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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.

Demo Daze - Point of the Mountain, Utah

Yes - it was a GREAT time. Pearson rolled up from the LA basin - an escape from the Chocolate Factory - trailer filled with at least one of each size and model of Wills Wing glider.

GOOD TIMES!!! - Ryan Voight three days after shoulder surgery. He was on the scene socializing. Speedy return to wellness man.

I rolled in around 1am Thursday night, slept at launch, and was up around 5.40am. John Linberg, right on schedule showed up with his brother Guy and began furiously setting up / striding to launch to check conditions. I think he was in the air by 6am!!! As I've said before - The Point is magic! Where in the world can you fly in the loveliest are before dawn, get 90 minutes in, and still make a 9am work schedule?

Katherine Phillips preparing to launch.

I set up and had a great session. PG traffic was light for most of the morning and soon there were only a dozen or more HG's in the air. It's been a long time since there has been such heavy HG traffic and it was a pleasure weaving around.

My brother-in-law, Matt came out. I've been talking HG to him for around a decade, and he's never been up. It was high time. Craig Chamberlain and Dan McManus graciously lent me gear to take Matt up. It was a special experience for both of us. Not amazing conditions, but he got a great feel for the flying.

Conditions turned from mild to wild quickly, and despite being able to get 800ft. or so over, we all landed and broke down. Lunched with the crew and had the afternoon to myself.

Greg Billow about to party on the latest T2C 144.

Conditions never materialized in the evening, and I hung out with Pearson and Dave Gibson at Dave's house. (Thanks man!) Listened to them talk shop over a couple of bottles of wine. With combined decades and decades of experience between the two, it's 90% listen and 10% talk. The story teller gets all the glory, but surely most of my experiences have been trumped by my table company. I enjoyed the conversation fully.

Dave Gibson about to launch Pearson's plaything. More on her later...

I headed back to the south side to sleep in case there was a dawn session to be had. The moon with cirrus was overwhelming and the dog and I stayed up for a couple of hours enjoying it. He and I have had a great spring together. Laid down just after 1 - woke to cranking north winds at 5.30 - back to sleep.

Caught up with my sister in law up at Sundance after poaching a Hampton Inn continental (shhh...) Essential to see her and she's got an EPIC space in the basement of a place. Below is the view through the trees ten feet out her door. Kozmo and I would run to Stuart Falls (pictured) a bit later.

Out the back door.

Ran with the dog up to Stuart Falls. The trail was packed, but the iPod kept me insulated. I pulled him the last bit on the hot hike, he marinated in the cold runoff, then pulled me back to the parking lot.

On the run a bit later.

I headed back to the North side, where strong winds had pilots setting up. I felt a bit off all morning, and decided to stay ground bound for the evening and support the team instead. A lot of demos were setup and everyone had their fill by sunset. The thermic afternoon made landings challenging, and there were a couple of broken tubes, but no bruised or broken bodies. We concluded the evening around 10pm in the twilight.

Greg Billow launching the T2C 144.

After a look at the weather, it seemed like the south side wouldn't be on the next morning, so I made the decision to split town a few hours early. Family would be in town, and I'd score bonus points if I made a BBQ Sunday evening. The full moon and a lot of caffeine deposited me home around 5am. "Yoga in the Park" at 9am prolonged the weekend buzz. It was the perfect weekend, even without incessant flying.

The Salt Lake valley has a vibrant flying community, excellent sites, and great amenities at The Point. BIRDMAN ACADEMY and WINGS OVER WASATCH handle your training needs, and Wills Wing supplies. HUGE thanks to the locals, out-of-towners, and Wills Wing for making it a great weekend!

Airtime: 2:30. Flights: 10. Matt Tandem.

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The Trailers a comin' - The Trailers a comin'

Design guru Steve Pearson is locked and loaded and rolling toward The Point of the Mountain, Utah for a full weekend of Wills Wing demos. Come on out and get your hands on an unscratched basetube. Hang under a UV-less sail. Hear the crinkle of dacron drown out your boisterous buddies in the LZ. It's on!

The world renowned Point of the Mountain. Air as smooth as a model's legs, 50 touch and go's a day. Weave baskets with pantie pylons. No place else I'd rather be.

Shapiro over Missoula on the cover of USHPA magazine in July! Wills Wing fever is more infectious than H1N1.

New winglets give the Falcon 3 T2C performance? Well... no... but! LINK HERE Thank you David Glover!

And... The view out my back door ten days ago. Life has been sweet lately and there's been no shortage of reminders.

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Dr. Batman (Adam West) and a bro (brew as they call em' in ZA) flew over the World Cup Stadium between games the other day and made a POST I've noticed more interest than ever in soccer lately in the US. I hope Cape Town has received only beneficial publicity from the event.

Adam took in a game with 65,000 other fans and there's much more in his blog post, so head on over and check it out.

Thanks for the report Adam!

Photo by Adam West

Photo by Adam West

Exactly how to run out a landing without a flare

Dave Aldridge compiled a test video recently. Check in around 56 seconds where Peter Swanson (Wills Wing final assembly and test pilot) performs a no flare, run out landing. Notice right before he's about to flare the glider is upset in a slight turn. Rather than flaring, he tries to correct until the last moment and takes a few strides. Thanks for the video Dave.


