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

Friday, May 5, 2017

B comparison

Important notice:
This comparison has been made with lots of accuracy and details, but please consider that other sizes, other weight load for the same tested glider can have a different impact on the result below. Some small sizes usually have a different feel, and different data. Also the bigger sizes will give you different feel in (brake tension, brake response, brake length,) not to mention the performance gain in 95 % of the cases.  
For instance an important factor in 2017/18 creations, is that manufacturers are working on the internal structures ,that may have a better cohesion and efficiency in turbulent air, BUT with the exact weight load ! Those gliders will have a large weight window to be flown, BUT they are mostly efficient in a smaller one ;-)  ... Example : The Zeno SM goes from 80-100. The most accurate result will be to fly it from 96 till 98. 
TheChili 4 XS weight range is (75-95) but the best result is around 93-94. 
Of course it flyable at 90 but you won't be efficient to enter the airmass! As you will if you fly a Zeno at 90 ! 
The Mentor 5 S 80-100 is best flown at 95 for all conditions. If you fly the M 5 S at 100, it will be ok for performance, but the handling will change with a spongy feel, and will loose more the linear feel...Strange..but feelable.
The Mentor 5 XS has a different feel than the S. If flown at 85 ,it's great! At 90 it will bounce more and in small thermals it will have this jumping effect like a well pressurized tyre over a dirt road.
Now the light materials have also a different feel...And that's another story that i'm still learning those effects...Some will be damper some will be more alive...Lets wait and see...

Some probably think that ± 2-3 kg won't matter...But i say it surely does ! :-)
S size 2 kg will matter, M size 3kg, L size 4-5 kg...
(PS:  Many pilots cares for performance...But IMHO, my best gliders are the ones that gives me that magical handling feel like an extension to my arms ... in better words  "Wings"   :-)  

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 ! 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

NOVA Phantom S and XS

NOVA Phantom

I have waited more than 6 months to receive the S size. The 99 cell low aspect ratio glider from NOVA has indeed a very complicated internal structure. This process of construction is delicate and takes lots of time to be completed. The price of the Phantom is high…Twice to three times more expensive than a conventional low B glider. The fabric used is light for most of the delicate parts. 
Lets find out if the high price and the complicated construction will give its user the required benefits …

Launching the Phantom is similar to any B glider with a fast rise above the pilots head. 
I flew the glider from 95 to 98 all up. 
The Phantom has a different feel than any low or high B glider. The construction gave me the impression of flying under a higher rated glider in the feel of the airmass but with a huge passive safety like any low B glider. Weird feeling, but on the positive side of things.
The brake pressure is moderate, probably lighter than the Mentor 4, but very short in precision ability. If the brakes are pulled a bit far, the Phantom reacts like a low B glider with good passive safety. The brake fan gave me a short, precise, fairly agile, turning ability. 
With the Phantom nose ‘cool searching’ tendency and its precise turning ability, i could imagine myself on a higher aspect ratio glider, but the high dampened feel under the Phantom woke me up to reality. No matter what the conditions throws at you, the Phantom overall movements above the pilots head are very limited, giving you the feel of a ‘Rolls Royce’ of the sky ! Really like that ! It needs a bit active piloting, but much less than a Mentor 4 and slightly similar to an Ion 4. 
The difference in feel between the Ion 4 and the Phantom is that the Phantom has a smoother but compact profile, a better handling ability, and of course, an impressive increase in a totally easy to use performance through the whole speed range!  

In weak (0.5m/s) , the pitch is nearly absent as the Phantom slows down a bit before entry at trim, without any pitch movement whatsoever.  This is why some pilots reported a difficulty in climb in very weak stuff. 
The climb commence slowly in weak thermals, and will be very efficient and much faster in moderate thermals (+1.5m/s, or +3m/s ) versus other B gliders.  
For example, flying the Phantom is weak thermals versus the Mentor 4 (four) S similarly loaded, showed similar climb ratio. In moderate thermals the Phantom climbs slightly better ! 
Flying the same Phantom S with a Mentor 5 S also similarly loaded, showed that in weak stuff the Mentor 5 or a Chili 4 is floatier. In strong moderate to strong thermals ,the Phantom structure will help in a more coherent feel and very efficient climbs very close to any high end B glider.   

Considering that the Mentor 4 has impressive performance that could match some high C gliders, and as i always reference it in my glide comparison, even with other high end gliders, i took it to compare with the Phantom.
Gliding with a Mentor 4 S in calm air, both loaded at 95 all up, showed a similar glide angle. It is in moving conditions that things gets a bit different.

Gliding with the Mentor 4 in moderate to steady lift lines, will give the Phantom a higher chance even at +10 km/h over trim with a more forgiving ,steady, racy profile for the Phantom for sure ! 
The Phantom is faster at top speed by +1 km/h than a Mentor 4 S, or the Mentor 5 S similarly loaded ! With very close glide ratio at speed ! Really impressive !  The Mentor 5 has the edge in longer glides in moving conditions.
For instance, gliding next to a Mentor 5 (five) S in weak lift lines, will give the Mentor 5 the upper hand over the Phantom. The Mentor 5 is a floaty wing. 
After many glide attempts in moving air, (Video soon) with a Mentor 5, the Phantom is always haunting  :-) not far away.

Ears are easy to induce, efficient, and reopen quickly. Induced asymmetrics and frontals are super easy to recover. 

