Testing new paragliding gear

Testing new paragliding gear

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Gradient XC 5 26

Gradient Avax XC 5 26
The last tested Gradient glider was an Aspen 5 26 in the EN-C category.
Here’s the Avax XC 5 26 EN-D with an aspect ratio of 7.0 flown at 93 all up with an X-Rated 6 harness.
Launching the XC5 is simple and quick.The light cloth helps with a rapid inflation and the glider comes up perfectly.
My flights were made sometimes in turbulent air, with quite punchy lifts. Despite all that i felt that the XC 5 is comfortable enough for a D and could be similar to the M6, which is more comfortable than a Trango XC 3.
The brake travel is short, light and the authority on the brakes is really good! The Avax XC 5 doesn’t have the yaw movements seen on the Aspen 5.
I also felt that the overall handling on this 7 aspect ratio glider is much better than the Aspen 5 !
It can core thermals with ease and pleasure !
Entering strong lift the XC 5 pitch back a bit and brakes are needed to stop the surge afterward.
The roll movements are dampened enough on this glider.
The strongest point of the XC5 26 is the authority on the brakes and the overall turning capability inside the thermals. If i considered the Peak 4 to have a very nice brake response, i think the XC5 has a little step over, just because every centimeter results in a change of the trajectory. And there’s no yaw movements as felt on the Aspen 5.
Saying that i believe that the XC5 is also one of the best handling D gliders “in homogenous conditions”.
I flew the XC5 in some turbulent conditions with my X-rated 6 harness, and the glider was still very dampened in roll movements . However when entering strong thermals the back pitch ability of the XC5 increased and it was sometimes bumping the airmass.
The XC5 climbs quickly in well built thermals, however i found it a bit difficult to climb in very weak conditions, where the Aspen 5 could catch those tiny bits of lift…
The Avax XC5 is best flown slightly above mid weight in weak thermals.
As for the glide angle efficiency, I did lots of different glides comparisons with different gliders, and i could place the Avax XC5 26 in the first part of the D category.
The top speed at 800 ASL and 92 all up on the size 26 was around 55km/h which is quite close to the Aspen 5.
Big ears are very easy, stable and efficient.

Friday, November 27, 2015

NIviuk Ikuma 25

 Notes before the test : This test reflects ‘ONLY’ my personal opinion and feel about the glider in question.
If you are a pilot looking forward to find some frequent positive tests and the usual nice comments, please be aware that my blog or page, doesn’t have this option…
My tests reveals the real side of the gliders in my own eyes and flying background, in describing how i see and feel them without the useless chit-chat and make up…
In order to be polite, clear, fair, and true to myself and to others, i cannot smile after every test, and write you stories of joy, peace and sing songs…Wings are so different and test flying them is very difficult but also a very beautiful task !
Sometimes, things do happen, and i confront them with my original nature.

Niviuk IKUMA 25

History: I have flown nearly all Niviuk gliders in the past and ‘in my personal opinion’ there were some that marked the paragliding world at the time like the impressive climb of the Peak 1, and the overall efficiency of the Artik 2.
Some gliders were a bit disappointing, like the Peak 3.
Then came along many other gliders, and some which were also successful, like the Hook 2 and 3, and Artik 3 and 4.
The Peak 4 was the latest one tested last week from my part, and i was really impressed by the amount of performance and comfort ratio. The climb in the very weak was a bit less than expected, but overall, the Peak 4 is a very nice and beautiful glider to fly for my personal taste.

In late 2015, the Ikuma from Niviuk was created in this new B plus category to compete with the current B plus gliders like the Iota from Advance ,the Mentor 4 from Nova and the Rook 2 from 777 etc…
So it’s only fair to compare the Ikuma to those gliders in the high B category.
The Ikuma has a slightly moderate aspect ratio of 5.7 flat.
I received this brand new Ikuma 25 from a special friend who sent it over, only for my tests and which i’m very grateful ! It was still new and factory packed. I unboxed it. It doesn’t have any flaws with very nice construction details, and flies perfectly straight and balanced.

The IKUMA has unsheathed lines from top to bottom, with only 2 lines on the A’s, 2 on the B’s and 3 on the C’s …

Launching the IKUMA 25 at 94.7 kg on my scale is straight forward and easy.
Once in the air, the brake pressure is moderate with some 15 cm to 35 cm of travel to get the glider into a nice turning radius. The first centimetres are also precise, linear and the IKUMA could be described as fairly agile.

Flying it in turbulent thermals felt very easy. The pitch is very dampened and upon entering thermals, the IKUMA doesn’t pitch forward at all, neither stays neutral, but slightly stop with a slight pitch back upon entering.
In strong thermals it needs time to enter at that load and the climb is a bit delayed.
Thermals biting is more efficient on the M4 S, Rook 2, or even the Iota 26 side at the same load where the Ikuma bounce a bit before entering.

This slightly pitch back behaviour of the Ikuma 25 at my load feels insensible in very weak conditions, without biting through, whether i let the brakes or with little brake or even with the rear risers, i was finding a bit difficult to have a competitive climb with the B wings around. The Rush 4, Iota, Mentor 4, were floating slightly better.
The airmass information didn’t also pass clearly from the risers either, but i had a nice turning ability inside a homogeneous core with the Ikuma confirming that it’s a fairly agile glider!

In turbulence the Ikuma ,Iota, Mentor 4, Rook 2 needs the same level of control to keep them overhead with a touch of comfort toward the Iota and Ikuma.

Doing some long glides wing tip to wing tip with a Mentor 4 S with similar load of 94.7 kg showed a slightly faster trim speed for the Mentor 4 S and slightly better glide angle and float-ability for the Mentor 4 S.
At full bar the Mentor 4 S has + 2km/h more speed and showed after consecutive times a more competitive glide angle also for the M4. Of course this couldn’t be the most important feature for a glider, but good to know.

The speed bar has relatively a moderate pressure and at full bar the leading edge is still solid and the top speed of 53 km/h at 800 ASL is usable. (load 94.7 on the 25 )

Big ears are stable, usable, with fairly good descent rate, and they reopen smoothly without a fuss.

The B plus segment holds some very impressive wings as seen on my previous tests and videos.
The Ikuma will take many of you into far places no doubt, but i need to place it for you accurately inside this category.
 After exchanging gliders with my friends with same results, and sharing their thoughts, I concluded that the Ikuma is a relatively comfortable B glider, with moderate performance in this segment and a nice authority on the brakes.

For me the overall efficiency in climb and glide, of the Ikuma 25 with 5.7 aspect ratio glider, that was intended to compete in this segment, didn’t impress me or fulfilled my needs into this fierce battle for the 2015, B category, performance toys.

Please consider that the amount of criticism for a certain product is balanced by the same amount of respect, admiration and expectations especially for a brand among the leaders in gliders industry.

Finally, and most importantly, it’s you, the pilot who will decide what’s best for your needs !
I’m just here typing my own letters…

Sunday, November 22, 2015

NIviuk Peak 4 23

Niviuk Peak 4 23

The replacement of the less fortunate peak 3 for the easy D segment is finally available.
My friend got himself a peak 4 23 and we flew together on good days and i have flown this wing at 98 all up for the 85-105 Peak 4 23.
Here’s my impressions versus the Mantra MS, The Avax XC 5 26, the Icepeak 6 23, the Peak 3, The Triton 2 S, UP tango XC3…Etc…

I’ll try to be as clear as possible concerning this wing in describing what a pilot will expect flying it among regular D gliders or high aspect ratio C’s.

Launching the P4 23 is easier than the IP6, a little more difficult than the M6, XC5, Trango XC3. But all in all its easy for the regular D pilots. It doesn’t have the pitch forward behavior of the IP 6 , but surely a D pilot would find it quite manageable, even in light or in strong breeze.

Turning ability:
I guess that’s one the most important glider character for my personal taste.
Immediately after take off, first turn and first smile…The P4 has light to moderate brake pressure, and reacts after the first 15cm of slack with a super wonderful agility ! This high aspect ratio glider can be turned very tight at a very small radius without the dive !! Only 15 cm after the slack are needed to steer the glider gracefully !The feeling and authority on the brakes ,even in turbulent cores are impressive! I never flew a glider with 7 aspect ratio that can be turned like a 5.5 aspect ratio one !
The P4 is more agile in turns than the M6, Triton 2, Trango XC3, and relatively similar to the XC5.

