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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Air Design VOLT 3 SM

Air Design VOLT 3 SM

With 6.5 aspect ratio, Air design is introducing their 2018/2019 C glider.
The construction is really well made. All lines are unsheathed with 2 lines on the A’s on each side. 
The Volt 3 comes up really well, and inflates quite easy for this aspect ratio. The take off is immediate.

The brake travel were set slightly short, but i made then 3 cm longer.  I flew the Volt 3 SM from 90 to 95 all up.
It’s quite nice at 90 all up in all conditions, but i found it best at 93. 

The brake pressure are slightly less than the Artik 5 i had tested earlier and slightly more than an Alpina 3 MS.  
The information of the air  in moderate conditions is filtered and moderately sensed by the pilot. A little more informative than the Artik 5 which is sometimes too dampened, and not too informative like the Sector S, but rather toward a Delta 3 comfortable feel with more roll movements and a slight riser feedback which is very good ! 

10 cm are only needed to steer the Volt 3 in moderate conditions. In turbulent cores more pull is needed to get a turn and a bit of weight shifting. I could describe the agility as slightly less than an Alpina 3 MS at 92 and quite close to an Artik 5 24 at 93 but in small strong, turbulent thermals, i must insist more on my weight shift and brake pull to have a ‘closer’ agility to the Artik 5.  In those conditions a good dosage of brake pull will be required to turn it efficiently. 
In well built homogenous thermals, the Volt 3 agility is really nice. Once it entered, it cores quite tight and climbs fast. 

Climbing abilities:
Last glider i flew was the Artik 5 and i was impressed by the climb rate of that glider. The next week flying the Volt 3 next to the Artik 5 and to an LM6 (mantra light) gave me a bigger idea about the Volt 3 in terms of climb rate.
It’s a blessing sometimes when i test fly new gliders that can surprise me positively…And the Volt 3 did in fact opened my eyes by it’s incredible climbing abilities !  Later, with also other new C gliders in the air, i was happy test flying it, and totally convinced that the Volt 3 stand out as the best and finest climber in it’s category !  That glider does in fact climb really well in weak thermals and rapidly in strong cores!  
There’s no pitch back behavior, but a slight pull toward the thermals.  

Glide angle:
Doing some glides next to an Artik 5, Alpina 3, even LM6, i noticed that the Volt 3 is well placed right on top of that C category , and could easily match the LM6 glide angle or at least is super close…
I had to pull slightly on the bar (2-3 cm) to match the trim speed of the Artik 5, with exactly the same glide angle.  
Gliding on the bar (50%) in turbulent air is comfortable on the Volt 3, and the C riser control is very efficient by pulling it down to prevent surges if occurred during strong turbulence, but rarely since the leading edge is quite stable and solid. I was able to push with total confidence in a variety of conditions. The glide at full bar matches the best C gliders of the moment.

For a 6.5 aspect ratio C glider, the Volt 3 is very comfortable to fly. The overall movements in the air ressembles the Alpina 3 ones but the piloting level of the Volt 3 is slightly higher.  
It ressembles the Artik 5 comfort with also slightly more piloting level.  If i want to put int into numbers to give you an idea, i would say 15 % over the A5 in pilot level, and 20 % over the Alpina 3. 

Ears are stable and big, since there are only 2 lines on the A’s. They are very efficient, and reopen by a slight action from the pilot. Totally usable and a nice feature for easy descent rate. 

Conclusion: After the Rise 3 here’s another very good XC potential with the Volt 3 !  I’m pretty sure that a good C pilot will have a blast on this XC machine !  
Easy for a 6.5 AR, comfortable to fly in big air if properly loaded, climb like a dream, has a superb glide angle among the top C’s. 
Be sure to test fly one and post back your feedback !  :-) 

This is only my opinion. Make your own !

Skywalk Tequila 5 S

Skywalk Tequila 5 

It was obvious when test flying the Tequila (Four) two years ago, i wrote that that low B had some super fine qualities and incredible handling. Many pilots around the world had sent me email’s about their happy experience underneath that glider. Also many reported that for a low B it was a bit handful in strong air especially for fresh pilots coming from an A glider. For sure the Tequila 4 has some incredible flying qualities enabling it to surf quite well in tricky air without loosing on glides. 
Then came the Chili 4, which inherited a nice handling (not really as agile as the T4 ! but really nice ) And the overall performance of the Chili 4 is still on the top high B category.
So i think SKYWALK philosophy was to introduce a glider that was more accessible for the low mass pilots.

