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Airwave   Niviuk   UP Gliders   Windtech


Airwave has been a leader in Hang Gliding and Paragliding for the last 20 years since it's creation in 1979. Originally a Hang Glider manufacturer, Airwave's early successes were on the Magic series of Hang Gliders, with a strong team of top British pilots who dominated the World Hang Gliding Competition circuit for over ten years. In 1989 Bruce Goldsmith set up the paragliding side of Airwave which has gained a reputation for safe, high quality paragliders. In 1997 John Pendry won the World Paragliding Championships flying an Airwave paraglider.

In November 1999, Markus Villinger took over Airwave and the company moved to his home town of Stubai, high in the Austrian Alps. Markus ran Wills Wing Europe very successfully for many years during the early 1990īs. He not only distributed Wills Wing gliders in Europe but also worked on design and had his own competition team. After several very successful years Markus sold his share in the business and went into property development. He was successful in this too, but he always longed to return to the flying world. He saw the availability of Airwave as exactly the opportunity he was looking for.

Markus has now set up the impressive and modern Airwave factory in his hometown of Fulpmes in a lush green valley high in the Austrian Alps. Markus develops the Hang Gliders himself in this new factory backed up by a team of enthusiastic pilots from Austria, northern Italy, and southern Germany. Hang Gliders are made in the new Airwave factory, whilst paragliders are manufactured by subcontract manufacturers carefully selected for their quality of production.

Bruce Goldsmith joined Markus at Airwave in May 2000 and is again designing Airwave's paragliders from his home in Greolieres, France. Bruce has chosen Greolieres to do his design as the flying conditions are the consistently flyable thoroughly the whole year, enabling him to thoughly test gliders all year round.


Niviuk Paragliders came into the paragliding scene in 2005 and has quickly developed a reputation for high performance. Niviuk's Icepeak XP (competition glider) grabbed the top 3 spots at the 2008 Monarca Open in Valle De Bravo, Mexico. For more information, please visit


The Beginnings

Pasadena California, 1970. Pete Brock finishes his studies at the Art Center, a world-renowned school of industrial design, as its youngest graduate ever. His racecar designs, like the GM Daytona Coupť- a kind of U.S. Ferrari on the basis of the Cobra 427, quickly become legendary. Brock soon discovers a new passion: hang gliding- probably the most radical sport imaginable in the early 70s. While there are several glider models on the market there is only one common theme- they are all extremely dangerous. This also holds true for Peteís first design, the Brock Redtail.

However, when Pete Brock gets together with the young designer Roy Haggard, a new concept is born. The Dragonfly is the first tenable post-Rogallo glider and becomes the flagship of their newly founded company, Ultralight Products. A series of successful designs follow, including the Condor with its world record duration flight of 16 hours, 4 minutes in 1979.

Rising like a Comet

Helping the company gain success quickly is Pete Brockís logo design. The UP arrow achieves cult status from the beginning and for many pilots characterises like no other logo the spirit of hang gliding and later paragliding. The logo and the brandís positive image attract the interest of various investors over the companyís three-decade history. The first is in 1980, when Yuseke Yamazaki, a Japanese investor from a dynasty of Samurais, lays the foundation for UPís success in Asia.

The year 1980 also marks the introduction of Roy Haggardís latest pioneering development, the UP Comet. The Cometís outrigger-free construction concept is revolutionary and is still valid today. Jim Lee sets the world distance record at 268 km with a Comet in 1981, and eventually the UP Comet becomes one of the biggest-selling hang gliders of all time. Success breeds followers, and the Comet is a natural target for copying. In 1982 Airwave, UPís representative in Europe, produces the Magic, which is nothing more than a modified Comet.

In the mid-80s Pete Brock and Roy Haggard retire from the everyday business. Ownership and location of the firm change in the following years. Through the continued influence of Yuseke Yamazaki, UP becomes UP International, a wholly owned subsidiary of a Japanese parent company, Isomura, Inc. Encouraged by the success of the hang gliding business, Isomura diversifies the UP brand into windsurfing, UL-flying and fashion. In Japan one can find the UP arrow on the UP-Sports clothing line, and on T-shirts, jackets and socks. Even today at famous Venice Beach in Los Angeles one can find rollerbladers leaning against the UP arrow logo as they take breaks on park benches donated by the local UP surf shop in the mid-80s.

If UPís logo is the stuff of legend, so are its corporate locations like the UP Soaring Center in Salt Lake City. The TRX, the first production series hang glider with carbon tube elements, is developed at the Soaring Center under the guidance of UPís new designer, Terry Reynolds. Despite various technical innovations, the TRX remains the last successful UP hang glider for some time.

Paragliding is now the new trend. Though UP is a latecomer to paragliding, the company hits the mark in 1990 with the relatively unknown Korean designer Gin Seok Song. The Flash, developed by Gin in the U.S. together with test pilot Greg Smith, is revolutionary. The Flash is the first paraglider with a perfectly smooth leading edge and has more performance than anything else on the market. The glider dominates in competition and becomes a bestseller. Yet the Flash remains Ginís only design for UP since he is coaxed to another paragliding newcomer, Edel, with a lucrative offer.

At this time, Claus Bichlmeier is UPís importer for the German-speaking markets.

