Friday, July 21, 2017
Gradient Aspen 6 24
The Aspen 6 is the 2017-18 C glider from Gradient. I have flown all the Aspens, and after the 5th version which has a slight yaw movement but very good glide ratio especially on top speed, here’s the Aspen 6 test in size 24. (70-90)
The take off for a 6.4 aspect ratio C glider at 90 all up, is moderate to easy. In the air, the Aspen 6 feels like you are flying a higher rated glider. At 90 all up it feels quite good.Not really overweight…I mean it’s exactly the weight it supposed to be .88 till 90…and could be nice at 92 also.
In turbulent air the Aspen 6 needs good active piloting for a C glider. It needs slightly more pilot control than a Cayenne 5.
The brake travel is moderate and on the light side. Much lighter than the Delta 3 and Sigma 10 i had for testing. The ability to turn the Aspen 6 is not as fast as turning the S10, Delta 3 or the Cayenne 5. The Aspen 6 needs a little input and more finesse to get a similar turn. But it could be described as ‘fairly agile’
The climb rate compared to a Delta 3 MS is very good ! I think after some flying side by side and swapping gliders, (Delta 3 MS at 94 and Aspen 6 24 at 90) The Aspen 6 showed a ‘slight’ better climb !
especially in weak conditions, where i could sense a float ability for the Aspen 6.Even in strong air, the climb rate of the Aspen 6 was very nice !
Getting both gliders for some gliding lines showed me after a while that the Aspen 6 24 is really keeping up…very close ! even at 5-7 km/h over trim.
Underneath the Aspen 6 the feeling is like you have a fine tuned 7 aspect ratio glider in a 6.4 aspect ratio glider…Well that’s the feeling… In turbulent air, there’s no annoying pitch movements. But some efficient ones. The Aspen 6 likes to dance a bit in turbulent air
… But much more comfortable than a Poison 3 XS for example. Similar to an LM6 S in feel, but with longer and lighter brakes …I’m trying to place it in order to give you an idea.
Big ears are stable and reopen on pilot action.
Conclusion: The Aspen legendary swift handling is unfortunately not available anymore as it was on the Aspen 1-2-3 ...That's the plain fact. But it seems Gradient is aiming for performance efficiency as main target with fair handling.
Indeed, the Aspen 6 like the Aspen 5, showed me a very efficient C glider in that category. It requires active piloting over the easy Sigma 10 or even the Delta 3. But a good pilot could…have a slight edge for efficiency. I didn’t tried the Aspen 6- 26 (i think it must be loaded at top +105 ) and could feel differently …Hope many pilots out-there will test fly it and report back.
Saturday, June 17, 2017
ADVANCE Sigma 10 25 (Authenticity at it’s best)
Here’s the new Sigma…How times go fast…I still remember my flights on the Sigma 4, 19 years ago !!!! high above ‘Cheval blanc’ in Saint Andre…Conditions were rough! was a bit lost… heavy turbulence…Great memories ;-)
But that glider turned on a dime ! It was a dhv 2-3 at the time, and was pretty dynamic in frontals, but what a dream handling it had!
Back to the future now, with the Sigma 10 in size 25 ready to take off finally. As usual, the construction, the sewings, the finishing details of the Sigma 10 is similar to a Ferrari. Don’t expect less.
Launching the 6.1 aspect ratio Sigma 10 is smooth, easy, and without surprises. The take off is immediate.
First turn and my eyebrows are already lifted! The brake travel is very responsive, accurate, precise, direct, and linear. Much better progressive feel over the S9. I flew the Sigma 10 in different conditions, from the sea spots to the higher Cedars range, and i never felt anytime that it was reluctant to turn in any kind of thermic conditions. The Sigma 10 responded to my commands whenever i wanted regardless of what conditions is around. A super obedient glider and a pleasurable one to fly. It can be placed exactly where the pilots wants.
This excellent brake authority is coupled with a very well structured glider. Whatever it is…optimized Sliced Diagonals, 3D Diamond Shaping, C-Wires…I really don’t know, but i’m very sure that the internal structure of this Sigma 10 is super solid, super coherent, and very efficient in turbulent air. I didn’t noticed any wrinkles on that surface…It seems flawless…Or i could be getting old and needs glasses ;-)
i flew the Sigma 10 ,25 from 93 to 97 and it was the optimum weight for any kind of conditions. This coherent solid feel was always present like a guardian.
I also flew next to my reference glider in the C category, the Cayenne 5 XS at 92 all up. Doing many glides in active air together showed at first a similar glide at trim speed with a very slight edge in trim speed for the S10. The difference was more visual at 40 % of the Sigma 10, red marker. At that speed, with the Cayenne 5 XS matching it also, the Sigma 10 showed me a better glide by a small margin in calm air. In active turbulent air this margin was bigger. For me it was a first. Not one C glider before yet out-glided the cayenne 5.
Full speed on the Cayenne 5 with the Sigma 10 matching that speed, they showed same glide again. Now the Sigma 10 similarly loaded has +3km/h more top speed. Pushing that speed in front of the Cayenne 5 for a while and releasing it. When the Cayenne 5 reached the Sigma 10, they were again at the same level.
The best glide for the Sigma 10, size 25 is around 40 % over trim !
Climb rate in weak condition less than 0.5 m/s were slightly on the Cayenne 5 which seems slightly a bit floatier. As the thermal are more punchy and powerful, the Sigma 10 shoots quickly upward! It’s a 6.1 AR, but it does really go up very fast reaching the top of gaggles.