Climb rate:
We flew this glider in some very weak to strong windy conditions and sometimes we flew in moderate to slightly turbulent lee side conditions enabling us to get a more global idea about the P4.
In very weak conditions (less than 0.5 m/s) where lots of pilots would not give a chance to stay in the air, the IP 6 23 at 98 all up would float nicely and communicates those tiny lifts to the pilot showing him the way to turn. In those weak conditions the P4 23 at 98 all up doesn’t give those informations to the pilot and after many attempts where the IP 6 could exploit those light lifts and gain some altitude, the P4 hovers at the same altitude.
Once the lift gets above 0.7 m/s the P4 will gracefully climb and could easily match the IP 6 23 climb rate. In strong thermals i think the P4 will have a slight advantage over the IP 6, due to it’s superb brake authority to place it precisely into the core !

This is surely very picky from my part, I cannot say that the P4 is a floater, but in order to be precise I’ll give you an idea, of similar wings like the P4 with same efficiency in those conditions .Ex: The Gin Gto 2 S at 93 or the Avax XC 5 26 at 92 .
The M6 MS at 95 all up is slightly more efficient in the very weak, as the Artik 4 25 at 90 al up.
The P4 23 at 98 will out climb the M6 MS and the surely A4, in windier and more difficult conditions showing the P4 ability to surf the air efficiently without back pitching, and climbing away.

Glide and speed.
After several glides at trim ,half bar, and full speed, the P4 23 at 98 all up, showed me exactly a similar glide ratio as a freshly line checked IP6 23 at 98 all up. It is slightly possible that the IP 6 23 has some insignificant points in full speed glide…But this is may be that in turbulent air the IP6 23 felt more stiff and solid on bar .On the P4 23 at full bar the leading edge is solid , but not as the iP 6 one. The B risers are slightly harder and more pressure are needed to feel the glider in the air. But i really liked those black rubber grips !

Comparing the P4 23 at 98 all up and the M6 MS at 95 all up, the trim speed is the same but the full speed is slightly on the P4 side, and the overall gliding performance is also slightly on the P4 side.

I have tried to induce big ears by the split risers, however i pulled my arms very far to pull in the lines .At first it looks like i’m pulling the stabs…Because the ears has lots of pressure.They fold in finally after pulling approx ±1m of lines, and pushing on the bar, but i don’t think they are very effective. I’ll try later the B’s…and report back..Releasing the ears opens very fast and quick and no line was stuck in the tips like the M6 use to do.

Comfort and usability:
I’ll be more specific in comparing gliders with similar aspect ratio..It’s better than talking only about the certification label.
I found that the Peak 4 23 is relatively a comfortable glider for an aspect ratio of 7, and it’s similar to the M6 comfortable behavior.
I felt a neutral pitch behavior in the same conditions where the M6 would pitch back in entering thermals. It has also the same comfort found on the Avax XC 5 and may be less work under it than the Trango XC 3 SM where the Peak 4 felt more block solid and coherent in it’s structure.

360’s and wing overs are a delight. It’s really an agile glider !
I will try also the Peak 21 in a week and will post my comments. And of course any updates about both will also be written.

Beautiful handling, and brake authority, Top gliding performance in the D category, with comfort and accessibility.
Missed that IP6 weak thermal ability, but i’m sure that the Peak 4 will surely win many hearts as it’s impossible to be indifferent having this agility ;-) 

Monday, November 9, 2015


The Forza is OZONE new XC harness.
Some of this harness features is an anti-G front pocket, one pocket for talkie walkie, a nice double and large cockpit, one place for a rescue, openings in the pod for urinating tubes, a certified 17 cm back protection, an adjustable speed bar, a small red ball to tie on the shoe laces for a pod recovery after take off, no seat board, etc…
There are lots of adjustments for a comfortable sitting position.Flying the the Forza showed me a very comfortable sitting position that is similar or quite close to the Impress 3.
The legs rests naturally like sitting on a sofa and there’s no need to put any effort to keep them straight inside the pod.
However the strong point of the Forza is the precise transmission that is received from the glider above.
The Forza doesn’t have the unnecessary roll movements found earlier on the Impress 3 but does inform the pilot in a soft and precise manner.
After some hours flying under C and D gliders, i can confirm the overall comfort, stability and usability to be really interesting !
The M size with the M pod suits my height of 1.81 and 74 kg very well. In fact i think that even 1.83 pilots would fit nicely.

Despite not having a seat board, the weight shift is still fine with this harness. Of course seat board harnesses will always have this lock feel in a turn, but with the Forza it’s getting a bit closer.

The construction on the Forza looks very good ! It’s a step forward from the light Ozium, and resembles the Exoceat harness in it’s robust construction weighting around 5 kg for the M !

Conclusion: The Forza is a complete harness with great comfort, accessibility, and a certified protection with lots of features.
If the price suits you, then it’s a must to try that one !

Friday, October 23, 2015

NOVA Mentor 4 XS light


The light version of the Mentor 4 was released in September 2015 and the XS size going up to 90 kg was my choice for this test.

I could never imagine that by a simple though, this M4 light could launch ! It is so easy to inflate in no wind and the glider could hover above my head waiting patiently for me to fly.

The light cloth of the M4 light gave the glider an immense easiness to launch in marginal conditions. Launching the M4 light in 20 km/h wind is very quick but very well stabilized over my head with an efficient brake control.

Having flown the original M4 normal version in size S, i thought i have to let the glider climb at trim speed as the original M4 was efficient in that mode. Surprisingly and after some time on it, it doesn’t have a similar approach, and the M4 light has the best climb like any other glider i already tested, with a little pull on the brakes ! Don’t ask me why….I really don’t have the answers…But the M4 light XS has a more pronounced neutral pitch than the Mentor 4 S, which normally the smaller sizes should normally be more aggressive in pitch.

The climb rate of this Mentor 4 XS light in my humble opinion and after some comparisons with other gliders , has a ‘much’ better climb rate than the M4 ! I think this is an impressive glider that will surely put it’s pilot effortlessly on top of gaggles !

Talking only about the very good climb rate without a good maneuverability will let any glider out of interest. The Mentor 4 XS light has a ‘short, precise, linear, moderate feel through the brakes, and good agility ! My kind of gliders !  I could put the Mentor 4 XS immediately wherever i wanted despite rough conditions inside any thermal ! Pretty good handling indeed !

Lets glide…
Doing some glides on this Mentor 4 XS light with one of the ‘best” C’s of the moment, yes C’s…showed that the M4 light is an annoying little glider for any high aspect ratio glider thinking he could easily slip far away. The Mentor 4 XS light will be there saying a little ‘coucou’ every now and then  ;-)
I can confirm a very competitive glide ratio at trim and especially at full bar, like it’s bigger sister the Mentor 4 S i still have over here. To say the least…

The Mentor 4 XS light, i will surely say that in active windy and bumpy glides, a slight edge is shown only for the higher aspect ratio gliders in the category above !
The Mentor 4 XS light needs a good B pilot under it in turbulent conditions, and it’s slightly more alive than the M4 S and could resembles the Ozone Swift 4 for the same level of pilot control.

Ears are stable and efficient with bar.They reopen smoothly on pilot action. The speed bar has a moderate to light pressure with 14 km/h gain over trim speed at 1000 ASL.

Ok, ok …You should be bored now…Good launch, very good climb and handling , very good glide … and you want to ask me if it’s also ‘one’ of the best ‘B’ gliders of the moment ?
Simply: yes.

Explanation: Test flying until now, 190 different glider, didn’t teach me only about their behavior, but something much more important IMHO.
To get the lightest, simplest, smallest, ‘relatively’ easiest, and with a moderate aspect ratio, cross country machine with enormous potential plus a ‘smiley’ stamp on the pilots face is indeed a blessing !

For me paragliding is a wonderful and magical sport and each glider regardless of it’s category that delivers the biggest amount of comfort/efficiency/safety is the future everyone will eventually grow old looking for.
Conclusion: The Mentor 4 XS reminded of my beloved, Mentor 2 S with it’s shorter brake response and it’s agility. The M4 XS light has more feel into it than the normal M4 S.
This glider likes to be flown at top weight to give you it’s best.
And for the majority of pilots looking into this segment of gliders, The M4 Light flown at it’s best is a very interesting XC companion, with top overall performance a ‘B’ pilot will ever need.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

C comparison (Uptdate) Inserting the Cayenne 5 XS and the Trango XC 3 SM

EN-C comparison (Update) ——(Inserting the Cayenne 5 XS and the Trango XC 3 SM .

