• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

'Dynamic soaring' is IE man's high-tech hobby

March 31, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Here's a story about model planes, but not the kind you built from balsa wood when you were a kid. One Inland Empire man is building some of the biggest and fastest model planes ever.For years boys and men have been fascinated by handheld gliders. Take them, send them into the wind, and see how long they'll stay in the air.

Well, that's been taken up a few notches.

One of the people responsible for the rapid changes in this hobby is a Riverside cabinet maker named Joe Manor.

A few years ago he became interested in "dynamic soaring," building large, sleek carbon-fiber gliders designed for speed.

To give an idea what dynamic soaring is all about, Eyewitness News accompanied Manor to a windy ridge in the Banning Pass.

After checking the wind velocity -- it was gusting up to 44 miles per hour -- Manor took his 15-pound glider with an 80-inch wingspan and tossed it into the wind.

A state-of-the-art remote transmitter controlled the glider's ailerons and wing flaps, keeping the darting glider in a circular pattern.

"Oh, that's close to 200 [mph]," said Manor.

Manor was asked if conditions were better in the area than anywhere else in Southern California.

"I think this is one of the best places in the world right now. I'm sure that overseas somewhere, up in the, you know, the Alps or somewhere, is bound to be better," said Manor.

"Sometimes we come out here with some planes that are slower and you don't have to focus so much when you're flying them and, you know, that's a lot of fun too," said Manor. "It's really relaxing."

But he can't relax too much as it's going so fast. "Not with this one. You take your eyes off of it for a second, it'll be gone."

Manor has made a presentation of dynamic soaring to famed aerospace designer Burt Rutan in Mojave.

"He was blown away, you know, he had said it was interesting. He said 'I hadn't seen anything for many years that has excited me as much as this.' He said, 'I don't know why I haven't heard of this, but it's amazing and I've got to see it in person.' He said it looks like smoke and mirrors," said Manor.