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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.

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.