Easiest to manage in the category . 1 being most friendly user. (Most comfortable to fly for the average "C" pilot) : After many flights, some changes occurred…Constant feedback…

1- Alpina 2= Advance Sigma 9 = Mac Elan
2- ADVANCE Sigma 8 25 = Artik 4 25
3- GRADIENT Aspen 4 26 = Triple seven Queen
4- NIVIUK Artic 3 = AD Volt SM =BGD Tala M = Ozone Delta 2 = Cayenne 4 = SOL Lotus one M
5- GRADIENT Aspen 5 26 =U-Turn Passion SM = Carrera = Sky Argos
6- MacPara Marvel 25 = UP Trango XC 2 = Cayenne 5 XS
7-NOVA Triton 2 S
8-Trango XC 3 SM

Handling in rough air: (The one that you can turn even in rough air)

1- Gradient Aspen 4 = Alpina 2 = Sigma 9 = Artik 4 25 = Cayenne 5 XS
2- Nova Factor 2 = Artic 3 = Cayenne 4 S = Ozone Delta 2 = Triple seven Queen = Carrera= Elan= Triton 2 S
3- U-Turn Passion SM= BGD Tala M= Argos=Aspen 5 26 =SOL Lotus one M
4- OZONE Alpina 1 M = UP Trango XC 2 S/M = = Trango XC 3 SM
5- UP Summit XC2 M = Marvel 25 = Delta M =AD Volt SM

6- Artic 3 Race

Performance in calm air at trim speed (no activity):

1-Triton 2 S= Cayenne 5 XS =Trango XC 3
2-Triple seven Queen M
3- NIVIUK Artic 3 Race = Cayenne 4 S= BGD Tala = Alpina 2 = Carrera= Aspen 5 26 = SOL Lotus one M= Artik 4 25
4- NIVIUK Artic 3 = U-Turn Passion S/M =UP Trango XC 2 S/M = AD Volt SM= Ozone Delta 2= Elan =Argos
5- Nova factor 2 S =Marvel 25 = Aspen 4 26= Sigma 9
6- Advance Sigma 8 25 & Ozone Alpina M & Ozone Delta M
7- U-Cross S
8- UP Summit XC2

Performance at "trim speed" in head wind glides and ‘Average’ turbulent conditions:

1-Triton 2 S = SOL Lotus one M = Cayenne 5 XS =Trango XC 3
2-Triple seven Queen M
3- Alpina 2 = Aspen 5 = Artik 4 25
5- Carrera
6- NIVIUK Artic 3 Race = U-Turn Passion SM = UP Trango XC 2= Ozone Delta 2= Elan =Argos
7- Skywalk Cayenne 4 = NIVIUK Artic 3 =AD Volt SM = BGD Tala= Sigma 9

Performance at " bar " in headwind glides and sudden lifts :

1- Triton 2 S =Triple Seven Queen M =Trango XC 3 SM= Cayenne 5 XS
2- Alpina 2= Aspen 5 = SOL Lotus one M
4- Carrera= Elan = UP Trango XC 2 S/M = Ozone Delta 2
5- NIVIUK Artic 3 Race = U-Turn Passion SM = BGD Tala= Sigma 9 =Argos = Artik 4 25
6- NIVIUK Artic 3 = Aspen 4 =Cayenne 4 S= AD Volt SM
7- Nova factor 2 S

Climb rate in weak but “difficult” conditions < 0.5 m/s (not homogenous thermals ,low in the inversion) :

1- SOL Lotus one M = Cayenne 5 XS
2- U-Turn Passion S/M = Ozone Delta 2 ML= Elan
3- UP Trango XC 2 S/M= Delta 2 SM = Alpina 2 = Carrera M
3- NIVIUK Artic 3 = Marvel 25= Aspen 4 = Skywalk Cayenne 4 S = BGD Tala= Carrera S= Argos = Triton 2 S = Sigma 9 = Artik 4 25 = Trango XC 3 SM
5- Artic 3 Race = AD Volt SM = Triple seven Queen

Climb rate in punchy thermal conditions :
1-UP Trango XC 3 SM = Cayenne 5 XS
2-UP Trango XC 2 S/M = Ozone Delta 2 = Alpina 2 = Carrera M & S= Elan = Sol Lotus One
3-U-Turn Passion S/M = Cayenne 4 = Marvel 25 = Artic 3 Race = BGD Tala M= Argos = Triton 2 S
4-Artic 3 normal = Aspen 4= AD Volt SM = Triple seven Queen M = Sigma 9 = Artik 4 25

Brake description :
-UP Trango XC 3: Moderate pressure, linear, precise, agile is homogenous conditions.
-Cayenne 5 XS: Sharp and very direct, precise, agile even in turbulent conditions, short and efficient !
- Artik 4 25 : Moderate brake travel, linear , precise, agile .
-Sol Lotus, Short, moderate to hard, precise, linear.
-Triton 2 S, short, direct, linear, precise, average pressure.
- Aspen 5 26 , moderate brake travel, moderate to agile in turns, light.
- Sigma 9 Direct .
- Elan linear and direct,smooth.
- Argos Linear light to moderate and direct
- Triple seven Queen M ( relatively short and linear,precise,medium pressure,like D2 SM )
- Alpina 2 SM (soft,linear,longer than Delta 2 SM ,agile moderate to light pressure)
- Carrera S (shorter than Alpina SM,linear, precise, agile, moderate pressure)
- Ozone Delta 2 SM ,ML ( linear, short ,precise ,agile with moderate pressure)
- BGD Tala M (Long and linear, fairly precise in turbulent conditions, moderate to light pressure, forgiving)
- Nova factor 2 S (very direct and precise)
- NIVIUK Artic 3 (Linear, precise, agile)
- Skywalk Cayenne 4 S (Moderate pressure, Agile linear, forgiving, smooth!!)
- Gradient Aspen 4 26 (Agile,moderate,linear,forgiving,smooth)
- U-Cross S Direct and agile if the conditions are smooth, and a bit less in turbulent ,the glider must settle first)
- U-turn Passion SM ,light to moderate, linear ,agile.
- UP Trango Xc2 S/M ( medium pressure, precise, fairly agile, short)
- Marvel 25 (precise, moderate pressure, needs a bit of work in turbulent conditions)
- Ozone Alpina M (A bit longer than Factor 2 and a bit softer , more precise and shorter than the Delta M and much better turning behavior) 10-
- AD Volt SM ( Needs a bit time to enter the turn in moving conditions) - Niviuk Artic 3 Race
- Sigma 8 25 (very close in handling ,a bit long but still agile)
- UP Summit XC2 M (Long average agility to good)
- Ozone delta M (Soft ,long and average precision)

(Most efficient C glider in overall XC flying ) IMHO
(1 being best) .
The one i personally feel that will gave me the most efficient XC for overall use. (ratio of comfort efficiency)

1-Cayenne 5 XS (By a small margin to the A 2)
2-Alpina 2 SM
3-Triton 2 S = Sol Lotus One = Trango XC 3
4-Aspen 5 26 ( very efficient at second bar ! )
5- Ozone Delta 2 = Up Trango XC2 = U-turn Passion = Carrera M & S = Elan = Artik 4 25
6- BGD Tala M = Niviuk Artic 3, A3 Race, Skywalk Cayenne 4, Mac Para Marvel, Ozone Alpina M, AD Volt SM, Triple seven Queen M , Argos, Sigma 9 (Easy and solid)

Faster at second bar ( if equally loaded ) :

1- Queen M
2- Passion=Cayenne 4= Artic 3 Race = Aspen 4= Argos ,
3- Delta 2 = Sigma 8= Alpina 2= Sigma 9= Aspen 5 = Cayenne 5 XS =Trango XC 3 SM= Triton 2 S = Sol Lotus One = Artik 4 25
4- Trango XC2 = BGD Tala = Carrera= Elan

Big ears efficiency:
-UpTrango XC 3 ( stable and ok for a 7:0 aspect ratio glider! )
-Cayenne 5 XS ( small -2m/s and stable, little big and un-stable on this size )
- Aspen 4 26 (very efficient in big ears) = Nova Factor 2 =Cayenne 4 S =
- Ozone Delta 2 = BGD Tala = Queen = Alpina 2 = Carrera (stable and efficient)= Sigma 9 =Elan =Argos = Sol Lotus One= Artik 4 25
Artic 3 = Artic 3 Race = U-Turn Passion SM =Triton 2 S (stable moderate ears ) =UP Trango XC 2 S/M= AD Volt SM = Aspen 5 26 .
- Marvel 25 ( moderate use of big ears-moves a bit)

The Triton 2 S requires much more energy from the pilot to control it in heavy conditions.
The Lotus one has also some impressive performance, but to place it wherever you want in turbulent conditions requires also some finer inputs.
The Aspen 5 is really some great glider at second bar ! It resembles the Triton 2 S in full speed glide! …To extract the full performance it needs an active piloting for sure and the way to turn it quickly in turbulent cores needs a little time.
The Cayenne 5 has the edge in surges into thermals, and the superb sharp and direct brake travel !
Also in weak conditions.It requires a bit more to handle than the Alpina 2 but it’s a very efficient C glider. If only the ears were a bit more efficient and stable …
The Trango XC 3 is demanding to fly regarding the surrounding C’s .Of course it’s very efficient in cutting and climbing.The glide is good also but it needs the most energy to handle in this specific category !

