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User avatar
By AIRTHUG
#246527
Two ways to look at everything I guess-

A company that relies on customer purchases has a lot more incentive to offer a competitive (read: current) product at a fair price... And thoroughly service that customer/product for return business.

A company that does NOT rely on customer purchases could hypothetically offer an older product, for the same price as newer stuff, with no financial incentive to improve upon it, or service it whatsoever. Not saying this iteration of UP won't offer great service, just hypothetically.

The WW Sport was a great glider... But now we have the Sport 2 which blows it away. This wasn't (purely) out of the goodness of WW's heart- it's to stay in business. Taking away the need to stay in business eliminates lots a *good* stuff... For the customer, and the sport as a whole...
User avatar
By henderthing
#246538
AIRTHUG wrote:Two ways to look at everything I guess-

Taking away the need to stay in business eliminates lots a *good* stuff... For the customer, and the sport as a whole...
I think if you read it to yourself, you will admit that this is a ridiculous statement, Ryan.

Variety can only add to the sport. It can't "eliminate lots of good stuff." :crazy:

I've spoken to people who would rather fly a Harrier than a Falcon. Are they wrong?

As far as incentive goes--I can say from first-hand experience, that UP has been very helpful and supportive with respect to my Saturn.

I think that there are a lot of good people in this sport. Are you saying that your only motivation for providing quality training and dealership services is your interest in paying your bills?

I'm no expert--but it seems simple. Fly the gliders. If you like the Predator better than the U2--buy it, or vice versa.
User avatar
By Flyking
#246569
Last time I talked with Joe they are making a few improvments on the Predator. They are currently designing a new faired base tube for it. They have also designed new outer tip ribs to improve performance for high speed / aerobatic flight. As far as parts I don't see d--- Chenney going out of business soon. He is building boat sails and powerd PG's. One more thing. I love the ease of setup, take down and weight. I takes about 15 seconds to set up your tips, No dirt digging sprogs, and they fold up nice and neat. "O" did I mention the glider weighs 65 Lbs. Can you say carbon fiber air-frame that is built like a tank. I got tumbled in my TRX at King Mt. and my feet even hit the keel. I flew out of it, landed, and cleaned my pants. :shock: :lol: :lol: :lol:
User avatar
By danmoser
#246614
Interesting comments about the business plans of various HG companies.

It does seem as though UP is mainly maintaining good customer service with existing owners of proven glider designs, mixed in with a bit of new glider production and small design improvements.
Seedwings is about the same.

Wills certainly has the most aggressive product development and dealership network.. and their new products are top-notch.

Northwing seems to be somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.

Owning a small business myself, I can relate to both points of view.
Growth and aggressive sales is what you need to do for more revenue, but it's more risky on the downside and you can get overextended very quickly, possibly loosing everything before you realize it. Smart, responsive management is key.

Staying small, resisting overhead growth and sticking with your strengths may not make you rich or famous, but you have a better chance of surviving economic storms than your larger competitors.

As for the U2 vs. Predator argument, I don't think anybody's mind was changed.
Both seem solid designs.. pluses & minuses for each.
Now the fun part !!! fly 'em both !!!! :thumbsup:
User avatar
By AIRTHUG
#246621
henderthing wrote:Are you saying that your only motivation for providing quality training and dealership services is your interest in paying your bills?
That's not my only interest in quality training- I enjoy teaching and sharing this sport. But there are certainly aspects of being in the hang gliding business that i do *not* enjoy, but I still do or offer because it's part of being a well rounded business that takes care of the flying community (giving the flying community reason to take care of me).

It seems to me any of these relationships are symbiotic, where both 'sides' have needs and offer something in return for having their needs fulfilled.

I think the point is valid, speaking generally, that a company that has no need for customers has no incentive to offer a quality product or bend over backwards in terms of service.

I'm not saying the Predetor-people don't or won't... just generally, I would expect the 'hungry' manufacturer to at least try to go the extra mile...
User avatar
By AIRTHUG
#246623
danmoser wrote: As for the U2 vs. Predator argument, I don't think anybody's mind was changed.
Both seem solid designs.. pluses & minuses for each.
Now the fun part !!! fly 'em both !!!! :thumbsup:
:ditto:

