Fluid Wings HK history:
The story of the HK is so intertwined with the early history of Fluid it is impossible to separate so we have to start back at the beginning:
A little background:
Kevin began paragliding at age 16 and immediately fell in love with flight. He was one of the early pioneers of Acrobatic paragliding in the USA and taught at the Point of the Mountain in Utah for over 10 years. Kevin has also attended flight school and earned his pilot license. Kevin began tinkering with wings early on making significant changes to wings he owned and soon after began testing for several major paragliding companies off and on between instructing and flight school commitments.
Scott began skydiving in 1998 and by 2001 was a competitive canopy Pilot and went on to attend 3 world championships and countless other top level competitions with his involvement on Team FASTRAX and Slipstream Airports. Scott is a licensed Engineer (Master’s degree) with over 20 years’ experience of design experience.
A Meeting of the minds:
In 2007 Scott and Kevin met through speed flying. Kevin was instructing paragliding and Scott was doing contract work for another major parachute company for the release of a speed wing. Once they met they quickly became friends and began to share knowledge (Scott sharing skydiving with Kevin, and Kevin paragliding/speed flying with Scott). Shortly after that they began what became to be known as Project Mayhem.
Project Mayhem started with what seemed like a stunt; to jump out of plane with a paraglider once and survive. The project quickly evolved to develop a way to repeatedly jump Acrobatic (Acro) Paragliders out of airplanes. The project evolved over 4 years and involved some serious safety, rigging and aerodynamic challenges. In 2012 They achieved their goal and were able to successfully jump wings in repeatable manner. This system or sub-components have yet to come to market, however some might have heard of small parts such as the skydiving hip harness. With that that under their belt they wondered what next.
Meanwhile in 2011, Scott was hurt in a serious paragliding accident which left him bed ridden for over 4 months and made continued competition as a top level Canopy Pilot improbable. He decided to use the time he had with nothing to do and took several courses in aerodynamics, and studied full time during his recuperation and well beyond. He also found a paragliding designer in Spain that he was able to apprentice under and learned the details of Ram Air wing design. Scott also spent a good deal of time and research learning how to perform “CFD” or computational fluid dynamics, which is nerd for computer simulations of fluid flow (yes Scott fluently speaks nerd). When combined with Kevin’s experimental based approach they soon realized they had a magic combination.
The early times:
After Project Mayhem, the two wondered what was next. A paraglider of course! Scott set to work designing it and building it. In Late 2012 they had a first version of the Rubicon. They tested it in Utah under Kevin’s lead and found it not only to be safe and effective but really fun and generally a joy to fly. They both knew they wanted to make more wings and make this a full time venture.
This is when things got serious and they began working full time on the future. They brought in others to help (Shane and eventually Lucas) and Fluid was formed. They rented their first space in Deland Fl. in 2013 and began the R&D to produce more paragliders and parachutes immediately. With Scotts background in competitive canopy piloting it became obvious that a high performance competition wing was in the future.
The birth of the HK:
The Hooker Project (named as a sexy play on words after hook turns) was born in April of 2013 and in the first month they had 3 different prototypes. Then the hard work of testing began (not all successful J. This project continued for over 3 years and had 16 entirely different designs with over 20 prototypes and countless minor changes such as lines or swapping out end/center cells etc. (50+ revisions to lines alone). The project was led by Scott and was continuous during the development of both the Prime and Helix.
Side note: In late 2014 they had something that had most of the characteristic they wanted and had significant performance advantages to the convention cross braced wings on the market at the time. However, they found that the wing required a precise level of “active” piloting similar to that of paragliders. They recognized that skydiving pilots were not trained for nor accustomed to that type of flying and decided that the wing needed to fly like other skydiving wings. So they went back to the drawing boards and started from scratch one more time to find that balance.
In late 2015, the final revision on the HK wing began to look like they had a serious contender for a product. They built some wings for the core group of Fluid Pilots to use in competition and made the necessary small changes to make this a viable wing that could hold its own against any completion wing on the market. Once all the sizes were sorted out and tested the wing was released in spring for 2016.
The future of Fluid Competition wings:
The HK is part of an ever evolving project that will supply pilots with a “race” concept competition wings. R&D is ongoing and the wing will be periodically updated to reflect the state of the art. There are no secret handshakes, no special invitations or exclusive club membership needed to get an HK. All that is required is the commensurate skill to fly it safely and a desire to fly a top notch cutting edge wing.
Fluid already has the next step in the Hooker Project, its undergoing R&D and we know you’ll love it when its out and available.