UPDATE for usability :
Please remember that sizes differ a lot and surely the loading's ! Other sizes may have other characteristics …
The first 4 places are very close. Indeed superb machines ! Different taste for everyone …
The most important: Only the pilot will make a difference.
C & D gliders: UPDATED
This grade is to say how busy a glider is, in strong conditions, or the one that’s more difficult to manage, comparing to the B category.

Since this is a very delicate comparison , i must point out that the glider that has quicker authority on the brakes like the Triton 2 will enable a good pilot to keep it swiftly overhead. Some doesn’t have that quick response and in strong conditions they won’t keep the pilot as busy, but he will be the ‘passenger’ for a short lapse of time …
The grade doesn’t indicate the one that recovers easier or harder !!Only that keep you busier ! Most will have easier recovery than the higher graded !

Mac Elan M (@98all up) *7
Up Summit XC 3 S (@94 all up) *7.5
Mac Elan light 24 (@90 al up) *7.5
Advance Sigma 9 25 (@91 all up) *7.5
Niviuk Artik 4 25 (@91 all up) *8.5
Ozone Alpina 2 SM (@92 all up) * 8.5
Delta 2 SM size (@ 92 all up) *9
777 Queen M (@ 101 all up) *9
Aspen 5 26 (@98all up) *10
Skyman CrossAlps S (@90 all up) *10.5
Sol Lotus one (@ 98 all up) *11
Skywalk Cayenne 5 XS *11
Ozone Mantra 6 SM (@94 all up) *12
Gin Gto 2 S size (@94 all up) *12.5
Up Trango XC 3 SM *12.5
Triton 2 in S size (@ 96 all up) *12.5 (M size could be different) !
Niviuk IP6 26 (@98 all up) *13.5
Ozone R-10 S (@ 98 all up) *15.0


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

SKYMAN Cross Country S (70-90)

SKYMAN Cross Country S (70-90)

The new light B glider from Skywalk has arrived. The S size 70-90 flown at 85 all up .

The Cross Country is made from the same material used on the Cross Alps and show on this glider a very nice and neat construction! The Cross Country has unsheathed lines on the upper cascades and sheathed lines on the lower ones. There are only 2 A’s, 3 B’s and 2 C’s ! that’s it !

Launching this very light glider is super easy and even with 3 km wind, the glider could hover above the pilots head waiting to get airborne !

First turn and the feeling of the brakes are toward the light side and getting slightly firm on the lower part. The travel is short to medium and the agility is very good !

The Cross Country has the tendency to turn flat and small weak thermals are caught efficiently with little amount on the brakes.

It seems that the Cross country is a well dampened glider and the gap in liveliness is big behind it’s bigger sister the cross Alps. So the Cross Country is a very comfortable B glider with very simple requirements to have a smile while flying.

I have made some transitions with other gliders and noticed that the Cross Country is fairly competitive and could be placed in the mid of the high B category. It reminded me well of the UP Kantega XC2, which is a very efficient and cool glider.
The speed travel is long and could get the Cross Country at +13 km/h over trim.

Ears are super efficient  and -5 m/s are easily achievable.

Conclusion: The Cross Country is a light B glider with a very neat construction.The overall comfortable performance will indeed put a large smile on the week end pilot. Test flying this glider is an interesting option for the pilots who privilege comfort, ease of use and super light equipment with a very satisfying overall performance.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

SKYWALK Cayenne 5 XS

SKYWALK Cayenne 5 XS (80-95)

The Cayenne 5 with an aspect ratio of 6.4 is the new replacement of the Cayenne 4 that SKYWALK decided to inserted into the C category.

Having flown the past SKYWALK range of gliders including the Cayenne 4, i will describe in the following their differences.

Launching the Cayenne 5 XS at 91 all up is straightforward and a control on the brakes is needed in strong winds to keep the glider overhead.

Feel and maneuverability :
In the air the Cayenne 5 feels much more coherent and solid in structure than the C4 and the pilot authority on the brakes is very well improved over the C4 giving the pilot a short ,precise steering ability to give an agile feel even in choppy conditions.
Flying the Cayenne 5 in thermals is a delight as the wing carves the air with every pulled centimeter on the brake travel giving the impression that the Cayenne 5 feels like an extension of the pilot hand movements and weight shift.

In strong cores and turbulence the Cayenne 5 is a step over the C4 in terms of piloting, but the brake responsiveness of the C5 will let the same good pilot control it much better.

To place exactly the Cayenne 5 for it’s future pilots in the C box which is actually stretched a bit, with high aspect ratio wings, I will consider giving the highest score to the most demanding ones i felt in this C box :
I’ll give the Trango XC 3 = 95 %, the Triton 2 S = 85 %, The Delta 2, Alpina 2 = 60%, and the Sigma 9 = 45 %. Here I’ll give the Cayenne 5 XS at 91 all up = 70 % .

The Cayenne 5 moves as a whole and feels very solid.It’s only in strong dynamic cores that the pilot underneath will have to be active and keen. But it’s slightly more tamed than a Triton 2 S or much more than a Trango XC 3 SM with same loading .

After some long glides and especially head wind glides at trim and at full bar, i can confirm that the overall performance and efficiency of the Cayenne 5 XS i am testing is clearly close to the top contenders.

The Cayenne 5 XS shows it’s efficiency when cutting through the air-mass and moving forward, and it’s very efficient in racing, lift lines on ridges.

Small example of trim speed and glide :
Flying the cayenne 5 XS (80-95) at 91 all up next to an Alpina 2 SM (80-95) at 95 all up, showed a slightly faster trim speed (0.5 km/h) for the C5 still ! and a slightly better glide angle at trim !

Applying half bar reduces the turbulence and the C 5 cuts through without the feel of loosing height with a moderate pressure in the speed system. The top speed at full bar is 54 km/h at 91 all up and 900 ASL and the glide angle at top speed is still competitive for the C category.

The Cayenne 5 can be also described as an efficient climber, in weak and especially in difficult conditions where the pilot need to cut through those little difficult cores, the cayenne 5 will help by it’s ability to surge and search upward efficiently.

Small ears are stable even with bar. Bigger ears are slightly unstable even with bar. The tips are very well pressurized and tends to open energetically.

For an experienced pilot wanting to choose a C glider, I found that the Cayenne 5 has a very interesting ratio of performance/ comfort /efficiency/ and pleasurable handling. The Cayenne 5 is a well balanced C glider with excellent performance and great usability, intended for the experienced pilot looking inside the C category. 


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Coupe Icare 2015

Sunday, August 23, 2015

GIN Genie X-Alps

Sunday, June 21, 2015

GIN Atlas X-Alps S

GIN Atlas X-Alps S

After test flying the regular Atlas S , here’s the X-Alps version is S size also.
Regular lines all over are installed on the X-Alps and the overall construction looks very solid and neat.
It seems this X-Alps version can be flown and treated like an ordinary sail . I didn’t feel that it’s a delicate glider like the extreme light ones. But 4.4 kg for the S is i think a very good compromise.

Launching the X-Alps cannot be easier…Very simple, like a school glider.

In thermals the X-Alps version even loaded at 93 all up isn’t a super agile glider. Pulling the brakes the X-Alps reacts smoothly and turns very efficiently. It has a moderate agility and long brake travel with moderate pressure.

We had here for the last 6 months one X-Alps M size ,that was flown by my friend and each time we flew together i sensed this exceptional float-ability even though he was flying the M size near the top weight (@103) .
On one good XC day, my friend Mony flew one of the longest and very difficult XC flight on his X-Alps M from Harissa site ! For sure he is a good pilot, but the X-Alps was smoothly delivering with efficiency.