BINGO! :surrender:
User avatar
By jjcote
#246667
danmoser wrote:It does seem as though UP is mainly maintaining good customer service with existing owners of proven glider designs, mixed in with a bit of new glider production and small design improvements.
Seedwings is about the same.
Does Seedwings still actually exist? I know someone who has a Sensor, and I got the impression from him that it's likely one of the last ones that will ever be made. And it was delivered nine years after he ordered it. Not exactly good customer service. But he does really like the glider.
User avatar
By danmoser
#246684
jjcote wrote:
danmoser wrote:It does seem as though UP is mainly maintaining good customer service with existing owners of proven glider designs, mixed in with a bit of new glider production and small design improvements.
Seedwings is about the same.
Does Seedwings still actually exist? I know someone who has a Sensor, and I got the impression from him that it's likely one of the last ones that will ever be made. And it was delivered nine years after he ordered it. Not exactly good customer service. But he does really like the glider.
I talked to Bob T. about a year ago.. he was still operating Seedwings as a one-man show.. but I think he said he moved out of the industrial bldg. back into his home shop.. still making kingposted Sensors one at a time and selling parts , as far as I know. I've heard reports of very long delivery times, but 9 years?... hard to believe.

http://www.seedwings.com/
User avatar
By PredatorJoe
#246904
J Fritsche wrote:But I'd be afraid to buy one. I stick with Wills Wing. Why? From what I know, UP is a very small-time operation, a two-man company. They don't sell many gliders. They don't advertise. Do they even have dealers, or is all business done directly with UP? They haven't come up with a new design in, what, 15 years? Is there any R & D at all? What kind of confidence could I have that a "company" like this won't close for any number of reasons at some point in the near future? And if it does close, who's going to make and sell me replacement parts? In that scenario, I don't think my local dealers for Wills, Moyes, etc. are going to bend over backwards to help me find stuff for my out-of-production glider that I bought direct from the manufacturer.
Just some more food for thought before you buy...
First off. I'll let you all in on a little secret: unless you're selling a LOT of gliders (high volume) there's not much $ to be made in hang gliding. Yes, the same rule applies to almost any business, but even more so with hang gliding due to the very specialized and custom made parts and exotic materials. If you're not buying 1,000 units at a time of specialty item X, you're gonna pay noticeably more for it. Not saying John or I are greedy, but we do need a certain amount of reliable monthly income to live in southern cal and enjoy some sort of lifestyle.

Could we have made an attempt at going back to "big-time" production as the company once was (sorta)? Sure, but the risk/reward wasn't that appealing, especially knowing the additional risk of working so hard to make it "fly" that we burn ourselves out AND end up broke.

So instead yes, we are a "small-time" operation and that's how we like it. Our operating expenses are minimal and we don't have to hire employees, pay insurance/benefits, etc. We typically get enough business from word-of-mouth but have considered and probably should do some advertising. There's no reason for us to have a "whimsical change of heart" since we operate out of the love for flying and the products we make. Especially when the business doesn't require an excessive amount of time or $. And even if for some unforeseeable reason we BOTH decide to give it up, there are others interested in taking over so UP won't just disappear.

As for dealers, yes we encourage customers to order through their local dealer if they expect to get service from them.

No, we haven't made any major changes to the Saturn or Predator. A lot of thought went into their initial design and they've proven themselves very well. It's not as if we changed 1 part and called it a new wing. No, we don't think they're perfect so we're always looking for little tweaks we can do to make incremental improvements. It's a fine line to walk though because certain changes require re-certification which is very costly.

As KC hinted, yes we are nearing design completion of new aero control frame fittings that will fit a WW (or other) streamline base tube AND the conventional round speedbar. This along with the Seedwings downtubes (same design WW cloned and called Litestream) we currently use will make for an all new control frame. There is also a possibility of offering carbon downtubes and kingpost again, but it will depend on interest from existing owners. We've been working with Seedwings to develop a new airfoil for the Predator. I've done several flights and have found positive results but we're still tweaking it. We offer flip-tips for ribs if the customer wants them, although we're not completely sold on them.

We have access to the same specialty sail cloth the other mfr's offer and will make a sail out of anything you wish. Although it's difficult to argue with the proven 800+hr lifespan of the plain ol' dacron sails we usually make. How many 8yr old (or longer) gliders do you know of that still perform reasonably well and are still loop-able? Surely none of them are made of mylar.