I noticed that each time the conditions were more turbulent, the Sigma 10, showed more it’s potential by cutting through and moving forward like no Sigma has done before. That’s why, i can confirm swiftly that this Sigma 10 is the best Sigma ever made when it comes to true performance!
Wait…That’s not all .. :-)
The Sigma 10 delivers a high comfort in active air ! This swift handling, the solid structure, will let the C pilot control it swiftly and accurately in active air. I can say any Good B pilot could easily upgrade on the Sigma 10 after two seasons on his glider. At it’s optimum weight load, this profile doesn’t pitch back in turbulence, neither forward. It just goes trough turbulence and move forward, letting it’s pilot comfortably relaxed. It’s an efficient glider in headwind or valley breeze, especially for 6.1 AR C glider. I’ll update my C comparison soon, but be prepared to see the Sigma 10 among the most comfortable ones.
There’s one more :-)
The Sigma 10 has one of the most efficient C controls a glider can have. It doesn’t react as a 2 liner, but really close :-) .
I mean this glider is much more stable than higher rated ones, therefore, when on bar, this efficient C control, will help a lot by reducing any surge movement in active air. So stepping on the pedal is very easy and accessible.
Big ears with outer A’s move slightly but i can say they are stable enough and reopen by a small dab on the brakes or sometimes calmly by themselves. Big ears pulling the B3 and the stabile line works well also, but it’s better for this method to push the bar before pulling them. They reopen swiftly!
Conclusion: Advance has done a marvelous job on this Sigma 10! They didn’t stretch the aspect ratio, keeping it simple and authentic as it should be. They worked hard on the inner structure and other details and they succeeded to deliver accessible ‘TOP’ performance in the C category. 1- 90% Comfortable, 2- 95% agile, 3- 90% efficient and usable top performance, plus fast enough for a C !
Happiness emerges from the most simple things in life. The Sigma 10 approaches that philosophy with excellence.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
DUDEK Colt 2 S
This is my first Dudek paraglider to test fly.
The Colt 2 construction seems very well done, with all unsheathed lines from top to bottom but with a moderate width if we want to compare it to the Cayenne 5 linewidth which has slightly more minimalistic lines. The color combinations are nice and the overall built quality from the lines, risers, cloth, finish is excellent.
Taking off is fine on the S at 90 all up. The brake travel is long. Too long to my liking… the leading edge began to react after 10 cm of brake travel, but the glider needs more than +30 cm to get in into turns ,especially in turbulent cores. Its difficult to get it as fast as you imagine, and that wasn’t really expected from a manufacturer that makes very good acro wings.
In strong small cores, i got sometimes pushed away and i needed to be more persistent to hook them up.
I can say that the Colt 2 S is a comfortable glider for the mid C category. But it could be even more comfortable if the pilot had more brake control, to place it when he wants in turbulence and turbulent thermals.
Going on glides next to a Cayenne 5 XS loaded at 94 all up gave me the impression that the Colt 2 has a moderate to good glide angle. Not really similar to the Cayenne 5, but close. I can say that the climb rate and also glide are very good for the ‘mid’ C category. The trim speed of the Colt 2 at 90 all up is 0.5 km/h less than the C5 XS at 94 all up.
Conclusion: I would wish that Dudek would be able to revise the brake geometry of the Colt 2 S, to be able to give it more authority on the brakes. Other than that, the Colt 2 S is a nice moderate C glider in comfort, climb, glide, and with very good manufacturing details.
Monday, June 12, 2017
And the Knight came…
Back positioning system (Shark nose) , 5.4 aspect ratio, 3.8 AR projected. If you hold and look only at the lines and risers, you think you are on the 777 King. Unsheathed lines on top and regular on the lower part with exactly the same width! Impressive.
Triple seven messages are clear…at first sight, performance is ‘one’ important target.
The overall construction of the knight is super neat.
I flew the Knight SM at 93 all up in some turbulent air and strong conditions in our Cedars range.
Launching the Knight in nil wind is smooth and super easy. In strong wind, a dab on the brakes when the knight is above the pilot’s head will be better to control it overhead.
In the air, the Knight overall movements in pitch and roll weather in moderate or strong air, are super smooth and very well coordinated! It feels exactly like a low B in dampening feel with this exquisite little spice, which let the pilot, feels every movement of the air smoothly and very accurately!
I didn’t feel at any time that ‘dull’ feel found usually on the low B gliders…Instead the Knight delivers a very comfortable feel no matter how rough conditions are, with this little touch of magic, that informs the pilot about what’s going on in the air in a super smooth way!
The Knight can be steered by a small amount on the brakes. I can describe the authority on the brakes as moderate to short, linear, precise, direct, agile…And I LOVE it! For a low B the Knight has the ‘dream handling’ Thermalling with the Knight is a real pleasure…I could control the turning radius by little precise brake inputs. Tight turns or large turns without that ‘common dive’ usually found on the low B’s. The turning radius on the Knight is very efficient. Flat turns can be made to optimize the climb in weak thermals. The knight has much better agility and more brake authority than the Rook 2 for example.
Trying to stall the Knight is difficult with hands lower than the seat board and lots of pressure. It’s really difficult to reach the stalling point.
Efficiency in an important word in the paragliding world. Creating efficient gliders in their respective categories is the most difficult part. The Knight cuts through the air-mass without any pitch back, or even a pitch forward. It just cut through peacefully, efficiently, like any good B glider would do. I didn’t feel at any time that I was being pushed away or bumping into the air-mass. The Knight was delivering a smooth efficient ride through the air.
