. Set the base bar on one end and slide the skid on it. You'll have to press pretty good with 2 hands to push it on. I set mine all the way to the end where the end fitting an carbon meet.


Gordon Rigg wrote: "Wow, almost identical to 'the little green skids' available years ago except no smooth radiused edges. Nothing new in this world."

Were they available for the Moyes carbon speed bar? Nope, so that would make it something new wouldn't it?

I did do large contour smooth radiused edges and they offered less surface area to stand off rocks. These are 1/2 inch from bottom of base tube to bottom of skid. They need as much surface area as possible and a profile like that did not work worth a hell. Sorry you're not a fan, but nobody made anything for a carbon speed bar for Moyes, so I made my own. Hell, I'm getting emails for Icaro speed bars as well. A carbon speed bar is expensive and I'm surprised how many don't really care and just slap that crap right down on top of gravel, rocks etc. Steve Pearson offers skids for all his Wills Wing bars which is awesome. I surprised no other manufacturers do.

I also did not want something that would snap on. Way easy to make as well. I wanted something that would stay on the bar no matter what.

The full speed range

March 1, 2016, 7:51:55 EST

The full speed range

Response to my segment of Jeff Shapiro's article in Hang Gliding Magazine

Jeff Shapiro|Quest Air|Steven "Steve" Pearson|USHPA|Wills Wing T2C

In the current magazine  https://old.ushpa.aero/member_magazine_current.asp Jeff quoted me as saying: to pull the bar in and fly very very fast (given good conditions ahead).

I was assuming that the pilot was flying an advanced glider like the Wills Wing T2C or Moyes Litespeed. You VG line is your speed control and when you pull in your VG the glider wants to fly faster, the base tube comes back, and the bar pressure is significantly reduced. The reduced bar pressure makes it possible to fly fast without wearing yourself out.

 But there are gliders that have VG lines that don't actually reduce the bar pressure that much. A Wills Wing Sport 2, for example, or the single surface Northwing Freedom. I discovered this aspect of the Freedom when competing in the Single Surface Shootout in Luling, Texas a few years ago.

A pilot flying a Sport 2 here at Quest Air took my advice to pull in the bar with the VG on and got going fast, but still had a lot of bar pressure.

He wrote:

Second flight: 4100’, 45 min. Your advice in the Hang Gliding magazine, spoke of fast flying between lift. On my many cross country flights in the past, my interthermal speed was at best L/D. No, No, No! Speed up! Get to the next lift quicker, mon.

So, I experimented some on this flight. I pulled the VG full on and flew about 2 miles. My max speed 42 mph most of the way. There was considerable pressure to hold that speed and my arms did get tired. Had considerable finger and forearm cramping in the evening.

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> writes:

For sure he should use full VG on every glide. The pressure does diminish with VG activation but it would still be quite high and relatively fatiguing at 42 mph. I haven’t done the math but I think it would take pretty strong conditions to justify flying that fast inter-thermal in a U2 or S2. I’d recommend 35, or about best glide + <10.

U2 pitch pressures are much lighter, about the same or less than a T2. He can also trim the glider faster or tie his glider bag to the front of the crossbar to help reduce pressure—of course that means he has to push out more in climbs.

In strong conditions I'm flying 45 to 55 mph between thermals with the VG full on. Steve agrees.

Biwingual Team Challenge

Wed, Feb 17 2016, 8:24:25 am EST

Hoping for good weather

Jamie Shelden|Lookout Mountain Flight Park|Ollie Gregory|PG|Risk Retention Group|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Tennessee Tree Toppers|video|weather|Zac Majors

Ollie Gregory «Ollie Gregory» writes:

Hope it's warm and sunny where you are! The Tennessee Tree Toppers are moving along with preparation for the Biwingual Team Challenge set for April 17-23. Spring brings phenomenal soaring to the Sequatchie valley. The cool nights and warm afternoons generate the kind of thermals that dreams are made of, and make camping a joy as well! We have 40 pilots registered with about a third paragliding pilots so far. We cap at 60. We have four nice launches now, two on each side of the valley! We can handle a crowd and welcome free flyers before, after, and during lulls in the competition action! TTT is thankful for all the great support from our sponsors and the legends in the sport who have made TC the premier educational event for learning and mentoring XC flying. Special thanks to Mikey Barber and Denis Pagen for years of support! We want to give back! This is going to be an extra special Team Challenge! If you are getting good at thermal soaring and want to connect the dots to go some where, this TC is for you! If you want to get ready for some of the sport class or open class competitions and would like to learn how to put it all together, this meet is for you! If you are a grizzly soar dog with thousands of miles of XC experience and want to pass this treasure of knowledge on, we need you! Bring it!

OK! This is how TC rolls. We'll meet, greet and register all afternoon Saturday April 16th at our Henson Gap Pavilion. We will build teams Saturday night and Sunday morning. Our mentoring format pairs skilled A pilot mentors with B and C pilot team mates. A typical team would have two A pilots a B and a C pilot. Each team chooses a task committee member and a safety committee member. The scoring program normalizes every team, no matter the make up, to be able to achieve a maximum score of 1,000 points. The C's are weighted more heavily than the B's. The A pilots are significantly handicapped, though they have a big job to do, and longer, more challenging tasks.

Tasks are designed to offer a good chance for the various level of pilot to make their XC goals. Typically, the C's XC goal is fairly close. The B Pilot goal is often twice that distance or maybe an out and back. The A goal may be two times the distance of the B goal, or require a valley crossing. To win, a team must get their C's and B's to their goals. A Pilots help their team win by flying wing man until their peeps have their goals. A's are typically in the air for hours to do this and then go on to complete their longer tasks! This has been a great format! When task legs overlap, there are thermal markers everywhere!

A typical day offers many opportunities to learn from the best! We have breakfast and weather work up together under the pavilion. The work up is projected for all to see. This offers those interested in the weather a chance to peer over a weather guru's shoulder, ask questions, then fly the day! Knowledgeable locals will make suggestions to the task committee of various routes. This will all be projected on Google Earth so pilots new to our beautiful Sequatchie Valley can be well oriented! Once tasks are chosen by the task committee and ratified by the safety committee, we move to get ready for flying. After the flying day is done we have debriefing and seminars from leaders in the sport of free flight during and after our onsite evening meal. Then repeat all week!

Our beautiful Henson Gap site affords great camping right by launch. We will have healthy affordable food on site all week. Wills Wing, Lookout Mountain Flight Park, Flytec and more are contributing bling that A pilots will distribute to their peeps during the evening debriefs.

Ya can't miss this! The meet runs from Sunday April 17th through Saturday April 23rd. We have a crazy fun karaoke party Friday night so think of a fun Freeflight parody song and win something! The meet wraps up with an awards celebration party after flying is done Saturday. The hand thrown pottery trophies are awesome! The Blues Devils will be playing for us!

Now the coolest part! The TTT is accepting donation to the RRG in lieu of registration as long as those donations are greater than or equal to $175 and happen between January 9th and March 1st! This is our best way to help free flight! For those donating to the RRG, Participation in the Tennessee Tree Toppers Team Challenge only requires a TTT membership! Come fly in our great teaching meet and help the sport of Freeflight remain secure into the future! TTT Membership for a year is only $100.

And the other super cool bits! Steve Pearson is bringing Wills Wing Demo Days to Team Challenge! Zac Majors is coming to teach and lead a team! Steve is teaching and leading a team too! It will give me great honor to fly with these hang gliding superstars, but it'll be more fun when my team beats em!!! Don't miss it!

To register visit https://tttmember.org/team-challenge/

For detailed instructions on completing the registration process visit https://tttmember.org/registration-help/.

To explore more about the Treetopper's Team Challenge check out this blog post by Jamie Sheldon: http://naughtylawyertravels.blogspot.com/2012/10/tennessee-tree-toppers-team-challenge.html.

and this video by Cory Barnwell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_xkg7esWkE.

To read about the exceptional conditions we can get in spring, check out this article from the TTT newsletter: http://videos.tennesseetreetoppers.org/TTT News Magazine Spring Issue April 2011FINALproof.pdf#page=5.

Team Challenge Update. Register now and donate to the RRG!

January 26, 2016, 8:48:40 EST

Team Challenge Update. Register now and donate to the RRG!

Your registration fee goes to the USHPA RRG

Oliver Gregory|PG|Risk Retention Group|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Tennessee Tree Toppers|USHPA|Zac Majors

Oliver Gregory <<olliettt1955>> writes:

The Tennessee Tree Toppers Team Challenge is coming up soon! We are thrilled that Steve Pearson and Zac Majors are going to help out with seminars and as team leaders! Steve is bringing a trailer full of gliders for a Wills Wing demo week at Team Challenge! What a great opportunity to foot launch demo some fabulous wings from one of the best launches on the planet!

TC is Bi-Wingual again this year. We have registered many pilots already with about a third being our paragliding buddies. The paragliding TTT members are bringing in some some great para pilots mentors to help out as well.

Team Challenge starts April 17th and wraps with a fun awards party April 23rd. It is always fun! There is on site camping and on site food all week. Pilots desiring a week of intense education in flying XC and beginning competitions should join up! Experienced pilots should consider this a wonderful opportunity to mentor developing pilots and give back to the sport! Join up as soon as you can!

