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

Sunday, February 25, 2018


This paragraph will be published before every written glider review.
-Gliders sizes may differ a lot ! The smaller ones react very differently sometimes with less gliding power. One review for a size doesn’t include all…
-Personally i like to fly gliders at + 70..80 % of their weight range…Sometimes at top weight…As i believe in (Being a pilot underneath a glider, is much better than being a passenger)
when you load your glider at it’s perfect load, it would be much more efficient in all conditions, and you will have a better feel through the brakes with a more obedient glider in rough air.
-Pilots (especially loyal to a brand…) who were waiting a lot for a certain new model, will always have bitter reactions if they read any review that doesn’t meet their expectations and dreams. (Logical ! )
Sometimes they understand a normal rated review as a superb review !
-Any good pilot who has flown many gliders can write fruitful invaluable tests, but he must omit any ego related and attachement for any brand whatsoever. (Very hard for some…but doable )
-Flying a glider alone in any site, in weak conditions (-0.3 m/s) , won’t help notice good float-ability. Flying in company to a (pilot/wing) combination that you know well will help evaluate your findings.
-Higher efficiency in active air, for a future purchase is the right direction to look for better overall performance (if needed). Not gliding in calm air ! Otherwise, a balanced glider for your abilities, with beautiful swift and agile handling that keeps you smiling, is always much better !
-For a respective category, any glider in today’s technology can get you very far, with incredible XC achievements.
-In one solid category, ex:(high B), there’s of course little differences in glide. A good pilot can fill those performance gap !
-Pilots have different taste and requirements. I will always try comparing a glider to another. ex: Glider X has more brake pressure than Y…Or Glider X is more agile than Glider Y… Etc…
-Finally, it’s YOU the pilot who will make the difference! By choosing the agility you want, the category…The glider level… NO review should alter your judgment ! Test fly…Test fly… 
My small reviews are ‘only ’to help you test fly your favorite group of gliders.

The last flown Icaro glider, was the Gravis. It was a mid B glider with very good climbing ability and nice glide for the Mid B category.
Now the Buteo is a new ICARO design with 82 cells and two lines per side ! It’s indeed a complex structure intended for high EN-B performance flying.
Launching the Buteo S at 96 all up need a steady, but light push on the A’s. It needs a little more implication than a Mentor 5 S and slightly less than a Carrera plus S.
Flying the Buteo S at 96 seems nice for the S size. The trim speed is fast. Similar to an Iota 2 with same loadings. The brake travel has a medium length to react. The Buteo turns fairly well, but i can’t say it’s an agile glider like the Gravis or the Mentor 5 S , Chili 4 XS is the high B’s. The turning ability is moderate but a longer pull can place the glider well inside a thermal. The pressure on the brakes are also moderate, and lighter than a Mentor 5 S and harder than a Rush 4 MS .
Climbing in very weak thermals (less than 0.3m/s) , i was focusing hard to stay up. A Chili 4 S similarly loaded was slightly floating better. When the thermals are more steady and above 1 m/s ,the Buteo S climbs well. I was climbing with friends on their Cayenne 5 S and Delta 3 ML, and i felt that the Buteo in well built thermals (+1…2 m/s) does in fact stay very close in climbing power.
The Buteo have a slight pitch back or slightly slows down upon entering thermals. Nothing much, but feel-able. It ressembles the Nyos 1, M size in that matter.

Now the interesting part is the glide. I flew the Buteo for many days with a Chili 4 S size, a Cayenne 5 S, and a Delta 3 ML ! I can confirm that the glide ratio of the Buteo is on the very top of the B category, and it’s super close to the C class in gliding at trim and at full speed in calm air. The Delta 3 ML has a 3 km/h more speed. At the end of a 7-8 km glide, i was always slightly losing some 5m…sometimes 10m ! which is insignificant. In a more challenging, turbulent and bumpy environment, the Delta 3 and Cayenne 5 S (C class) will be slightly more efficient in surfing upward the air mass.
The Buteo comfort is quite ok for the high B category. It could be similar to the Chili 4, or slightly more demanding in strong turbulence. Of course, it’s less demanding than a Carrera plus M !
The movements in turbulent air are filtered under the Buteo S size at 96..97 all up. The reactions underneath in turbulence are slightly slower and mellower than the Chili 4 XS.
Big ears are stable, and reopen without pilot assistance.
Conclusion: It’s obvious that the Buteo S at 97 has a very good glide angle. I think loading it at top in alpine conditions will be quite beneficial for cruising efficiently in XC mode. 
An interesting glider for a specific generation of pilots

This is only my opinion. Make your own !

Monday, February 19, 2018

SOL X-Light 2 (Harness) Size L

SOL X-Light 2 size L (Harness)

After test flying some light harnesses with and without seat board, here’s the X-light 2 from SOL with a good solid seat board. The construction seems good, and much better than previous Sol harnesses. The pod looks like the 720 gr of the Forza (to give you an idea) 
The straps on the pod will keep it firmly closed. The cockpit is bit small (Like Ozium 2 one) but is very well placed at a good visual angle, and with a secure system in the back to keep your instruments locked at one angle without moving. 