Global Expansion from Germany

By now the burgeoning paragliding market is demanding of UP a more formal and resolute business organization and market approach. In 1992 Ernst Schneider establishes UP Europe in Sindelsdorf near Garmisch and all development and testing is carried out in Europe. Ernstís list of colleagues reads like a ĎWhoís Whoí of paragliding. Designer Rasso von Schlichtegroll, later co-founder of freeX, develops best-selling gliders like the Katana, the Vision and the tandem Pickup. Chief Test Pilot Ernst Strobl crowns his competition career in 1992 by winning the European Championship.

That same year Uli Wiesmeier wins the first Paragliding World Cup series on a Katana. In addition to his involvement in competition, Uli is responsible for UPís public image. Uliís brilliant advertising work, his eye for style in developing the Skywear line of clothing and his award-winning creativity in filmmaking all contribute greatly to ensuring that the UP legend thrives in paragliding. French UP pilot Richard Gallon wins the 1994 PWC. In 1995 the new World Champion Stephan Stiegler and top pilots like Peter Hensold, the Italian cross-country ace Eduard Taschler and Sebastian ďRamboĒ Bourquin become members of the UP team.

Motivated by UPís success in paragliding, Ernst Schneider establishes a hang gliding department under the auspices of UP Europe. The original Salt Lake development team at the Soaring Center starts a separate company that eventually leads to the formation of Altair under the leadership of Dick Chainey and John Heiney. Bernd Weber, the manager of Thalhofer and co-founder of the rigid wing manufacturer A.I.R. takes charge of UPís new hang gliding line. The Speed, UPís first hang glider in nearly five years, is introduced in 1995, and the topless version, the Speed TL follows in 1997.

Ernst Schneider sells UP Europe the same year, and the buyer is once again from Japan. The profitable entertainment group Daiichi Kosho is seeking to diversify from the Karaoke industry and is looking to the flying industry for an additional profit center. With the continually developed paragliders from Europe and their own paragliding schools domestically, ďDKĒ quickly enjoys market leadership in Japan.

The Japanese invest substantially in UP Europe, where the workforce and the competition team are expanded. In 1997 half of the German League is flying UPís new performance glider, the Escape. During this time, UP Europe relocates to offices north of Garmisch in Kochel am See, where up to 20 employees are working.

By this time, the paragliding boom is subsiding and high quality designs like those of the Escape, the Soul, and the Blues do not attain the market successes of their predecessors. And in addition to feeling that the Japanese leadership is not making good business decisions, numerous employees have difficulties with the Japanese style of management. Many end up leaving UP- first and foremost Ernst Strobl, who founds Airea.

The latest chapter in the UP story begins when Daiichi Kosho and UP part ways in 1999. At this time, Bernd Weber gives up the hang gliding part of the business. Of the several parties interested in the remaining paragliding business with the exceptional UP brand, the successful bidder is the Swede Christian RŲnning. Flying since 1988, Christian is one of the pioneering paraglider pilots in Sweden. He also brings with him a wealth of business experience gained as a management consultant to multinational firms in Asia.

At the end of 1999 Christian RŲnning begins UP anew with a substantially reduced, yet highly experienced staff at his side. Torsten Siegel, Georg Maier and former World Champion Stephan Stiegler remain responsible for product development, and it is upon their know-how that the current product line is based. A new era for UP is firmly established when in just one year UP progresses from the old designs to a whole new glider range including the Pulse, the Makalu, the Summit, the Gambit, the Sherpa, and the Gambit C. UP's R&D department has since adopted a roughly three-year cycle for the renewal of gliders, which has already led to a number of even more succesful designs being launched, not least the World Champion 2003 winner the Targa, the Serial Class reference wing for almost 4 years called the Trango, and now the successors to these, the Targa 2 having already won the World Cup in 2004


Windtech Logo

About Windtech

Windtech is a Spanish company founded in 1995 and now one of the largest paragliding manufacturers in the world and manufactures almost all of its wings in Europe. Windtech has a new state of the art manufacturing facility ideally situated right next to both Atlantic coastal soaring sites and the Pyrenees mountain thermal sites. However it is not Windtech's desire to be the largest company in the world nor to sell their wings to every pilot, consistent with Airplay Paragliding's focus on quality over quantity.

The thing that initially impressed us with Windtech was the incredibly high quality of their construction. The stitching and detail of their wings is excellent, tape is used on leading and trailing edges, the profiles are clean and smooth in flight, and all their wings, even the entry-level Ambar, use diagonal rib construction. Likewise, their paragliding bags are well padded with enough room for today's larger harnesses

Our first opportunity to really fly the wings came with our week-long 1999 XC Clinic, an annual event at the Washington Flight Park for experienced cross-country pilots. There we learned, through numerous long XC flights in strong thermic conditions including several never before completed XC routes, that Windtech wings have an incredible combination of performance and security. The Quarx, in particular, equalled the performance of other well-known high-performance but less secure wings.

Since then, we have flown and enjoyed each new glider that Windtech has produced. The new student gliders have all had great security and good behaviour that makes learning a pleasure with no quirky or difficult handling problems to overcome. There is a uniform progression from beginner wings to advanced wings with no huge leaps of pilot skills required. In addition, the newest intermediate and performance wings have great handling and performance and look great


It is always a good idea to demo a wing before you buy one. We are always happy for you to come and try Windtech or any other wings we have in stock. Contact Us to arrange a time to visit us. You can join our classes in progress as well and progress your flying skills as well.