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Free Flight in most places is on the ropes; Tiki Mashy at Cowboy Up Hang Gliding has been bucking that trend, building a vibrant community of new and veteran pilots in Texas. Now she's been dealt a blow, and needs a little help. Be that help- follow the link and open your wallet as wide as you're comfortable with -even if that amounts to change collected from the sofa. You'll sleep better knowing you made a difference when it mattered. Do it now, then let folks know. You'll have my esteem and company.

Extended explainer at the link:

https://www.gofundme.com/help-black-fem ... 7vhc9BDA-o

I have an email list of about 8500+ real accounts. I offered to send her request out to the entire list if she would write a version of her request in newsletter format.

I have the infrastructure for mass emails like this now. :thumbsup: It's technically a very difficult thing to do right.
Takeo77 wrote:
Tue Feb 19, 2019 10:57 pm
Dropped some $$$. Got my aerotow rating there. She was a class act, we need her around. More to come later.
Losing another pilot producing factory, at this point in time, would be a huge hit to the HG community.
entelin wrote:
Tue Feb 19, 2019 5:36 pm
Tiki is an amazing person. Afraid to ask, but didn't see the answer lying around anywhere. Is Bart doing something else now? I thought they had a dragonfly down there?
Bart is doing great, but is required back on the other side of the Atlantic; give him a call- I'm sure he'd be glad to hear from you. As to the Dragonfly:

It took 15 years to build up all the supporting equipment to this point- all in support of hang gliding. While that stuff could be sold to keep the business afloat, it would only address Tiki's solvency through trike pilot instruction/discovery flights. The purpose here is to keep the system intact for towing free flyers now and student training in the future when a new tandem instructor/partner is engaged. The trike instruction is a financial bridge to that future business model. The FAA lowered the hammer on tandem ultralight instruction decades ago, then introduced the Sport designation in the early 2000's; many Dragonfly's, though N-numbered, are not certified as Sport aircraft, but carry an Experimental designation- and can't be used for instruction- as is the case with Tiki's. Since there are Dragonflies that are Light Sport Aircraft designated, the FAA is loath to extend an exception to craft that were not produced to that standard. At least, that's my best understanding. The trike has the ancillary benefit of being weight-shift controlled- so powered flight students will be able to apply what they've learned when transitioning to free flight, once services have resumed.
Mavi Gogun wrote:
Tue Feb 19, 2019 11:36 pm
Since there are Dragonflies that are Light Sport Aircraft designated, the FAA is loath to extend an exception to craft that were not produced to that standard.
Hmm, what's the difference between a Dragonfly that is designated as light sport vs ones that are not? How do some become that way and others not?
entelin wrote:
Tue Feb 19, 2019 11:49 pm
Hmm, what's the difference between a Dragonfly that is designated as light sport vs ones that are not? How do some become that way and others not?
As I understand it, manufacturing and maintenance are performed to specifications- so, the craft will employ only the materials it was certified with, not deviated in manufacturing from that configuration, and is subject to inspection during the build to confirm those conditions. With an Experimental, you might replace a bolt with a superior bolt, or add a cup holder- not so with a Sport, where deviation isn't permitted. The added rigger also conveys expanded operating conditions.
There's no provision to "grandfather" in the existing fleet of Experimental Light Sport aircraft, to allow them to be used for training purposes. To train with them, you need a Special Light Sport aircraft, which was factory-built under the new rules and certificated originally that way.

From AOPA's website:
What is the difference between an experimental light-sport aircraft (E-LSA) and a special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA)?

E-LSA — An aircraft that does not meet the definition of Part 103; has been assembled from an aircraft kit produced by a light-sport aircraft manufacturer. Kits assembled under this category are not required to meet the 51 percent homebuilt regulation.
S-LSA — These are aircraft manufactured in accordance with industry consensus standards (ASTM) as a light-sport aircraft in the United States or in a foreign country in accordance with 14 CFR 21.190 and sold as ready-to-fly aircraft.

Can I use an experimental light-sport aircraft (E-LSA) for flight training and rental?
You may receive and/or conduct flight training in an E-LSA that you own. If you're an instructor, you can only provide an E-LSA for flight training up until January 31, 2010, after which you must provide at least an S-LSA. Rental of the aircraft is not allowed.

Can I use a special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) for flight training and rental?
According to 14 CFR 91.327, you may, for compensation or hire, operate an S-LSA to conduct flight training. You may also rent an S-LSA.

I got trained and licensed in my own E-LSA (weight shift trike) during the time that the rules were in transition. I also took the repairman course so I'm legal to do my own maintenance.