Test flying harnesses is even more difficult than test flying wings. Our body shapes differs a lot ! From long legs…to wide, larger bodies..or slimmer ones…there’s a big gap in measurements, yet only 3-4 sizes for any harness for all manufacturers, which are especially focused on pilots height. That’s why, some little adjustments ‘if possible’ are always needed to fit our bodies exactly into a certain harness for longer and more comfortable flights. 

The SOL X-light 2 in size L was perfect for my 1-81 cm and 73 kg. But i had to do lots those small but easy changes to make it super comfortable for my body shape ! 
Bear with me those uncomplicated small changes, and read the conclusion further down  :-)

The seat-board was very large ! I did of course cut the seat-board to reach 34 cm in width. It did fit nicely without putting any pressure on the lower back protection. The sitting pad on top of the seat-board is really thin and was quite stiff for a thin pilot… Adding a small padding 25cm X 30 cm of an old sport mattress (1 cm thick) underneath was optimum !  Actually i paste it on the upper part of the seat board. 
If you have a seat board with a front leaning down edge, that would be optimum. 

The original attachment points of the pod were connected in two places. From the seat board till the front lower foot rest. From the carabiners till the upper front foot rest.

I added a line from the carabiners to the lower foot rest from each side.  (Very easy to do)

After those changes and fine tuning of the actual different back adjustment straps, the conclusion was that this is the first “seat-board” harness with my feet in straight position ‘completely supported’  with no pressure on the legs!  And the pod had a clean degree of inclination into the airflow, for the best gliding position. 
If i wanted to give a rating for back comfort and considering the Impress 3, Forza with a 8/10 rating, i would give the X-light 2  a 7/10.  

The harness delivers medium roll response, similar to the Genie lite 2 and slightly less than the Lightness 2. There are adjustment on the ABS system, for tightening if the pilot wishes. On the standard adjustment it feels quite nice and agile in delivering a precise ,neat turning radius with good weight shifting capabilities. I cannot say that this is the most stable harness in roll, like the Exoceat, or even the X-rated 6, GTO, but it’s slightly more stable than the Lightness2, Impress 3 ! 

One thing: I would have wished for a more stiffer material in the back support area from the lumber till the shoulders, which could keep the harness as a little more solid piece, like the Impress 3, lightness 2, Forza.
The X-light2 back would slightly move down by a cm. even if the shoulder straps are well adjusted.

Conclusion: After my small adjustments, I liked that harness. It has a nice roll feedback, comfortable enough on the seating position, very small packing ability, weights around 4 kg, ability to place a beamer easily, and all the features with a large place for 5 kg water ballast underneath the seat, good storage area, camel back, water release system, adjustable ABS.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

PHI Synphonia EN-A

PHI Synphonia 22 
PHI is the new brand of the well known and leading designer Hannes Papesh. The Synphonia is the first PHI glider to be released with an A certification. 
I purchased the size 22 which goes from 75 to 95 all up and here what i found. 
The construction of the Synphonia is very neat. The materials used are the latest in terms of technology from the cloth, lines to the sporty risers. 
The Synphonia has a relatively light cloth, with modern thin lines and simple configuration. It is quite similar to the lines used on the Mentor 5 series. 
A little pull on the A’s and the Synphonia launches gently and quite easy. No hard points. It just sits above the pits head. 
First turn showed me an agile nature for an A glider. The brake pressure are on the moderate side, and the agility at 93 is quite remarkable ! A little pull will goes into a nice turn in the thermals with very good precision for an A glider, and even if we compare it to the high B’s in terms of brake response and agility. Coring thermal feels like spinning positively, much like a kids Top ! 
Flying the Synphonia felt a bit like flying some low B gliders in terms of pilot level, but the roll movements and comfort resembles gliders in the low to mid category in terms of thermal feedback. 
Gliding with the Synphonia in super calm air, with no head wind whatsoever, showed me a very nice and interesting glide ratio. Even at bar the glider has a interesting flat polar. At full bar there’s a 7-8 km/h increase in speed over trim at max load. 
Now facing the wind and gliding in difficult conditions, at trim or at full bar, the Synphonia will behave and perform similarly to some low B gliders in terms of efficiency and gliding performance. 
Flying it against a valley breeze and hoping to slip through and dig forward efficiently like B category gliders is a bit optimistic on an A glider. The upper B category is designed to surf forward more efficiently. Beside…it’s an A certified glider and i certainly don’t want to compare it to the Mentor series…But it’s just to explain my founding as better as i can… 
But for an A it’s surely one of the top performer. 
Flying it at max weight (+95) could be more beneficial and better to get the leading edge moving more into wind… 
The climb rate in weak and strong conditions even loaded near the top is very good for that kind of glider ! The Synphonia can really climb very well, and could be among the highest gliders in a gaggle even among some high B’s. 

Conclusion: PHI gliders philosophy is well shown on the Synphonia and the message is clear and direct. The designer delivered a very nice construction with a fairly good touch of performance, especially for an A certified machine ! All that with a nice pleasurable handling and an efficient climb rate ! 
Now I’m keen to look out for Hannes specialty…the B class ! The future seems hopefully bright…