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 February '13 Issue, Now in PDF:


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Here I Am


Jack French flying with Moon Shadow. Probably the Sun-n-Fun Fly-In, spring '80. 

Hi Tracy,

Remember me?

On page 24 of your September issue is a guy flying a white 
Fledge 2-A. It's me, Jack French! I'm still alive!

I appeared a number of times in your publication in the early days, and just had the Fledge rebuilt. She and I had our first flight this year on Fathers Day. Altitude density has kept us on the ground since then (the engine is only 8 horsepower) but the weather is cooling off here in Maryland, and I'll be back in the air soon.

My one of a kind Manta Fledgling II-A (
Moon Shadow) is:

  • weight shift - pitch
  • wingtip rudders for roll
  • 8 hp. Soarmaster pusher prop
  • 10:1 glide ratio
  • steerable taildragger
  • hand-deployed emergency parachute
  • designed and test flown by me, for thermal soaring
  • 24-mph stall, 40-mph max speed 

I have set many (first  to do) records with the Fledge and
flown in the Sun-n-Fun and Oshkosh air shows.

I am now 65 years old, and a survivor from the original Miami Hanglider Ultralight Club.


Smooth landings,

Jack French 


475 Miles from Zapata!

World Open Distance Hang Gliding Record


On July 3, 2012, the hang gliding world all but stopped its earthly pursuits to tune in to perhaps the most exciting live action event in its modern history. We tried to look busy, pretending to ignore the vibrating phones in our pockets as the incoming Tweets, posts and e-mails threatened to reveal where our minds were focusing. 


Jonny Durand Jr (Australia) and Dustin Martin (U.S.) are two of the world's great hang glider pilots. Friends as well as peers, Jonny and Dustin turn up very often on the winners' stand. Both pilots came to Zapata, Texas, in July '12 to seek record flights.




  Stalking the 1,000 mile barrier for (sailplane) free distance in the U.S.   Photo by Gary Osoba  


The World Record Encampment (WRE) began in '00 as the brainchild of organizer Gary Osoba. Gary's Pliable Moose hang glider company was among the many early pioneering efforts in hang gliding design and manufacture, and his accomplishments in soaring technology and technique are well known. 


Searching for locations where terrain, airspace and weather conditions are favorable for soaring distance record flights, Gary noticed the "Bermuda high" pressure often sets up over the Gulf of Mexico in summer, and sometimes stays there for months. 


Often the western side of this high produces consistent northerly flow up the west side of Texas and on up into the hot dry alluvial plains north of the Rio Grande. Moisture from the Gulf brings cumulus clouds, which may form "streets" and set up early in the day, enabling early takeoffs by pointing the way to the weak early lift.



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