Test flying the S size gave me exactly what Mony described on his M size.
An efficient climbing glider, with smooth and super comfortable ride and a very good glide angle.
Stress free flying is guaranteed !

I flew the S size in some turbulent and strong air and i can confirm that it behaves quite gently delivering free performance with “hands in the pocket style” and after landing the pilot still have enough reserve in energy.

Big ears are really efficient in descent rate and super stable ! even with full bar. The full speed is around 50 km/h and the speed bar has a comfortable and moderate pressure.

Among many low B’s, the X-Alps is a comfortable complete B glider that delivers 80 % of the pilot's requirements, with a soft and calm attitude.
Pilots who wants efficient overall performance but favors mainly the comfort, test flying an Atlas X-Alps is a must !

Friday, June 19, 2015

Skywalk Arriba 3 S

Skywalk Arriba 3 S
From my past beautiful experience flying the Tequila 4 S ,here is the light version with same specs ,the Arriba 3.
Unsheathed lines on the upper cascade that are linked directly to the glider and regular lines on the rest.
Launching is very easy with the light cloth.
The Arriba 3 has a new turning feature ! It turns even before the pilots pulls the brake ;-) !
I’m joking …of course, but it’s an agile wing and may be slightly more agile and dynamic than the Tequila 4.

In thermals the Arriba 3 is not a dampened glider. It feels like it’s always smiling and enjoying the flight !
The brake response is short ,direct, and dynamically agile for the low B category !

The climb rate in weak conditions at 90 all up on the S size is very good ! it floats nicely in the air with the feeling of a solid, compact, agile little devil :-)
For a low aspect ratio performance glider that’s unique !

With it’s high trim speed for that category, the glide is surprisingly very good in calm air ! At least at trim speed that could be similar to the Chili 3 !
If only the Chili 3 had that linear and sharp handling…. Arhhhhhh !

Testing flying the Arriba 3, gave me a great deal of pleasure !
Every centimeter of travel, resulted in a linear response as if the pilot was an extension of the glider !

Big ears are stable ,but when applying bar ,they become pretty unstable .

Conclusion: A light, super nice, pleasurable to fly glider with plenty of performance that will draw a guaranteed  smile on your face, for the slightly experienced B pilots. It’s like driving a Porsche Boxter !

Test flying gliders isn’t always a good experience. But flying the Arriba 3 is one to remember :-)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

UPDATE with the Carrera plus, Rook 2, Atlas X-Alps, Arriba 3 S and Nexus in the C .

UPDATE with the Carrera plus, Rook 2, Atlas X-Alps, Arriba 3 S and Nexus in the C .

I have simplified a bit this B comparison, and added the ‘more fun and pleasure to fly B glider, as many pilots don’t always search for + 0.xy in LD on a B rather than “higher fun factor ” glider.
Also i threw some C’s and D’s to give an idea…

Most easy to fly in difficult conditions (most comfortable) :

1-AD Rise 2 M = Base M = Atlas X-Alps S
2-Hook 3 25
3-Sprint EVO= Eden 5=Advance E7 26 = Kantega XC2= Ion 3 S = Atlas S= Infinity 4 S = Swift 4 SM = AD Rise 2 S Superlight .
4-Rush 3 = Mentor 3 S = Summit XC 3 S = Iota 26 = Triple Seven Rook 2 SM = Carrera Plus S
5-Mentor 4 S = Tequila 4 = Rush 4 = Windtech Bali = Skywalk Aruba 3 S
6-SM-Blacklight = Nevada = Sky Atis = Comet 2 S= Swing Mistral 7 S
7-Mentor 2 = Lightning S
8-Chili 3
9-Carrera S, M

Climb rate in very weak conditions (float-ability)
1-Carrera Plus S @ 91 = Chili 3 S @ 98 = Infinity 4 S@ 90 = UP Kantega XC2 S @ 90 = U-Turn Blacklight SM @ 98 = Atlas X-Alps S @ 92 & M @ 102 = Swift SM @ 90 .

2-Nevada = Rush 4 SM @ 90 = Mentor 2 S (Still Efficient) = Tequila 4 SM =
Hook 3 = Eden 5 = Carrera S, M =Triple Seven Rook 2 SM = Lightning S @90 = Arriba 3 S @ 92.

3-Mentor 3 S @ 95 = AD Rise 2 M = Atlas S @ 90 = Base M @ 90 = Rise 2 S Superlight @ 90 = Iota 26 @ 95 = Windtech Bali @ 95

4-Summit XC 3 S @ 93 = Comet 2 S @ 88 = Ion 3 S @ 95 = Mentor 4 S @ 94 .

5- Sky Atis 4 = Advance E 7 26 = Swing M7 S @ 92

Climb rate in OVERALL conditions for XC flying (difficult ,weak, or strong) .
“Relatively moving conditions”

1-Carrera Plus S @ 94 = Chili 3 S @ 98 = Carrera S, M =Triple Seven Rook 2 SM @ 93 = Swift SM @ 92

2-Nevada = U-Turn Blacklight = Rush 4 SM = Mentor 2 S (Still Efficient) = Mentor 3 S ( it is very dampened) = Tequila 4 SM = AD Rise 2 M = Atlas S = Base M = Rise 2 S Superlight = Atlas X-Alps S & M = Mentor 4 S 

3-Iota 26 = Windtech Bali = Arriba 3 S @ 92.

4-Summit XC 3 S @ 93 = Comet 2 S = Ion 3 S 

5-Hook 3 = Eden 5 = Sky Atis 4= Advance E 7 26 = UP Kantega XC2 S = Infinity 4 S = Swing M7 S = Lightning S @90 (These gliders have a superb climb in calm conditions away from the valley breeze. Differences are very small .Its up to the pilot !)

Glide in “OVERALL” conditions (upwind, downwind, racing in difficult conditions) Or “efficiency” ! Done in active air.

1-Carrera S, M = Mentor 4 S = Iota 26 = Carrera Plus = Rook 2 SM

2-Mentor 3 S = Chili 3 S (Differences between 1-2 are insignificant ! )

3-Rush 4 = AD Rise 2 = Swift 4 SM

4-Nevada 26 (must be loaded at 100 ) = Windtech Bali = Hook 3 = Tequila 4 SM = Mentor 2 S = Arriba 3 S .

5-Blacklight SM (loaded) = Ion 3 S = Sky Atis 4 M = Swing Mistral 7 S = Atlas X-Alps =AD Rise 2 S Superlight = UP Summit XC3 S size (M&L could be different) = Atlas X-Alps S =UP Summit XC3 S.

6-BGD Base M = UP kantega XC2 S = Rush 3 M = AD Rise 1 = Infinity 4 S = Eden 5 = Comet 2 S = Atlas S = Advance E7 26 ( The differences are small with ± half a point in L/D max, in “relatively moderate conditions” . (Racing in stronger conditions will show bigger differences)

Fun feel : “pleasure to fly, “agile” and higher overall fun feeling” IMHO

1-Tequila 4 S @ + 91 kg = Arriba 3 @ 90 all up

2-Base M @ + 91 kg / Infinity 4 S @ + 89 Kg = Swift 4 @ + 91 Kg / Atlas S / Sky Atis 4 M @ + 95 Kg / Swing Mistral 7 @ +92 Kg / Mentor 2 S @ +95 Kg / Comet 2 S @ + 93 Kg /

3-Rush 4 @ + 91 Kg / Carrera S @ + 92 kg / Blacklight S @ +91 Kg / Blacklight SM @ + 100 Kg / UP Kantega XC2 @ + 95 Kg / Mentor 3 & 4 S @ +95 Kg / Advance Iota @ + 96 Kg / Wintech Bali M @ + 97 Kg / Chili 3 @ + 100 Kg / AD Rise 2 S superlight @ + 89 Kg =Triple Seven Rook 2 SM @ 97 = Atlas X-Alps S & M.

4- Rise 2 M @ + 103 Kg / Nevada 26 @ + 100 Kg / Ion 3 S @ + 97 Kg / Hook 3 M @ + 97 Kg /UP Summit XC3 @ + 93 kg / AD Rise 1 @ + 95 Kg .

Most demanding glider in "strong conditions" (1-10) '10' being most demanding for a high end B ‘: ( Please bear in mind the 'size' and the 'wing loading' ! )
* Some C’s and D’s were included to inform pilots about their demanding behavior (Forum request) .

