The key to life is not accumulation. It's contribution. Hands that serve help more than the lips that pray.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

AD Hero 2 S

After test-flying the EN-C VOLT 5 from AD, here is the review of the new 2024/25 Hero 2 in the 2-liner EN-D category.

The Hero 2 is a light hike and fly, XC, and competition wing from Airdesign. The construction is very light with around 3.5 kg for the glider. 

Take-off is super easy even in little wind. The Hero 2 rises smoothly and evenly and I think it is as easy to inflate as the Omega ULS or the Zeolite 2 GT. 

In the air, at 89 all up, with my Impress 4 harness, the brake travel is short with moderate and smooth pressure, and a linear feel. Between the light 2-liner D’s I think it resembles the Klimber brake travel, with slightly less pressure. 

I could describe the brake feel as short, very direct, linear, and smooth. A delight to fly! I had a really nice time flying the Hero 2 for the amount of handling pleasure it delivers. Tight turns need around 10-15 cm with very good agility. 

The whole structure is very homogenous, and the glider moves smoothly as a whole without parasital movements! The Hero 2 is an easy 2-liner D glider to fly. It resembles the Omega ULS in comfort. A very sweet glider to fly in strong air for the D class. 

The Hero 2 doesn’t have a positive nor a back pitch when entering thermals at 89 all up. It just slows a little before entry but still goes slowly forward. The brakes can place it accurately inside any small core, and that delivers a nice climb rate. The feel on the EN-C Volt 5 is a slighter pitch forward upon entry. The Hero 2 has another feel.  

Doing some glides next to my reference gliders showed me a glide similar to the Klimber 3, Omega ULS.  The speed bar has a moderate pressure that gets you around 19 km/h over trim, and it is very usable with a solid glider overhead. The B steering is quite efficient in controlling the pitch while on the bar with also moderate pressure.  

Ears are doable with outer B’s. Easy and efficient. Wingovers have a lot of energy and fun to make. Landing is a non-event with low stall speed. 


Test flying that nice machine is a must for any pilot aiming for a light easy EN-D with nice handling and a pleasurable overall feel.



Thursday, May 2, 2024

GIN Genie Race 5

Genie race 5 size M

Once released, I received many emails to test fly the Race 5, and I tried to purchase one, but GIN replied that they have lots of orders at the moment… ;-)... 

So I waited for a friend to lend me his harness, and Milo was so kind to offer it for a short flight. 
I already test-flew the NK Drifter 2 which is a hybrid harness(Not inflatable) and also the Submarine which is similar to the Genie Race 5 with an inflatable envelope.
At first sight, the Genie Race 5 has an impeccable finish! It is a very clean harness for the sight! The workmanship on the Genie Race 5 is the top you can find today. The materials used on the outside envelope are sturdy and more tear-resistant than the Submarine.  Again, all the lille sewings and finishing details are excellent!
The front-used zippers are large and seem indestructible for normal and daily use. 
I liked the cockpit placement! It is quite clear in front of the pilot's face and looks like a conventional pod harness, not inserted inside the harness…So that feature is really nice! There are also two side pockets on the chest just between the cockpit and the pilot's face! Easily reachable in the air. 
Legs are naturally supported, and no matter if you pull the side straps for a relatively normal (lying/upright) position, (like on conventional pod harnesses) The back fairing still is streamlined to the air, and also the center of gravity is perfect with a streamlined harness all the way. 
Under the cockpit inside the cocoon, there’s also a ballast pocket for 10-12 L, that sits independently from your body. More details on the GIN website:

Two rescue systems on each side. 
A fairly large back pocket inside the cocoon for the bags and water. 
There’s also a small place under the seat for ballast. The 9 cm Koroyd protection is installed. Once in the air, when fully inflated, I reached with my hand to the lower part of the cocoon, to feel the protection, and there was still 3-4 cm 
of air to feel the protection. Maybe GIN could have installed a larger one easily with the same cocoon shape, but GIN is quite convinced about that protection. 

Sitting inside the Genie Race 5 was immediately comfortable. It is not a complicated harness to adjust. There are two leg adjustments from each side. One back adjustment, and one seat height adjustment. So easy to get yourself in a good sitting position.
The sitting comfort for my height of 1.81 and 74 kg is the best I could find from the other mentioned competition harnesses. The seat width fits me perfectly like a glove. No pressure on the sides. Just perfect. 
The back support is very comfortable without any hard points for the hour I flew.  