GH1(3) Hack Test from David Aldrich on Vimeo.

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Wills Wing Demo Daze this weekend at The Point of the Moutain, Utah. Steve Pearson is loading up the Wills Wing trailer and rolling cross country for back to back demo events at The Point, Utah and Lookout Mountain the following weekend. Come on out and try the latest hot wings from Wills.

The South side, Point of the Mountain. Photo by Adam West.

Wings over Wasatch just hosted a landing clinic. The Wills Wing crew was out en-force honing their skills: LINK HERE

On Facebook:
Dave Gibson steep over Utah.
Ken Howells and the test flight crew.
Zippy's dangle video, and MORE.
Wills Wing Facebook page

Mike Meier with a custom T2C. Photo by Ken Howells

Test flown, ready for shipping. The crew after a round of test flying. Photo by Ken Howells.

Wills Wing crew member Aaron Swepston has been posting some timeless photos on his Facebook page:

Photo by Aaron Swepston

Photo by Aaron Swepston

Aaron's Facebook page

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November 2008

Pulled these night time shots out of the photo file yesterday. During filming for "Nature Propelled" and The Elements Project. Marble Canyon Airstrip, AZ.

They were great days facilitated by Jeff Johnson and the AZ trike crew, Seth Warren and company. Cloudless days, golden evenings, and chilled nights sleeping under our wings.

Plenty of time for star trail shots, and playing around the headwaters of the Grand Canyon between the Echo and Vermillion cliffs.

There have been plenty of reminders lately how lucky I / we are to do what we do. Sharing a meal with family, getting a workout in, soaking in a few minutes of sunset. There are ubiquitous reasons to be thankful.

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What is the Wills Wing Crew up to?

Eric Donaldson is in the midst of a cross country trip to fly Yosemite. He rolled through the rockies over the weekend and might be near SLC before hitting California.

In the meantime, he's been enjoying the RC scene:


Columbian National Champion - Daniel Velez has been flying recently. Check out the bridge crossing:


Lastly - Dustin Martin has been working on a slick light carbon camera mount and getting some nice stills over Quest Air. Check out the Wills Wing Facebook page to see:


While you're there, become a fan of Wills Wing on Facebook and keep up with The Crew.

What's up with The Cloudbase Foundation?:


Belinda Boulter writes:

After my presentation at the East Coast HG Championship pilot briefing earlier in the week, April Mackin was inspired to organize an impromptu fundraiser for the Cloudbase Foundation: a tug-of-war between Team Manatee and Team Prop Strike. Rich Cizauskas was the man in the middle, appropriately dressed in a training harness, helmet and kneepads.

Rich prepares for the battle.

Pilots bet on their favorite teams and the stakes were running high, but it was all over in a flash when the rope broke. At the end of the day no one was hurt, and Team Manatee donated the entire $290 to the Cloudbase Foundation.

The two sides battle to have Rich Cizauskas on their team.

The folks at Highland Aerosports prove you just need the right attitude and spirit to make something happen. $290 sounds like a little, but it'll pay for a teacher's salary for a MONTH down in Ecuador with $40 left over!!

Winning Team Manatee celebrate their victory.

Nice job everyone at the East Coast Championships! Thanks Belinda.

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Congratulations to all the participants of the East Coast Championships and Highland Aerosports for hosting the event.

Special kudos to #1 Larry Bunner and #2 Tom Lanning for their top placings on Wills Wing T2C 144's. Well done boys. Looking forward to the upcoming writeup of the event.


Check this comprehensive link out. Videos and tips on building an origami hang glider.


the link:

I tried this same concept some time ago with a faster flying paper airplane. This design looks slower and easier to control. As soon as I get some time, I've got to try it. If you do, let us know how it goes.

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Up until the spring of 2009, I'd been flying the T2C 154. For a variety of reasons, I switched to flying the 144. I'm often asked which size I would choose or which size a fellow pilot should choose. Now that I have a couple hundred hours on both models, I feel better equipped to provide more perceived objective information.

My body weight: 175 lbs.
My hook in weight: 225 lbs.

The 154 at the Pre-Worlds

I was surprised when I weighed my fully packed harness a couple of years ago. It's around 50lbs. I've lightened things up a bit, but my flying gear still probably weighs around 40 lbs. I wear two parachutes, fly with all my regular glider bags, and carry nearly 100oz. of water most of the time.

154 I've never thought of the 154 as a BIG glider. It's always felt manageable to direct through the sky. The Pre-Worlds in 2008 was the highest level competition I'd been in on the 154 and I felt I was flying pretty well at the time.

The 154 in Ecuador

I felt during that meet that I had a climb advantage over most. I felt there were only a couple of pilots in the meet who could match the climb performance of the 154 at their wingloading on their chosen wing.

Glide in the Pre-Worlds was more subjective - it always is in XC meets. Glider performance is so close these days, unless there's a distinct advantage, it's difficult to discern in active mid-day air. I didn't feel at a disadvantage on glide.

