Dan’s unpowered hang glider (which he uses in the daytime act) and the motorized hang glider (which he uses for the night time act), are both designed by NorthWing in Wenatchee WA. NorthWing.com Both are registered with the FAA as experimental aircraft with N numbers because of the commercial entertainment work he does. Hang gliding has come a long way since the perilous 70’s. Dan’s factory built aircraft are rigorously engineered, stress tested and instruction is mandatory. He also holds a Commercial Glider Pilot License, enjoying sailplane aerobatics and giving glider rides at Minden, Nevada when not on the Airshow tour.
Dan launches his glider with a custom designed winch system and rolling launch trailer that he designed and constructed specifically for Airshow take-offs. With his tow vehicle driving on the runway, Dan lifts off the towed trailer at an air speed of about 30 mph, while constantly talking live over the P.A. system and he quickly tow-climbs to an altitude of 1,200-1,800’. The pay-out winch on the launch vehicle, operated by an experienced and trained crewmember, spins out up to 3,000’ of 1/8" "spectra" tow-line against the applied brake pressure on the winch during his ascent.
HOW DOES DAN CLIMB TO ALTITUDE FOR HIS DAYTIME SHOW?
To increase the towing distance on the runway or taxiway, Dan has the tow vehicle make two U-turns on the runway and performs two challenging “aerial water-ski turns” as the towline slackens and comes tight again in the opposite direction, allowing him to “stair-step” to the desired altitude while remaining in front of the 3,000-5,000’ spectator area. Timing is everything during these maneuvers as you can imagine!
When he releases from the tow-line, a small ram air parachute is automatically deployed and the line is rapidly rewound electrically back onto the winch without the line ever falling to the ground..