The main front strap is fixed and slightly narrower than the Submarine in width. The roll movements are quite dampened and the information is excellent, without getting too chatty. I think flying high aspect ratio gliders under the Genie Race 5 will give a balanced feel between good maneuverability and high stability. 

Getting inside the harness and out is easy with a nice zipper system. 

Conclusion:  This small test is just a small idea, as I didn’t fly it much. 
But, I think, even daily XC pilots could easily fly the Genie Race 5 for its easily understandable setup. 
Clean, beautiful looking, and very well made, the Genie Race 5 has the most complete package for comfort and streamlined competition performance if you need it. 

Monday, April 22, 2024

Air Design Rise 5 S ---- (Ram-TRX) ---- :-)

The Rise 5 is an AirDesign high EN-B glider for 2024/26.

Airdesign inserted new winglets on the Rise 5. 
I flew the Rise 5 S (72-92) from 87 to 92 all up. It flies great at 88!  
Launching the Rise 5 is a non-issue at all. It has easy inflation, rises smoothly, and waits for the pilot overhead in a moderate breeze. 
In the air with an Advance Impress 4 and later on an NK Arrow. 
The brake travel is short direct and precise as, after the 10 cm gap, only +10 cm is needed in most conditions to immediately steer the glider into cores. The pressure is moderate to slightly firm after 15 cm of travel. The Rise 5 is an agile glider in turns that lets you core the tiniest of thermals, with a good degree of pleasure feel.  

Flying the Rise 5, I noticed an uncommon feature for the B category. I was writing the test 6 days ago but stopped and preferred to fly it even more, to be sure of what about I’m going to write afterward. 
As I was saying...There’s something very special underneath that glider that differs from 90% of the competitors. let me explain:

The Rise 5 has a slightly faster trim speed of +2 km/h than a brand-new Rush 6 for example with the same loadings for both. Inside thermals, the Rise 5 clings into thermals sliding through very efficiently with an incredibly efficient climb rate! Carves the air like on rails with efficiency, which is noticeable! 
In turbulence, in smooth, or strong climbs, the Rise 5 climbs very well for a high B glider. 

Some high B gliders will pitch slightly or slow a bit before entering thermals. The Rise 5 quality of entering the lift is excellent and resembles the upper C or D class gliders! It moves efficiently through the lift and never gets pinned facing the lift. Even if you fly it at 88 all up and not at the max (92), it will still be fast at trim and great at surfing the airmass! 
Even when pulling on the brakes to steer it, the Rise 5 still wants to reach that thermal and carve it efficiently like the C or D class gliders!  The turning radius could be made tight and the Rise 5 stays glued to the updraft in a somehow perfect coring characteristics. It resembles the Maestro 2 thermal characteristics, which I liked very much, but with more than 50 % overall comfort!  
 I am talking here about the quality of entering the rising air mass which is excellent under the Rise 5. That specific way of climbing (with benefits) is very interesting.  
All that with very high comfort for the B class, as the Rise 5 resembles the Mentor 7 in comfort and agility, with more brake connectivity and a linear feel on the brakes for the Rise 5.

Saying that I found out that even in the harshest of conditions, the Rise 5 is a gentle teddy bear to fly! So smooth and relaxing, I was thinking that some A-class gliders could have more movements… So how did Air Design manage to give the Rise 5 a slightly higher trim speed with that outstanding climb rate and comfort?  

Flying it at 88 is excellent in all conditions. The Rise 5 keeps its structure homogeneity in turbulence. Now at 90 for the strong days could also be a good option. 

Now the gliding part:
We did lots of glides with a new Rush 6 MS at 92 all up in the company of a Kangri X S at 96 all up, and a Davinci Funky 2 S at 95 all up.  We did practically 2 days of glide and testing. 
The Rush 6 had to push slightly the speed travel to reach my trim speed on the Rise 5 at 88-89 all up. Doing those glides together and repeatedly showed us a clear idea about its potential. 
Gliding in lift lines and turbulent air under the Rise 5 gives its pilot that plus, in float-ability with efficient climb and surfing. The Rise 5 seems to show its glide in moving air rather than in calm air. 

Big ears are easy to make, stable, efficient, and quite usable in all conditions. Wingovers are quite surprisingly high, and the Rise 5 showed me a playful character for such a smooth glider.  
Speed over trim is around 13 km/h. The first bar has a moderate pressure and slightly more on the second bar. 
The C steering while in turbulence is very efficient, and easy to use, with moderate pressure to keep the Rise 5 on track while on the speed bar.  