Advance E7 26 (@93 all up) * 3.9
GIN Atlas X-Alps ( S @ 94 all up) *3.9
AD Rise 2 M (@98all up) *4
BGD Base M (@90all up) *4
Eden 5 (@ 95 all up) *4
Hook 3 (@97 all up) *4
Rush 3 M (@102 all up) *4.5
Sprint Evo ( @ 98 all up ) *4.5
Nova Ion 3 S (@ 95 all up) *5.0
U-Turn Infinity 4 S (@ 90all up) *5.0
Gin Atlas S (@ 92 all up ) * 5.0
UP Kantega Xc2 S (@ 90 all up)*5.0
AD Rise 1 (@ 102 all up) *5.5
Windtech Bali (@95 all up) *5.5
Swift 4 SM (@ 92 all up) *5.5
Triple Seven Rook 2 SM ( at 97) *5.5
Iota 26 ( @ 95 all up) *5.5
Blacklight SM (@100 all up)*5.5
Sky Atis 4 M (@93 all up) *5.5
Nevada 26 (@ 100 all up ) *5.5
Mentor 3 S ( @97 all up) *5.5
Tequila 4 SM (@92 allup) *5.5
Arriba 3 S at 92 all up *5.6
Axis Comet 2 S (@90 all up 5.8
Mentor 4 S ( @ 95 all up) *5.8
UP Summit XC3 @ 93 all up. 6.0
GIN Carrera plus S @ 94 all up *6.0
Swing M7 S (@90all up) *6.0
Rush 4 SM (@93 all up) *6.0
Blacklight S ( @ 90 all up) *6.5
Lightning S @ (90 all up) 6.5
Mentor 2 S (@ 95 all up) *6.5
Chili 3 S (@ 98all up) *7.0
Carrera S, M 8.0

C & D gliders:
This grade is to say how busy a glider is, in strong conditions, or the one that’s more difficult to manage, comparing to the B category.

Since this is a very delicate comparison , i must point out that the glider that has quicker authority on the brakes like the Triton 2 will enable a good pilot to keep it swiftly overhead. Some doesn’t have that quick response and in strong conditions they won’t keep the pilot as busy, but he will be the ‘passenger’ for a short lapse of time …
The grade doesn’t indicate the one that recovers easier or harder !!Only that keep you busier ! Most will have easier recovery than the higher graded !

Mac Elan M (@98all up) *7
Swing Nexus (@94 all up) *7.0
Up Summit XC 3 S (@94 all up) *7.5
Mac Elan light 24 (@90 al up) *7.5
Advance Sigma 9 25 (@91 all up) *7.5
Niviuk Artik 4 25 (@91 all up) *8.5
Ozone Alpina 2 SM (@92 all up) * 8.5
Delta 2 SM size (@ 92 all up) *9
777 Queen M (@ 101 all up) *9
Aspen 5 26 (@98all up) *10
Skyman CrossAlps S (@90 all up) *10.5
Sol Lotus one (@ 98 all up) *11
Ozone Mantra 6 SM (@94 all up) *12
Gin Gto 2 S size (@94 all up) *12,5
Triton 2 in S size (@ 96 all up) *12.5 (M size could be different) !
Niviuk IP6 26 (@98 all up) *13.5
Ozone R-10 S (@ 98 all up) *15.0

The Eden 5 has less top speed of 3-4 km than the others.
The Hook 3 is very comfortable to fly with a very interesting glide angle. The climb in smooth conditions is fair.
The Mentor 3 is much easier than the Mentor 2, and its efficiency is in those turbulent glides where it will have less pitch movements and little better glide.
The Mentor 4 has better glide than the Mentor 3 but with lesser climb “only” in weak conditions.
The Iota has a very good glide similar to the Mentor 4, It has a nice climb similar to the Mentor “3”.
The Chili 3 S “still” has the best climb rate and a very nice handling in homogenous conditions. But with a very long brake travel.
The Advance E7 26 is the most confidence inspiring rock solid glider of the cat. It reminded me of the low B cat in comfort.
The BGD Base is a confidence inspiring, solid glider.The climb and handling are very good.
The Atis 4 has a bit roll movement and need some active piloting in the high end B’s.
It has a fast trim speed, much like the M3 and Chili 3. Long brake travel are needed to let the glider respond in turbulent conditions.
The UP Kantega XC2 S is a very nice wing to fly .It has nice handling and also superb climb overall being also very accessible.
The Swing M7 S is a delight to fly. It dives a bit into turns. It is fast enough for a B, and has enough performance. Not really a floater but a nice glider overall.
The Rush 4 has a very good glide . It is an overall good, very solid B glider, but its trim speed is around 38 km/h and especially the top speed which is low for the cat around 51 km/h .
The fastest are Mentor 3, XC3, Mistral 7…But it is around 55 km/h max.
The AD rise 2 M has the BEST ratio Performance/Comfort in flight !
The Tequila 4 SM is like a precious gem ! combining agility/performance/accessibility!
The Infinity 4 has a very light and nice turning behavior! It has a low trim speed , and the climb rate even loaded is outstanding!
The Comet 2 S give a nice feeling under it. It has a very nice handling .
The Windtech Bali has a respected glide angle. It needs slightly active piloting in big air.
The Atlas S has everything to make its pilot very happy,with a good feeling of passive safety. The X-Alps version of the Atlas has more performance overall, especially in climb.
The Arriba is slightly more dynamic than the Tequila 4 and a pleasurable glider to fly.
The Rook 2 is a well balanced high performance B glider, with nice handling and efficiency.

Conclusion: The Carrera has now two very serious competitors, the M4 and the Iota in pure gliding power.The Carrera still climbs better “in real conditions” than any B in this table.
The Carrera plus climb is even better than the original version only in weak and moderate conditions.The more the headwind, the original version cut forward more efficiently.
The AD Rise 2 is very comfortable to fly with a superb glide for the high B category .
The Rush 4 like the Swift 4 has nearly the glide of the Mentor 3 but with lesser speed. It's an overall efficient glider in difficult conditions where it could cut through turbulence and have a very solid and compact feel coupled with a direct handling.
The Mentor 4 has now the best glide in difficult conditions among the similar aspect ratio B’s very close to the Iota and the Rook 2. The climb in very weak conditions still favors the Mentor 3 S similarly loaded.
The Atlas X-Alps is an easy “all rounder” with very good performance especially in weak climbs and low saves.

I’m certain that a good pilot can break an XC record with ANY of those superb B gliders from above !
Please pick the one that will make you feel happy under it ….The rest is up to you !


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Swing Nexus S

Swing Nexus S    74-98
My last Swing tested glider was a Mistral 7 S and it was a very agile and fast wing with good performance for the B category.
The Nexus is Swing’s new C glider with a moderate aspect ratio glider of 6.1
The construction and details are excellent on this glider , and it is quite a step higher in quality manufacturing than the Mistral 7 if i remember correctly.

Unsheathed lines on the top cascades with some lower covered lines were chosen on the Nexus.

Launching is smooth and easy for the C category.

Flying the Nexus S at 94 all up , gave me an immediate feel of a solid, compact and homogenous glider. In fact in turbulent conditions there are many B ’s that require more active pilot control.
The turning ability at my load is ok. I cannot say that the Nexus is an agile glider but still fine enabling good and flat turns.

The brake pressure is average and comfortable for long flights with good steering precision and average lengths .

The Nexus pitch and roll movements are very dampened enabling a very comfortable ride for the pilot underneath.

The trim speed however at my load of 94 is high for the category and is similar to the trim speed of the new UP Trango XC 3. However the gliding performance of the 7:0 aspect ratio TXC3 is only comparable with the class above as well as its piloting level of course.
The climb rate of the Nexus in weak and strong conditions are within the normal C category as well as it’s glide angle.

The Nexus reminded me well of the Sigma 9, I have tested earlier, as the Nexus is very similar in comfort and also on its overall performance but with lesser agility in turns.

The speed bar enabled me to gain around 12 km/h at 800 ASL over trim.

Big ears are stable and reopen smoothly .

