Millennium by Bright Star Hang Gliders

There are two types of Millennium. The standard one and the CF.


The Millennium is a successor model to the Swift and is also made by Bright Star Hang Gliders.
The Millennium entered production as of the end of December, 1997. As of November, 1999, there were close to 50 Millenniums (Millennia?) delivered; and as of April 5th, the backlog of orders has finally disappeared, allowing new buyers to have a glider with custom colours in about three weeks. There is also a Control Frame version under development.

From the BrightStar factory in early 1997: "The Millennium is like an entry-level version of the Swift that is targeted at flex wing pilots who want a safer, higher performing wing. We focused on improving handling qualities, transportability, lower weight, and lower cost in the design of the Millennium because we feel these are the most critical concerns for flex-wing pilots considering a rigid wing."

Millennium specifications, pictures, and company information are available from Steve Morris, a member of the design team. There are more pictures at: the same site.

Here is some information, including pictures, released in mid-1998 on the Millennium by the Sonoma Wings Hang Gliding Club, available at:

Here is the web page of the Western U.S. Distributor, Thin Air Designs.

Here are some impressions from a pilot, Rick Cavallaro , who visited the factory in mid-1997.

Here are some initial flight impressions from John Borton, then an independent pilot but now a distributor for the Millennium.

Here are some flight impressions from Mark 'Forger' Stucky, a NASA test pilot.

Here are some first soaring flight impressions from Deane Williams.

Here are some first flight impressions from Paul Gazis.

Here is a press release from Bright Star about an in-flight structural failure of the Millennium production prototype.

Press releases from Bright Star on a Millennium accident and preventative measure owners can take.

Photos of the Millennium

Note: These photos are © BrightStar Hang Gliders.
Take-off photo 1 of prototype 3 (109 kb)
Take-off photo 2 of prototype 3 (94 kb)
Take-off photo 3 of prototype 3 (117 kb)
Take-off photo 4 of prototype 3 (95 kb)
More production Millennium pics (with fairing)
an aerial shot of two other Mills flown by Brian Porter and John Borton (56 kb)
a shot of Brian Porter heading toward Hawaii in the Ft. Funston shear (24 kb)
looking south along the coast (22 kb)
chasing another Millennium northward along the coast (23 kb)
in-air self portrait of Steve Morris (32 kb)
Brian landing with a drogue chute system being developed by JB (56 kb)
a Millennium on the ground at Ft. Funston (18 kb)
looking down on another Millennium flying over houses (69 kb)
looking over at a Millennium with tail fairing (58 kb)
nice view of the state park behind launch (nice glove, Steve!) (43 kb)
Stewart surface-towing at Kelsey, Alberta (24 kb)
Stewart launching at Mt. Seven, Golden, B.C. (72 kb)
Here are some photos of Rick Cavallaro's new Millennium (serial. no. 7).

Stephen Bannasch's look at the Millennium.

World Rigid-wing record holder Ramy Yanetz' Millennium photo gallery. Ramy reports he flew a rudder-pedal equipped Millennium (John Borton's) and that it was easier to fly and coordinated well. He was told the pedals can be retrofitted to existing gliders by the factory and shouldn't cost much. He tried them on a 115-mile (185 km) flight on the Easter long weekend from the Tracy airport in the San Francisco Bay area, having released from a truck tow at under 300m AGL.

Millennium Flight Envelope

From: Stephen J Morris []
Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 1999 10:08
To :
Cc :
Subj: Millennium flight envelope
Some people have asked me what the operating speeds for the Millennium are and how they were derived. We use the sailplane design guidelines listed in the Joint Airworthiness Requirements for sailplanes (JAR 22) for defining the flight envelope. The numbers listed below are for the Millennium without fairing. The dive speed (Vd) is a calculated number and need not be demonstrated in flight. Vdf is a flight demonstrated speed, flown at low g levels. Vne is 0.9 times Vdf.