The knight climb rate is on par with the best B’s available today, even the higher rated ones!
The overall glide performance is right on top of the low B category, and could reach some higher rated B glider easily.
The Rook 2 has the edge in the top speed glide.
The difference between the Tequila 4 that I liked, and the Knight is the extra comfort and smoothness in flight the Knight delivers with very close authority on the brakes, without the dive in turns.
The speed bar is easy to use with moderate pressure. The knight SM has a long speed bar travel, and when the pulleys are overlapping, I could see a 12 km/h over trim taken at 2800 ASL.
At bar, +8 km/h over trim is usable in all conditions.
Big ears are stable and reopen by the pilot input. They are efficient in descent rate.
Induced asymmetric are easy to countersteer and reopen quickly. Full induced frontal makes a ‘rosette’ but a little dab on the brakes and it opens as fast as lightning.
Conclusion: IMHO, Triple Seven has created a ‘master piece’ for the low B category. The impressive cocktail of climb, glide, handling, comfort, ease of use, authority on the brakes, efficiency, is very rare to be found on a low B glider on the market today.
Friday, May 26, 2017
Mac Para Elan 2 size 26 (85-102)
The Elan 2 is Mac Para new 2017 C glider. The leading edge has a shark nose, lower lines are sheathed, and the upper galleries are unsheathed. Again it seems that with the Eden 6 , Mac Para glider construction is being enhanced and quite neat. The leading edge looks very taught and its shape looks very clean.
Launching the Elan 2 is easy for a C pilot. When pulling the A’s there’s no hanging back and no surging forward.
I flew the Elan 2 26 at 99 all up with an X-rated 6 harness. The brake travel can be described as moderate to precise in the first part. 15 to 20 cm can steer the glider easily. Inducing turns inside thermals shows a fair agility for the Elan 2 ,and could be similar to the Elan 1 26 i test flew 2,5 years ago.
I also flew the Elan 2 24 at 89 all up with a Forza harness. The 24 can be steered with only 10 cm having a moderate pressure. The handling and the way to turn the 24 is really nice. Much better than the 26 with quicker brake authority as usually seen on smaller gliders. At +15 cm and beyond, of brake travel, the Elan 2 has a slightly harder brake travel and its only used to control pitch movements.
This new construction showed me a super strong leading edge. The feeling underneath is quite tamed. The leading edge felt like a solid structure above my head. I tried many times to pull the A’s on the 26, in order to induce frontals, and it was indeed a difficult task ! They need a super hard pull to get the leading edge into a collapse.
In very weak conditions, with thermals less than 0.3 m/s this tamed feeling, erases the feel of hooking those tiny lifts. Exactly like the Delta 3 ML feeling.
In stronger thermals, the Elan 2 26 hooks nicely, a neutral pitch in smooth thermals and a slight pitch back in turbulent ones. In overall thermal flying, the Elan 2 26 seems an easy and tamed C glider. A pilot on the Elan 1, won’t need any upgrade in pilot level, if he goes to the Elan 2 26. I also think that a good pilot on an Eden 6 ,will fly the Elan 2 26 easily. That’s the first strong point of the Elan 2 26.
The Elan 2 24 is more dynamic. I think i can place it in the middle of the C category ,not for its comfort which is still superb! but for its dynamic handling and energy retention.
The way to steer the 24 can be described as precise, nimble and agile. I also felt something strange…Yet i was on top weight of the 24, i felt weak thermals better than being 98 on the 26. The leading edge breathes slightly better and floats well.
Yet again on the 24 at 88 all up, i felt that sometimes in tricky conditions, i had some difficulty in sliding through the airmass with a pitch back at times that slows the ability to surf upward.
Both gliders have some vibration through the risers in turbulent conditions. Felt more on the 24.
I still think that the Elan 2 26 and 24 are indeed very comfortable gliders, probably slightly more piloting needed than the Elan 1, with lots of performance for the middle C category with only 6.2 aspect ratio.
Now the second strong point of the Elan 2 26 and 24 is the trim and top speed !
Flying the Elan 2 26 next to a Cayenne 5 XS which is already known for its fast trim, (similarly loaded ) showed me an impressive +2 km/h trim speed for the Elan 2 26 over the C5 ! !
Many glide attempts in calm air, showed me that the trim speed is faster + 2 km/h and the top speed is also faster by + 2 to 3 km/h similarly loaded !
The Elan 2 is trimmed fast ! That’s why in those small weak thermals -0.3 m/s a pilot needs lots of concentration to feel and hook them.
The glide angle ‘in calm air’ could be ‘super’ close to the best C gliders available today. It’s in turbulent conditions and facing a valley breeze, that sometimes i felt that the leading edge is reluctant to surf efficiently the airmass in order to move forward. Nevertheless, it remains among the top 5, (C rated) gliders in glide efficiency. I’ll update my C comparison soon for little more details .
Induced asymmetric on the 26 are easy to maintain with a direct flight and reopen quickly. Big ears are stable at trim speed. With lots of bar, they slightly shake. They do not reopen by themselves. A dab on the brakes needed to reopen them quickly.
Induced asymmetric on the 24 are slightly more dynamic but easy to maintain a straight direction. Big ears are stable, both at trim and accelerated. They do not open by themselves and need pilot input.
The speed bar has a moderate pressure and the leading edge is still solid at bar.
The glide angle at full bar is also very competitive to place the Elan 2 26 and 24 among the 3 top gliders of the moderate aspect ratio 2017, C category.
pushing the bar is usable with a very solid leading edge at least at 85 % of the travel.