Fast trim speed, smooth flying characteristics, homogenous structure, very efficient digging through the airmass for a high B, agile and playful, while keeping the pilot ‘super' relaxed.  
The Rise 5 in one word:  Ram TRX  :-)  

Thursday, April 18, 2024

DaVinci Funky 2 S

Davinci Funky 2

The Funky 2 is Davinci high performance EN-B. It is constructed with a 3-line concept and unsheathed lines everywhere. The Funky 2 has lots of features with a special leading-edge look, including the smart Nose Plus. I’ll let you see all the Funky 2 specs here: 

Launching the Funky2 even without wind is straightforward without any hard points. A smooth take-off with no wind. In strong windy takeoff, the Funky 2 with the right input felt very smooth and gentle.
Turning the Funky 2 is a real pleasure! The turning radius can be made very tight coring the tiniest of thermals. 
For a high-B, the Funky 2 brake travel can be described as short to moderate in length and pressure, with a nice linear feel through the turn. 
A kind of hydraulic smooth turn I can say!  Very satisfying and pleasurable to fly.  
On one day, at the soaring site, the wind blew around 30…32 km/h, and after flying the Mullet 18 a bit, I tried to play with the Funky 2 at mid-weight with a seated harness, launching from the beach exactly at 0 sea level, just to see how it will cope with such winds. 
To my surprise I could easily lift off from the beach getting higher, with efficient forward flying for a B glider, touch the sand, and go high again, playing for more than an hour was satisfying and rewarding with that nice authority on the brakes.  I had a blast under the Funky 2 playful character. 
Now in XC mode.
I flew the Funky 2 in different aerology and took my time test flying it. I can confirm the easy and forgiving behavior of that Funky 2. It felt much easier to fly than the Kangri-X I am also currently test-flying
It is more comfortable to fly than the Rush 6 /also.  Maybe it is slightly more alive than the Mentor 7 with a ‘gentleman’ feedback :-)! 
The Funky 2 is a smooth glider to fly and lets you concentrate on your flying instead of looking at the glider.  
Climb rate: 
Inside the High B category, I found the Funky 2 to have quite a very good and competitive climb rate in all conditions. In weak air, the Funky 2 is quite competitive as it can be slowed inside any weak lift and could easily stay in that lift with a positive vario.  The Funky 2 can easily grab thermals without losing the climb and can compete efficiently with good High B climbers.
In punchy and stronger cores, the Funky 2 like most B-class gliders slows slightly before entry, then it goes in, quite nicely and efficiently inside the core. Flying The S at 95 would make it even better in those strong conditions, without losing its float ability in weak air.  
The overall movements in roll are quite in the middle of the B class. The pitch is nearly absent, for the high B category as the Funky 2 can be described as a comfortable glider to fly.
The R&D added a light touch of smooth spices giving the pilot a nice turn and pleasurable handling.  
Gliding with the Funky 2 in moderate boiling air seems to give the pilot a nice glide through that moving airmass.  We flew against a brand new Rush 6 size MS loaded at 92 all up. I think, despite having a 3 line concept, the glide is amazingly good for the Funky 2. We tried four glides, in a headwind, backwind, and tricky air, and the result was very good placing it among the 5 best gliding high B machines. I also added a new B chart (spider type) for the picky pilots :-). 
The C riser system has a moderate and smooth feel and lets you control the pitch or the glider movements while on bar. Similar to other good 2.5 or 3-line high B gliders.  The speed over trim is +13 km/h over trim taken at 800 ASL. 
Ears with outside A’s are stable, very easy to induce, and efficient for descent. 
The DaVinci Funky 2 surprised me with its complete and highly usable package of performance and pleasurable handling. A must to try near the max weight, to give you that taste of surfing the air. 


Thursday, April 4, 2024

AirDesign Volt 5 S


I’m not the only one who is noticing, I think...! Something is interesting at AIR-DESIGN. 

A cooler approach toward the pilots with their marketing ads and cool videos, funny and unique. They seem to cook magical recipes on their private planet.
All this shows highly creative teamwork. 
For example: They released the first certified 2 liner C category (Volt4) in Feb -2022 
They now released three new gliders B-C-D at the same time!!!  including the  Rise 4 EN-B (1st B glider with the new fashionable winglets)  and the 2nd generation of a 2-liner C glider the Volt 5! And last is the Hero 2 as a 2-liner D class. 
Indeed on a different planet! :-) 

This test is about the Volt 5.
which is built with light Dominico double-coated 25 g/m2 fabric. The S size weighs around 3.75 kg. 
I flew the Volt 5 (80-92) from 87 to 92 all up. I think 90 is ideal in all conditions. 
Take-off is straightforward, no shooting forward. Very easy to launch. 