Millennium @ sea level 180 lb pilot. All speeds are equivalent airspeeds:

Vs=23.6 mph (stall speed)
Va=Vb= 54.3 mph (maneuver and gust speed, utility class 5.3 g limit load)
Vd=79.5 mph (calculated dive speed for unfaired glider)
Vdf=71.55 mph (demonstrated dive speed)
Vne=64.4 mph (never exceed speed)
We oversized the structure to handle a maximum maneuver load at 65 mph (with 1.5 safety factor) so that we would have extra margin against breaking the glider at the calculated Vne of 65 mph. Please bear in mind that the airloads increase with the square of the flight speed yielding the following results:

Speed (mph) 23.6 54.3 65 80 100
Maximum g attainable 1.0 5.3 7.6 11.5 18.0
Maximum g is achieved by stalling the glider at the specified speed, i.e. at 80 mph a full aft stick motion will produce 11.5 g assuming the wings don't break. These numbers show how easily one can over stress a low wing loading rigid wing aircraft simply by flying fast and pulling g's.

Steve Morris
Bright Star Gliders, Inc.

Winglet design

Subject: Winglets
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999 12:10:26 -0700
From: "Vachss, Frederick"

It's been suggested here that the winglets on the Mill don't have much of a performance impact except in increasing high speed drag. This isn't really the case.

The tiny winglets that were popular on flex wings a few years back did little except improve yaw stability and maybe improve general handling a bit. The much larger winglets on the Mill do provide yaw stability (and a place to hang the rudders), but equally important they add effective span.

A rule of thumb is that the effective span of an aircraft with properly designed winglets is the actual span plus half the total winglet height. The actual span of the the Mill is only 37-38.5 feet (depending on whether you measure to the winglet attachment points or include the horizontal component of the tilted winglets). In addition to this, however, the two 3 foot tall winglets add a total of 3 feet to the effective span - or 2 feet with the new reduced height winglets.

This means that the span of the aircraft used in calculate sink rate, L/D and all the performance parameters we care about should be about 40-41 feet. This is why the Mill glides with the hot new hybrids like the ATOS and GB even at low speeds when you'd expect a 42 foot span wing to stomp all over a 37 footer.

As has been pointed out by others, however, a bigger wing is better only at lower speeds. This is why Bright Star felt they could chop a foot off the winglets (for the nominal purpose of reducing winglet flutter tendency) without hurting overall performance. The winglet size reduction cost a little bit on the low speed end but gave a commensurate benefit in high speed performance due to the reduced drag.

Admittedly, the original winglets on the Mill are bigger than they need to be since the newer reduced size versions seem to work just fine. Given my personal bias toward low speed performance, however, I'm in no hurry to replace my big ones with the shorties. In a race in strong conditions, however, the new shorties would be the way to go.

Fred Vachss


New Millennium prototype - the "Utopia"

From Steven Morris: "We are playing around with a new version of the Millennium that has a bigger wingspan (39 ft) and a smaller hang cage. This version is optimized for max L/D with a fairing (soon to be fitted) and the flight testing has shown excellent results so far. The performance fully faired should be very close to a Swift's. We may offer it as a new product, but since we don't have jigs for all the parts of this new design, the price will be higher than a standard Millennium (probably in the range of $11.5k to $12k)." For more information, contact Steven Morris.

An additional detail: The cage is raised much closer to the wing for improved visibility and is also angled 8° downward. The frontal area of the cage is greatly reduced.

Photos of a new Millennium-based prototype (March, 1999)
(project name Utopia)

Brian Porter flying the new prototype
new proto in a steep turn
close-up at Ed Levin Park of the new cage (more compact, closer to the wing, angled down for better visibility)
- this cage may be retrofittable to existing Millennia, but only at the factory.
Looking down on Brian Porter (photo by Manfred Ruhmer)
Brian Porter aerotow-launching at Quest
Brian Porter over the Florida flatlands (photo by Manfred Ruhmer)


Millennium CF


Rigid-wing Models - The Millennium CF

From: Dennis Holverstott
Sent: Wednesday, December 09, 1998 3:24 PM
To: Hang Gliding List
Cc: Rigid Wing List; Rob Kells
Subject: Mill CB

I asked Rob Kells about landing the Millennium with a control bar. He gave me permission to post his reply.