*The pluses : + Comfort on the 24 and 26 , + speed on the 24 and 26 , + handling on the 24.
*The average plus: Handling on the 26 (probably needs more weight to reach 102)
*What i would wished for: More leading edge efficiency in cutting through the airmass.
Conclusion: The Elan 2 26 could be one of the most easy to fly C glider. Easier and more tamed than the Delta 3 ML. It’s better to fly it at the top weight in order to diminish as best as possible the pitch back in entry. The climb rate in weak is ok which is close to the Delta 3 ML i have tested earlier. The trim speed is very good for ridge flying, and the top speed for fast transitions.
The size 26 could be a nice C glider for B pilots going into that category for the first time.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Ozone Delta 3 ML
Ozone has finally released their Delta 3 certifying it as a C glider without collapse line. The glider stays as the older version with 6 aspect ratio, with all unsheathed lines .
Launching the ML at 100 all up, showed a very easy inflation without any hang back or surge.
I’ll try to show in the following test the difference between the Delta 2 ML and the new Delta 3 ML with some reference C gliders. In June I’ll receive the MS and will hopefully comment on it.
In the air, the Delta 3 ML feels more comfortable to fly than the D2 ML . The structure feels very taught and compact overhead. The handling and the way to turn the glider is also improved on the Delta 3 ML but there a little bit of less feedback through the risers. The brake travel could be described as a bit medium to hard in pressure and moderate to short in reaction.
The pilot has a nice authority on the brakes with fair precision and good agility. The pressure is slightly heavier and slightly less linear if i want to compare it to the Rush 4 for example.
The Delta 3 ML was tested for four consecutive days, in turbulent choppy conditions and sometimes ‘spaghetti’ style conditions. I flew also next to the Delta 3 ML with a Cayenne 5 XS (80-95) and a Trango X-Race MS (80-100) in order to place and see the Delta 3 potential in terms of comfort, efficiency, and overall performance.
In turbulent conditions, the Delta 3 ML showed me a high degree of comfort in turbulent air. I think this glider is built to give maximum comfort for the C category pilots. I can place it easily near the Sigma 8,9 and the Elan 1 in terms of comfort feel. In strong thermals the Delta 3 needs control as a moderate C glider.
The sharp surges and movements that were in the Delta 2 are now gone, and replaced with a ‘smooth’ glider that pulls into thermals in a soft way even in strong ones. Usually some reference C gliders has some pitch movements before entering rough thermals. The profile used on the Delta 3 is one of the most efficient one for its ability to ‘slide’ into the airmass quite efficiently. And that’s the strongest point on the Delta 3.
Climb rate in very weak ‘smooth’ thermals was the Delta 1 strong point. i still remember the leading edge biting through those tiny lifts especially on the MS size.
The Delta 3 leading edge is tamer on those super weak thermals (+0.2 m/s) With little information through to feel that surge. I can say that an LM6 or a Delta 2 similarly loaded could be slightly floatier in those tiny thermals.
The Delta 3 will hover a bit in the same position waiting for that (+0.4 m/s) to hook in and climb rapidly.
Now, in difficult and turbulent conditions climbs on the Delta 3 are clearly seen as the D3 goes upward on every bubble ! The ability to cut through rough air and climb efficiently is as i described above clearly showed on the Delta 3. The leading edge doesn’t pitch back at all, and it doesn’t have a neutral pitch either.
It has a very slight smooth pull into thermals, even in rough ones with an excellent comfort underneath and a very efficient climb.
Glide in calm air and in moving air :
Doing some glides ‘in calm air’ with the Delta 3 ML loaded at 105 next to a Mentor 5 S, Cayenne XS, Trango X-race gave me the following result.
The Delta 3 ML has a very slight edge or the same glide angle at trim as the Cayenne 5 XS. (I don’t have a Cayenne M available).
The Cayenne 5 XS loaded at 94 at 800 ASL, is now at full speed. Next to it the Delta 3 ML at 105 has a better glide angle probably (±0.3 ) in L/D at the same speed.
The Delta 3 ML has more 4 cm pull to reach its top speed which showed me afterward a 16 km/h over trim. The pressure is similar to the Delta 2 and the top speed is fully usable. In turbulent air its easy to control the glider by the C risers. It’s not a Zeno in that matter, and the leading edge at full bar isn’t also as solid as the Zeno one. Back off 3 cm of travel, and surf turbulent air in a super cool mode !
Glide in moving conditions, showed me many times the Delta 3 ML ability to surfs the air efficiently and move upward. I’m totally convinced that the Delta 3 will be a strong tool to race on ridges going on long XC days. For example gliding next with a Mentor 5 showed a similar glide angle on the same line staying super close. But when the conditions are moving with lifts, the Delta 3 began to surf upward even though i was very close behind on the same line. Of course , the M5 is a B, but i’m just trying to show when those differences occurs.
The Trango X-race is much more demanding fly, and also has slightly more overall glide and climb performance. The advantage the Delta 3 has is the ability to turn quickly into strong small bubbles that the Trango X-race would need slightly more time to settle in before going on a turn. Surges are converted quicker into climb on the D3.
I just wished that the delta 3 had that subtle and linear handling found on the Trango -X-race, but the Delta 3 just turn on command.
The difference between the Delta 2 M and the Delta 2 MS in handling was noticeable. So i’m waiting for the Delta 3 MS size to see what it will feel like.
Ears are stable ,but don’t open by themselves.They need a good pilot input to re-open them.