Flying the Volt 5 S with NK Arrow harness and later on the Advance Impress4 harness. 
From 90 to 92 all up, the Volt 5 has a neutral pitch when entering thermals. The reactions are smooth for a 2 liner C glider. The roll movements are also very well-balanced. Probably slightly more roll than the Volt 4 but still super comfy to fly.  The roll movements are less than the Photon, and the Trango X.  My C comparison is updated. The feel of structure homogeneity under it is between an Artik-R and Bonanza 3. 
The first turn in thermals showed me a very nice coordinated handling!  In strong turbulent air, it moves a bit more in itself (structure) like the Artik-R/Trango-X.  
The brake pressure is on the moderate to slightly firm side (more pressure than Photon) but with short travel to give you a lovely direct and linear reaction, that can quickly initiate a turn.  
Coring thermals is a pleasure under the VOLT 5 as I could readjust the turning radius efficiently inside a core to get the best out of a lift with the possibility of tight narrow turns. Lovely handling! 

When flying the Volt 5 at 87 in strong windy conditions, the handling remains nice, with direct handling, but a bit slower to react, and also the reactivity to turn the glider in those strong conditions. 
Later, I found out that at 90 all up, it would be a sharp tool for nice XC days yet very efficient even in the weakest thermals.

In very weak air, the Volt 5 has the ability to catch those tiny thermals, and with its direct handling, it would help a lot to stay in the core waiting for another thermal.
In this respect, the Volt 5 joins the best 2-liner C’s for the climb rate efficiency.

The speed bar pressure is on the moderate side. Not too light nor too heavy. While holding the speed bar, the B handles are efficient in keeping the glider on track. Top speed over trim is around +15-16 km/h

Doing some glides next to a loaded Photon MS sometimes in a headwind and in lift lines, showed us that the Volt 5 is a fierce competitor! 
In those glides, the Volt 5 showed an efficient profile while surfing the airmass. Next to the Photon, at trim speed and even at half the speed bar, it copes quite similarly to the Photon with the lift areas without losing the glide.  
We were surprised by its gliding efficiency.  The B steering has moderate pressure and it is efficient in keeping the Volt 5 angle in accelerated mode. 

Wingovers need slightly more application to build higher inversions. I think it seems to soften the turns which is a good sign of self-balance after collapse, I think…

AirDesign surprised me with the Volt 5! A truly competitive EN-C in climb and glide, while being comfortable, and smooth to fly. The handling and turning abilities deliver a pleasurable feel. 
An interesting 2-liner EN-C for test flying if you are looking inside that category. 

Saturday, March 23, 2024

New toys for Zee boys !! :-) Coming soon, and some are already in tests !! :-) Just need a good weather !

GIN Camino 2 S 80-100

777 Rook 4 S 80-98

AirDesign Rise 4 S 72-92

UP Kangri-X  75-100 

UP Kibo X  70-90 

Flow Mystic S  80-95 

AirDesign Volt 5 S  78-92

AirDesign Hero 2   78-92

Advance Theta ULS   82-95 

DaVinci Funky 2 S  75-95 

Saturday, March 9, 2024

UP Meru 2 SM

UP Meru 2. SM

I already flew the first 2 liner Meru 1. In summary, a gentle and accessible glider for the D category, with nice handling.
Here comes the new Meru 2 EN-D 2 liner, for 2023/24.
The glider is built with long rods on the upper and lower surfaces. The finish details are nice. You can see all the details and materials over here:
The Meru 2 can be launched easily without any wind, as it inflates easily and rises smoothly without any hard points. On stronger windy days, I found it easy to inflate and it shows a homogenous compact behavior even on the ground.

Flying the Meru 2 :
At 97...98 all up, for the SM size from 88-101, the Meru 2 has a short brake travel for moderate air and thermals. I could easily and with only 5 cm guide the Meru 2 in moderate thermals. The pressure in those first 10 cm is on the moderate side. In stronger air a little more brake is needed to keep the Meru 2 overhead, probably 20..25…is sufficient in most conditions. After the 10 cm gap, the first contact with the trailing edge +10 cm to steer the glider has a moderate pressure as I wrote. The next 10…15 cm are quite firm in pressure and possibly a bit hard only in turbulent and choppy air, like between inversions or sharp thermal edges that you will lower your brakes to keep it inflated.