The Tequila 5 has an excellent construction with sheathed lines on the lower part and unsheathed on the top part next to the sail. The lines ressembles the Chili 4 ones. Only a few slightly more diameters width. 

Launching the T5 is easy without any difficulties or hard point. 

In the air, i immediately felt a much more comfortable glider over the T4.  The movements in roll and pitch are very well dampened.  After a few hours it seems that the T5 is easier to fly with less overall movements than a Buzz Z5, an Ion 5 or even the Synphonia.  It feels quite dampened in all axes and quite well placed in the mid low B segment for overall usability.

The handling and the way to steer the Tequila 5 has been also adjusted. It doesn’t have the agility of the Tequila 4 which was over the low B category at the time…I miss the T4 beautiful agility…But some low B pilot would welcome at open arms the T5 forgiving handling. It just turn with pilot input and quite obedient in a very polite way :-)

Flying with another low B gliders, and more mid to high B gliders, i could place well the Tequila 5 is terms of climb and glide. 
Climb rate would be fitted in the mid low B category. At 90 all up on the S size the climb rate is quite ok.  The nose doesn’t dig like the T4 but, quite nicer as some Low B gliders.

Doing some glides into wind, with some other B gliders, the Tequila 5 has a moderate glide angle that quite fits in the low B segment.  

Stepping on the bar at full speed is quite usable in all conditions. It’s a mild ,soft ,very well balanced low B glider. 

Ears are stable, reopens on release.

Conclusion: Skywalk has succeeded to fit the Tequila 5 much better in the low B category for a much bigger majority of newcomers.  Any fresh pilot would find a nice, well balanced, easy to fly, comfortable low B glider. 

   This is only my opinion. Make your own !  

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Niviuk Artik 5 - 24

Niviuk Artik 5 size 24
In the C category, Niviuk is introducing it’s Artik 5 for 2018 with an aspect ratio of 6.3.
A friend gave me his wing for testing.

The construction details are really nice, with Nitinol rods on the leading edge and a shark nose.
All lines are unsheathed with a balanced thickness that goes toward longevity and probably to avoid getting out of trim.

I flew the Artik 5 24 from 90 to 95 .
Launching the Artik 5 24 in nil wind require a steady pull. In a more stronger breeze, this characteristic enables the Artik 5 to be well controlled and launches in a gentle manner. Inner A’s are best in strong wind, All the A’s are best in Nil wind.

Flew this glider in multiple conditions, from weak to slightly strong, and sometimes turbulent with some sharp 7m/s thermals. To understand this glider better i was alternating on the same day, landing and flying the Alpina 3 MS and the Sector XS.

In turbulent air the Artik 5 gave me the impression over my head of a solid , compact, comfortable Glider. In the same turbulent conditions, the Artik 5 moves less and needs less pilot control than an Alpina 3 MS at 92 which is know for it’s very good comfort.
Explanation: The movements under the Artik 5 are at first a slight roll feel but limited and very controllable. This small roll feel is a plus for inducing the turns which i’ll comment later on… The comfort underneath the Artik 5 is really high for a 6.3 AR C glider. There’s no pitch movements whatsoever. When hitting a thermal, the Artik 5 loaded at 95 just climb vertically with a slight pull toward the core. It feels like a complete compact structure. At 90 all up and in strong air it does also behave quite ok, with a little drift and needed to be loaded for excellent results.
In moderate conditions, the Artik 5 loaded at 90 is still compact and very homogenous.
In the same air, the Sector XS at 85 gave me the most feedback and workload, then came the Alpina 3 MS at 92. The less workload was on the Artik 5 24 loaded from 92 to 95.
The Artik four had two lines per side, and some pilots commented after two seasons that it was a bit difficult to master in turbulent air sometimes. The Artik 5 with 3 lines per side and of course a new design has completely erased that problem. The A5 is the other side of the coin compared to the Artik 4 with a much tougher structure that stays coherent in turbulent air.

In strong air, i would have preferred a slight feel of what’s the air is doing, to that structure, in order to assist and be present without any surprises. I had some minor tip collapses that i didn’t feel them coming.

