Here are some cool wallets made in the image of your wing.. Help support me in my competition travels and world record attempts in the upcoming season by clicking the 'buy now' button on the right side of the page ----> Include which style you prefer during the purchase process by referencing the pictures below, or ask for custom color combos. Free domestic shipping. International costs 12.95-16.95 usd depending on location. Thanks!
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Zapata 2009

Digging through receipts while doing taxes, I re-discovered a notepad I had forgotten. Good times.

I like LIFT!

I like the abrupt ending - Hwy 20, 816pm, 5 miles E (of Big Spring)... then silence. I was almost at base, the sun was almost on the ground, and it was almost good enough. Laura, the legendary chase driver, was in the field near Ackerly when I touched down. Too windy to walk the glider to the car without wire assistance.


Cool Stuff for Sale

Cleaning out the closet and trying to fund the upcoming comps. Here's what I've got:

One brand new over/under tandem harness. All black, 600 denier outer, antron inner, 1/4" volara padding. Continuous webbing construction, Austri Alpin quick disconnect buckles on leg and back straps, cushy padded shoulder straps, rubber gripped passenger handles, 8000 lb mains, biner and hook knife included. Ropes are adjusted, harness is ready to hook in and fly tandems. Fits little kids on up to about 6'6". Has accommodated bigger though. After years of flying tandems and wanting to improve the over/under system, and based on the feedback of many tandem instructors with my earlier models, this is the latest model that incorporates all the features:

Rotor Vulto-S racing harness for 5'10.5" and 160 lbs. I added some trick arm fairings, it has a super-thin main, and it fits like a glove. Well used and worn, but has a season left in it. This is the harness:

Pre-production instrument pods in BLACK. I have a couple of the new Flytec 6030/Garmin 76 pods ready to go. Not carbon. All black gelcoat finish ONLY. I have in-stock carbon mounts for Aeros, Moyes, and Wills carbon bars ONLY. The production pod is a couple weeks out still. These protos may have very slight blemishes from hanging around the shop the last few weeks. Here is one of the proto pods:

Finally, the original 6030/Geko mold has been refurbished and is turning out new pods. They are still available thru Flytec USA/Steve Kroop.

Email me with questions. flydustin@gmail.com


The last 3 weeks

Winter break is traditionally a time for me to dig in work hard to fund the upcoming season. This holiday I was adopted by the Pearsons and spent every waking moment at the Wills factory while all their employees were away, allowing me to work on a lot of projects without getting in the way too much.

The pod mold is done, jigs are built, an infusion pump arrived, and it's just a matter of ordering a few bits of material and glue to start the transition to resin infusion. Looking forward to that, but the need for $$ has shelved the project for another few weeks.

The primary project last month was to build four tandem harnesses - that is, eight cocoons. Feedback from my last two customers resulted in some major improvements this time around. I was using a straight pattern to build the last few harnesses but switched to a pattern Steve Pearson gave to me that's basically the bottom half of a Z5. The harness seems a little more supportive than before.

After shipping the harnesses and building one more just to have in stock, I started in on some of my own projects. My covert got its annual overhaul with an updated foam liner, new teeth on the pitch lever gripper, and new bungees throughout, along with a vacuuming and a wash. Looks amazing as it just about finishes two years and 500 hours of flight.

Final piece of business was to make a cocoon for myself. I've been talking about it and talking about it, but wasn't ready to pull the trigger until the trip to point of the mountain a couple months back. I got to get hands on with some of the latest ultralight paragliding gear and that's when the weight of all of our hangie gear just came crashing down on me. I think ultra weight reduction and return to simplicity will be a theme for me this season. I begin with this:

Using the same pattern as used on my tandem harnesses, with an eye for simplicity and minimalism in every aspect of construction, I managed to finish this cocoon at just a hair over four pounds. Weight in a drawstring, ultralight bag, with lara gold 175 chute, 5/16 quicklink as biner, and lubin helmet: under ten pounds.....