The 154 in an ozzie magazine.

Canoa, Ecuador is the truest test of glide in my opinion. We're racing at 50mph for 40 miles in uniform coastal air. Tiny differences in performance are easily discerned. It was my first experience there, but objectively Dustin was going better on the 144. He paid attention to his peripheral gear, put fairings on every little component protrusion, and it showed. He was also running with ballast and I was not. Ballast is a whole separate issue which I don't think has any objective data. It's all theory to me.

The 144

144 In the spring of 2009 I switched to the 144. I was encouraged to go to the small glider for a few reasons, but the most compelling was that everyone else on the US team was flying the 144. Pilots similar to my weight like Zippy and Davis were going well on the smaller glider, so I didn't think it would be detrimental.

My first and continuing impression of the 144 is that it's a nimble size and changes heading almost without thinking or perceived input. It feels like a tightly tuned sports car with immediate response.

The 144 ready for photos in Yosemite.

Once again, the World Championships would be the best chance I'd have to compare the 144 to highest caliber of skill and gear all year. From my perception, the 144 allowed me to be on par with the best in climb. I didn't feel like I was outclimbing everyone, and I didn't feel like I was at a disadvantage. The 144 let me climb with anyone I wanted to.

After almost a full season on the 144, I went back to Wills Wing and hooked up with the crew for a couple of test flying sessions. I was able to fly a 154 again after several months with my lighter, recreational harness. I was expecting to find the glider sluggish, but it was not. It was a pleasure to flick about and seemed to be only slightly harder to steer than the 144. The 154 has this amazing stall characteristic that allows you to feather pitch in thermals and milk every last foot out of climb.

The 154 at The Point of the Mountain - Photo by Adam West.

In October 2009, I traveled to Canoa, Ecuador again to put the 144's glide to the test. Again Dustin was racing on a brand new sail cut and everything was nipped and tucked on his glider. Shapiro too had a new sail cut and I was flying a version that was just over 6 months old. This time Wills Wing had competition from Moyes and Kraig Coomber, arguably one of the best ridge racing pilots in the world.

I was ballasting up this time, some days hooking in around 250 lbs. Despite the heavy loading on the smaller glider, I didn't have a disadvantage in sink rate. I was able to hang with the highest before the start. I attribute it to the T2C's stiff airframe.

The 144 during "The Elements Project" filming.

Once again however, I was outmatched in performance by Dustin and Shapiro. From my perspective, the incremental tweaks to the sail cut Steve Pearson had been making over the season had paid off. In addition, new sail materials had been used which perhaps gave an additional advantage.

On the first race day, Dustin was out in front, and Shapiro came walking by me from behind. I thought to myself, "Sh*t, so that's how it's going to be." At Canoa, if you're matched the same, passing is VERY difficult. Shapiro had a distinct advantage despite it being his first time at the race. It was obvious to me the new sail cut was going.

I felt that my sail cut and my 144 was on par with anyone else in the field. Dustin and Shapiro had first and second locked up, and after three days of racing I was able to nip Kraig by a few seconds. I was a believer in the new sail cut and new fabrics Steve had been researching.

Stretching for the spot on the 144 in Big Spring.

Coming into the 2010 season, I was vacillating hard about what size glider to fly. In the end, I chose the 144, with the primary reason that everyone else on the US team is still flying the smaller wing. When you're traveling internationally for competitions, there's a finite amount of spare parts you can bring. With everyone flying the same size glider, we can each bring a smattering of spare parts to share among the group if necessary.

The 2010 Flytec Race and Rally was an eye opener for me. Conditions were exceedingly light throughout the week. There were days we'd be limited to less than 3000ft. for hours and have to hang in zero sink as long as our patience would tolerate. Eduardo Oliveira was on a new 154 and I was impressed at his sink rate. One day in particular we flew together for over an hour in the lightest of lift. He was able to eek out an extra 50ft. here or 100ft. there and it seemed that he had just a bit better of a sink rate. I was envious of the extra ten squares.

If I wasn't concerned about spare parts in foreign lands, or wasn't concerned about having a machine that could keep up with anyone in the world on glide at my wingloading, I'd pick the 154. The 154 climbs a bit better than the 144 and glides within a negligible difference. The 144 is a flick-able ferrari, the 154 is a sizzling BMW M5. Can't go wrong either way.

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Alex McCulloch and I are supposed to hook up tomorrow before dawn for a photo / video mission over the Flatirons near Boulder, CO. He's been getting in some good flying on his new T2C 154... Check out his blog link and the enclosed photos from his Memorial Day weekend foray. All photos by Alex McCulloch.

Alex's blog HERE

I'll be leaving the house around 3am. We'll see what the day holds.

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Ryan Voight compiled this video featuring Shadd Heaston at The North Side - Point of the Mountain, Utah. Shadd's on the Sport 2 175 I believe. Good stuff boys!


Shadd Cam from Ryan Voight on Vimeo.

And... Some nice filming - Ag Tractors in OZ.

Crop Dusting - The funniest videos clips are here

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