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Applause for Wills Wing!

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 9:17 am
by Frank Colver
In the early days of the rapid growth of paragliding Wills Wing looked into expanding into manufacturing paragliders. I don't know any of the details of this except that they decided not to get into that market.

Considering their success in staying alive in a shrinking hang glider market I think they would have become one of the "big guys" in the paraglider market.

Kudos to them for whatever the reasons behind that decision, I see it as a correct decision against corporate growth and profit in favor of public safety.

So, I hereby give a big round of applause to the folks at Wills Wing for making that decision so long ago. :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :thumbup:

Keep on building those great airworthy gliders, guys and gals!

Frank Colver

Re: Applause for Wills Wing!

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:05 am
by magentabluesky

I agree with you. The Condor is the closest thing to a paraglider with bones, but is not certified for high flights.

So, Steve Pearson and Mike Meier, the boys from Wills Wing, specifically make a Hang Glider for Paraglider People. It is called the Wills Wing Alpha and comes in two sizes, 180 and 210.

They are BBWs, Big Beautiful Wings.

I can’t imagine a glider being easier to fly than a Falcon, but the Alpha is reported to be just that.

Any where a paraglider can go, an Alpha can go too and beyond. An Alpha is an easy 100+ mile glider.

Challenge yourself


Re: Applause for Wills Wing!

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:10 am
by Rick Masters
PG fatality #46
David Wheelock of California
#2 of 4 PG fatalities in USA in 1991 reported by USHGA
July 14, 1991 Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii, USA

Sail failure.
"He was at a height of between 1,000 and 1,500 feet when the lines connecting him to the parachute-like canopy simultaneously broke, detaching him."
Wheelock's wife, suddenly widowed with three children, immediately sued the distributor of the paraglider, Sport Kites [Wills Wing], and president Rob Kells for negligence. After a series of legal actions continuing over years and culminating in a revised Hawaiian statute which voided all extreme sport waivers and required a jury trial for every negligence claim, Wills Wing ceased distribution of paragliders in April of 2007.

"The statute no longer allowed the customer to assume the risk of negligence, making the statute a major step backward for activity providers," observed attorney James H. Moss:

To set the stage for Hawaii’s move towards recreation legislation, it is important to acknowledge the development of Hawaiian common law. The landmark case, Wheelock vs. Sport Kites, 839 F. Supp. 730 (9th Cir. 1993), was the first time the Hawaiian courts dealt with whether an express release of liability bars all claims of negligence. Wheelock plunged to his death while paragliding when all the lines connecting the canopy to his harness broke. Wheelock’s wife sued, even though her husband signed a waiver releasing Sport Kites. The court upheld the release for negligence, declaring that Wheelock assumed the risk of paragliding.

The court did not allow the release to bar claims for gross negligence and the product liability claim.

Despite the Wheelock decision, the statewide Activity Owners Association of Hawaii believed litigation over recreation accidents needed to be reduced. The belief was it would lower insurance premiums and promote business growth. (See Ammie Roseman-Orr, Recreational Activity Liability in Hawai’i: Are Waiver Worth the Paper on Which They Are Written?, 21 U. Haw. L. Rev. 715.) Without a law, every accident had the opportunity to test the waters of the legal system in hopes of a reward. The Recreational Activity Liability Statute was enacted in 1997 to reduce recreation accident litigation’

§ 663-1.54. Recreational activity liability.

(a) Any person who owns or operates a business providing recreational activities to the public, such as, without limitation, scuba or skin diving, sky diving, bicycle tours, and mountain climbing, shall exercise reasonable care to ensure the safety of patrons and the public, and shall be liable for damages resulting from negligent acts or omissions of the person which cause injury.

(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a), owners and operators of recreational activities shall not be liable for damages for injuries to a patron resulting from inherent risks associated with the recreational activity if the patron participating in the recreational activity voluntarily signs a written release waiving the owner or operator’s liability for damages for injuries resulting from the inherent risks. No waiver shall be valid unless:

(1) The owner or operator first provides full disclosure of the inherent risks associated with the recreational activity; and

(2) The owner or operator takes reasonable steps to ensure that each patron is physically able to participate in the activity and is given the necessary instruction to participate in the activity safely.

(c) The determination of whether a risk is inherent or not is for the trier of fact. As used in this section an “inherent risk”:

(1) Is a danger that a reasonable person would understand to be associated with the activity by the very nature of the activity engaged in;

(2) Is a danger that a reasonable person would understand to exist despite the owner or operator’s exercise of reasonable care to eliminate or minimize the danger, and is generally beyond the control of the owner or operator; and

(3) Does not result from the negligence, gross negligence, or wanton act or omission of the owner or operator.

This statute superseded the common law, which developed through Wheelock and the cases preceding it.
Yeah. Wills Wing saw where this was headed and got out of paragliding before it ruined them. Thank God!

Re: Applause for Wills Wing!

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:19 am
by Frank Colver
Thanks for the details, Rick.

It's amazing that all of the lines broke. Once a few of them went it should have mostly unloaded the remaining lines as the paraglider and pilot fell.

And a second applause for Wills Wing decision! :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

To Magneta Bluesky: I was flying an Alpha 210 but once I bought the 2 Condors: 330 & 225, I no longer had a need for the Alpha since the 225 Condor would fill my need for it with the flying I intend to do. Now Joe Faust is setting "number of flights in a day" records with my former Alpha 210. It's in good hands.


Re: Applause for Wills Wing!

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:25 pm
by wingspan33
Maybe we can applaud Wills Wing for knowing when to get out of the collapsible canopy market. But giving them a raspberry for ever getting into the market may have been better

But I can't understand how at least one of their paragliders was so defective. :?: As I recall things Wills Wing did not make their own canopies (while they do make every hang glider they sell!). So, somehow quality control was lacking with their PG manufacturer. But I wonder if Wills Wing personnel inspected each of the incoming products?

BTW - Back in '89 or '90 at the Telluride meet the Wills Wing Team all(?) flew PGs. I was a bit disappointed by that, but at least none of their canopies collapsed or otherwise failed on them. :thumbup:

Re: Applause for Wills Wing!

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:40 pm
by Frank Colver
I guess my applause would be for them not just deciding to make the pilot connections stronger, so that it couldn't happen again, and continue in the PG business. i think they must have also been becoming aware of the inherent flaw in the aircraft's basic design. Unable to hold necessary wing shape in zero or negative weight loading conditions which can be caused by (normal) atmospheric turbulence or pilot aerobatics.

The whole WW team flying PG's at To-Hell-you Ride was an obvious big promotion of their new product line. I'm glad there were no serious accidents for them. Some things definitely changed in their thinking after that.