Now the real reason for this update, we want people to register now! As you know, we are accepting donations to the USHPA RRG funding in lieu of registration fees to help fund the RRG in time for the meet! As of this note, TC is half full with 30 registered. Only a few registered pilots have paid, and there are plenty of slots open. Everyone who can should join up and donate to the RRG!

As many know, we raise club funds through membership fees and registration fees for Team Challenge. This year, TTT is going to support the RRG by accepting new, after January 16th donations to the RRG of amounts of $175 or more in lieu of registration fees! This will help USHPA fund the liability self insurance efforts in time for TC.

Here's how that works: A maximum of 60 slots are available to be reserved in Team Challenge 2016. Any TTT Member who donates at least $175 to the RRG fund between January 9 and the ?March 1 deadline will have their $175 comp fee waived. If the event fills up, that could represent an additional $10,500 in RRG funding. Even if no one else registered for Team Challenge between now and ?March 1, that would still represent $5,250 in funding from the 30 pilots already registered.

This also means that any current TTT member can, during this period firmly guarantee their Team Challenge slot by just "checking a box." Bring proof of your qualifying donation to the event (or just email it to <tc16> ) in order to sign in for free.

Help TTT and USHPA ensure our wonderful sport continues to survive and thrive!

Donate: https://ushpa.aero/freeflightforever.asp
Joint TTT: https://tttmember.org/join-or-renew/
Sign up for TC 16: https://tttmember.org/team-challenge/

Team Challenge 2016

January 11, 2016, 8:27:27 EST

Team Challenge 2016

In April

Facebook|Oliver Gregory|PG|photo|Risk Retention Group|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Tennessee Tree Toppers|USHPA|Zac Majors

Oliver Gregory <<olliettt1955>> writes:

The TTT 2016 Team Challenge is right around the corner!  Steve Pearson and Zac Majors are coming to teach, lead teams and showcase the Wills Wing line of wing with the first ever TC Demo Days.  We are ecstatic here at the TTT!

Team Challenge is scheduled to start Sunday April 17th and wrap with a super fun awards party Saturday April 23rd. We have had a several year run of good flying this time of year, and with Steve's generous offer of a spring demo days here, we moved the meet!  Our highly regarded team teaching format will continue.  We will have a mix or hang gliding and paragliding teams.  As always, the emphasis is on safety, fun, education and XC tasks that are scaled to pilot skill level.

However, that brings to question whether we will even be flying if the USHPA can't fully fund the RRG by then.  The current liability insurance we rely on to protect our club and the sport is set to expire on 2/29/16!  I know USHPA has been working wonders to pull this off in time, but the newly seated BOD wants to help all we can to ensure the goal is met in plenty of time for TC.

As many know, we raise club funds through membership fees and registration fees for Team Challenge. This year, TTT is going to support the RRG by accepting new, after today, donations to the RRG of amounts of $175 or more in lieu of registration fees!  This will help USHPA fund the liability self insurance efforts in time for TC.

Here's how that works: A maximum of 60 slots are available to be reserved in Team Challenge 2016. Any TTT Member who donates at least $175 to the RRG fund between January 9 and the ‪March 1 deadline will have their $175 comp fee waived. If the event fills up, that could represent an additional $10,500 in RRG funding. Even if no one else registered for Team Challenge between now and March 1, that would still represent $4,375 in funding from the 25 pilots already registered.

This also means that any current TTT member can, during this period firmly guarantee their Team Challenge slot by just "checking a box." Bring proof of your qualifying donation to the event (or just email it to ‪<tc16>) in order to sign in for free.

Help TTT and USHPA ensure our wonderful sport continues to survive and thrive! 

Donate: https://ushpa.aero/freeflightforever.asp
Joint TTT: https://tttmember.org/join-or-renew/
Sign up for TC 16: https://tttmember.org/team-challenge

Tandem Switzerland

November 17, 2015, 10:53:34 PST

Tandem Switzerland

In Outside magazine

Steven "Steve" Pearson|video

Video here.

Thanks to Steve Pearson.

2016 Spring Team Challenge

November 12, 2015, 7:40:58 PST

2016 Spring Team Challenge


Oliver Gregory|PG|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Tennessee Tree Toppers Team Challenge 2016 Spring|Zac Majors

Oliver Gregory <<olliettt1955>> sends:

Team Challenge 2016 is set. We will have a dual hang gliding and paragliding meet like last year. The same A pilot mentoring B and C level team mates will continue, and we are especially excited to announce the support of Wills Wing, with Steve Pearson bringing Demo Days to TC, and leading a team! Zac Majors and other champions have committed to helping us as well! Registration is open to current or new members now. Take a look at https://tttmember.org/team-challenge-2016-pilot-list/

The meet will start April 17th and wrap up with a fun awards party April 23rd! Food and seminars will be on site all week. This is going to be the best foot launch free flight meet on the planet!

Plan your vacation time, and sign up. We will fill it this year!

Are Wills Wing gliders really that much better than Moyes gliders?

November 5, 2015, 7:35:01 PST

Are Wills Wing gliders really that much better than Moyes gliders?

Looking at the World Record and the Canoa Ridge Race

competition|Dustin Martin|Facebook|Jeff Johnson|Jon "Jonny" Durand jnr|photo|record|Steven "Steve" Pearson

Dustin goes a bit longer than Jonny in Zapata to claim for himself the world record. Dustin flies 475 miles (474.7). Jonny flies three miles shorter. The percentage difference? 0.63%.



Dustin flies the Canoa Ridge Race task on the first day (the key day for the competition) in 39:11. Tom is next at 40:14. The percentage difference? 2.6%.


The Moyes gliders are really only very very slightly lower in performance according to these measures. Certainly not enough to be of any concern when purchasing a glider. As Dustin states these glider performance differences are swamped by differences in pilot judgment in cross country races.

The machine that makes it all happen. Had a blast in Ecuador helping Wills Wing deliver a 1-2-3 sweep and taking all three day wins at the Canoa ridge race against a strong field and a defending champion. Spent a week in my backyard tweaking and taping and polishing, then three days flying performance comparisons with Steve Pearson and our tow pilots Luke Waters and Jeff Johnson to make sure it was an aerial killer. It was.

Handles like a toy, glides like a beast.

Spring Team Challenge

November 4, 2015, 7:12:54 PST

Spring Team Challenge

The Tree Toppers go from Fall, to late Summer to now Spring

Facebook|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Zac Majors


We're excited to be bringing the full Wills Wing demo fleet to the Tennessee Tree Toppers 2016 Team Challenge event immediately following Wallaby 2016. Steve Pearson and US National Champ, Zac Majors, will be flying in the meet. Don't miss this opportunity to get some help and advice on transitioning to higher performance wings.

Sunday April 17, 2016 at 8:00am - Saturday, April 23, 2016 at 11:00pm

Looks like someone will be driving through the night.

2015 Santa Cruz Flats Race - day 7 »

September 20, 2015, 7:27:20 MST

2015 Santa Cruz Flats Race - day 7

It turned out to be a super day

Flytec 6030|Ken Ward|Larry Bunner|Patrick Kruse|Santa Cruz Flats Race 2015|Steven "Steve" Pearson

It is always a treat when we get to fly out of the flatlands and into the hills and mountains. The flats are often quite weak here and we only have maybe three hours of lift to fly in, so to get to the ridges and foothills where the lift improves greatly is something to be hoped for.

With a forecast of light winds and better conditions to the west the task committee called for us to do an essentially out and return to the mountains north of Estrella, north west of Maricopa.

The lift was quite weak in the start cylinder and it was a struggle to get up to 6,000'. We hung around in zero average sink before heading northwest to get into the 25 km entry start cylinder. That was an altitude losing proposition as we headed for Maricopa.

Down to 3,000' I found 350 fpm and starting drifting to the northeast back out of the entry start cylinder and climbing fast. By the time I got over 7,000' I was about a kilometer from the edge of the start cylinder and it was time for the second start window. With a few pilots around I headed east took the new start time and raced forward with Larry Bunner.

We were quickly down to 3,000' again after a 9 km glide into the wind. We  drifted back again at 300 fpm climbing to 6,000' before pushing against the 5 mph west wind finding weaker lift in survival mode east of Maricopa.

Down to 1,500' AGL I veered to the north a bit over a large parking area and to find 125 fpm just to be able to get high enough to fly over Maricopa and get to the turnpoint on the west side. Larry had reported 200 fpm there.

Steve Pearson was turning just before the turnpoint and I found better lift further west, first 200 fpm then 300 fpm. There was even better lift further west over a small golf course and with a few other pilots we all climbed to over 7,000' Things were definitely improving.

We were now headed for the south side of mountain over open desert. Seven kilometers short of the edge of the 50 km turnpoint cylinder and five kilometers short of the mountain I found 400 fpm and that made it easy to get to the hills sides high.

I expected to find really strong lift at the hills but at first it was not the case. I drove north to get the turnpoint then came back to the southeast corner. I could see a pilot climbing there and found 300+ fpm to 8,700'. Larry and Patrick Kruse were just over me and headed out before I got back to their altitude. At this point I should have stayed longer as it was pretty clear at almost 5 PM that there wouldn't be another thermal on the way back.