Handling maneuverability and climb rate :
The Artik four could be turned really tight in moderate conditions, but as soon as the air is a bit tricky it would be reluctant to turn sometimes. The Artik 5 turning ability is toward an efficient flat turn for XC use rather than a playful freestyle wing.
In moderate to soft conditions:
At first the brake response is short, precise, direct, and fairly agile toward an efficient flat circle. After flying next to my reference C gliders in that matter, This handling feature on the A5 showed me in weak thermals an astonishing climbing ability for the Artik 5. Each time i encountered a soft thermal, the Artik 5 would float upward much better. After many attempts, I’m convinced to put it right on top of the Category in terms of efficient climb rate in weak.
In strong cores:
In strong thermals, i found out that flying the Artik 5 24 at max weight would be more beneficial in entering without delay those cores. But again at max load the Artik 5 climbs peacefully like a beast !
And the result for overall climbing is also right on top of the C category. The handling and the way to turn the Artik 5 24 at 95 "in turbulent cores" needs some body and brake implication as the A5 tends to flattens at mid turn, inside a thermal. That slight roll ability on the A5 is good for leaning into the turn and applying more brake to stay in the core. On the same day, the Alpina 3 MS at 92 and the Sector XS at 85 would stay easily inside the core with minimum input.
In those conditions it’s slightly less agile than the Alpina 3 and the Sector. In strong but turbulent choppy air, it need more implication to stay inside the core. In homogenous thermals, its quite agile and cores easily.
The brake pressure is moderate to slightly hard after 20 cm of travel. The Peak 4 has nearly half the pressure on the brakes.
The Artik 5 can be steered with 5 to 10 cm of travel in soft air and 30-40 cm in strong air.
In that day, the less brake pressure was on the Sector XS, then on the Alpina 3 with a more playful character in thermals.

Gliding power:
I have made some glides with my new reference C glider, the latest Alpina 3 MS. If both gliders are similarly loaded, they have the same speed at trim and at top speed.
The glide angle at trim and at top speed of the Artik 5 24 that was made in real air, and repeated many times showed me that Niviuk has succeeded also to place the Artik 5 at the top of that category in terms of glide angle. The difference after many kilometers with the Alpina 3 MS is insignificant and practically the same, with a slight edge of float-ability for the Artik 5 in the rising air we encountered.
I found out also that it’s best to load the A5 at max weight in order to dig efficiently in strong air and thermals like an Alpina 3 MS loaded at 91.
My comment toward the top speed will be that i was pushing hard with my feet to engage the second bar. The first bar has moderate pressure on the feet with my X-rated 6 harness and the second bar is hard to push.
The less pressure that day was on the Sector XS which was really low, and then the Alpina 3 MS.

Controlling the Artik 5 using the C risers has an average efficiency. The pressure on the C’s are a bit light at trim and slightly more on bar. 

Ears are stable and a good way to loose altitude. Induced asymmetric and frontal are easy to control. The asymmetric collapse are very easy to maintain, to counter steer, and open vert fast.
Ears open with a slight pilot input.
Top landing is easy for pilots in that category with slow flying characteristics.

Conclusion: Apart from the nice construction and details, the Artik 5 size 24 at 92 impressed me with it’s outstanding performance package and especially it’s high comfort in turbulence for the C class.

The Artik 5 could be flown at mid weight easily, but to be very efficient on strong days, i think that loading it at top will be more beneficial to slide through the airmass without any loss in weak conditions. In fact low saves will be common on the Artik 5. A very interesting glider to test fly in the C category. 
C comparison updated:!/vizhome/C(shrinked URL)rComparison/CGliderComparison 

The Artik 5 in the test was one of the first released ones. After a few weeks ,Niviuk sent some lines to change this first batch ! 
There was 2 cm less in some C lines, and some brake adjustments.
I had the chance to re-test fly this last version. 
The trim speed is slightly slower on this re-trim configuration and the Artik 5 pitches slightly back upon entering thermals. It's still very efficient in climb and glide on top of the C category !
The handling is slightly better and smoother !
Everything else is still the same. Still hard on the second bar. 
I have liked the first version for it's biting and jumping into thermals, and it's fast trim speed ! 
When it's windy the first version was perfect ! in getting through the airmass.
The modified and final released version is still on top of the C category. The Artik is very well pressurized, very solid, very taught which leads to a comfortable glider in the air. 
But the management is strong air needs a good high end C pilot. 

This is only my opinion. Make your own !