Induced asymmetric collapses are a child play ! Holding the A riser i could easily fly to the other side just by pulling 5 cm of brakes or even turning my head …When the glider is half closed, the sink doesn’t increase much…
In keeping the aspect ratio of 6.0, It was clear enough that Ozone wanted to offer a comfortable, easy to use, efficient XC glider. The new profile used on the Delta 3 works well in turbulent conditions.
The overall gliding performance is slightly increased over the Alpina 2 but more when using the bar. The quality of efficient flying is well improved, letting the pilot concentrate on the scenery, task, and their XC routes.
UPDATE for the Delta 3 MS
Ozone Delta 3 (size MS)
The Delta 2 MS was one of few gliders that I really appreciated it’s feel able brake authority, and the precision and maneuverability. I could feel every movement in the air and it was indeed a superb glider.
Now I have the Delta 3 in MS size that I flew in different conditions among some rough ones in our Cedars range.
In weak conditions, I flew the Delta 3 Ms at 90 all up, and I could sense quite nicely some weak thermals, and was able to hook them up without missing much. The feel under the Delta 3 “in weak conditions” is more tamed than the Delta 2 one. I needed much more effort to feel those tiny bits of lift as the Delta 2 MS gave me more sensitivity in order to hook them up.
I felt that the Delta 2 MS and the Cayenne 5 XS still have that slight floatability in very weak conditions. (Less than 0.2 m/s)
In strong conditions the Delta 3 MS needs more active piloting than the Delta 2 MS. It’s a bit more dynamic and needs more pilot control but feels more as a solid block.
For example the Delta 3 MS needs less active piloting than a Trango X-race, and more pilot control than a Sigma 10, and could be close to a Cayenne 5 to control but the 6 aspect ratio Delta 3 feels more compact with a solid homogenous structure and the pilot can control it easier.
I felt that after 2 hours in strong air, my hands felt the pressure on the brakes that were slightly on the hard side at 94 all up.
My only wish was to keep the feel on the brakes that were on the Delta 2… as I always look for a glider that becomes one with the pilot. For every pulled centimeter, the glider reacts letting the “human with feathers” underneath ☺ evolve to a true bird of the air!
The Delta 3 is close…but I’m picky as you already know…and for my personal feel could be slightly better.
The Delta 3 turns very well on a dime! It’s a maneuverable glider, and every strong core can be tight cored to the max.
I felt that the strongest point of the Delta 3 MS is on difficult and windy glides, where I could feel that this structure is moving forward cutting through the air mass.
Flying the Delta 3 MS feels very efficient for XC.
I think the new generation C’s like the Sigma 10 and the Delta 3 has this further “step ahead” potential for a moderate aspect ratio C. They surely have the edge when it comes to gliding in turbulent air.
Pushing the bar on the Delta 3 is indeed very interesting. The glide at speed is superb and the speed is very usable in turbulent air, at least +10 km/h over trim!
At full bar I could see + 17 km/h at 94 all up. Altitude 2500 m ASL.
I’m sure that this machine can really collect some serious XC achievements.
Will update my C comparison shortly.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
NOVA Mentor 5
After test flying all the Mentor series from the first one till the 4th in S size, here’s the 5th edition in S size ready for a test flight at 95 all up.
I need to clarify a small but important fact, which most of you already know.
NOVA Mentor series were super efficient over the years, and with the Mentor 4 overall performance dominating the B category, and also competing with some of the higher classes, Nova has raised the bar very high. Being a reference in any category puts lots of pressure on any manufacturer, as doing better could be doable, but surely more difficult to achieve.
Launching the Mentor 5 is easier than the 4. It inflates rapidly and shows a smooth take off behavior.
I wasn’t a fan of the elastic brake authority of the Mentor 3, and some pilots described the brake feel under the Mentor 4 as senseless in a way.
The handling and the way to turn the Mentor 5 is now enhanced a bit over the 3rd and 4th version.
The brake travel has an average pressure and travel. Slightly less than the Mentor 4 in pressure feel, with more agility in turns.
I could quickly confirm a better agility for the Mentor 5 in turns. But lets talk about precision feel in the brakes.
Perhaps some minority pilots including myself (the picky ones ;-) ) would have wanted that edge in brake feel. A more subtle feel, a character.
For example: I like my gliders to have a swift, precise, ‘linear feel’ thought the pull of each centimeter on the brakes. And if the brakes transmit the movements of the glider, then this would be the cherry on the cake! A glider that feels an extension to your arm.
If I can give a grade for the Mentor 3 precision feel I would put: 4/10 .The Mentor 4= 5/10 .The precision feel under the Mentor 5, is 6/10, which leaves the precision feel under the amazing Mentor 2 S at 8.0 /10 regardless of its high brake pressure.
I could give a loaded Phantom 7.0 /10
Bear in mind that the Mentor 5 S is more agile in inducing turns than the Mentor 4 and the Phantom S.
Climbing in very weak conditions is the Mentor 5 strong point. Every bubble encountered is converted smoothly and comfortably into heights. The nose isn’t as aggressive in biting forward as the Mentor 4 one. It’s smoother and more comfortable to fly in overall turbulence. The Mentor 5 goes more toward the Mentor 3 comfortable feel rather than the Mentor 4 one.
The Mentor 5 seems to absorb the bumps and thermals.
Doing some glide comparison at trim with the Mentor 4 showed a slight edge in moving air for the Mentor 5 at trim speed, and slightly on the top speed.
Gliding with a Chili 4 XS (Max 95) showed a similar glide for the Mentor 5 S (max 100) and i couldn’t give the edge to either one ! Both in climb and glide.