Larry's 6030 stopped working so he was hoping for Patrick to provide him some guidance as to where there might be a thermal but Patrick's radio went out.

I glided along just south of the highway north of the course line and found 100 fpm for a 500' gain at 1,300' AGL ten kilometers from goal at 5:20 PM. That got me to within 5 km of the goal and at the last cultivated field. Larry landed just to the north of me.

Due to a bunch of errors we weren't able to find him until much later.

Certainly a very pleasant final glide and pleasant flying in weak conditions. Always nerve wracking to fly over a town when you're low and the lift is weak. Adds to the excitement.

Another very enjoyable week of flying in Casa Grande. Nice to have five classes. The only accident was Ken Ward hitting a tree at the golf course in his Swift when flying in the early morning long before the star of the competition on that day. I believe e that he had landed out and was hauled and and flying back to the launching area. There are not trees near the launch area so it was hard to understand why he was where he was when he hit a tree.

2015 Santa Cruz Flats Race - day 3 »

September 15, 2015, 11:01:48 pm MST

2015 Santa Cruz Flats Race - day 3


competition|David Gibson|Davis Straub|Dustin Martin|Filippo Oppici|Jeffrey "Jeff" Lawrence Bohl|Jon "Jonny" Durand jnr|Kraig Coomber|Larry Bunner|Moyes Litespeed RX|Patrick Kruse|Paul Voight|Ryan Voight|Santa Cruz Flats Race 2015|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Tyler Borradaile|Wills Wing T2C|Zac Majors


Task 3:

# Name Glider Time km/h Distance Total
1 Jonny Durand Moyes Litespeed RS 3.5 02:05:12 32.7 75.75 889
2 Pedro Garcia Wills Wing T2C 154 03:00:17 22.7 75.75 805
3 Zac Majors Wills Wing T2C 144     71.06 726
4 Patrick Kruse Wills Wing T2C 144     69.84 718
5 Wolfgang Siess Wills Wing T2C 154     58.93 640
6 Larry Bunner Wills Wing T2C 144     55.39 623
7 Dustin Martin Wills Wing T2C 144     54.39 616
8 Patrick Pannese Wills Wing T2C 154     54.31 612
9 Davis Straub Wills Wing T2C 144     53.07 596
10 Filippo Oppici Wills Wing T2C 144     52.51 578


# Name Glider Total
1 Pedro Garcia Wills Wing T2C 154 2191
2 Jonny Durand Moyes Litespeed RS 3.5 2135
3 Zac Majors Wills Wing T2C 144 1993
4 Filippo Oppici Wills Wing T2C 144 1975
5 Kraig Coomber Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 1957
6 Olav Opsanger Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 1910
7 Tyler Borradaile Wills Wing T2C 1854
8 David Gibson Wills Wing T2C 144 1817
9 Wolfgang Siess Wills Wing T2C 154 1792
10 Patrick Kruse Wills Wing T2C 144 1747
11 Ryan Voight Wills Wing T2C 144 (2011) 1741
12 Davis Straub Wills Wing T2C 144 1718
13 Josh Woods Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 1688
14 Robert deGroot Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 1660
15 Dustin Martin Wills Wing T2C 144 1642
16 Patrick Pannese Wills Wing T2C 154 1617
17 Jeffery Bohl Wills Wing T2C 144 1575
18 Tony Armstrong Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 1549
19 Steven Pearson Wills Wing T2C 144 1545
20 Larry Bunner Wills Wing T2C 144 1534

Brian won the Swift class and leads overall. The Goat/ Super floater class didn't fly. John Maloney who just got here today made goal in the Sport Class and leads overall.

2015 Santa Cruz Flats Race - day 2 »

September 15, 2015, 7:19:51 MST

2015 Santa Cruz Flats Race - day 2

Results - Steve Pearson wins the day

Bruce Barmakian|competition|David Gibson|Davis Straub|Dustin Martin|Filippo Oppici|Greg Kendall|Jeffrey "Jeff" Lawrence Bohl|Jon "Jonny" Durand jnr|Kraig Coomber|Larry Bunner|Moyes Litespeed RX|Paul Voight|Ryan Voight|Santa Cruz Flats Race 2015|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Wills Wing T2C|Zac Majors



Task 2:

# Name Glider Distance Total
1 Steven Pearson Wills Wing T2C 144 50.73 538
2 Larry Bunner Wills Wing T2C 144 48.61 533
3 Kraig Coomber Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 45.54 497
4 Filippo Oppici Wills Wing T2C 144 43.62 480
5 Ryan Voight Wills Wing T2C 144 (2011) 38.43 440
6 David Gibson Wills Wing T2C 144 37.96 437
7 Olav Opsanger Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 37.92 436
8 Robert deGroot Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 36.15 418
9 Felix Cantesanu Aeros Combat Carbon 12.7 35.10 405
10 Davis Straub Wills Wing T2C 144 34.50 396


1 Filippo Oppici Wills Wing T2C 144 1381
2 Pedro Garcia Wills Wing T2C 154 1373
3 Kraig Coomber Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 1371
4 Olav Opsanger Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 1328
5 Ryan Voight Wills Wing T2C 144 (2011) 1274
6 Zac Majors Wills Wing T2C 144 1256
7 Jonny Durand Moyes Litespeed RS 3.5 1235
8 David Gibson Wills Wing T2C 144 1234
9 Wolfgang Siess Wills Wing T2C 154 1141
10 Steven Pearson Wills Wing T2C 144 1127
11 Josh Woods Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 1120
12 Robert deGroot Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 1119
13 Tony Armstrong Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 1118
14 Davis Straub Wills Wing T2C 144 1110
15 JD Guillemette Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 1081
16 Greg Kendall Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 1044
17 Kenneth Andrews Wills Wing T2C 144 1031
18 Dustin Martin Wills Wing T2C 144 1029
19 Jeffery Bohl Wills Wing T2C 144 1021
20 Patrick Pannese Wills Wing T2C 154 996

Steve Pearson and Ryan Voight were by far the last pilots to go out on the course. Larry Bunner was early and almost went down at the second turnpoint but found 1,500 fpm over a power station.

Bruce Barmakian won the day in the Swift category. All the Swifts made it into goal with their triangle task. Bruce is in the lead overall.

Most of the Sport Class didn't fly given the launch conditions with nearby virga earlier.

It's not clear what's up with the Goat/Super floater class.

2015 Santa Cruz Flats Race - day 1 »

Mon, Sep 14 2015, 8:57:00 am MDT


Øyvind Ellefsen|David Gibson|Davis Straub|Dustin Martin|Filippo Oppici|Gerry Pesavento|Greg Dinauer|Greg Kendall|Jeffrey "Jeff" Lawrence Bohl|Jon "Jonny" Durand jnr|Kraig Coomber|Moyes Litespeed RX|Patrick Kruse|Paul Voight|Ryan Voight|Santa Cruz Flats Race 2015|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Tyler Borradaile|Wills Wing T2C|Zac Majors

There is a glitch on the Airtribune server, so the results aren't on-line yet.

Class 1:

# Name Glider Time Total
1 Pedro Garcia Wills Wing T2C 154 01:35:40 1000
2 Zac Majors Wills Wing T2C 144 01:40:55 911
3 Filippo Oppici Wills Wing T2C 144 01:41:09 900
4 Olav Opsanger Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 01:41:36 891
5 Kraig Coomber Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 01:42:26 873
6 Tony Armstrong Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 01:42:37 864
7 Dustin Martin Wills Wing T2C 144 01:42:34 860
8 Josh Woods Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 01:43:30 855
9 Jonny Durand Moyes Litespeed Rs 3.5 01:44:48 840
10 Oyvind Ellefsen Moyes Litespeed Rs 4 01:43:44 837
11 Ryan Voight Wills Wing T2C 144 (2011) 01:44:56 832
12 Tyler Borradaile Wills Wing T2C 01:47:37 803
13 Wolfgang Siess Wills Wing T2C 154 01:47:40 799
14 David Gibson Wills Wing T2C 144 01:48:37 795
15 Kenneth Andrews Wills Wing T2C 144 01:53:11 755
16 Jd Guillemette Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 01:56:48 729
17 Patrick Pannese Wills Wing T2C 154 01:58:52 718
18 Patrick Kruse Wills Wing T2C 144 01:56:33 717
19 Davis Straub Wills Wing T2C 144 01:57:48 712
20 Greg Dinauer Aeros Combat 12.7 C 02:01:42 699
21 Grant Emary Wills Wing T2C 02:07:05 668
22 Greg Kendall Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 02:05:40 649
23 Gerry Pesavento Wills Wing T2C 144 02:07:52 646
24 Jeffery Bohl Wills Wing T2C 144 02:07:16 645
25 Steven Pearson Wills Wing T2C 144 02:21:54 587
26 Jim Weitman Will Wing T2C 144 430
27 Cory Barnwell Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 394
28 Robert Degroot Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 388
29 Jay Devorak Moyes Litespeed RX 3.5 344
30 Alfredo Grey Wills Wing T2C 329
31 Michael Williams Wills Wing Sport 2 152
32 Mike Jefferson Wills Wing T2 144 21

Scoring issues with Sport class, no Class 4 reports yet, ATOS class not fully reported, some missing from open class.