It turned out extremely comfortable and, even more than the weight savings, it's compactability is crazy:

Using scraps of odl06 literally from the trash can, along with other scrap laminate cloths in places where heavier woven fabric wasn't necessary helped save a little here and there. I went without legstrap padding or buckles, and the backstrap cincher is aluminum. The interior cloth is light but could be lighter! There is plenty of room for improvement but for now it will be cool to put the entire harness kit in my backpack in the overhead compartment..


Mold Surgery

Things were going so well..

After buffing the mold halves to a fine shine, I layed up the first part. Anxiety was relieved when it practically jumped out of the mold the next morning. The first thing I did was trim the flashing and squeeze the 76 into its slot - and I really had to squeeze it - both hands, one on the back of the pod, one on the front of the 76. Unfortunately removing it basically required a crowbar. That was not going to work - this was supposed to be a friction fit, tool-less removal slot. The project came within a breath of being abandoned after weighing my limited options.

I won't go into the numbing details of the mold modifications. It's enough to say that had it been too big a slot, a little sanding and polishing would have done the trick. Since it was too small, I would have to add material. Adding to a mold is the worst possible outcome and that's what I spent last week doing! A thick spray of gelcoat in the concerning area (about 20 mils) followed by about 40 hours of blending and refinishing brought the mold back to life and as good as new:

Masking the offending area in prep for gelcoat.

Bringing the width to within 1/50th of a mm along the length of the GPS box.

Sanded to 1500 and ready for endless polish and wax - two days of just waxing.

SUCCESS tonight!

Since I was in remodel mode, I brought both mold halves to an even finer finish than before. Next two photos are directly out of the mold, no polish.

Garmin 76 slides in - and out - by hand, all is well in Scottsdale, AZ.

I'm setting up the shop for resin infusion to reduce exposure and have an overall cleaner work environment. As soon as that's done, production will begin. Should have parts rolling by new year's.


Opening the mold

After repeating the process for the back half of the mold, this morning I went out to the shop and separated the mold halves to see if I was successful.

The anxiety with molds, especially multi-part molds, is the investment of time. You have to completely finish the project before you can know if the very first layer of gelcoat actually cured out.. or if the plug was prepped well enough to release from the tool.. or if print through has ruined the mold surface.. etc.

This mold was a six week project. The details between all of the steps have been skipped here. Between each picture there were usually days of sanding or spraying or buffing or sweating, often just to fix a mistake. Each small step took a painful amount of time.

Another week will be spent improving the mold surface for production quality - and constructing jigs and flanges that will allow me to pull a joined and fully completed part from the mold without any work after the layup process beyond drilling a few holes and buffing out the finish.

Cross-bracing the back side mold, just like the other side. Bondo is used to space the wood away from the glass, preventing print through and pooling of resin under the wood - which would go nuclear during the curing process and compromise the mold surface underneath.

The final step: glassing the cross-braces on as well as the 16 tee nuts that will align and join the mold halves later. Bolts are already holding everything together and will be broken free of the resin with an impact drill later.

Sneak peak.. All is well inside the mold. The roughness and flaking is left over mold release film that hasn't been cleaned off. The mold surface looks awesome. The plug broke in half in the process of removing it, but I was expecting that considering the lack of relief in the gps and vario boxes. Same thing happened on the Geko/6030 mold.


mold making pt.2

The front mold half is finished and being prepared for the layup of the second this weekend.

Stabilizing boards were added to prevent warping and curving. Attached with bondo first to insulate them from the glass itself and prevent resin from pooling underneath and printing through to the mold surface.

Next, they're glassed on.

Fender washers are glassed around the perimeter to give perfect bolt alignment later.

Here's the mold fresh off the parting tray after some wet sanding. Next, wet sanded down to 1500, polished, and then waxed endlessly.

Here's the front side mold after two days of waxing.. two more coats today and the gelcoat for the back mold gets sprayed.