So no, we don't have to make continuous improvements to remain competitive and stay in business. Instead we do it because we want to make the products we love better, it's just happening at a slower pace. Since I've been involved, we've never advertised having the latest greatest competition level wings, rather quality solid products and personal support.
User avatar
By AIRTHUG
#246907
PredatorJoe wrote:yes we are nearing design completion of new aero control frame fittings that will fit a WW (or other) streamline base tube AND the conventional round speedbar. This along with the Seedwings downtubes (same design WW cloned and called Litestream)
Not sure on where the 'truth' falls- but according to Steve Pearson @ Wills Wing, Bob Tramp ordered a couple litestream tubes FROM Wills Wing, then suddenly had his own that were the same specs... I trust Steve, so I believe it... but you can think what ya like, or investigate further if you care to...
PredatorJoe wrote:We have access to the same specialty sail cloth the other mfr's offer and will make a sail out of anything you wish. Although it's difficult to argue with the proven 800+hr lifespan of the plain ol' dacron sails we usually make. How many 8yr old (or longer) gliders do you know of that still perform reasonably well and are still loop-able? Surely none of them are made of mylar.
As Joe eluded to, there's really no such thing as 'specialty' sail cloth. I know Wills Wing works with their cloth supplier, and occasionally requests specific things (mix this scrim with this laminate, that kind of thing)... but even a custom-ordered roll isn't really specialty... it's all just raw material, and it can become a T2 or a Predator or a wind surfer or a ???
PredatorJoe wrote:So no, we don't have to make continuous improvements to remain competitive and stay in business. Instead we do it because we want to make the products we love better, it's just happening at a slower pace. Since I've been involved, we've never advertised having the latest greatest competition level wings, rather quality solid products and personal support.
I like that business model- and a glider like the Predator that has strong support from a loyal following is a great way to do it. If you guys ever got around to a new model, I'd be very curious to see what that would be and how it would fly.... but like you alluded to, there's no need.... you've got a good product that fills a niche in the market and why mess with a good thing :thumbsup:
User avatar
By PredatorJoe
#247147
AIRTHUG wrote:
PredatorJoe wrote:yes we are nearing design completion of new aero control frame fittings that will fit a WW (or other) streamline base tube AND the conventional round speedbar. This along with the Seedwings downtubes (same design WW cloned and called Litestream)
Not sure on where the 'truth' falls- but according to Steve Pearson @ Wills Wing, Bob Tramp ordered a couple litestream tubes FROM Wills Wing, then suddenly had his own that were the same specs... I trust Steve, so I believe it... but you can think what ya like, or investigate further if you care to...
I hope that's not what Steve actually said because the Seedwings downtube has been in use since '95 and actually shipped on a few Predators in the late 90's while the Litestream came out in '03 according to the WW website

so you can think what ya like, or investigate further if you care to... :wink:
User avatar
By AIRTHUG
#247151
Seedwings web site, under "what's new"
http://www.seedwings.com/index.php?opti ... &Itemid=78

Says they are selling tubes "again" in 2008... would that mean that they stopped at some point? Perhaps at this time is when they ordered the ones from WW?

Right off the Seedwings downtube page:
Tests were conducted at the University of Stuttgart wind tunnel in cooperation with Steve Pearson from Willswing verifying the Seedwings Sensor Freestream tubes are the lowest drag of any 1" (25 mm) thick streamlined tube. The tests also show that the older style tubes like Finsterwalder, the Attack tube and the Willswing type I streamlined tubes are 3 to 5 times higher drag than the Sensor's Freestream tubes.

Here is a link to that test study:

 http://www.willswing.com/Articles/windt ... sults2.pdf
They even link to the WW study...
Last edited by AIRTHUG on Tue Aug 02, 2011 5:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By AIRTHUG
#247153
Would you care to change your wording perhaps?
PredatorJoe wrote:along with the Seedwings downtubes (same design WW cloned and called Litestream)
:popcorn:
User avatar
By henderthing
#247154
Ryan--

Did you read the study?

It appears that the study was of several streamline designs. Some of them were WW, one was Seedwings. (sec 2.1) Just because Steve Pearson was there, does not mean that they were only testing WW parts.

Also on the Seedwings page about the DTs (and I quote):

3 to 5 times lower drag coefficient than Attack style tubes.
Proven at the University of Stuttgart wind tunnel.


Inventor of the lowest drag streamlined downtubes with a truncated trailing edge in 1995, Seedwings continues to offer them for both Sensor pilots and owners of other gliders.
You seem quick to accuse!

:popcorn:
User avatar
By AIRTHUG
#247156
I am not the one who made an accusation, see quote above

Also- in that report, notice the 'new' (at the time) WW tube performed better than the 'Seedwings' tube... Hard to believe a 'cloned' tube would produce different results?

I don't really care, I don't think EITHER company was the first to use airfoil tubes... So as far as I'm concerned they've all copied whoever that was.

My exception was taken with Joe's accusation...
User avatar
By PredatorJoe
#247193
AIRTHUG wrote:Also- in that report, notice the 'new' (at the time) WW tube performed better than the 'Seedwings' tube... Hard to believe a 'cloned' tube would produce different results?
actually, the litestream wasn't included in the same tests, rather the slipstream which has a considerably different profile. apparently the litestream was tested later to produce this graph. considering how close the numbers work out on that graph, i don't see a worthwhile advantage to the skinnier flimsier slipstream profile - but that's just my opinion
AIRTHUG wrote:I don't really care, I don't think EITHER company was the first to use airfoil tubes... So as far as I'm concerned they've all copied whoever that was.

