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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

NOVA Mentor 5 S

NOVA Mentor 5

After test flying all the Mentor series from the first one till the 4th in S size, here’s the 5th edition in S size ready for a test flight at 95 all up. 

I need to clarify a small but important fact, which most of you already know.
 NOVA Mentor series were super efficient over the years, and with the Mentor 4 overall performance dominating the B category, and also competing with some of the higher classes, Nova has raised the bar very high. Being a reference in any category puts lots of pressure on any manufacturer, as doing better could be doable, but surely more difficult to achieve. 

Launching the Mentor 5 is easier than the 4. It inflates rapidly and shows a smooth take off behavior.

I wasn’t a fan of the elastic brake authority of the Mentor 3, and some pilots described the brake feel under the Mentor 4 as senseless in a way. 
The handling and the way to turn the Mentor 5 is now enhanced a bit over the 3rd and 4th version.  

The brake travel has an average pressure and travel. Slightly less than the Mentor 4 in pressure feel, with more agility in turns.
I could quickly confirm a better agility for the Mentor 5 in turns. But lets talk about precision feel in the brakes.
Perhaps some minority pilots including myself (the picky ones  ;-)  ) would have wanted that edge in brake feel. A more subtle feel, a character.  

For example: I like my gliders to have a swift, precise, ‘linear feel’ thought the pull of each centimeter on the brakes. And if the brakes transmit the movements of the glider, then this would be the cherry on the cake!  A glider that feels an extension to your arm. 

If I can give a grade for the Mentor 3 precision feel I would put: 4/10 .The Mentor 4= 5/10 .The precision feel under the Mentor 5, is 6/10, which leaves the precision feel under the amazing Mentor 2 S at 8.0 /10 regardless of its high brake pressure.
I could give a loaded Phantom 7.0 /10 
Bear in mind that the Mentor 5 S is more agile in inducing turns than the Mentor 4 and the Phantom S.

Climbing in very weak conditions is the Mentor 5 strong point. Every bubble encountered is converted smoothly and comfortably into heights. The nose isn’t as aggressive in biting forward as the Mentor 4 one. It’s smoother and more comfortable to fly in overall turbulence. The Mentor 5 goes more toward the Mentor 3 comfortable feel rather than the Mentor 4 one. 
The Mentor 5 seems to absorb the bumps and thermals.   

Doing some glide comparison at trim with the Mentor 4 showed a slight edge in moving air for the Mentor 5 at trim speed, and slightly on the top speed. 
Gliding with a Chili 4 XS (Max 95) showed a similar glide for the Mentor 5 S (max 100) and i couldn’t give the edge to either one ! Both in climb and glide. 
Surprisingly, the Mentor 5 gave me that extra comfort feel which wasn’t available before on the Mentor 4 !   
The Mentor 5 pilot will have an edge in climbing over the pilot on the Mentor 4 if they both have the same skills and luck…

The top speed is similar to the Mentor 4 with a better float-ability in glides for the Mentor 5.
If anyone will fly the Mentor 5, he will experience a cool B glider, pleasurable easy handling, overall performance straight on top of the shelf, and very good comfort in turbulence for the high B category. 
I would have appreciated to this excellent overall performance, that linear, precise, brake feel i was writing above, with more received information through the brakes. The Mentor 2 in S size was excellent in that matter! But harder on the brakes. 

What’s the difference between the 4th and the 5th? (Best +++)
+       Glide efficiency
+++  Climb rate
+++  Ease of use
++     Handling 
++   Overall feel and comfort 

Ears are stable, efficient and reopen quickly on the S at 97 all up. Induced asymmetric are super easy to control. Holding the A riser down , i could easily turn the M5 to the other side by applying 15 cm of brake. Induced frontals recover very quickly. Wing overs need implication to built up, but quite homogenous. 

Conclusion: The Mentor 5 is another NOVA success in the top B performers. I can resume it as a top gliding performance in a cool manner, Excellent climb rate, comfortable to fly, agile handling… That’s the Mentor 5 .

UPDATE : I flew the Mentor 5 XS at 88. More dynamic, nicer handling, but still this little spongy feel on the brakes... it's ok...but i like gliders that have a crispy, linear , nimble brake response. The M5 XS just turns when you pull and its agile. Most pilots just want that...
The climb rate is still very good..the glide also. It feels like as small energetic kid going round and around his parents ;-)  
The XS is fast and the top speed is usable and easy.
Induced asymmetrics are slightly more dynamic than the M5 S size especially the frontals, but they are fine for a B pilot.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


ICARO Gravis

This is my first Icaro glider ! Don’t ask me why ! It didn’t happen…Surfing around, i entered the new website of Icaro : !
When I open the site, i saw ‘colors !  all over ! it was like calling me to surf around more ! Beautiful pictures, and a really nice web design! I have to say this ,because it is unique and most probably there’s an artist involved in that web design!

Back to testing gliders. I saw the new Gravis and wrote an email to Icaro ! Since no one gets them over here, i paid for it and here it is. An M size in blue/Yellow color !
The risers are also a bit different in design. The pictures attached shows the yellow colors for the pulleys and the attachment point. The Gravis has a moderate shark nose with 7! lines per side. Very well engineered. Liros lines on the bottom, unsheathed lines on top ! And Skytex 32gr/m2 is used to build the Gravis.  
The workmanship on this B glider is excellent ! The details and the way it is built is a class of its own !

Launching the Gravis cannot be as simple as that.A moderate pull and the glider awaits overhead the pilot command.

