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This is the Wills Wing Team Pilots competition blog. Here you can keep up with the various members of our team as they progress through the competition season.
  
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Author: Jeff O'Brien Created: 5/13/2009 2:45 PM
Jeff O'Brien revolutionized his life when he learned to hang glide in 1998. He dropped most other interests and promptly moved to Utah to fly full time. He's flown hang gliders on five continents and began competing in 2005. Jeff is probably most known for his wing mounted photography which can be seen in hang gliding publications and press worldwide.

Quite a collaboration...



"Covert" - Feather on a bird which cover other feathers. The coverts help to smooth airflow over the wings and tail. To blend the body into the wings.

It's been over a year since the brainstorming sessions started, and I spent almost three hours up in a Covert harness yesterday. Objectively, it's great, and already there's talk of further improvement and renovation.





The project has been a collaboration between Wills Wing, Jeff Shapiro, and Dustin Martin. For Shapiro, several aspects of his past have melded toward this culmination. First there was design school which included lots of sewing among other creative pursuits. Then there is extensive advanced climbing experience. And of course 15+ years of hang gliding.



Installing backplates and parachutes.

Dustin has been manufacturing all the carbon componentry with Wills Wing supplying the computer drawn 3D molds. Dustin's carbon work has become refined over the past couple of years. Anyone who has one of his instrument pods knows how perfect his friction tolerances are. He's laid up a backplate you can probably park a truck on, and it really gives you peace of mind to see how robust the construction is.

The harness boots are a piece of work as well. I was surprised how light and seemingly fragile the boot was, until I started pushing on it with my hands. Feather light construction, yet much more stout than the weight indicates.



Straight out of the climbing industry, Shapiro has constructed "screamer" type parachute connections to reduce opening shock by hundreds of pounds during a high speed deployment.

The keystone of the collaboration has been Wills Wing. They have brought the computer aided design to the table and have provided the molds, templates, and components which is the cornerstone of the design. Nothing on on the harness is linear, it's ergonomic and organic in shape, with state of the art components.



First fitting sessions in the harness. Note the lack of any 'shelf' behind the shoulders. The parachute compartment has been completely rethought, making it truly possible to open the container with either hand. The backplate has compound ergonomic curves to conform to the back with just enough room for pitch hardware.



Jeff Shapiro in his harness. I'll have to get a shot of the drogue chute deployment as it's a revolutionary design.



The heart of the backplate is a CNC'd slider chip from solid billet. The chip is Teflon coated and the slider sandwiches another Teflon coated plate to provide slippery transitions from prone to upright. Wills Wing's expertise has been invaluable with the generation of components like this along with fabric patterns, composite molds, and construction insight.



Note the compound curves on the slider chip flanges to conform perfectly to the backplate.



The skin is CLEAN, again with no shelf behind the shoulders and reduced cross sectional area behind the parachute containers.

So how does the harness fly? Great. After a five month break, I needed a long flight yesterday to orient myself to the harness. The harness cradles and supports without pressure points. It pitches up and down effortlessly, and feels tight and clean. See below how happy it feels :)



Note the camera pocket with welded seams. There's a structural lanyard bungee inside.

I'm looking forward to getting in flight photos of the harness next including rocked up landing photos. More to come...

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It's a soggy foggy morning. Soggy from the rain last night, foggy from the bottle of whiskey we polished off at 3am. I'm HAPPY to be here. Back to LIVING.



The boys rolled in before 11pm last night and we chatted away until we were the last standing. Sun is streaming in the clubhouse windows this morning, classical music in the background, the smell of coffee. The usual suspects milling about quietly. Deep breath in... Ahhhhh....



We might not fly today due to possible rain or wind, but there's plenty to do regardless. More soon.

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The boys with the trailer are somewhere in Louisiana rolling east. I'm sitting on the floor at the airport, soaking up free wifi, waiting on my flight. Got a shine on watching a jazz band last night and hence it's a foggy morning. Proper way to start a travel. Airport network won't let me upload photos.

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The crew is in AZ somewhere last I heard. Blew out of the LA basin at 3am. The two caffeinated fools won't sleep tonight so we'll see when they send me another update.



Resurrection (for me) is imminent.

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How NOT to do it... Thanks to Eric Donaldson

VIDEO HERE

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Video I've seen in quite sometime.

VIDEO

http://www.zapiks.com/speed-riding-antoine-montant-1.html

The North face of Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix. I've seen the terrain. It's shown briefly at the beginning of the video. Antoine triggers the avalanche and simply pulls up to escape.

This is absolutely the future of ski films. He hits knife edge ridges skipping off thousand foot cliffs and gliding to the next. Avalanches are dispatched with pitch.

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Ryan Voight, South side - Point of the Mountain - 3.2.10

VIDEO HERE

Feeling Good on the South Side from Ryan Voight on Vimeo.



Thanks bro.

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Wintertime at Lookout

More from Eric Donaldson - Eric received a shiny new T2C over the winter and has been honing his skills with some sporadic flying.

VIDEO HERE



VIDEO HERE



Check out his blog: HERE

Thanks boys.

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Thanks to Eric Donaldson and the Lookout crew for passing this along:

VIDEO HERE

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Picking out colors for a new glider - one of the most enjoyable tasks. Which of the below did I choose? None :)







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