Conclusion: The Swing Nexus is a very accessible C glider and it’s a good logical evolution after after two seasons on a regular B.
Mistral 7 pilots won’t have any problem upgrading with the benefit of surprisingly a more comfortable glider ! and better gliding performance.
The comfort and confidence inspiring feel are present from the moment of take off.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

UP Trango XC 3

UP Trango XC 3 SM 

UP has released their Trango XC2 replacement . The Trango XC3 has an aspect ratio of 7,0 and UP decided to put it in the C certification box.
Looking at the glider showed semi circular, small and narrow opening with a shark nose profile. The XC3 is a three liner concept with a complete set of unsheathed lines.
The cloth used on the Trango XC 3 is lighter than the one used on the Trango XC2 and the construction is very well made .

Launching in 5 km/h wind, the XC 3 inflates rapidly and stays above the pilots head. In +25 km/h wind ,the pilot must control the glider to keep it from overshooting. 

Once in the air ,the Trango XC 3 has a beautiful elongated shape. Flying the Trango XC 3 in smooth and homogenous thermals with moderate turbulence showed a short, very linear and direct brake response .The agility in turns is good for a 7:0 aspect ratio glider as the wing carve the air efficiently.

However flying the Trango XC3 in some turbulent and strong conditions even properly loaded ,needs a good experienced pilot . The Trango XC 3 in those conditions needs constant active control as the glider has lots of energy and the turning radius inside the thermals needs more weight shift and more pulling on the brakes to carve !  It is a step further than the Trango XC2 in pilot control . 

The difference between the Trango XC2 and the Trango XC3 : More pitch forward to enter the thermals for the T XC3 enabling a bigger step in climb rate over the XC 2 but with less brake authority in strong turbulent cores. More body work is needed on the Trango XC 3 to carve those shaky, turbulent cores…
I think it plays well in the IP 6 playground for a very efficient and similar climb rate !  The difference between those two is a harder brake response for the Trango XC3 with slightly similar glider control, and a taught feel for the IP6 in the same turbulent conditions.

Flying next to a Mantra 6 SM (both loaded at top) showed a ~ 2 km/h more trim speed for the Trango XC 3 for nearly the same glide angle. It’s a bullet at trim ! 
In the same turbulent air, the M6 felt more calm, and relaxing to fly, but my friend on the M6 was impressed by the climb rate of the TXC 3 ! 
Stepping on the speed bar until pulleys overlapping gave me around 55 km/h at 1000 ASL on the Trango XC 3 at 97 all up with still a taught leading edge.

Ears are stable and reopen immediately on input .

Conclusion:  For sure the Trango XC 3 is a performance glider intended for the very experienced XC seekers. It will do greatly on long XC’s especially into wind glides and climbs! 
The Trango XC 3 cannot be understood or inserted in the C category as it will out-perform many…It is the class above !
If someone is interested ‘ONLY’ in looking at the label, here’s a funny one !  
The C certification for the Trango XC 3 is like an angelic smile of a very beautiful, 5 star hotel receptionist. All the benefits are there , but that won’t smoothen up the bill… ;-)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Is there a quest for the best performing paraglider?

Despite the header being bold enough, the text below will explain what ‘true performance’ is in my own "dustoftheuniverse" philosophy.

First I believe that the word performance is slightly misunderstood. The best performer isn’t the one that will fulfill one paragliding pilot's dreams, whatever they may be, in best climb or on longest XC’s.
As individuals, we have huge differences in glider requirements. Some won’t bear flying a very talkative glider, others would appreciate more the handling and maneuverability…etc...
I have written before that there is no best wing rather then best pilot for a certain wing.

Is the most important word in our paragliding world.
Efficiency should be split in two parts.
Efficiency of a glider, and efficiency of the pilot.

Let's begin with efficiency of the pilot:
With our different skills, talents and training hours, plus the different conditions we fly in, this quest for pilots efficiency starts with each pilot inner self to train and learn more, depending on his own time for that matter.
To be fully operational and to fly efficiently, each individual pilot must be true to himself in choosing a glider that meets his own skills.
“Being humble toward nature will be handsomely rewarded!”

Today’s manufacturers websites are on a high standard. They give you a full idea and description of each glider they have on offer.
Of course high aspect ratio on gliders has to be carefully understood.
And there are the schools, instructors, which can give you their insights hoping that they don’t get attached to one or two brands…

Efficiency of a glider:
Efficiency is NOT the glider that arrives higher in glides…
It is the one that has a high rate of everything.
The one that allows you to get out of low saves ex: 85 %, that can have a smooth and stable glide angle in turbulent conditions ex: 85 %, the one that can core every bubble with a swift and direct brake travel ex: 85 %.... speed …85 %.... etc.
A complete glider is what we all are longing for.
My videos are available for the fun part of your eyes. They only show a small portion of the flying tests. It is impossible to make a 5 to 10 hours YouTube video!
If the differences sometimes are difficult to discern, it doesn’t mean that they do not exist ;-)
Gliders are like fine wine. A wine taster could see the difference. But I’m sure that there is finer wine taster out-there appreciating what I have tasted ;-)

I’ll begin with a logical example.
If one manufacturer take his certified B glider, and re-trims it by changing only the line lengths. (Live Ex: Carrera), with a new but identical EN B certification, do you believe that the overall efficiency and accessibility of this glider is the same?
The logical answer is: Of course not, and I fully agree as the Carrera plus has indeed a different flavor.
Then if this ‘same’ glider is now different, don’t you believe that in one single class among manufacturers “some” differences can occur?  

Another visual example is paragliding competition.
After 3-4  PWC’s, one glider is always found consistently among the top 20 knowing that the first 50 pilots or so are the finest in the world…That’s what I call efficiency.

Combining both glider and pilot cocktail for efficient flying will give you the best moments of your life !

For me each flight with different wings has it’s own flavor and it’s absolutely free information for the interested pilots.
I’m not a reseller, nor a salesman, so I have nothing to gain or loose. I do those tests for absolute fun and for the pleasure to change wings and feel that difference in efficiency.

In the end, any glider in the B category of today’s technology could give you more than enough high rate of pleasure and efficiency, and when test flying, the best glider is really the one that makes you smile immediately after landing.

Happy flight, 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

GIN Carrera plus S

GIN Carrera + (PLUS) S

Last year GIN released the original Carrera with a B certification .
He stated at the time that this glider needs active piloting and is destined to experienced pilots with a background in a performance/intermediate glider.
Unfortunately, lots of pilots were slightly mislead by the B label, and did in fact bought the Carrera .
For me it was an excellent glider that had a superb
climb rate, a respective glide angle and great maneuverability. The original Carrera was competing easily with the C class with top scores.
For sure it was a bit handful for the B class, but not for the pilots who were used to fly moderate aspect ratio C gliders.

In 2015, GIN released another version of his excellent Carrera. The Carrera plus has now lower sheathed lines, and the R&D team claimed to have modified the angle of attack and line lengths to reach more comfort and better overall feel.
Having flown the Original Carrera S ,i have now the Plus version in S size also to see if these modifications are indeed a plus over the original Carrera without the loss of overall performance or are they just simply a marketing tool ? …Let see…

I have flown the Carrera plus S from 90 to 94 .
Pulling the A’s on the Carrera Plus S, showed a slight delay in rising power for the first 70 %, comparing it to the original version. After the 90 % rise, the Carrera plus accelerates to a quick take off. This new characteristic is very good in high winds.The pilot will have the time to catch the glider much sooner.

In the air the brake authority are slightly less than the original version, with a glider that stays more flat in turns. Carving was continuous on the original version, but the Carrera plus will flatten the turn to a more calmer one.

To evaluate the climb rate, i had to fly several times with my trusted friends and in company of reference gliders in that matter.
We confirmed that the climb rate of the Carrera plus is indeed a plus on this new version.
1-Trim speed is slightly reduced by less than 0.5 km/h. A similarly loaded Delta 2 SM has now slightly faster trim speed than the Carrera plus S.
2-The pitch movements on the original Carrera has been changed. The Carrera plus has a slight pitch back in entering cores, and the overall pitch behavior is now more dampened . However the roll is still present as the original version which is excellent.
3-The Carrera plus doesn’t dive in turns allowing a very efficient climb in difficult conditions that could match the best ones in the C category.(We don’t measure climb rate in easy ,constant thermals…No use ! All gliders climb similarly in those conditions)

In turbulent conditions the Carrera plus is indeed more comfortable than the original version as the pitch movements are 50 % more dampened and the glider is now always searching for a leveled flight.
The overall feeling of a more compact and solid tips is felt.

Once inside the core, the pleasure of the turning abilities are present. Of course the extra agility of the Original version has been slightly reduced, but I really enjoyed every thermal as the brakes are still precise and linear and the wing followed my command in a smooth and homogenous turn.