In moderate air, at 98 I found that the Meru 2 is a comfortable glider to fly for the 2-liner D category. The overall movements reminded me of the 2 liner C category. The Tango-X moves in itself much more, the Meru 2 is a stiff glider in construction.
In strong air and edgy thermals, the Meru 2 with a 7 aspect ratio needs good pilot control as this EN-D class requires. But the overall movements are still quite slower than on the Zeno 2 for example.
I felt that in strong air, the best is to fly the Meru 2 at max weight. 100/101, as the pilot would have more response of turn inside a small core from the glider.

The Meru 2 can be considered a fairly agile glider. Not as agile as the Trango-X! Or an XC Racer 2. Different concepts of agility.
At 98, when applying brakes, the turn inside a thermal is smoothly initiated, and probably slightly slower to close a 360 inside a thermal than a Zeno 2 or Trango-X for example. The Zeno 2 is more nervous and can be steered more aggressively inside a thermal. The Meru 2 felt more calm in turns. In good generous, XC conditions flying it at 100/101, is ideal.

I didn’t feel or see any yaw movements under the Meru 2. The structure is like a monobloc with calmer movements than Zeno 2. Saying that in strong air, it requires around 35 % more active piloting than a 2 liner C-class glider like Artik/R or Trango-X for example.

I flew in the company of a Zeno 2 MS at 96 as I was on the Meru 2 at 96.5 all up. In very weak thermals less than 0.5 m/s, both seem close inside that weak climb. In stronger cores above 2 m/s also seems very efficient with a good climb.
I will hopefully update my 2 liner Comparison for details.

Gliding next to the Zeno 2 at trim speed and 55 km/h was also equal for both! The Meru 2 showed me a very nice glide and didn’t lose height compared to the Zeno 2.
Stepping on the second bar has a moderate foot pressure and I could reach a top speed of 21 km/h over trim on the Meru 2 at 98 all up taken at 1000 ASL.
Even when pulleys are overlapping, the Meru 2 structure felt solid, and there weren’t any roll movements.
Ears with outer B’s are easy to induce. Wingovers build nicely with high energy!

The Meru 2 has a different feel from the Meru 1 while having the same comfort underneath. I felt it is better to load it when conditions are strong probably to get that snappy turn and feel. In moderate conditions, flying it at 98 is ok.
The glide at the speed bar seems very good with a stiff solid feel from the glider. I could prefer softer brakes and a quicker turn radius, but as I mentioned on good days, a loaded Meru 2 is an efficient gliding machine to go far or to win comps.


Thursday, March 7, 2024

Niviuk Drifter 2 size M

And finally, it was released, and I received the latest full-on competition harness from Niviuk. The Drifter 2.
The first contact with the harness showed me ‘impeccable’ construction details! I have flown and seen many harnesses in the past, and I can firmly confirm that the finishing details on Drifter 2 are excellent! matching the top-end brands out there. You know me very well from my writing when I'm excited about a product! The feeling is similar to discovering the latest 2024 F1 cars…RB20…SF-24...W15… etc…
I’m a fan of good quality products! And this Drifter 2 built quality is the top you can find. (Pls see attached a few ‘close-up pictures’) 

This era of paragliding performance has slightly shifted momentarily more toward aerodynamic harnesses. The appearance of the Ozone Submarine, and later the Gin Race 5 paved the path for that direction.
I already test-flew the Submarine, which has an inflatable outside shell and is considered to provide less drag resulting in more gliding performance.
Niviuk has adopted a different approach but in the same direction. Like the excellent Genie Race 4, which offered a sleek performance pod, but an open harness on the chest area, the Niviuk Drifter 2 is a conventional but ‘hybrid’ harness that has the best of both worlds. 
Hybrid harness explanation:
A zipper that runs from your feet directly to the cockpit, and another with the same and continuous direction toward your neck providing a straight streamlined shape like the one on the Submarine. The difference is that the pod remains a conventional neoprene pod ( not inflatable)

This released video by Niviuk shows exactly the details:

The DRIFTER 2 is equipped with two cockpits. A small one that lets your instruments/power bank appear through the plastic window. Another lower bigger compartment ( see pic)  for your ballast, instruments..etc…
This cockpit is big enough for a + 10 L of water ballast.
Installing a regular vario with an E-Ink Screen without a backlight is difficult to see. Anything with a light background like phone apps, or Oudie N, etc…is very clear, just because under the sunlight the shade produced by the outer shell, over the cockpit prevents any light in, you only see very clearly in plain sunlight, the lighted instruments inside. 
Inserting my hands makes it very easy to adjust the instruments. The neck collar of the neoprene is quite large with no pressure on the neck. 
Taking off while ready is easy in the upright position without any neck pressure point. Getting inside the pod is a non-event, and of course, pulling the zipper closes and opens the pod rapidly. 
I never encountered a problem with the zipper so far. When landing your foot can alone open the zipper with probably a slight pull of 10 cm on the zipper rope.  