Surprisingly, the Mentor 5 gave me that extra comfort feel which wasn’t available before on the Mentor 4 !
The Mentor 5 pilot will have an edge in climbing over the pilot on the Mentor 4 if they both have the same skills and luck…
The top speed is similar to the Mentor 4 with a better float-ability in glides for the Mentor 5.
If anyone will fly the Mentor 5, he will experience a cool B glider, pleasurable easy handling, overall performance straight on top of the shelf, and very good comfort in turbulence for the high B category.
I would have appreciated to this excellent overall performance, that linear, precise, brake feel i was writing above, with more received information through the brakes. The Mentor 2 in S size was excellent in that matter! But harder on the brakes.
What’s the difference between the 4th and the 5th? (Best +++)
+ Glide efficiency
+++ Climb rate
+++ Ease of use
++ Overall feel and comfort
Ears are stable, efficient and reopen quickly on the S at 97 all up. Induced asymmetric are super easy to control. Holding the A riser down , i could easily turn the M5 to the other side by applying 15 cm of brake. Induced frontals recover very quickly. Wing overs need implication to built up, but quite homogenous.
Conclusion: The Mentor 5 is another NOVA success in the top B performers. I can resume it as a top gliding performance in a cool manner, Excellent climb rate, comfortable to fly, agile handling… That’s the Mentor 5 .
UPDATE : I flew the Mentor 5 XS at 88. More dynamic, nicer handling, but still this little spongy feel on the brakes... it's ok...but i like gliders that have a crispy, linear , nimble brake response. The M5 XS just turns when you pull and its agile. Most pilots just want that...
The climb rate is still very good..the glide also. It feels like as small energetic kid going round and around his parents ;-)
The XS is fast and the top speed is usable and easy.
Induced asymmetrics are slightly more dynamic than the M5 S size especially the frontals, but they are fine for a B pilot.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
This is my first Icaro glider ! Don’t ask me why ! It didn’t happen…Surfing around, i entered the new website of Icaro : http://icaro-paragliders.com/en/ !
When I open the site, i saw ‘colors ! all over ! it was like calling me to surf around more ! Beautiful pictures, and a really nice web design! I have to say this ,because it is unique and most probably there’s an artist involved in that web design!
Back to testing gliders. I saw the new Gravis and wrote an email to Icaro ! Since no one gets them over here, i paid for it and here it is. An M size in blue/Yellow color !
The risers are also a bit different in design. The pictures attached shows the yellow colors for the pulleys and the attachment point. The Gravis has a moderate shark nose with 7! lines per side. Very well engineered. Liros lines on the bottom, unsheathed lines on top ! And Skytex 32gr/m2 is used to build the Gravis.
The workmanship on this B glider is excellent ! The details and the way it is built is a class of its own !
Launching the Gravis cannot be as simple as that.A moderate pull and the glider awaits overhead the pilot command.
The first time I flew the Gravis i was alone in the sky, and it gave me the impression that this day was really generous in lifts ! I sensed already a superb float ability for the Gravis. The next day, i flew with my friend on his Rook 2 ML max 115, (Freshly inspected). I knew that if i can fly near him in weak climb, (similarly loaded) my senses would be correct ! And there it was !
After two hours of flying next to a large high B, the Gravis proved me right ! Its indeed a floater ! Every bubble is converted into immediate lift. I was super efficient in climb.
In turbulent air, the Gravis is not a dull glider to fly. It communicates the airmass quite nicely. I can place it in the middle of the B category in pilot demand. Not too dull not too dynamic for a B glider in roll and pitch movements. The Gravis seems very coherent in turbulence.The passive safety and intended comfort feel for a mild B are present.
The authority on the brakes for the Gravis M size flown at 101 all up is surprisingly good. Whether i pull 10 cm of brake the Gravis would go nicely on a turn, or i can crank it below 35 cm and again it reacts like a cork screw. I can say its fairly agile and has a very nice coordinated, linear brake travel ! I was testing the Chili 4, and the Mentor 5 the same week, and when i flew the Gravis, it surely gave me the cool, passive safety feel, but i was pleased for the handling it offers! Not really as agile as the M5, but it has a more coordinated brake feel ! which i like.
Big circles or small circles can easily be adjusted by pulling the brakes without loosing the wing homogeneity and air surfing. Very good for a mild B.
Trim speed is a bit less than the Rook 2 and the M5. I think the Gravis has around ±37 km/h trim speed. Stepping on the bar is smooth and i could reach 8 km/h over trim at 1200 ASL.
I don’t want to compare the Gravis with the high end B’s (Rook 2 or the Mentor 5) in glide, just because the Gravis is intended for occasional week end, B pilots and it showed a mild character.
But i have to say that i saw an excellent glide efficiency for the Gravis putting it right on top on the mild B’s out there! No need to look around for more glide efficiency in that mid B segment ! I’m sure that any pilot would find more than he imagined :-)
Big ears are slightly tough to maintain. They reopen very fast by themselves. The Gravis has a low stall speed and it can be landed in narrow places.
Conclusion: Nice looking glider, cool handling, efficient in climb and glide for a mild B, it makes you smile even if you only look at it :-)
I’m sure, the Gravis has the potential of making long XC’s in a cool manner.
Monday, April 3, 2017
Last year I test flew Supair B glider the leaf ! I was impressed by the exceptional comfort, the very nice handling and the very efficient climb rate.
The Taska is Supair new C glider for 2017 with an aspect ratio of 6.35
I have the S size (75-95) for a test flight.
