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

Monday, January 28, 2013

NOVA Mentor 3 S

NOVA Mentor 3 S 

NOVA Mentor 3
In my flying career there were some special gliders, and I always think about those flying moments under them. In 94 the Airwave Xmx 28,The Airwave Magic 1, Axis Venus 2 S, and the Nova Mentor 2.
I was impatiently waiting for the new model and was curious if any improvement could be made.
Having flown the Mentor 2 S for the last 2 years and keeping it as a reference for new tested gliders, and as many pilots noticed that it is still very competitive… the different feelings when flying the Mentor 3 S were immediately noticed.

I was very curious with that question to Hannes Papesh the designer in Saint Hilaire about the possibility of a Mentor 2 improvement.

Then The Mentor 3 came. Construction of the leading edge is different, with probably a lighter cloth and special 3D construction with some thin vertical Mylar reinforcement.

Launching the Mentor 3 S is very easy but have to be stopped in strong wind to keep it from surging.
Easy for a B.

Trim speed is the same as the M2,if the loadings are the same ! At max weight an M3 is faster by one 1 km/h than another M3 at 94 all up. The same goes for the M2.

In the air:
The Mentor 3 felt more stable above my head and little smoother in movements. The pitch control is more pronounced on the Mentor 3 keeping the pilot less busy than the Mentor 2,but still it’s a busy glider in the high end B category, requiring good skills, like all the new ones Blacklight SM ,Nevada 26 .

The handling got milder with a little longer brake travel and still precise. For my tasting the M2 S was superb, but for long flights the M3 S has now less steering power.

The climb rate of the M3 resembles the M2 one , very efficient, and I have to say that the M3 needs less control input to climb efficiently as the M2 needs more pilot control.

Gliding next to the M2 in calm conditions could have a very slight advantage to the M3 S.

Gliding in head wind and rougher conditions favor just a little more the M3, because of its calm pitch behavior.

Conclusion: In this very competitive category, the Mentor 3 S is a little friendlier Mentor 2 S, with some little improvements in rough air.

The key for efficient glide into wind is to load the M3 S at max. It will be faster by 1 km/h than the current B’s also loaded at max and with the ability to cut through in head wind glides and stays leveled above the pilot’s head without pitch movements for efficient glides.
The climb rate at that loading is still very good! And Still very competitive climb rate with the new B’s and a bit more efficient in climb in headwind conditions as it has the tendency to go forward and up in thermals.

But the gap, which existed in the Mentor 2 era, is now very small between all new generations B’s in terms of pure glide. The differences are about 0.2/0.3 L/D if numbers are still required…
It is now up to the pilot to get the best of each day.


Please leave the glide numbers at home on a piece of paper as they don’t mean anything in moving air !
When flying, you will leave behind all your magazines, pc, and those precious glide numbers….
In the air there’s a single word, which rules. ‘Efficiency’= Cut ,climb ,dig in and move forward !
That’s why comp gliders fly better. In the current B category the character of the gliders are now toward that philosophy of efficiency, and that what makes them very interesting.

As the Mentor 2 was a very efficient glider in the B category, here is the mentor 3, another efficient glider with just a bit easier to handle.
If flown at max weight the Mentor 3 will surely mark some interesting “numbers” on the OLC competition board.


More pictures on dustoftheuniverse group on facebook:


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tests at

How the tests are made at

Many pilots, and professionals have over the time asked me about the testing I make in my blog and how it is possible to get an assessment on gliders.
In this special area I am flying there is really some special conditions that allowed me to understand better the gliders I am testing.
Surely I will ‘not’ write a complete report in a normal and easy XC flight.
For me a glider is tested in: ‘Strong conditions’ and ‘Difficult conditions’, and that’s exactly what my flying spots frequently offer.
‘Strong conditions’ will enable me to understand better the cohesion of a glider in strong, punchy lifts and the ability of the glider to be controlled in these situations. After one flight in strong conditions will give a quick idea of the glider. But that’s not even 5 % of the tests! In strong conditions all gliders including speed gliders will climb to base eventually.
But the most important to me for evaluating a glider is the ‘Difficult conditions’ tests…
I mean in difficult conditions to test fly a glider:
1-Against a sea breeze on low altitude with very weak thermals .The better glider will always move forward and dig in that weak thermal rather than bumping into it and staying in a stationary flight.
 Sometimes when I say that a glider is reluctant to enter some thermals, I don’t mean in strong thermals…I mean when encountering a weak thermal and having that head wind or sea breeze, the glider in question doesn’t really dig forward enough to climb. Some will need more time to creep forward and climb, others will enter better that air mass if this sea breeze doesn’t exist. And to get a conclusion for that, my friend with whom I fly for 20 years and know well his skills, will be next to me with a glider known for its qualities, and I will be with the new testing glider.
For many flights side by side, we both could see clearly the differences in gliders who can be more fluid and efficient in those conditions.
2- In the lee side, with broken thermals and sudden lifts, especially slightly at ridge level, where the breeze from the other side is mixed with the lee thermals, here the ability to maneuver the glider is critical, as the lee side produces some turbulence and the thermals will be disoriented, and that will surely make the handling of a glider highly affected. In those conditions flying also side-by-side and exchanging some comments  “If possible sometimes” ;-)  about the feeling of the glider and its ability to turn inside that turbulent core.
3- The glide comparison:
In calm air many pilots are still looking for that glide number on paper.
That’s completely wrong. We all are flying the gliders in moving air, and that number is meaningless.
That’s why I do those glides in real flights next to my friend on another reference glider side by side with the videos that you are viewing.
But the conclusion for the B ,C.or D comparisons are the one to look at ,because those are made after many flights in
-Head wind glides
-Long turbulent glides
-With or without accelerator
The results are seen more clearly, and sometimes it could change a bit if I sensed some flaws…
Manufacturers need to produce gliders that sells…They seek and hope to get always positive feedback from mags or individuals which is normal! But sometimes it won’t be the case.
Not all the gliders in one cat could have the best performances or the best handling!!
A few can cope with the negative. It is a big business after all, but in order to be totally free I am buying the gliders for testing, and also writing whatever I feel under a glider.
On the other side, Manufacturers have their reputation to look at. I don’t think anyone will release a single piece of equipment with their brand name unless they are 100 % sure of its quality.

A small word for lesser lines:
The recently tested gliders having lesser main lines or attachment points lacks of cohesion in ‘very strong and turbulent air’. Some B gliders are still manageable but the pilot under them won’t have the complete authority of control in those conditions. Still better cohesion for the ones having 3A’s 3B’s ……
A small word for tested gliders in the B,C,D category.
The certification is just an idea. It won’t tell anything about the safety of the glider. Looking at the certification videos will give a 50 % idea of the situation. But remember, you are flying the glider in a moving environment that will put the glider in different angles to the horizon. The collapses encountered at that angle will be a bit different than on the certification videos.
The best is to read and listen to the manufactures recommendations and of course your trusty instructor.
Flying the gliders in normal conditions won’t get any results as all of us will eventually get low, or stuck in a valley breeze in the lee side…and in those tricky conditions the glider we fly matters a lot, because it will help us continue our flight or ended sooner.

My tests will be more precise to describe the difference between gliders because I believe that the best glider is the one that delivers each pilot the fun he requires.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013