Kiting while standing up with the DRIFTER 2 is surprisingly very straightforward without any pressure on your back neck. It feels like a normal harness! Taking off is smooth, and getting into the pod is very quick. 
When you are ready, pulling a bit on the right zipper line closes the pod. 
There are no outside pockets left and right, probably for lesser drag. But it would be nice to have one at least, just because everything is sealed and you have to open the pod to access the lower compartment. Probably installing a smaller outside pocket would be nice. 
In the air, inserting your hands to adjust the Vario, or phone easily. 

Now for the seating position/comfort/weightshifting.
Before adjusting your harness, please install the two rescues, drinking water, and the stuff you put in the moderate-width rear compartment when you are flying just because you need to reset your center of gravity while adjusting it to achieve a flawless and efficient line when gliding.  
The foot pad holds an extension to be removed on taste and body size, of 5 cm thickness with 4 pcs ( see pic). For my height of 1.81 cm, I removed all the foot pads and reached a perfect sitting position without any pressure from the neoprene that covered my shoulders.  
When pulling the left and right upper side straps which are easy to use even in flying, for adjusting your back inclination, and to stay streamlined with the air without

positioning the rear fairing higher to reach that ultimate position, your sitting will be slightly reclined.  On the Arrow L, the max layback position is still 3-4 cm forward than on the Drifter 2 perfectly streamlined position. 
It is very logical for a high-end competition harness to give you that reclined position if the pilot is aiming for less drag. Of course, a ‘slighter' upright position would be most welcomed. 

The reclined seating position is quite comfortable for the body. There are no pressure points whatsoever! Comfortable to sit in. It is exactly like laying down on your favorite sofa in winter time, watching ‘dustoftheuniverse channel’ ;-) but the tea holder is missing!  
The legs are surely naturally supported. The seat plate of the DRIFTER 2 M however is a bit large for my size of 75 kg.
A gap of 3 cm on each side.  
The seat plate of the Arrow Large is one centimeter less from each side than the seat plate of the Drifter 2 M size.  
I tried to install a smaller plate, or even without a seat board which Niviuk doesn’t recommend, but as the DRIFTER 2 is constructed like an F1 car, I couldn’t sink in, because there’s also the ballast pocket underneath the seat which is also reinforced to be stiff when holding the water ballast. Everything is surgically designed!  :-) 
There are two positions left and right for the anti-G which are easily reachable in the air.  

The DRIFTER 2 has little adjustment straps and it is really easy to adjust. The roll movements under the DRIFTER 2 with the main strap at 50 cm are quite comfortable. It is very close to the Arrow L roll movements. The weight shift is well coordinated and after flying the Arrow L, I didn’t quite find any big differences in roll and weight shift besides my reclined position. Overall it is quite a balanced harness to fly with high-end gliders. Stable enough to be comfortable on long flying hours. 
Pushing on the speed bar is another nice experience. The big aluminum pulleys hold a stop system, and help you maintain the pressure while holding the speed bar for a time. On the Arrow, for example, my feet always have more pressure during long glides. The pulleys on the DRIFTER 2 have a stop-back spinning system that allows less foot pressure while stepping on the speed bar. 
Asymmetric speed bar steps are installed for a smoother and more balanced pull between the left and right risers. Like I said, I felt like driving an F1 car. :-) 

Even in a reclined position, the pressure when pulling on the speed bar doesn’t put pressure on your shoulders. The pressure is homogeneously distributed on your back. It was smooth to keep the speed bar. 
The back fairing doesn't flutter at all and stays in pressure with a very narrow shape. 
The DRIFTER 2 has a new 5.5 cm origami back protection It is the first small protection after the Koroid that acts differently as Niviuk stated. 
It is indeed a small protection, and I would personally prefer having a larger one…But maybe I’m still old-fashioned and not used to this new technology… I just really hope that its efficiency surpasses the claims.  