The Taska uses Porcher Sport 32 g/m² on the extrados and 27 g/m² o the intrados. All the lines are unscheated with lower Liros lines. A shark nose profile, a very nice and neat construction with the latest technology details inserted on this machine.
Launching the 6.35 aspect ratio Taska, is super easy, smooth and without any hang back in nil wind. In windy conditions (+25 km/h) the glider has the tendency to inflate very fast after 50 % of it’s rise and the pilot must use the brakes to stop it from surging.
The authority on the brakes on the Taska is very good ! The Taska has a moderate pressure on the brakes . It feels homogenous and coherent. Every pull on the brakes is transmitted to the canopy, and the Taska reacts on every command! It's a playful glider and feel very intuitive. Playing around on soaring sites is superb on the Taska !
I had immense pleasure flying with the Taska S on windy take offs ! Indeed a real pleasurable glider to fly ! I’m always sensitive toward nice handling gliders, and the Taska is no different !
Thermals are felt quite comfortably on the Taska. It's not a glider that keeps you busy especially for it’s 6.35 aspect ratio at least in moderate to slightly turbulent conditions.
In moderate conditions, the Task feels comfortable and tamed for a C.
In strong conditions, the Taska needs less pilot control than a Trango X-race, and slightly more than a Delta 2. The Cayenne 5 feels more coherent , but the Taska feels slightly more tamed.
I felt that in moderate to strong thermals and windy conditions, i would be much efficient at 94 all up on the S size. Flying next to a Cayenne 5 XS (75-95) similarly loaded gave me the impressions of a very competitive climb for the Taska. Comparing it to the handling of the Cayenne, the Taska has a slightly longer brake travel, slightly lighter feel, and the authority on the brakes is close enough.
Doing some glides with same loadings, gave me the impression of a slight faster trim speed for the C5 by a 0.5 km/h. Accelerating on the Taska to reach the Cayenne 5 trim speed showed me also a very competitive glide angle , even at top speed with the C5 !
Both gliders showed me a same top speed.
The speed bar has a moderate pressure, and the Taska can be steered with the C risers like any 3 line C glider. The pressure on the C’s isn’t high like the Trango X-race.
Moderate movements on the Taska when applying the bar can be controlled by pulling the C risers.
I must confirm a very tough leading edge when applying full bar ! The Task feels solid and the top speed is fully usable.
In entering the airmass the Taska slows a bit before entering. It doesn’t have a pitch back. It just slows down even hands up before entering. The C5 and the Trango X-race keeps slightly the speed upon entering. But the Taska climbs efficiently as much as those two which puts it right on top of the C category for the climb rate !
Ears are stable, and reopen easily. Holding the A riser down in an induced asymmetric is easy to keep a straight flight and the opening is smooth.
The Taska showed me a balanced behavior and an easy ride for the C category.
I had fun flying the Taska. I felt that at 95 all up, i was still very efficient in climb. The Taska somehow felt comfortable for a 6.35 aspect ratio glider. The handling and the way to turn the glider is really fun !
Supair designer has managed to deliver a very interesting and competitive C glider both in climb and gliding performance.
A quite interesting glider to test fly in the C category ! Congratulations Supair !
Thursday, March 16, 2017
I have waited more than 6 months to receive the S size. The 99 cell low aspect ratio glider from NOVA has indeed a very complicated internal structure. This process of construction is delicate and takes lots of time to be completed. The price of the Phantom is high…Twice to three times more expensive than a conventional low B glider. The fabric used is light for most of the delicate parts.
Lets find out if the high price and the complicated construction will give its user the required benefits …
Launching the Phantom is similar to any B glider with a fast rise above the pilots head.
I flew the glider from 95 to 98 all up.
The Phantom has a different feel than any low or high B glider. The construction gave me the impression of flying under a higher rated glider in the feel of the airmass but with a huge passive safety like any low B glider. Weird feeling, but on the positive side of things.
The brake pressure is moderate, probably lighter than the Mentor 4, but very short in precision ability. If the brakes are pulled a bit far, the Phantom reacts like a low B glider with good passive safety. The brake fan gave me a short, precise, fairly agile, turning ability.
With the Phantom nose ‘cool searching’ tendency and its precise turning ability, i could imagine myself on a higher aspect ratio glider, but the high dampened feel under the Phantom woke me up to reality. No matter what the conditions throws at you, the Phantom overall movements above the pilots head are very limited, giving you the feel of a ‘Rolls Royce’ of the sky ! Really like that ! It needs a bit active piloting, but much less than a Mentor 4 and slightly similar to an Ion 4.
The difference in feel between the Ion 4 and the Phantom is that the Phantom has a smoother but compact profile, a better handling ability, and of course, an impressive increase in a totally easy to use performance through the whole speed range!
In weak (0.5m/s) , the pitch is nearly absent as the Phantom slows down a bit before entry at trim, without any pitch movement whatsoever. This is why some pilots reported a difficulty in climb in very weak stuff.
The climb commence slowly in weak thermals, and will be very efficient and much faster in moderate thermals (+1.5m/s, or +3m/s ) versus other B gliders.
For example, flying the Phantom is weak thermals versus the Mentor 4 (four) S similarly loaded, showed similar climb ratio. In moderate thermals the Phantom climbs slightly better !
Flying the same Phantom S with a Mentor 5 S also similarly loaded, showed that in weak stuff the Mentor 5 or a Chili 4 is floatier. In strong moderate to strong thermals ,the Phantom structure will help in a more coherent feel and very efficient climbs very close to any high end B glider.