User avatar
By gotandem
Now that many hang gliding friends know that I am leaving Cowboy Up, I have to tell them what happened. I would like to explain here. The recent loss of 3 direct family members has turned my life upside down. It has set a chain of life changing events in motion. I feel the need to be closer to the rest of my family and loved ones, so I decided to move back to The Netherlands.
This was not an easy decision. I see our school as a life work. Tiki and I went through an incredible journey together. We had a fantastic time and truly lived life to the fullest. If you like flying, hang gliding and life, I can recommend starting a flying school with your best friend. I don't mean to say that it was always great. Tiki mentioned only a few of the hardships in her GofundMe video. There were many more serious ones that could have brought our school down. We knew it wasn't easy to earn a living flying hang gliders. Hence the name Cowboy Up. But because of our will to succeed we eventually came out with a thriving school in South Texas. It has given me great joy for many years and I'm proud of what we achieved together. Hang Gliding and flying is my life and it is the same for Tiki.
But now she's dealing with a business model that doesn't work anymore. She can't fly a tandem glider and tow it up at the same time. And towing solo gliders doesn't pay the bills. Our local pilots will have no place to go to and Hang Gliding in Texas will suffer. Maybe it will just end here. So I am glad that she turned to the HG community for help. Asking for this and opening oneself up about problems is not an easy thing to do for Tiki. I am proud of her and of this community that has already donated very generously. As I write this, we are almost one third on the way to secure hang gliding here, with a really good shot at growing our sport like we used to. So I'm optimistic. Tiki can Cowboy Up with the best. Our community just needs a little help now. Please donate.
Bart Weghorst
I'm totally onboard with this cause and I'm out driving a little extra Uber time this weekend to make a donation, so please don't take my next question as any kind of doubt to the importance of this campaign (see question below). I just also want to say I support this, as a new pilot, for a couple of reasons; 1. I know how much the sport is suffering due to a lack of new pilots which, correct me if I'm wrong, is a combination of low number of instructors in business, low number of training sites, general lack of knowledge for interested new pilots in 'how to get started', and also a majority of new pilots going w/ paragliding because that sport is logistically easier and seems to not have the above mentioned issues... So saving just one operation in TX is worthwhile to the entire community. & 2. While it may not happen for a few years there is a significant potential that I may relocate to Houston to work for NASA or Army Corps of Engineers so if I do I will be flying at Cowboy Up!

Anyway, here is the question; how is the certified lite sport aircraft going to be able to service new pilot lessons and aero towing all at the same time? I get why the certified aircraft is required, to carry a passenger legally, but what purpose is the second seat? I mean, I know that living light sport lessons and general tandem rides benefits the overall business model, but how does that help with standard HG instruction and aero towing current pilots who are lined up at the T.O.? Shouldn't Tiki be looking for at least a couple available lite sport pilots to run the aero tows while she can focus on lessons?

Does that make sense? Maybe I shouldn't worry about it, I'm certain she knows more about running her Biz than I do, LOL!
There's much more of a market for training Light Sport pilots to fly powered aircraft, compared to tandem hang glider training. Tiki can teach Light Sport in a trike without needing a separate tug. That keeps the revenue flowing and makes the business viable. If there aren't any student pilots, she's able to switch to being the tug pilot and towing up locals. Doing only HG towing isn't a viable business. Whether it's Wallaby, Quest, Cowboy Up, Discover PG or otherwise, the bulk of the revenue comes from tandem discovery and training flights, not from recreational towing. Wallaby and Lookout have the broader base of equipment rental and sales, cabins and so on, but tandems are still a major piece of the revenue pie.

I originally got into my trike in cooperation with two other HG pilots as a way to get some aerotowing going here in the Willamette Valley. The rules changed during that time, and we all got trained and licensed in the transitional period. Before the rules took effect, I even got to spend a couple of days as a tug pilot, and successfully towed some pilots into thermals. But under the rules, you must have a private pilot ticket, plus endorsements, to tow a hang glider. And I don't.

Our HG pilot and trike instructor, John Beaman, was the one guy who was legal to do towing, but he died of cancer. We have not had anyone since who's got the credentials to do towing, and meanwhile some of the guys who were most interested in it have dropped out of the sport or moved on to other aircraft. (sailplanes, powered, etc.) So I fly it for fun now, and it's nice to be able to grab an hour or two of flying, park it in the hangar and still make it home for dinner without taking an entire day or a weekend away.

Long term, I think Tiki's looking for somebody who can jump into the job that Bart has been doing; mechanic, tug pilot, instructor. That's a tall order. It would help if that person wasn't also getting on in years, so they'd be around for a while. For the short term, she can make a viable business out of trike training, but for that she needs a Special Light Sport Aircraft (SLSA), not an Experimental LSA like the one I fly. My bet is that most of the used trikes out there on the market are ELSA, not SLSA, quite apart from the maintenance hassles associated with used equipment.

Making a tandem business work takes a lot of pieces working in unison & a bit of luck too. Tug pilot, Tandem Instructor Pilot, Maintenance, and several others behind the scenes to answer phones, manage scheduling , handle money, & generally ensure that all the parts are working together, including the website. If one of these pieces is missing the whole machine grinds to halt. A tow park in Texas is a fantastic idea & I think it could really work out. I feel like the business model should be a strictly tandem operation only. Most people do not want to learn to hang glide, but hang gliding the ride is a seller. The cool thing is that the business model can't fail. It will sell itself & then some. As far as the local pilot populous goes, they should only be accommodated as the business allows, as in they get bumped off when the work shows up. A lot of smaller skydiving operations work this way. I hate to say this but serving a community of rated HG pilots is a lost cause. The money is in Tandems and thats where I would shift my focus if I were in Tiki's shoes.
mgforbes wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 6:29 pm
The rules changed during that time, and we all got trained and licensed in the transitional period.
Only tangentially related, but maybe requiring platform tow operators to be rated pilots isn't a great idea. It's a direct attack on small clubs and doesn't help to grow HG or PG. At the same time consequential safety issues objectively related to tow operator inexperience are exceedingly rare.
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