The DRIFTER 2 is for sure a very beautiful-looking competition harness equipped to the last detail. Pilots' eyes on take-off and landing were wide open and commented frequently about that beautiful shape. Comfortable for the back and also in roll movements. The construction is excellent! felt very robust and with those materials it could last very long! 
When flying it, a ‘psychological’ feeling of performance will be on the menu.
The air over my face was less perceived than usual as my head was near the outer shell.  
Landing and getting outside the pod is quite easy and feels exactly like a normal pod.  
For XC and competition pilots, the race is on… :-) 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Zoom X2C size 95

Zoom paragliders is a new brand, created in the Papesh GMBH group and designed by Alex Hollwarth, who began his journey at Skywalk and delivered in that time fine creations among the Cayenne 5 which was a really fine glider to fly. The first released glider from the manufacturer is the Zoom X2C which is a 2-liner C class glider.
I have flown the Zoom XC2 95, from 92 to 95 all up,
At first, the launching is straightforward, as the Zoom inflates easily even without any wind and no hard point. In stronger wind, it is fast in the second half of the rise, but also very responsive to your brake input to keep it swiftly overhead.

I flew the Zoom in weak, moderately winter-strong thermals, and later in some turbulent air.
The brake travel is moderate to short and with 10-15 cm, I could place the glider accurately inside the core. The Zoom X2C is a pleasurable glider to fly. Direct feel through the brakes, and direct control. The pressure on the brakes are on the moderate side, and well balanced. I could steer the glider with just 10-15 cm of brake travel efficiently.
Climbing in very weak thermals less than 0.5 m/s felt similarly efficient to the Scala 2 with the same size in that area. In a more solid thermal, the Zoom climbs well compared to the other 2 liner C’s.

In strong air, the feel under the Zoom is really compact, easy, and quite manageable for the 2 liner C category. It felt in overall comfort like the Volt 4 and Bonanza 3 which are quite accessible 2 liners.
As I already wrote, what I appreciated even in strong air, was the brake authority given to the pilot. I could play around under that glider endlessly, with complete control. The brake pressure is on the moderate side and the travel is short to moderate with a lovely combination of agility in thermals. After two turns in a wingover, you can feel the high energy stored in that glider! Lovely handling.
I think the Zoom is among the 2 liners that you enjoy flying, because of its playful and forgiving character.

The ability to core without pitching back or forward is present under the Zoom. It just enters thermals and moves forward in balance. I was able to do two long glides next to a Photon MS same size and load, and I was impressed by that glide! IN very calm air, I wasn't losing an inch in those two glides even at half the speed bar! Pretty good balanced glide for the Zoom. When gliding in moving air and lift lines, we felt that the Zoom shares the glide similarly to an Artik R, or Mint, for example.
The B steering is quite efficient in controlling the glider movements in turbulence while staying on bar, and the B pressure is on the moderate side with good accessibility.
The speed bar has a moderate pressure throughout the whole range, and full speed reached the same as the Photon with around 18 km/h over the trim speed.
Ears are stable and usable with outer B’s or outer A’s.

Please note that different sizes with different loads ‘could' have another feel. On the Zoom X2C size 95 at 92 I was happy test flying that glider!

The new Zoom X2C ticks all the boxes evenly. Nice handling, pleasurable to fly, agile to play around, excellent gliding performance, and good speed for a 2 liner.
If you want to get a high ratio of fun, comfort, and good performance, a test flight could be the right choice!

Happy testing,

Friday, December 29, 2023

Niviuk Ikuma 3 size 24/ range 75-95

Niviuk Ikuma 3  size 24/ range 75-95

I have already flown the first and second versions of the Ikuma. Here’s the flight test of the Ikuma 3 in size 24 (75-95), flown from 88 to 94 all up.
 The Ikuma 3 is built with a mix of Dominico cloth, with Liros and Edlerid lines. 
The visual construction and little details are impeccable on that glider. There’s something apart from the building quality and small details. 
At 4.5 kg the Ikuma 3 is a semi-light glider. 

Launching the Ikuma 3 even in no wind conditions, rises smoothly and evenly. The Ikuma 3 rises effortlessly in more windy take-offs and stays above the pilot's head with a little brake.

I flew the Ikuma 3 with my Arrow L size. First rising air, I weight-shifted a little, and I pulled  10 cm of brake travel, and the Ikuma 3 quickly got me that perfect turning radius! 
I was already smiling from the first turn! Sometimes, when I test fly a new glider, I worry a bit that it may not satisfy my picky demanding, and handling criteria…But this time that beautiful feel and maneuverability under that Ikuma 3 saved the day!   
With moderate brake pressure and a nice linear feel throughout the brake range, the Ikuma 3 will surely deliver a large smile on pilots' faces. 
The Ikuma 3 even at 88 all up, can core thermals very narrow staying in the core very easily. The combination of the Arrow/Ikuma 3 while weightshifting and brake pulling is nothing but excellent!   In a more strong thermals, and flying it at 93 all up, the handling is even better! and coring is even more satisfying! A piece of pure pleasure while thermal flying. 