Raked tips

May 12, 2015, 10:06:33 pm EDT

Raked tips

I've got three sets to review

Quest Air|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Wills Wing T2C

I've been flying with yon bárcena's <<yon.apnea>> latest creation, carbon fiber tips for the Wills Wing T2C. They are very well made and seem to be quite sturdy. I love handling them and putting them in the glider.

I have an earlier version that are a little thicker and I'll try those out also. I also have the Wills Wing tips, made from Mylar.

Here is what Yon said about these:

About design, just before going to the worlds I produced a variant from the set I sent you that is lighter and slightly more flexible. Almost as light as those made of fabric but more consistent.

Here is what Steve Pearson said about the earlier version:

I flew them yesterday. It’s really tight fitting the tubes between the sail and the lever but I managed to force them in on the glider I flew. The glider flew really nice with them. I won’t have a chance to refly the glider with our tips but I can’t imagine that I’d be able to tell the difference. They were stable and clean at all speeds between 17 and 75 mph.

Your tips are very nice and I would be happy to recommend them to any pilot.

Comparing them the Wills Wing configuration:

1. In-flight, the configuration you sent me is already as flexible as ours based on watching the deformation at low and high speeds

2. The primary installation issue is that the space between the grommet and the sail is marginally too tight to easily accommodate the aluminum extension tube. If the tube is too tight, the orientation is fixed and makes it difficult to align the tip with the Velcro without forcing waves in the tip

3. They are a little more fragile that the foam laminate configuration.

I have the replacement tubes which solves the problem that Steve had.

I do not know if the tips do anything useful. I am too blunt an instrument to tell the different between flying with and without them. Steve, of course, feels that they are useful.

I really like the latest version and they seem much nicer (but I assume much more expensive) than the Mylar ones from Wills.

Wills Wing California Demo Days

April 21, 2015, 2:43:47 pm EDT

Wills Wing California Demo Days

150 pilots signed up, 400 people expected

calendar|Steven "Steve" Pearson

Https://www.willswing.com/calendar/  (click Register Now)

https://www.willswing.com/crestline-soaring-society-demo-days-registration/  (direct link)

California Demo Days – April 30th to May 2nd. Make sure you register by April 12th to secure your free ticket to the Saturday night party. If you only have time for one get-away in 2015, this is it.

This is the Wills Wing Demo days to end all previous Demo Days, located near the large population of hang glider pilots. This is a huge undertaking on Wills Wing's part. Be a part of history.

Steve Pearson updates:

You can still register for a dinner ticket until April 26th but you pay for your own meal ($20). Wills Wing is paying for all those who registered by April 12th. Register at https://www.willswing.com/crestline-soaring-society-demo-days-registration/

We'll have a very limited number of tickets onsite until they sell out.

New Wills Wing web site

April 3, 2015, 4:23:32 pm EDT

New Wills Wing web site

A whole new platform with easy updating for more recent news

Steven "Steve" Pearson


Steve Pearson writes:

I plan further improvements but the new site already offers some distinct advantages - like being mobile friendly, a better platform for showcasing images and of course it’s much easier to update.

2015 Crestline Demo days »

April 3, 2015, 8:26:53 EDT

2015 Crestline Demo days

Registration is up

calendar|Crestline Demo Days 2015|Facebook|Steven "Steve" Pearson

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> writes:

We’ve posted an online registration and demo sign-up sheet on our website for the Crestline Demo Days, April 30th to May 2nd.

https://www.willswing.com/calendar/  (click Register Now)

https://www.willswing.com/crestline-soaring-society-demo-days-registration/  (direct link)

We normally do not request pre-registration for demo days but this event is different because we expect a lot of pilots and CSS has offered a discounted day-use fee for pre-registration to reduce the administrative burden onsite and to support the event.

The sign-up form asks what gliders you would like to fly and pilots who pre-register will have first access to demos.

CSS charges $10/day for visiting pilots as an option to the $100 annual pass. If you register on our website by April 26th, you can purchase an event pass valid for April 28th though May 2nd for $25.

We’ll hosting a catered dinner and party on Saturday night, May 2nd. To help us plan for the event, we’re offering free meal tickets if you register online by April 12th. If you register after the 12th and before the 26th, the price is $20. If you don’t register, there will be a very limited number of tickets for sale onsite available on a first-come basis.

We expect large pilot contingents from Utah, Arizona, Nevada, throughout California and a lot of foreign and East Coast pilots as well. We have programs and seminars scheduled each day for those can drag themselves away from the pond at the Cross Country Ranch https://www.facebook.com/CrossCountryRanch?fref=ts

East Coast Demo Days

March 31, 2015, 8:17:40 EDT

East Coast Demo Days

Steve Pearson is flying out to Wallaby Ranch

Mike Barber|Steven "Steve" Pearson

Oliver van Dam <<olivervandam>> writes:

The Wallaby Ranch / Wills Wing demo days fly-in will take place as scheduled on April 16, 17 and 18th. Steve Pearson will be on hand with new demo gliders (rent free) and insider advise on new developments and glider tuning. Mike Barber will also be available and giving free cross country group seminars. Please join us at the ranch, fly, visit with old friends and enjoy the usual ranch food and entertainment. Of course, no entry fee as always! Wills Wing will again be sponsoring our Saturday night BBQ in 2016 (after throwing a west coast party this year).

Keeping the VG smooth and easy

March 30, 2015, 8:43:59 EDT

Keeping the VG smooth and easy

The VG allows you to radically change your gliding speed so you want it working well

Larry Bunner|Quest Air|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Wills Wing T2C

Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to fly a new Wills Wing T2C 144. Larry Bunner flew the Wills Wing T2C 144 that I have been flying for the last year and David Williams was flying Larry's glider, that Larry just sold to him. We all went on the same task together.

Before we took off David had mentioned to Larry how hard it was to pull the VG on Larry's glider. After we got back to Quest Air, the first thing Larry said to me was what a dream it was to fly my glider as the VG was so easy to pull. I told Larry how much easier it was to pull the VG on the new T2C. Larry said no wonder he had to have surgery on his shoulder given how much work he had to put in to pull his VG.

Perhaps proper maintenance of the VG would have been a cheaper option.

I published Jonathan's articles about VG pulley maintenance previously:




He's talking about maintenance at many hundreds of hours. I'm here talking about VG's that are hard to pull at around 100 hours, maybe less.

It is extremely important to have a VG that is very easy to pull on because you want to be encouraged to pull it on and get the glider tight at every opportunity. You don't want to be thinking about how sore your right arm is. Easier is better.

I asked Steve Pearson what he thought about VG maintenance. He said:

There are several thing you can do to restore the VG performance.

1. Do not use silicone lubrication. Instead use Harken Sailkote http://www.mclubemarine.com/sailkote. We have it in stock or you can probably find it online. SailKote is very lubricious and does not leave a sticky residue. It also works well on zippers, battens, etc. Clean the keel surface and as much as possible under the large plastic saddle. Spray a heavy coating on the top of the keel and let it dry before activating the VG.

2. For older gliders, it may be necessary to service the lower VG system.

A. Replace the small bearing in lower downtube fitting. This bearing becomes corroded and frozen after about a year of use.

b. Replace the lower VG cord. Make sure that the cord and pulley system is not twisted in the downtube. It is important that it is adjusted properly—at VG loose, the top pulley should be very close to the top fitting in the downtube or the system will bind at the bottom of the downtube before VG tight.

3. On glider with more than 300 hours, it may be necessary to replace the traveling pulley inside the downtube. On even older gliders, it may be necessary to replace the pulleys at the back of the crossbar wedge.


Rattling the tin cup

March 30, 2015, 8:42:49 EDT

Tin Cup

Technical articles

Davis Straub|Quest Air|Steven "Steve" Pearson|video

I really like to publish or write up technical articles. Articles that provide pilots with insights about how to fly or use their equipment to improve their flying. Recently I had an opportunity to ask Steve Pearson about pulley's and VG's. You might remember the previous articles about pulley's. check it out below.

How to send money to the Oz Report without a credit card fee: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEu-9i-07zQ

Please, help us out. Support something that you find useful so that it can continue to be there for you.

You can send $20 or $30 or more for a yearly subscription/donation. To pay for your subscription with Dwolla, or your credit card or PayPal account:




With PayPal please click the Send Money tab to send the money and eliminate credit card fees by clicking the "I'm sending money to family and friends"  if your PayPal account is connected to your bank account and not just to a credit card:

The email address would be davis@davisstraub.com

If you’d rather just send a check for $20  or $30 (US Dollars, only please) or more, please feel free to do so. The mail gets forwarded to me wherever I’m at.

Payable to:

Davis Straub (Not to the Oz Report)
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Wills Wing's new creations

February 9, 2015, 7:42:58 EST

Wills Wing's new creations

The new under surface

Steven "Steve" Pearson

Steve Pearson writes:

The handling is very sensitive to the structural properties of the bottom surface. For example lighter handling with softer Contender cloth, but the downside is that Contender cloth won't hold tension where I want it. This latest version has the best of both: handling like Contender, tighter than Polyant woven.

