kukailimoku2 wrote: ↑
Mon Dec 24, 2018 2:45 pm
"If you want to make a small fortune in hang gliding...start with a large one."
In case you were wondering, "JMB" is Jean-Michel Bernasconi, who founded Pacific Windcraft, which was later acquired by Airwave and became Pacific Airwave. I was one of the first two people hired by JMB (kukailimoku2 came along a bit later), so I was able to see the start-up process from a unique viewpoint.
When Jean-Michel started Pacific Windcraft, he'd already been a dealer rep for Bill Bennett and Flight Designs, and was a trained aeronautical engineer. So he already had a long list and a personal acquaintance with anybody who was anybody in the North American hang gliding world. He also had designed the first double-surface glider that a beginner could easily transition to. Finally, after he left Flight Designs, he hired away an experienced airframe fabricator and a guy who had been the sail loft foreman for both Flight Designs and Electra Flyer, which was at one point one of the biggest manufacturers in the country, if not the world. That foreman gave him a very detailed list, with costs, of everything needed to equip a sail loft, along with a plan for creating an efficient sail loft within an absolute minimum of space. He also had the skills to make patterns and produce prototype sails for evaluation.
JMB and his initial staff were all proficient pilots, not only with conventional gliders put with prototypes, which was an essential part of testing new gliders and determining what was right with them and what was wrong. Kukailimoku2 was also a gifted pilot, able to give valuable input during the design process. as well as flight-testing gliders in production.
In short, JMB had started his company not only with a bit of borrowed money but with a classic glider design, an experienced crew, and a ready network of dealers to promote and sell the product. And even with those advantages, the company came close to failing in its first years due to periodic economic downturns.
Unless you can come out of the gate with similar credentials, and be prepared to lose money at first, I'm afraid that your chances of starting a successful hang glider factory are exceedingly slim.
"Good judgment is the product of experience. Experience is the product of bad judgment."
-- old aviation proverb