Gliding next to a Delta 2 SM, showed surprisingly a very close and slightly similar glide angle at trim speed, showing that the plus version is still very competitive!
What surprised me more is the glide at bar.
Pushing half bar on the Carrera plus needs a moderate to light pressure and showed the hidden power of this new version. The glide angle at 45km/h is excellent and very competitive to say the least with moderate aspect ratio the C gliders…

Big ears are easy to pull, they open by themselves.

The Carrera plus still retains its gliding performance. The climb rate in weak and difficult conditions is above any B glider I have tested until now. Low saves are easier to manage.
The main question remains: Is it worth upgrading to the ‘plus’ version?
GIN offered a 35 % more comfortable Carrera plus for a wider range of experienced pilots.
It is still NOT your first average B glider, but for pilots who has enough experience in the category, and wanted a very competitive 6.2 aspect ratio with B certification, or pilots that do not want to sell their original Carreras, and are looking for that extra comfort in general handling, then an upgrade is useful.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Gliders, tests and transparency.

Gliders, tests and transparency.
First of all, I would like to thank all the pilots interested in dustoftheuniverse blog and page.
Paragliding for me it is a ‘pure’ sport. Flying puts us in a place away from dull conversations, work problems, and daily routine life.
Being up there, focusing on the flight, visualizing the scenery, is an experience beyond fine description, where an individual would find him/herself floating in space and totally free.
The purpose of my tests is to be able to change wings, feel the difference, and share it.
To do so, I must purchase the gliders from manufacturers. That’s the best way to be free to make: Test, take the needed time, fly the glider anywhere I want, be free to compare it with any glider and discuss opinions with my friends.
Purchased gliders must be sold after, in order to get new ones.
Our custom status:
When each single glider arrives, the glider is detained by the customs. In the next 4-5 days they inform me and I must drive to the Airport that is 2-hour drive from my house, without mentioning the horrible traffic.
First visit consist to begin the terrible negotiations with the customs, then paperwork and a copy to be sent to the army in order to get a clearance paper.
After 3 days an army officer call to say that he is going to inspect the glider. After 5 days I began to call the army office to see if the clearance has been given. Once it has, I must again drive to the airport to began the clearance process.
I would wait outside the officer office 4-5 hours sometimes to wait for his signature! Got the paper signed and away now to the custom office to begin the release process and paying the customs fees (+Vat).
=  Around +500 including back and forth expenses paid, and 15-18 days delay with (a single) glider released! 
(I’m really grateful that ‘Imad’ a guy that works with me helps me with this issue)
Glider is tested and now I must sell it.
After the test, if a glider shows it’s potential on the videos and meets many pilots’ requirements, then the company, and the dealers and everyone working on this brand would positively benefit from it. I’m glad I contributed to that happiness…and the pilots who bought that glider are even happier!  :-)
As for me, I’m now struggling to sell that single used glider making sure that no dealer around the world is un-happy by his countryman pilot buying mine!
Knowing that he could have made some profits after the test selling to many other pilots…But that won’t sate his greed, sending emails to the main company as if the world had collapsed and the loss is enormous!
I will gladly send him any profit over it if occurred!
Glad that there are few alike, and many are gentlemen and professionals.
I’m not selling a new glider…Just (a single) 5-10 hours used glider. Wake up money worshipers…Think of the positive sides, rather than the negatives ones.  
Some complains that my prices are low.
With all the hard work getting one glider out, going for the tests, editing the videos, writing the tests, answering endless questions and emails, all free information to the pilots around the world, and they are available for any interested manufacturer.
Would it be fair to trade and profit after an honest opinion? 
After covering the above expenses. The prices are low, because they are also free from ridiculous profit!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Triple Seven Rook 2 SM

As seen on my videos, my tests are not only to show, talk, or to praise a glider. They are a ‘different’ way to insert the tested ones in the category they are meant for, and also to explain the differences and expectations in words.

Triple Seven Rook 2 SM

Aggressive back position intakes on the leading edge, Upper line cascades with unsheathed lines ,lower line cascades with thin ,very optimized covered Liros lines. Very sporty looking risers, excellent finish…That’s the Rook 2 in SM size ready for take off !

I flew the Rook 2 SM (80-100) from 94 to 98 all up in different conditions ,from weak to strong and turbulent in the company of other 2015 high-end B reference gliders and that gave me a complete idea about the Rook 2.

Launching this high EN-B overall is nice and even in +25 km/h wind is quite easy for the category .Just a dab on the brakes to keep it overhead, with a swift airborne mode.

I always alternate several new B gliders in the same day with the same conditions and of course switching gliders with my friends in respecting the loads.

Rewinding a bit…Considering that the Iota 26 moves comfortably as a block with a good, and firm authority on the brakes letting it be efficient enough in turning ability. Looking back also at the Mentor 4 S which has a slight dynamic feel over the Iota but also with relatively similar comfort and a swifter brake response over the Iota and a slightly less thermal climb capability in the weak .Both gliders moves as a block, with no parasite movements. (All in S sizes with same loadings)

Fast-forwarding now …The Rook 2 feels slightly more subtle in turbulent conditions with a very slight insignificant yaw movement before initiating a turn, like the one seen on the Queen, but surely with much more comfort . (More comfortable than a Blacklight,or Chili 3 for example to give you an idea ! )

The brakes authority on the Rook 2 SM are more linear than the Iota and the Mentor 4, enabling the pilot under, to feel the air and the movements of the glider placing it exactly where he wants and optimizing the turning radius with a flat turn ( Or a performance oriented turn ) .
The pressure on the brakes are less than the ones on a Mentor 4 S , and slightly close to the Rush 4 , which is moderate .

So the Rook 2 SM doesn’t have the agility and the dynamics in turns of the Mentor 4S.
It is similar to the Iota 26 agility, “but” with a super efficient climb rate in the weak ,putting it as efficient as the Chili 3 !
( The Rook 2 SM is a serious contender in climb rate! )

In turbulent conditions and head wind, I found that it’s preferable to load the Rook 2 SM a bit . May be (98 kg) is good for a better into wind efficiency “in racing mode”. Flying it also at 94 is also fine…Just slightly slower to dig in when facing a strong head wind.
The Rook 2 SM trim speed is slightly less (-0.5 km/h) than the Mentor 4S and Iota 26 similarly loaded. And slightly faster at trim than the Rush 4 by +0.5 km/h.

Did some long glides with some good B’s and C’s .

Rewinding a bit again…Doing glides into wind on little Xc’s with the Mentor 4S comparing it to the Delta 2 SM and Elan light 26 showed a better raw glide for the M4 S.
But in tricky conditions with weak choppy thermals, and low saves, both the Delta 2 SM and the Elan 26 always managed to out-climbed me and were well ahead.

Flying the Rook 2 SM with the same Delta 2 SM, and the new Elan light 26, showed a “close” glide performance to the C gliders (in windy conditions) for the Rook 2 SM especially when applying the bar a bit, (@ 45 km/h)
The good part is when each time we happen to get low trying to catch the small thermals bits …the Rook 2 SM was the first one out of the hole! and gliding away…

It was clear, when using the first part of the speed bar,
that a quick difference is felt and seen in turbulent glides. 

The action on the first bar did in fact smoothed the glider movements ! and i believe that the glide angle has improved over the trim speed glide ! That’s impressive !

Big ears are stable with a -3m/s with bar. They reopen quickly on release.
Wing overs and 360’s are also fun to use .
The speed over trim at 98 all up is + 14 km/h with the pulleys overlapping (Taken at 800 ASL)
The speed bar pressure is moderate on my Woody Valley X-rated.

Triple Seven gliders seems to inherit the know-how and fine tuning capabilities of the Valic brothers competition background, by producing fine gliders with optimum line width and layout, and a big attention to the glide at speed !

What i have felt and seen, is a well designed, high-end B glider “with character”, up-to-date performance and a well tuned brake fan for maximizing the turning radius.
The Rook 2 isn’t a boring stiff B glider nor a lively one for sure !
The pitch movements are nearly absent. And the roll is moderate for the B class.
The tips are solid and powerful. They move sideways a bit, with the center pitch still very stable in movements.
They give a certain fragrance to the flight, which sensitive pilots might appreciate over a stiffer one.

The Rook 2 with it’s efficient climb rate, enabling low saves, and an impressive glide around ± 45 km/h will share the top places in the best efficient ones.