I don't want to overstate the difference, but they are very nice. The weight difference is probably part of it

Wills Wing again at SolidWorks

February 9, 2015, 7:40:31 EST

Wills Wing again at SolidWorks

AMD continues to like having a hang glider at their booth

Steven "Steve" Pearson|video

Steve Pearson writes:

SolidWorks World 2015 starts today. New T2C over the AMD booth.


#SWW2015 starts tomorrow! Stop by booth #501 to see how @FLYWillsWing designs hang gliders w/ #AMDFirePro

Check out the short Wills video here: http://youtu.be/BqV2kJfCcbQ

Sliding on the south side

Thu, Dec 25 2014, 8:36:36 am EST

Steve Pearson posts this

Facebook|Steven "Steve" Pearson


Discuss "Sliding on the south side" at the Oz Report forum   link»  

Autodesk University

December 3, 2014, 8:19:26 MST

Autodesk University

Steve Pearson is there to teach

Steven "Steve" Pearson|video

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> writes:

Autodesk has been a big investor and promoter of the reshoring, promoting manufacturing and development in America and and "maker" movement. Autodesk University is their annual event in Las Vegas and attended by 10,000+ engineers of all disciplines. A few years ago, Autodesk purchased my CAM developer HSMWorks and last year my FEA developer Nei Nastran. I'll have a new T2 hanging from the ceiling over the manufacturing expo during the event, and there's a pedestal with an iPad that I loaded some pictures, Jonathan's video and one of Dave's video.



All custom fabrics

November 26, 2014, 7:57:17 PST

All custom fabrics

No more UVPT

Steven "Steve" Pearson

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> writes:

UVPX(B and W) replace UVPT. The new styles are polyester instead of PEN fiber for the rectangular scrim but retain the Technora X-Ply. The UVPT was great fabric but the cost of the PEN fiber has been increasing and is now almost the same as Technora. The UVODL(04 06) styles (all Technora) are unchanged.

All of our laminates are custom and differ from the Polyant catalogue configurations.

1. UVPX (black and white) is the replacement for UVPT (grey and white). PX = Polyester-Technora, PT=PEN-Technora

2. UVPT was an option for the U2 and so now UVPX is.

3. Both UVPT and UVPX include Technora X-ply

4. The 100% Technora options, UVODL04 and 06 are unchanged


November 25, 2014, 7:31:05 PST


A custom version of UVPXB

Steven "Steve" Pearson

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> writes:

Our configurations differ a bit from the stock Polyant laminates. All of the laminates we offer (UVODL04, UVODL06, UVPT White, UVX15 and the two latest options UVPXB10 Clear and UVPXW10 White) include UV film for the outer layer.

As you noted, the first four options are covered here http://www.willswing.com/features/sailcloth.asp

The two new laminates are variations of the Polyant PX laminates

UVPXB10 Clear is almost indistinguishable in appearance from UVODL06 but is more economical. It replaces UVPT Grey, which is out of stock. It has black Polyester scrim and a Technora X-ply and is included in the price of a T2C. UVPXW10 White is the same construction as UVPXB10 but looks like and replaces UVPT White. It's also included in the price of a T2C.

No big Wills Wing Days at Wallaby in 2015

November 3, 2014, 7:41:21 PST

No big Wills Wing Days at Wallaby

The west coast this year

Steven "Steve" Pearson|Wills Wing

Wills Wing is not holding their big party, demo days at Wallaby Ranch in 2015. Instead that will take place at the Andy Jackson Flight Park on the west coast, near Wills Wing, and where they do all their test flying.

Steve Pearson is planning on flying out with a few demos to the east coast at some point.

He writes:

Florida Demo Days 2015: Thursday, April 16th - Saturday, April 18th, 2015

Held at Wallaby Ranch

Event will include: Selection of demo gliders (availability based on pre-event requests), Wills Wing factory representative available for Q&A/Demos/glider delivery. We’ll be offering free shipping on any gliders purchased for delivery at the event, courtesy of Wills Wing and our co-sponsor Wallaby Ranch. Wallaby Ranch will also be putting on the usual evening parties and live music entertainment.

Instant VG improvement

October 20, 2014, 8:24:16 MDT

Instant VG improvement

The pulley needs replacement

Jonathan Dietch|Kraig Coomber|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Wills Wing

Jonathan Dietch <<nmerider>> writes:

A few days ago, the VG on my T2C 144 started going all clunky after about the 10th pull on the rope. It got progressively worse with each iteration but only when I'd pull on tension and not when I'd back off. I had no clue what was causing this and after I landed I assumed it was the cover bag tied in front of the X-bar joint impinging on the floating VG pulley. However, this seemed less than believable since I have done hundreds of such flights with no incidents. My T2C airframe was built in 2009, and I am well into the 380-hour range of the second after retiring the first sail with 500 hours on it.

I decided it was time to replace the rear VG rope and inspect the right-hand control bar leg for possible snags or twists. When I removed the stainless bushing from the corner bracket I got a surprise. The little ball bearing had all of the balls on one side of the race which explained the eccentric action when I'd pull tension. It then fell apart and I took the photo with my cell phone. I replaced the bearing with a spare that had 200 hours on it from another glider and the next flight yielded lower VG friction than at any time in the past 400 hours.

I ran into Steve Pearson at Andy Jackson and mentioned all of this. He told me something to the effect that he replaces his every few hundred hours and that these are stock bearings that can be purchased in small quantities as low as $2 per bearing. Longer lasting ceramic versions can be picked up for a lot more money. After some researching it appears the standard designation is something like R1810ZZ which produces the same size bearing that Wills Wing lists as 20P-1270 in its price list. I bought four on FleaBay for $6.56 ppd. These are also commonly used in R/C helicopters and may be found at some hobby retailers.

Meanwhile, an inspection of all the Delrin ball bearing pulleys revealed that most of these had around 4X the amount of play as a new pulley. I will be replacing 7 more pulleys shortly. My T2C 144 airframe has roughly 890 hours and most of the VG pulleys are the originals. It works great with the newer corner bracket pulley but the last thing I want is another jam in flight.

No way I'm spending $50 on boutique pulley when I can buy steel versions for $1.75 each then just swap 'em every few hundred hours. I need to get off my ass and do more frequent and thorough periodic maintenance anyway. Pearson's running joke with me is that I'm about the only Wills Wing customer who replaces equipment before it goes obsolete because I wear it out first.

I have scary stories about pilots who didn't inspect and replace critical parts and knew better. I don't want to have any stories like these to tell. I prefer a boring life however I have had more potentially great X/C flights blown because of some teeny tiny maintenance failure on my part. I had good flights but lost great flights at least two dozen times due to this typical slacking.

I just found a good deal on ceramic hybrid bearings for the corner bracket:


These are fully sealed for dirty environments and so I bought a set of 4 for $17.89 including postage.

And they make a low-friction version for the more finicky pilot: http://www.bocabearings.com/bearing-inventory/Radial-Bearings/15667/xx-SW1810COS7AF2

The latter kit includes two grease-filled and two oil-filled bearings. I feel safer with grease even though the quantity of oil is probably miniscule, I just don't want oil near my glider or harness.

The grease needs to be broken in but that's for R/C race cars and I doubt the drag from the grease will even be noticed by a pilot whether it's been broken in or not. After I test my new Boca ceramic hybrid bearing I will report back.

Meanwhile I have all new pulley to install for the rest of the VG system. It will be fun to see if I even notice any difference or not. My friend left his Lightspeed with Kraig Coomber for a VG system pulley overhaul and I am anxious to hear how he likes the result of that transformation.

Patching Code Zero

September 23, 2014, 9:04:11 MDT

Patching Code Zero

Tape from Dimension-Polyant

Steven "Steve" Pearson

Steve Pearson sends:

Dimension-Polyant can slit to any custom width you would be looking for and could also incorporate UV film.

Currently in stock they have:

1.0 mil standard film @ .75inch - .17yd
1.0 mil standard film @ 1.0 inch - .23yd
1.0 mil standard film @ 1.5 inch - .28yd
1.0 mil standard film @ 2.0 inch - .34yd
1.0 mil standard film @ 3.0 inch - .45yd
1.0 mil standard film @ 4.0 inch – .50yd

Typical roll length is 55yard rolls, but we could accommodate different roll length needs for a custom length/width.

You should contact your hang glider dealer for PSA tape.


Clear Pressure Sensitive Adhesive tape that blends in so you don't see the artwork.

AP 303 revisited

September 22, 2014, 8:56:13 MDT

AP 303 revisited

Don't use it on your sail cloth

Steven "Steve" Pearson

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> writes:

I am always interested in anything that could improve sail life so I asked Polyant to test AP 303 shortly after it was introduced more than 20 years ago.

1. There have been many claims that it can restore the structural properties of the fabric and, believe it or not, this is widely accepted by pilots because the fabric looks better after you apply it. Obviously not true.

2. The Polyant testing showed a significant deterioration of the fabric bias strength and a corresponding increase in tear strength. Unfinished sailcloth is not unlike polyester fabric that you might purchase at a craft store and you might imagine what a sail made from that would fly like. All you have to do is look at the difference in twist and loss of performance comparing an older woven glider with a new one. That's what you are doing to your sail when you apply AP303. Incidentally, the principle structural advantage of polyester laminates over woven fabrics is improved bias strength.