I flew it 92 all up in some very weak air, the Ikuma 3 has outstanding potential in weak lift! It hovers and stays in that weak lift, waiting for it to become stronger. It is very difficult to bomb out flying the Ikuma 3 unless you have been unlucky, and there’s nothing left to turn! I think after a while it could have the efficiency of the Swift 6 in that area…I will update my B comparison later after more hours of comparison. But it surely can float! 
The Ikuma 3 doesn’t dive in turns in normal braking. And unless you lower your hands the turns are flat inside the core. But once you dig that brake down properly, you will have a playful glider to fly in the air! A real high B toy! Wingovers are super high like loops if you want from the second turn!  
The main thing I personally like about a glider is when the R&D team manages to give the pilot supreme authority on the brakes if he decides to turn it flat or immediately go into play mode. That exceptional feature is easily managed under the Ikuma 3. 
Yes…It seems that I like that feel under it ;-). So no more writing about the handling… :-)

The pitch is neutral and hands up all the way the Ikuma 3 enters the airmass slowly but efficiently. It clings to the thermal and climbs effortlessly. It feels like it guides you into the thermal. It doesn’t reject the rising airmass but seems to slide and cling to it slowly. All you need to do is let it fly, keeping the minimum of brake pressure. It floats nicely into the rising air mass. 

For the past 4 months, I have been test-flying many 2-liners C’s and D’s with a couple of new high B’s. When switching from a 2 liner to any high B, the feel of less speed and dynamic movements are strikingly more obvious. The high B’s are created to give you performance but with slower speeds and reactions when going XC. 
The Ikuma 3 as a high B falls in that category. It is a soft XC glider with top-end gliding performance to match the best ones in that high B category. I will surely update my B comparison later on for the little details. But It is already confirmed to have a very nice gliding power.  
If you want to go XC efficiently on any glider, you should load that glider at the top end. Many will still ask me why…It is because the faster you enter the airmass the more efficiently you move forward. 
And going XC is to move forward ;-) 

Some manufacturers have their own political decisions to certify gliders +5 kg from the recommended flying weight. It doesn't mean that the extended weight range is optimal for XC. Sometimes when conditions are really strong, they are okay, but after a bit…they will struggle in the weak. We don’t want to land... So a balanced glider for XC is when flying it at the recommended weight range stated by the manufacturer.

The Maestro 2 could be ideal at 75 % of the flying range, and also the same goes for the Mentor 7 as recommended. They are both superb high B’s.  
If you want a fast XC mode flying the Ikuma 3 size 24 (75-95) in strong Alpine air!  Go for 94-95 all up.  
In normal flying, the Ikuma 3-24 will stay very maneuverable and dynamic in turns at mid-weight, but the same-size Swift 6 will be a bit boaty at mid-weight. 
The excellent Swift 6 MS (75-95), is better to be loaded right on top at 95 in XC mode. 

The Ikuma 3 felt slightly easier to fly than the Ikuma 2. It felt a bit softer. The speed bar pressure is moderate even at full travel. The speed gain over the trim speed is around 13 km/h taken at 800m/ ASL.   
When pushing on the speed bar, the C riser steering with moderate pressure and easy handling, is efficient in keeping the cool Ikuma 3 on track. 
Big ears with outer A’s are super efficient like a few other B’s. 
With a speed bar and big ears, -5 m/s could easily be reached! They open without any intervention, or perhaps a very slight pressure on the brakes if they are very big. 
The Ikuma 3 seems very friendly and lets you make really big ears. Of course, like any other glider don’t pull too much to let the left and right tip touch! You could induce a stall under any glider.  

Even after many testing years, some gliders even in the high B category, still give me those happy flying vibes! 
The Ikuma 3 is one of them.  A very comfortable high B with pleasurable handling and top-end performance for the category. 
It is very clear, that flying the Ikuma 3 will firstly touch the sensitive handling pilots by delivering a high amount of pleasure feel. All that with very good brake authority. 
Pilots have different feel, and different requirements, but I can assure you test flying the Ikuma 3 won’t keep you indifferent!  

Happy flights.