The first time I flew the Gravis i was alone in the sky, and it gave me the impression that this day was really generous in lifts !   I sensed already a superb float ability for the Gravis. The next day, i flew with my friend on his Rook 2 ML max 115, (Freshly inspected). I knew that if i can fly near him in weak climb, (similarly loaded) my senses would be correct ! And there it was ! 
After two hours of flying next to a large high B, the Gravis proved me right ! Its indeed a floater ! Every bubble is converted into immediate lift. I was super efficient in climb.

In turbulent air, the Gravis is not a dull glider to fly. It communicates the airmass quite nicely. I can place it in the middle of the B category in pilot demand. Not too dull not too dynamic for a B glider in roll and pitch movements. The Gravis seems very coherent in turbulence.The passive safety and intended comfort feel for a mild B are present. 

The authority on the brakes for the Gravis M size flown at 101 all up is surprisingly good. Whether i pull 10 cm of brake the Gravis would go nicely on a turn, or i can crank it below 35 cm and again it reacts like a cork screw. I can say its fairly agile and has a very nice coordinated, linear brake travel ! I was testing the Chili 4, and the Mentor 5 the same week, and when i flew the Gravis, it surely gave me the cool, passive safety feel, but i was pleased for the handling it offers! Not really as agile as the M5, but it has a more coordinated brake feel ! which i like.

Big circles or small circles can easily be adjusted by pulling the brakes without loosing the wing homogeneity and air surfing. Very good for a mild B.
Trim speed is a bit less than the Rook 2 and the M5. I think the Gravis has around ±37 km/h trim speed. Stepping on the bar is smooth and i could reach 8 km/h over trim at 1200 ASL. 

I don’t want to compare the Gravis with the high end B’s (Rook 2 or the Mentor 5) in glide, just because the Gravis is intended for occasional week end, B pilots and it showed a mild character. 
But i have to say that i saw an excellent glide efficiency for the Gravis putting it right on top on the mild B’s out there!  No need to look around for more glide efficiency in that mid B segment ! I’m sure that any pilot would find more than he imagined :-)

Big ears are slightly tough to maintain. They reopen very fast by themselves. The Gravis has a low stall speed and it can be landed in narrow places. 

Conclusion: Nice looking glider, cool handling, efficient in climb and glide for a mild B, it makes you smile even if you only look at it :-) 
I’m sure, the Gravis has the potential of making long XC’s in a cool manner. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Supair Taska

Supair Taska

Last year I test flew Supair B glider the leaf ! I was impressed by the exceptional comfort, the very nice handling and the very efficient climb rate.
The Taska is Supair new C glider for 2017 with an aspect ratio of 6.35
I have the S size (75-95) for a test flight.

The Taska uses Porcher Sport 32 g/m² on the extrados and  27 g/m² o the intrados. All the lines are unscheated with lower Liros lines. A shark nose profile, a very nice and neat construction with the latest technology details inserted on this machine.  

Launching the 6.35 aspect ratio Taska, is super easy, smooth and without any hang back in nil wind. In windy conditions (+25 km/h) the glider has the tendency to inflate very fast after 50 % of it’s rise and the pilot must use the brakes to stop it from surging. 
The authority on the brakes on the Taska is very good ! The Taska has a moderate pressure on the brakes . It feels homogenous and coherent. Every pull on the brakes is transmitted to the canopy, and the Taska reacts on every command! It's a playful glider and feel very intuitive. Playing around on soaring sites is superb on the Taska ! 
I had immense pleasure flying with the Taska S on windy take offs ! Indeed a real pleasurable glider to fly ! I’m always sensitive toward nice handling gliders, and the Taska is no different ! 

Thermals are felt quite comfortably on the Taska. It's not a glider that keeps you busy especially for it’s 6.35 aspect ratio at least in moderate to slightly turbulent conditions.  
In moderate conditions, the Task feels comfortable and tamed for a C. 
In strong conditions, the Taska needs less pilot control than a Trango X-race, and slightly more than a Delta 2. The Cayenne 5 feels more coherent , but the Taska feels slightly more tamed. 
I felt that in moderate to strong thermals and windy conditions, i would be much efficient at 94 all up on the S size. Flying next to a Cayenne 5 XS (75-95) similarly loaded gave me the impressions of a very competitive climb for the Taska.  Comparing it to the handling of the Cayenne, the Taska has a slightly longer brake travel, slightly lighter feel, and the authority on the brakes is close enough.

Doing some glides with same loadings, gave me the impression of a slight faster trim speed for the C5 by a 0.5 km/h. Accelerating on the Taska to reach the Cayenne 5 trim speed showed me also a very competitive glide angle , even at top speed with the C5 ! 
Both gliders showed me a same top speed.  

The speed bar has a moderate pressure, and the Taska can be steered with the C risers like any 3 line C glider. The pressure on the C’s isn’t high like the Trango X-race. 
Moderate movements on the Taska when applying the bar can be controlled by pulling the C risers.  
I must confirm a very tough leading edge when applying full bar ! The Task feels solid and the top speed is fully usable.

 In entering the airmass the Taska slows a bit before entering. It doesn’t have a pitch back. It just slows down even hands up before entering. The C5 and the Trango X-race keeps slightly the speed upon entering. But the Taska climbs efficiently as much as those two which puts it right on top of the C category for the climb rate !  

Ears are stable, and reopen easily. Holding the A riser down in an induced asymmetric is easy to keep a straight flight and the opening is smooth. 
The Taska showed me a balanced behavior and an easy ride for the C category.

I had fun flying the Taska.  I felt that at 95 all up, i was still very efficient in climb. The Taska somehow felt comfortable for a 6.35 aspect ratio glider. The handling and the way to turn the glider is really fun ! 
Supair designer has managed to deliver a very interesting and competitive C glider both in climb and gliding performance.

 A quite interesting glider to test fly in the C category !  Congratulations Supair !