3. I can't speak to the effectiveness of the UV inhibitors but I'm skeptical and you'd need a long term test to evaluate that. As I recall, we did UV testing and it didn't show any improvement but that was a long time ago and I could be wrong. I'd be happy to send samples to Polyant for testing. I think you'd want 3 pieces, about a sq m each, from the same roll. One would be the untreated reference, one would be treated several times but not exposed to UV, and the last would be treated and exposed for at least 6 months in strong UV.

4. My recommendation is simply to break your glider down or shelter it right after flying. Protective covers are very helpful but most are not completely effective at blocking UV.

Composite raked tips

September 17, 2014, 6:39:25 MST

Composite raked tips

For the latest Wills Wing T2C

Steven "Steve" Pearson|Wills Wing|Wills Wing T2C

Yon Bárcena <<hangglidingdevices>> sends these for Steve Pearson and I to try out. They look good and flexible:

Hopefully we'll get to see on Friday and/or Saturday.

Capitan America does the scoring and flying here

September 16, 2014, 11:44:13 MST

Capitan America does the scoring and flying here


Mike Glennon|Steven "Steve" Pearson

Standing next to Steve Pearson.

Thanks to Mike Glennon.

Don't use AP 303 on your glider

September 15, 2014, 5:54:19 MST

Don't use AP 303 on your glider

Unless you wish to greatly diminish the sail cloth's bias strength

Steven "Steve" Pearson

Had a nice conversation with Steve Pearson, head designer at Wills Wing, about the many aspects of sail cloth. As an aside he mentioned that using AP 303 (http://www.amazon.com/303-Products-AQ303AP-Protectant-oz/dp/B004MAOEKG#) on your hang glider sail, although praised in many on-line forums, was a terrible thing to do because it diminished the bias strength of your sail material. It improved the tear strength and softened the cloth (better handling perhaps) but was a really bad idea.

He writes:

The bias strength could be diminished by 50% or more but the strength in the orthogonal directions will be minimally affected. Essentially, you are severely compromising the unique structural properties that distinguish sailcloth from conventional fabric.

Wills Wing Alpha

July 31, 2014, 8:30:19 MDT

Wills Wing Alpha


Joe Greblo|record|Steven "Steve" Pearson|weather|Wills Wing

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> writes:

I was just reading the Alpha thread on the OzReport forum and I thought you might be interested in the conversations that motivated me to start development and why I think products in this category are long overdue.

If we could reduce the training time to become proficient enough for a first high flight by 25% then we could retain a significantly higher number of prospective pilots. This is especially the case in areas of the country with seasonal and irregular weather patterns. In many cases, obtaining the last day of training before solo takes weeks or months when you consider the constraints of weather, work, family, money, and other scheduling issues. This of course is compounded by longer delays leading to remedial and recurrency training.

Pilot skills and hang glider technology have evolved far beyond what most of us even imagined in the early years of the sport. Consider the mind-boggling cross country distances, the format and task selection a modern hang gliding contest, the monster loops and rolls in aerobatics, and the extraordinary airworthiness and controllability of the modern hang glider. Somehow that progress has unfairly diminished the simple but remarkable achievement of simple free-flight, like launching from a modest mountain site and gliding to a controlled landing below. I would argue that this event alone challenges the imagination and life experience of many non-pilots and is worthy of celebration. Who among us doesn't remember their first high flight, or even the first time our feet left the ground for the briefest interval?

In 2011, John Harris at Kitty Hawk Kites hosted an event in associated with "Soaring 100" to commemorate Orville Wright's soaring record of 9 min 45 second which was unmatched for the following 10 years. A number of distinguished pilots and designers from the early years of hang gliding contributed some fun and interesting presentations. Ken de Russy talked at length about the merits of the standard Rogallo which as we all know was neither the first foot launched aircraft or the most airworthy but was unquestionably the catalyst for the dynamic and exponential growth of hang gliding in the 70's.

In fact, hang gliding has done nothing but diminish in participation since that time. There are innumerable reasons for that decline but the point I'm trying to make is that the attraction and joy of free-flight is unrelated to performance. We often have the expectation that more performance will result in better experiences when more often there is an inverse correlation. In my experience, dune gooning on a small sandy ridge on a single surface glider (and similar activities) is as much fun as racing a competition task on a high performance glider. As much as I enjoy flying T2Cs, I wouldn't give up hang gliding if I was restricted to lower performance hang gliders nor do I think I'd have any less fun.

The apex of the decline of hang gliding was the early 80s when the only model that Wills Wimng produced (like many of our competitors) was certainly more challenging than a T2C. We learned a little in the following years with the introduction of the easier to fly Sport model in 1986 and more significantly the development of the Falcon starting in 1993. A few years ago, Joe Greblo told me that the Falcon 3 had too much performance. I was dismissive at first but that's a difficult position to hold against the experience of someone like Joe. My first thought was to 'de-tune' the Falcon but that does nothing to address the essential requirement for more damping and more forgiving behavior in pitch. The easiest way to increase damping is to increase the mean cord and that also, with the constraints of weight and airworthiness, leads to lower aspect ratios which have the additional advantage of a lower lift-curve slope and associated wider angle of attack range.

Perhaps the most unexpected outcome of the Alpha development is that it's so fun to fly. Climbing with a T2, at the same turn rate but half the radius is really fun as are many other experiences like being relatively unconcerned where you land or what the wind conditions are. I think it's fair to say that the Falcon has been a significant factor in new pilot development and pilot retention over the last twenty years. I often said that we could and should do more in those areas and I'm hopeful that the Alpha will deliver some of those expectations.

Technora and the king post

July 17, 2014, 8:38:23 MDT

Technora and the king post

ODL fine for Europe

Steven "Steve" Pearson


Bautek, a German hang glider manufacturer (www.bautek.com), has been manufacturing a king posted glider (called Fizz) with an ODL sail since early 2012. Great glider, by the way.


Steven Pearson<<Steve>> writes:

Seedwings also makes their Skyrunner with ODL06. ODL06 without UV film is fine for Europe and should look great after ten years.


OGNIAN OUGRINOU<<md20323>> sends this picture of his Discus:

Technora Threads

Tue, Jul 15 2014, 7:15:26 am MDT

See through top sails

Aeronautic Innovation Rühle & Co GmbH|Facebook|Icaro 2000|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Wills Wing T2C

In the last few years hang glider manufacturers have offered topless gliders with see through/clear sails led by the example from Wills Wing (at least it appears that way to me). These gliders use laminated sailcloth with black Technora threads. Wills Wing offers two laminates: UVODL06 and UVODL04, both with UV films. Wills Wing writes:

Technora is three times stronger than polyester fiber.

Carbon reinforcing tape is used with UVODL04 to provide additional strength and resistance to stretch along the major tension lines. UVODL04 is slightly less expensive than UVODL06 but the cost and application of carbon tape make the UVODL04 sail more expensive. Generally results in lighter, quicker handling. Available only on the T2C.


Steve Pearson writes about these laminates:

UVODL04 is 135 grams/m^2 or 3.2 oz./sailmaker's yard (36 in x 28.5 inches) . That includes two layers of 0.75 mil film, 400d Technora scim, 750d Technora X-ply, and adhesive.

UV ODL06 is 165 grams/m^2 or 3.9 oz./sailmaker's yard. That includes two layers of 0.75 mil film, 750d Technora scim, 750d Technora X-ply, and adhesive. Heavier scrim yarns make it harder to see though.

The clear appearance is the natural condition of polyester film when used with a clear adhesive. If one used a colored adhesive, it would be opaque like our UVPT white and UVX15 (http://willswing.com/features/sailcloth.asp). If I used grey film, like UVPT grey, it would be somewhat translucent, but not as clear.

The other reason that lightweight Technora laminates are clear is that you need much less Technora fiber (smaller, denser yarns) to achieve the required structural design parameters. The sparse fiber matrix leaves more clear film exposed.

Technora sails have become quite popular despite the fact that they are more expensive. Is it the bling factor or how the gliders handle or both?

The Wills Wing T2C:

UVODL04 with UVODL06 leading edge. Notice the additional lines/threads of Technora.

The Icaro 2000 Laminar:


The Aero Combat:

The Moyes Litespeed:

The Moyes Litespeed is the latest glider to use the clear Technora laminate. The Litespeed is the only glider not to have the clear Technora laminate go all the way to the trailing edge. It is not clear from the Moyes web site what sailcloth is used for the trailing edge.

I am only able to find detailed descriptions of sailcloth material at the Wills Wing web site. I don't find any other hang gliding manufacturer providing this level of information about the sailcloth that they use. If I could find such information I wouldn't have to rely so heavily on the Wills Wing site. If you have a link to such information I would be happy to publish it.

I don't even have a detailed description of the other Technora laminates used by other hang glider manufacturers. Even the sailcloth manufacturer web sites are bereft of useful information.