My exception was taken with Joe's accusation...
I don't really care either, but I pointed it out so that people would know what a Seedwings / Sensor downtube looks like. chances are they've not seen many Sensors at their flying site but they very likely have seen an S2 or U2 with a very similarly shaped tube. it wasn't meant to be an accusation or criticism, rather a piece of historical trivia.
I believe Bob's tube was the 1st truncated trailing edge airfoil downtube to be used on a hang glider, but it doesn't make much difference since everyone "borrows" ideas & designs from other mfr's anyway :surrender:
User avatar
By danmoser
#262291
Getting back to what the Predator is all about... as opposed to "who really invented streamlined downtubes" :wink:

I recently talked to Dave Gibson and some other pilots about the Predator.
Dave couldn't highly recommend it to me but didn't quite have all the info. I needed, and some of the other pilots thought it would be the perfect glider for my needs.. ARGHH.. it's confusing!. :ahh: :ahh: :ahh:

On many glider models, it seems there is a HUGE difference between different sizes.
For example, the Wills Sport2 155 is highly regarded as the epitome of the easy handling, high performing intermediate, while the Sport2 175 size is often labeled a "truck". I only flew the 175 once, and it seemed OK to me, but my experience is limited.
Similarly. the Predator 158 reportedly has a lot of different handling characteristics than the Predator 142. The reports I've received have varied widely.. and that's frustrating.. but basically, small guys flying the small Predator have often complained about the roll rate and sink rate performance. while big guys flying the large Predator like the handling and sink rate... but there are also exceptions to that generality.
I hate trying to make a sound decision based on conflicting opinions and subjective observations.. mixed in with biases, brand loyalties, profit motives, etc... but without quantitative measurements of performance & control characteristics.. I gotta live with that.

So, again I solicit your "unbiased" opinions on the Predator 158 for my 265 lb. hook-in weight, especially:
-Handling ease
-Sink rate performance
-Land-ability

Thanks for your time..

Happy Landings!!
User avatar
By flysurfski
#262307
danmoser wrote:Getting back to what the Predator is all about... as opposed to "who really invented streamlined downtubes" :wink:

I recently talked to Dave Gibson and some other pilots about the Predator.
Dave couldn't highly recommend it to me but didn't quite have all the info. I needed, and some of the other pilots thought it would be the perfect glider for my needs.. ARGHH.. it's confusing!. :ahh: :ahh: :ahh:

On many glider models, it seems there is a HUGE difference between different sizes.
For example, the Wills Sport2 155 is highly regarded as the epitome of the easy handling, high performing intermediate, while the Sport2 175 size is often labeled a "truck". I only flew the 175 once, and it seemed OK to me, but my experience is limited.
Similarly. the Predator 158 reportedly has a lot of different handling characteristics than the Predator 142. The reports I've received have varied widely.. and that's frustrating.. but basically, small guys flying the small Predator have often complained about the roll rate and sink rate performance. while big guys flying the large Predator like the handling and sink rate... but there are also exceptions to that generality.
I hate trying to make a sound decision based on conflicting opinions and subjective observations.. mixed in with biases, brand loyalties, profit motives, etc... but without quantitative measurements of performance & control characteristics.. I gotta live with that.

So, again I solicit your "unbiased" opinions on the Predator 158 for my 265 lb. hook-in weight, especially:
-Handling ease
-Sink rate performance
-Land-ability

Thanks for your time..

Happy Landings!!
Well Dan It's been 6 months and you have not pulled the trigger. At the time it was summer, but spring is on it way, and that means Torrey Pines will actual become a rather consistent flying site for a few months....

So come on down and test fly one of Joe's demos and see for youself. :goodidea:

BTW: Dave happens to be a buddy of mine(Both flying & skiing), but look at his flight suit(WW emblems), and what him and most of his buddys fly. I think there cound be a slight bias to WW, just like I myself am bias toward UP..... :mrgreen:
User avatar
By AIRTHUG
#262309
FYI even though I know you know- Dave worked at UP (the real UP). He also flew Aeros gliders for YEARS before getting a T2 a few years back...
User avatar
By flysurfski
#262310
AIRTHUG wrote:FYI even though I know you know- Dave worked at UP (the real UP). He also flew Aeros gliders for YEARS before getting a T2 a few years back...
He was even flying a UP AXIS the first time I met him @ the SS POTM , which was his first flight back from not flying for a while. I was an H2 and he scared the shhit out of me till I got used to his unique flying style :lol:

Notice I used the word slight when I mentioned Bias......

Anyway tell Dave I said what's up next time you see him... :thumbsup: :mosh:




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