P.S. - I'm not a Wills dealer nor do I play one on TV :-)


Rob Kells wrote:

Hi Dennis,

It's amazingly easy to land, I'd guess with the tip boards out at 80% it's glide path is somewhere around 7 to 1, kinda between a Falcon and an Ultra Sport. Easy / obvious flair window with no steppers possible in 1 mph wind. The rear keel hits the ground after it stops flying which helps keep the weight of the thing from coming down and squishing you like a bug:). It looks wicked like a Lear 60, yet flies like a Cessna.

I think a hang three could fly it easily.

You are welcome to come fly the pre-production plane when it's done. I'm hoping we can make it lighter and in some form that we can afford to produce. It brings giggles when flying with other gliders, kind of an unfair weapon if ya know what I mean.


From: "Davis Straub"
To: "OZReport"
Subject: Oz Report, Vol 2, #56 - 1999 US Competitions
Date: Wed, 25 Nov 1998 19:27:44 -0800

... snip ...

The following bulletin went out to Wills Wing dealers recently:

"The folks at Bright Star, (designers of the Swift and Millennium) put a control bar on a Millenium for us to evaluate. It is weight shift controlled in pitch, and aerodynamically controlled in roll and yaw, activated through pilot pressure on the control bar. To the pilot the aerodynamic controls are "transparent," i.e.; you fly it like a flex wing.

"If it turns out that the project is feasible aerodynamically, structurally and financially we may choose to produce and sell a control bar configuration of the Millenium. We'll keep you updated as we get further into the project. Please give us your feedback on what you think the market might be for a glider like this in your area."

The downside? We've heard that it might have to be priced at $14,000 to make it feasible for Wills Wing to build. If true, Millenium owners have been getting a great deal. Of course, most of us who've flown the Millenium wonder at how they can do it for the price.

Co-designer of the Swift and Millennium , Steve Morris, wrote in the AirHOG mailing list on September 11th 1988:
"Yes, it exists as a prototype. We took the remains of Brian Porter's Millennium #00 and retrofitted the wing with an 'A' frame that actuates the rudders and elevons when the pilot moves his body side to side. The modification was simple to do and the glider was test flown 4 days after the decision to try it out was made. At this point four people have flown the wing and we are considering putting this glider into production. Why, you may ask, is Bright Star Gliders building its first design with a control frame since the Odyssey? Because pilots want it, and we think we can offer some advantages over the Exxtacy in control response, handling, and glider set-up. With so many Exxtacy clones coming to the marketplace we wanted to offer a prone-flown wing with a positive difference and it only seems natural to modify a successful design rather than start from scratch. It also demonstrates something that we've felt all along, that the Millennium is really as much a hang glider as any other design. Whether it has a cage or 'A'frame is a matter of pilot preference and not an inherent property of the design itself. I'll post some photos on my web site ( next week."

Millennium distributor John Borton of Thin Air Designs, also in the September 11th edition of the AirHOG mailing list, wrote:
It's real, and no it doesn't look anything like the Lumina which to me looks like an Exxtacy with Horner tips and ailerons. The Mill CF (my designation) currently looks exactly like a Millennium with the cage replaced by a control frame. The Millennium has always had a bit more roll authority than the Exx if for no other reason than there are three control surfaces working to turn you (both ailerons + one rudder) rather than one spoileron. The limiting roll factor on the Mill has always been the short side stick controller...there is just not enough leverage to really throw the controls around. No longer a problem on the Mill CF. The control frame and weight shift input method allows for plenty of throw on the ailerons and plenty of rudder input resulting in impressive roll rates. I was on the wing for only 5 minutes before gaining the confidence to do things that rigids aren't seen doing...mainly turning on a dime. Is the CF that has been seen a production unit? Far from it. Are there still design/production issues to be worked out? PLENTY. Will the R/D be completed and will the wing enter production? Too early to say. Did I have a blast? Oh Yeah!!

Here are some photos of Rick Cavallaro's new Millennium (serial. no. 7).