Considering that the Mentor 4 has impressive performance that could match some high C gliders, and as i always reference it in my glide comparison, even with other high end gliders, i took it to compare with the Phantom.
Gliding with a Mentor 4 S in calm air, both loaded at 95 all up, showed a similar glide angle. It is in moving conditions that things gets a bit different.
Gliding with the Mentor 4 in moderate to steady lift lines, will give the Phantom a higher chance even at +10 km/h over trim with a more forgiving ,steady, racy profile for the Phantom for sure !
The Phantom is faster at top speed by
+1 km/h than a Mentor 4 S, or the Mentor 5 S similarly loaded ! With very close glide ratio at speed ! Really impressive ! The Mentor 5 has the edge in longer glides in moving conditions.
For instance, gliding next to a Mentor 5 (five) S in weak lift lines, will give the Mentor 5 the upper hand over the Phantom. The Mentor 5 is a floaty wing.
After many glide attempts in moving air, (Video soon) with a Mentor 5, the Phantom is always haunting :-) not far away.
Ears are easy to induce, efficient, and reopen quickly. Induced asymmetrics and frontals are super easy to recover.
Conclusion: The Phantom has a low aspect ratio of 5.19 ! (3.82 projected! ) IMPRESSIVE !
It behaves like any low B glider. The handling, the feel under it and the way to turn the glider is excellent for the category. Low B pilots can fly the Phantom easily. The performance is indeed on the top shelf of the High B category. Good pilots downgrading to the Phantom will find on one side, a comfortable ride, and on the other, top performance in the B category. It doesn’t resemble a Ferrari, nor a Porsche .
Its a Rolls Royce with a 500 HP engine! Rolls Royces are expensive, but you get well served !
UP Summit XC 4 SM
After my beloved Trango X-Race :-), here’s UP new B glider the Summit XC 4 in SM size.
I took a bit of time to write this test, but finally here it is.
The XC4 has a aspect ratio of 6.3 with an EN-B rating !
Honestly i wasn’t a fan of the XC3 SM when i test flew it…The overall performance and usability didn’t convince me at the time.
Today with the Summit XC 4 i took my time to explore it a little bit and finally managed to get a Carrera plus SM to complete my comparison.
Launching the Summit XC 4 is like any mild 6.3 aspect ratio glider. It’s easy to launch…Not like the 5.4 aspect ratio gliders…But it has a homogenous and straight launch.
Once airborne, the Summit XC 4 gave me the same brake feel as its bigger sister the X-race ! with a slight more forgiving and filtered feel. But the Summit XC4 strangely has the ‘same’ DNA !
With a medium brake pressure, the XC 4 has a moderate to good agility, A very nice coordinated feel, performance oriented turning radius. The movements of the air is transmitted through the brakes. Much like the X-race but slightly less feedback coming from the brake lines, and also more comfortable in turbulence than the higher aspect ratio Trango X-race.
I must say though that it does move around a bit in turbulent conditions for a high B glider.
The climb rate next to my reference glider showed me a very competitive climb rate in moderate conditions!
In entering thermals the Summit XC4 SM at 95, have a neutral pitch behavior.
In very weak stuff below 0.5 m/s i think my reference glider is still floatier, but with the Summit XC4 faster trim speed, it still has a moderate float ability in very weak stuff.
The last day, i flew in some weird air, with turbulence, and really unpleasant. In those tricky conditions, the Summit XC4 showed a character and behavior of any moderate aspect ratio C glider (up to 6.5 AR). For sure it is not intended for those low B pilots coming to the higher B category. I could say rather that High B pilots with two seasons on their gliders would be welcomed on the XC4.
The Summit XC4 needs active piloting like the some higher aspect ratio B’s or some C’s.
To be even more precise, the Summit XC4 needs slightly more active piloting than the Summit XC3. I already updated my B-comparison (see blog) to give you an idea of the overall XC4 placement inside the B category.
Now i have tried to make some glide comparison with a Carrera plus SM (80-95) loaded at the max(95) , and i was 95 on the Summit XC4 SM ( 75-100). I was really curious to see how it will perform.
To both our surprises the XC4 came out really nice ! It is not that i wasn’t expecting it to be that good…but i wasn’t prepared to see and feel that improvement !
At first with the mentioned loads, the Summit XC4 has around 1.5 km/h more trim speed. And the glide was slightly better for the XC4…The glides were made in some difficult headwind conditions, and the Summit XC 4 surfed the air quite impressively. That does conclude that the XC4 with its B rating has now reached the top performers for the best glide/ efficiency ratio.
The speed bar has a moderate pressure. The controls on the C risers have a moderate pressure, a bit less than the X-Race ones, and they are more usable in limiting the pitch of the glider in gliding through turbulent stuff when applying the bar.
Ears are stable, and reopen easily.
B rating gliders goes to this delicate box…The Summit XC4 has been rated a B certification. Ok. That doesn’t mean that any “new comer” to this category will find that the 6.3 AR, Summit XC4 will suit him.
The new comers to this category won’t be able to assimilate the benefits and the bags of performance plus the feedback the Summit XC4 has to deliver. Its like driving a two wheel bicycle for the first time. IMHO, i think this B rating should be understood as a psychological ‘peace of mind’ idea for those who already fly C gliders. Or high B pilots having a full season in different conditions on their moderate aspect ratio glider, wants to upgrade to a higher aspect ratio glider, and don’t want to leave the B class, then the Summit XC4 is a very interesting tool to move forward on long XC’s with all the benefits a C class glider has to offer.