A key issue is that UVODL06 and UVODL04 require a special order and a minimum order, unlike ODL04 and ODL06. In addition, UVODL04 and UVODL06 are a bit more expensive. The minimum order is 1000 meters. Perhaps this is another area where hang glider manufacturers could agree to a joint purchase, now that this material is so popular.

Discuss "Technora Threads" at the Oz Report forum   link»  

Laminate Durability

July 14, 2014, 7:24:40 MDT

Laminate Durability

An evolving process

Steven "Steve" Pearson

Back in 2007 at the end of May I published this article from Steve Pearson about the durability of laminates: http://ozreport.com/11.104#1.

All modern sailcloth and laminates include UV stabilizers and coatings in the construction. For laminates, supplemental coatings are applied between the layers below the upper film ply and are somewhat effective at protecting the scrim and lower film ply. Unfortunately, they don’t protect the outer film layer.

Dimension-Polyant develops and produces an incredible variety of high-tech fabrics for the industrial, sporting goods and sailcloth markets. Last year, my technical representative mentioned an industrial polyester film that is molecularly altered to be ‘impervious’ to UV deterioration. Also, it stops 90% of UV thru-transmission so it’s more effective than coatings at protecting the other laminate plies. The only problem was that it seemed prohibitively expensive—20x more than untreated polyester film. Fortunately, the film price is a fraction of the laminate price and I decided that, even if the film was only 50% better than standard film, I could easily justify the extra cost. It’s important to note that film color is not related to structural properties. The common ‘smoke’ laminate is conventional polyester film. Our UVM material is grey because the minimum order quantity for a different color (like white) of this special-purpose film is 20,000 meters. According to Dimension-Polyant, the Wills Wing UVM laminate is the first application of this film in sailcloth.

Now Steve Pearson writes referring to his earlier article:

We don’t recommend woven fabrics on T2s.  I’ve significantly increased the VG tight sail tension to the point that permanently stretches the woven fabrics, and because the UV laminates have shown to be as durable as the woven fabrics.

Our confidence in the durability of UV film laminates is a lot higher now, and the newer generation gliders can be configured with much higher sail tensions for low twist and still retain good controllability and longitudinal stability. These high sail tensions require stiffer/stronger laminates.

Woven sailcloths still fly better when wet and maybe somewhat more resistant to some types of wear and tear, but I do now think that UV laminates are by far the best choice for T2's. We're still recommending woven sailcloths on Falcons, Sport 2's and U2's because the sail tensions aren't as high and the gliders were developed around the stretch characteristics of woven sailcloths. I'm working on adapting laminates to them.


July 13, 2014, 7:41:29 MDT


UV films to stop their degradation

Highland Aerosports Flight Park|Oleg Bondarchuk|PG|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Wills Wing

Most high performance gliders use laminated sailcloth (commonly referred to as Mylar), a sandwich of polyester film, tafetta, scrim, and/or unidirectional fibers. Hang glider manufacturers purchase laminated sailcloth from Dimension-Polyant GmbH, Sailcloth Technology, http://www.dimension-polyant.com/en/Company_7.php, Porcher (http://www.porcher-sport.com/en/produits/paragliding.html), Contender, Bainbridge, and perhaps other companies. You'll find the materials here: http://www.dimension-polyant.com/en/Laminate_Racing_2_4_1.php.

Wills Wing explains why they use laminated sailcloth on their T2C's here: http://willswing.com/features/sailcloth.asp

Laminated sail materials using polyester film have been used for many years in hang glider sails. The original inspiration for the use of these fabrics was an attempt to achieve superior performance by using a lower stretch material that was still relatively light in weight. In high performance hang gliders, limiting spanwise twist is a key component of performance, and twist is generally controlled by sail tension. The disadvantages of the polyester film fabrics have been that the reduced elasticity under load has generally resulted in "stiffer," less responsive handling qualities, and that the polyester laminated fabrics have been, historically, not as durable or long lasting as woven fabrics. The current generation of laminated fabrics are vastly improved over those of even ten years ago, however it is still generally the case that a premium woven fabric will outlast even the best laminated materials.

Laminated sailcloth degrades in sunlight. Steve Pearson at Wills Wing writes:

When new, the structural properties of the same laminates, but with or without an additional UV film, are the same.  But, with UV exposure, laminates without UV films (on top) degrade.

There’s no easy correlation between the lab tests and results in the field. In my experience, I would say that 300 hours UV lab was comparable to a glider that was flown and exposed continuously though a season in Florida, Big Spring, Owens, Forbes type conditions. After 300 hours of UV exposure the outer layer of non UV film was brittle but not fractured.

The UV exposed sample starts letting go at .05 in/in strain and completely fractures by .1 in/in strain, or at about half the strain (and strength) of the unexposed film. Only the outer layer of film is fractured and the remaining 3 layers of scrim, film and taffeta continue to support load.

300 hrs of lab UV exposure correspond to about 150 hrs of airtime and associated setup in a high UV environment (as above). At that point the outer layer of film has lost 50% of its original strength. At 300 hours of airtime and exposure in a high UV environment (two seasons), the outer layer of most conventional laminates without UV film are fractured and beginning to delaminate.

In lab tests, after 300 hours of UV exposure, laminates with UV film (again on top) are as good as new.

Laminates with UV film is available from Dimension-Polyant, but according to Steve Pearson, you have to order a custom laminate, with a premium price for custom construction and another premium for the UV film. He states that as far as he can tell only Wills Wing uses UV film on their laminates. I have asked Moyes (Gerolf), Icaro (Christian), and Aeros (Oleg) if they use laminates with UV film. See below.

As a hang glider pilot it would seem to me that I would want a sail with UV film on the top (unlike recent sails that were sewed for Highland Aerosports where the UV film got placed on the bottom).

Wouldn't you want to know if the sailcloth used on your glider was topped with UV film? When I asked Steve about this, he wrote:

These are the problems I started trying to solve twenty five years ago.

Until we made the first UV film laminates we recommended woven materials for recreational gliders that were used in hi-UV exposure climates. It’s rare for a laminate film glider to last more than 300 hours (maybe in low UV Europe or northern latitudes). Woven gliders last twice that long. UV-film laminates seem to do even better than woven sailcloth.

There is a long history of the progression of laminate construction that gradually improved durability and structural performance from the first practical laminate “Surfcote” which was simply a layer of taffeta to one layer 1.5 mils – 2 mils of film, to the current state of the art with 4-5 layers, high-strength fibers and UV film.

Oleg Bondarchuk <<aerosint>> writes:

We've started using Porcher NCV laminates with UV protection film more than ten years ago for all our trike wings and Combat hang gliders (http://www.aeros.com.ua/structure/hg/cbt07_en.php). A bit later we have started using PX laminates with UV protection film for our Combats and Discuses. We are still using NCV with UV protection for our trike wings and PX with UV protection for Discuses and for some Combats.

We have been asking Dimension-Polyant about ODL laminate with UV protection, but they wouldn't sell it to anyone except Wills Wing, because of exclusive contract with them for selling this laminate. At the moment we are in process of getting UV protected laminate from Dimension-Polyant.

Steve Pearson writes:

I wasn’t aware that Dimension-Polyant was restricting sales of custom laminates with UV film. I was asked several years ago by Dimension-Polyant for permission by another company to use a custom laminate configuration that we were purchasing and I told them that they were free to share our configurations with anyone. I would certainly extend that approval to Aeros, Moyes and Icaro.

You have to distinguish between “UV protection” which is incorporated into almost all laminates in the adhesive and UV film. Dimension-Polyant laminates all have “UV protection” but none except their custom D4 laminates have UV film.

There is no visible distinction between the films. UVODL06 and ODL06 are identical looking. ODL06 has “UV protection”. UVODL06 is far superior with respect to UV deterioration but otherwise the two are structurally identical.

Steve Pearson on Wills Wing Innovations

July 3, 2014, 6:24:19 MDT

Steve Pearson on Wills Wing Innovations

Responds to Gerolf

Bill Moyes|Gerolf Heinrichs|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Terry Reynolds|Wills Wing

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> writes:

Gerolf Heinrichs writes: Wills is not exactly famous for being innovative. They have copied everything Moyes and Icaro have developed in the topless glider era, and currently they benefit from a low US dollar for their selling success.

Gerolf should know better but maybe he's forgotten a few of the features that I introduced and that he copied and applied to the Litespeed. In fairness, many of these features were already part of his Laminar that was the basis of the initial Litespeed so maybe Gerolf isn't aware of their origin. For anyone who disputes that the following features are essential to "the topless glider era", I challenge them to develop a glider without them or to list comparable technologies aside from those by Thevanot. The three people who come to mind when I think about the modern hang glider are Roy Haggard, Tom Price and Gerard Thevanot. The innovations by those three and the following are 95% of a T2.

There are certainly a few non-essential features of the T2 that relied on innovation from others. Two that come to mind are the curved tip configuration developed by Bob Trampeneau and more recently the raked tips introduced by Icaro. I was particularly impressed by the Icaro raked tips since I had almost given up on solutions to improve the aerodynamic penalty associated with the pointed planform of 'curved tips' which is the reason I was so reluctant to adopt them initially. I honestly can't think of anything developed by Gerolf that's part of the T2 or any other model that we produce.

The (inflight adjustable) VG system is certainly essential and I'm not sure who to attribute that to. I think Bob Trampeneau released the first production glider but others also had prototype systems on their gliders.

Enclosed keel from the Wills Wing HP, one of the most copied gliders in history. Before that, all of our competitors had tall keel pockets. When Bill Moyes saw the HP in 1984, all he could say to me was "it will never climb mate". Within a few years and ever since, every high-performance glider has had the same configuration.

7075 tubing in the 1986 Sport (Gerolf's first glider). The Sport was not the first hang glider to use 7075 tubing but the first with now industry standard 42/44/50/52/60/62 mm tubing and the first by a major manufacturer. Without question, it was the overwhelming success of the Sport and HP-AT that compelled every else to adopt it with Moyes being last (pushed by Gerolf) by over 15 years.

Carbon airframes have a long history. UP was certainly the pioneer with their carbon Spider in ~1978. The subsequent damage issues associated with that prototype made us very caution. Nevertheless, we evaluated a carbon Raven in 1979 and abandoned that when a market survey didn't support the option price. Much later, the restructured UP was again the first to offer a popular production carbon airframe but carbon wasn't widely adopted until LaMouette introduced the topless carbon crossbar followed by simultaneous following releases by WW, Icaro and Moyes. I don't recall Gerolf having any part of these products.

The kingpost hang system, prototyped on the Duck in 1983 and introduced on the 1986 Sport. Without a kingpost, this becomes a hang-T. Elevated hang systems are essential for reducing pitch and roll pressures and everyone uses them. Before the kingpost hang, others used "pitchys" and French connections.

Stepped leading edges with crescents using larger diameter 60/62 in front and smaller 50/52 in the rear, introduced on the HP-AT and later copied by Moyes, Icaro, Aeros and others. Oh, all our airframe plans have been published in our owners manuals for others to copy since 1978. I haven't seen a frame plan in anyone else's manual.

Sprogs. Gerolf freely admits that I designed this system, which is self-evident since Moyes and everyone either buys the brackets from us or has made their own copies.

Shear ribs. On gliders with over 50% double surface, you either need a lot of straight battens to support bottom surface shape (as we all did in the past) or the configuration that I designed where the top surface battens prevents the bottom surface from blowing down at high speed. In addition to the weight savings, shear ribs add many other aerodynamic and stability advantages that cannot be replicated with battens. I shared many details of shear rib shaping related to longitudinal stability with Gerolf over 10 years ago.

Carbon high-performance control bar. I'm a bit surprised that Gerolf forgot about this since he personally (and other Moyes/Icaro pilots) bought one from me. Many firsts with this structure including manufacturing technology (pre-preg carbon, consolidated in a closed mold at 110C and 100 psi (7x vacuum pressure)), the machined hardware junctions which were copied in castings by Aeros and Icaro and much later a derivative by Moyes, the airfoil which was wind tunnel tested at less than 1/4 of the drag other downtubes, and the toed-in, canted down angles of the downtubes and basetube which I initially implemented in our early welded-steel bars in 1983. Incidentally, our detailed wind-tunnel results were posted on our website long before Moyes developed their derivative.

Technora sailcloth. Almost a first for Wills Wing except that Terry Reynolds used them on the TR3 years before I reintroduced them after overcoming my apprehension about the cost/performance ratio. I could write pages about this alone. It's not 6oz. As Gerolf says. UVODL06 is less than 4 oz. (165 gms/m) and UVODL04 is 3.2 oz, (135 gms/m). We haven't used inexpensive 'PX' in years because UVODL06 is far stronger at a fraction of the weight. The carbon reins on the UVODL04 sail are much stronger still. Why would I consider a heavier and weaker laminate like PX15 for the trailing edge except to save money? The latest Moyes Technora option, while certainly a major improvement over Code Zero, is still a substandard option because of conventional Mylar film with half the lifespan of UV film. We're still the only manufacturer with UV film which lasts twice as long as any other film independent of the fiber type, polyester, PEN, Kevlar, Technora or Carbon. Oh, and as far who was the first to use laminates in hang gliding sail, it was Duck Boone followed by me in 1979.

WW was also the first to use spanwise sail cuts to optimize the orthotropic sail material structural properties to the sail plan form. First with the WW XC in 1977 and subsequently in every WW glider since the Harrier in 1980 when I figured out how to shape a spanwise sail with pre-cambered battens

The first CNC sail cutter (1993). While this isn't a glider innovation, it's an essential tool in the development and production of modern hang glider sails and we invested in this technology long before others.

Gerolf just pushes lie after lie. He says about Wills Wing "they benefit from a low US dollar for their selling success." In fact, the producer of the Moyes machined fittings in China contacted me and quoted me far lower prices than I can produce them on our CNC in house at Wills Wing. I offer this because Gerolf is fond of suggesting that Wills Wing gliders are produced in China when he knows that to be untrue at the same time as he sources fabricated components from there! His premium "Code Zero" costs less than half of the cost of the standard no-extra-cost UVPT laminate on the T2C. If you compare the cost of manufacturing in southern California to Australia, you won't find a difference.

Our gliders cost less because I'm at Lookout doing demos over the 4th of July weekend instead of taking the summer off for flying tours in the alps. Check the test fly sticker on the T2s around you--in the vast majority of cases it will say 'SP' or 'MM', just one more indication of who cares most about the products delivered to their customers.

The Wills Wing Alpha

April 22, 2014, 8:53:03 EDT

The Wills Wing Alpha

Finally, Steve tells us what's up with this new glider

Facebook|Steven "Steve" Pearson|USHPA|video|Wills Wing

Steven Pearson <<Steve>> writes:

The Alpha is a new model that looks like a lower aspect ratio Falcon (less wing span, more area), and is intended for flight schools and for pilots who value light weight, convenience, slow flying and easy take-off and landing above other performance attributes. The Alpha 180 has about the same span as a Falcon 4 145 but more area than a Falcon 4 170.

The Alpha 210 has about the same span as a Falcon 4 170, but more area than a Falcon 4 195. The Alpha 180 uses the same size control bar as the Falcon 4 145, and the Alpha 210 uses a control bar size between that of the Falcon 4 170 and Falcon 4 195.

The Alphas fly very slowly, and are very docile and easy in handling, take-off and landing, and yet they have exceptionally good soaring performance – better in fact in very light lift and small thermals than a Falcon. Unlike the Condor, the Alpha is a fully airworthy, utility class glider, and can be sold to new students or experienced pilots.

The Alpha will be a better first purchase glider for most new pilots than a Falcon, and almost as easy for first training flights as a Condor. In some ways they will be easier – because they are smaller gliders, they are easier to ground handle if there is wind.

Their launching speed will probably not be quite as slow as the Condor, but it will be very close. The minimum flying speed on the Alpha 180 is within 1 mph of that of the Condor 225, and the minimum flying speed on the Alpha 210 is within 1 mph of that of the Condor 330, and almost 2mph slower than that of the Condor 225.

Since the Condor is only approved for flight within a few feet of the ground, anyone who is going to progress beyond the first day of training will need to be able to adapt to launching something other than the Condor, and the Alpha is, by far, the easiest next step, and quite a bit easier in every respect than a Falcon.

Specification Alpha 180 Alpha 210
Area (ft2) 180 210
Span (ft) 28.2 31.2
Aspect Ratio 4.4 4.6
Glider Weight (lbs) 46 51
Hook-In Weight (lbs) 120-200 150-280
Optimum Body Weight (lbs) 120-150 150-220
USHPA Rating 2
Vne (mph) 45
Va (mph) 39
Vms (mph) 17
Vd (mph) 34
Length (in bag) (in) 215 228
Break-down (in) 147 160
Suggested Retail $3,675

The video here.

The new competition harness from Wills Wing, Veloz

April 2, 2014, 8:06:09 EST

The new competition harness from Wills Wing

Designed and built as a partnership between Steve Pearson and Dustin Martin

Dustin Martin|Jeff Shapiro|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Wills Wing

Wills Wing will be taking up from where Jeff Shapiro left off, designing and creating a new competition harness that will in the not too distance future be available from them. I have published pictures of the prototypes previously. This is what the prototype looks like:

Steve and Dustin formed a design partnership with Dustin obsessing about the details. Dustin made sure that they got everything right. In particular Steve mentioned the comfort of the chest buckle and the leg buckles. You can rock up more upright with the new harness.

The harness itself is lighter than the Covert, uses the same material on the outer skin as you can see from the picture.

The new competition harness from Wills Wing, Veloz

April 2, 2014, 7:08:06 EST

Designed and built as a partnership between Steve Pearson and Dustin Martin

Dustin Martin|Jeff Shapiro|Steven "Steve" Pearson|Wills Wing

Wills Wing will be taking up from where Jeff Shapiro left off, designing and creating a new competition harness that will in the not too distance future be available from them. I have published pictures of the prototypes previously. This is what the prototype looks like:

Steve and Dustin formed a design partnership with Dustin obsessing about the details. Dustin made sure that they got everything right. In particular Steve mentioned the comfort of the chest buckle and the leg buckles. You can rock up more upright with the new harness.

The harness itself is lighter than the Covert, uses the same material on the outer skin as you can see from the picture.