Conclusion: The Phantom has a low aspect ratio of 5.19 ! (3.82 projected! ) IMPRESSIVE !
It behaves like any low B glider. The handling, the feel under it and the way to turn the glider is excellent for the category. Low B pilots can fly the Phantom easily. The performance is indeed on the top shelf of the High B category. Good pilots downgrading to the Phantom will find on one side, a comfortable ride, and on the other, top performance in the B category. It doesn’t resemble a Ferrari, nor a Porsche . 
Its a Rolls Royce with a 500 HP engine!  Rolls Royces are expensive, but you get well served ! 

After my test on the S size, here's some comments on the XS .
I flew the XS (70-90) from 84 to 88 in mild then in strong turbulent air (loaded).

The handling and the way to turn the XS at 88 compared to the S at 97 are:
A lighter brake pressure on the XS , and a longer brake travel, but 'more' agile to turn !

The overall movements in turbulent air are slightly livelier than the S size but really very reassuring !
The differences in turbulent air between the Mentor 5 XS at 88 and the Phantom XS at 88 is that the M5 feels more energetic and needs much more active piloting.
The differences in turbulent air between the Mentor 5 S at 96 and the Phantom S at 96 are not that both feels very dampened.
It seems flying the XS at top weight is best, without the feeling of an overloaded glider. It still climbs well.
The Phantom XS is a fast 5.1 aspect ratio B glider at trim and accelerated for the category.
Ears are stable and efficient !
A reliable small companion for fun XC travel.
Easy to use, "slightly" less piloting level than a 777 Knight S or Buzz Z5 MS, which are superb B gliders ! ( The Phantom XS has less pitch surging behavior in turbulence) with very nice overall performance.
I liked that XS size !   :-) 
Hope it helped a bit by relocating that XS size !

UP Summit XC 4

UP Summit XC 4 SM 
After my beloved Trango X-Race :-), here’s UP new B glider the Summit XC 4 in SM size.
I took a bit of time to write this test, but finally here it is.
The XC4 has a aspect ratio of 6.3 with an EN-B rating !
Honestly i wasn’t a fan of the XC3 SM when i test flew it…The overall performance and usability didn’t convince me at the time.
Today with the Summit XC 4 i took my time to explore it a little bit and finally managed to get a Carrera plus SM to complete my comparison.

Launching the Summit XC 4 is like any mild 6.3 aspect ratio glider. It’s easy to launch…Not like the 5.4 aspect ratio gliders…But it has a homogenous and straight launch.

Once airborne, the Summit XC 4 gave me the same brake feel as its bigger sister the X-race ! with a slight more forgiving and filtered feel. But the Summit XC4 strangely has the ‘same’ DNA ! 

With a medium brake pressure, the XC 4 has a moderate to good agility, A very nice coordinated feel, performance oriented turning radius. The movements of the air is transmitted through the brakes. Much like the X-race but slightly less feedback coming from the brake lines, and also more comfortable in turbulence than the higher aspect ratio Trango X-race.
I must say though that it does move around a bit in turbulent conditions for a high B glider.
The climb rate next to my reference glider showed me a very competitive climb rate in moderate conditions! 
In entering thermals the Summit XC4 SM at 95, have a neutral pitch behavior. 
In very weak stuff below 0.5 m/s i think my reference glider is still floatier, but with the Summit XC4 faster trim speed, it still has a moderate float ability in very weak stuff. 

The last day, i flew in some weird air, with turbulence, and really unpleasant. In those tricky conditions, the Summit XC4 showed a character and behavior of any moderate aspect ratio C glider (up to 6.5 AR). For sure it is not intended for those low B pilots coming to the higher B category. I could say rather that High B pilots with two seasons on their gliders would be welcomed on the XC4.
The Summit XC4 needs active piloting like the some higher aspect ratio B’s or some C’s. 
To be even more precise, the Summit XC4 needs slightly more active piloting than the Summit XC3. I already updated my B-comparison (see blog) to give you an idea of the overall XC4 placement inside the B category.  

Now i have tried to make some glide comparison with a Carrera plus SM (80-95) loaded at the max(95) , and i was 95 on the Summit XC4 SM ( 75-100). I was really curious to see how it will perform.
To both our surprises the XC4 came out really nice ! It is not that i wasn’t expecting it to be that good…but i wasn’t prepared to see and feel that improvement !

At first with the mentioned loads, the Summit XC4 has around 1.5 km/h more trim speed. And the glide was slightly better for the XC4…The glides were made in some difficult headwind conditions, and the Summit XC 4 surfed the air quite impressively. That does conclude that the XC4 with its B rating has now reached the top performers for the best glide/ efficiency ratio. 
The speed bar has a moderate pressure. The controls on the C risers have a moderate pressure, a bit less than the X-Race ones, and they are more usable in limiting the pitch of the glider in gliding through turbulent stuff when applying the bar. 

Ears are stable, and reopen easily.   

B rating gliders goes to this delicate box…The Summit XC4 has been rated a B certification. Ok. That doesn’t mean that any “new comer” to this category will find that the 6.3 AR, Summit XC4 will suit him. 

The new comers to this category won’t be able to assimilate the benefits and the bags of performance plus the feedback the Summit XC4 has to deliver. Its like driving a two wheel bicycle for the first time. IMHO, i think this B rating should be understood as a psychological ‘peace of mind’ idea for those who already fly C gliders.  Or high B pilots having a full season in different conditions on their moderate aspect ratio glider, wants to upgrade to a higher aspect ratio glider, and don’t want to leave the B class, then the Summit XC4 is a very interesting tool to move forward on long XC’s with all the benefits a C class glider has to offer. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sharing thoughts.

Dear Fellow pilots, 
I need to share some thoughts about my tests on this blog. 
I have been flying for a long time, and my country offers some frequent flying conditions. With more than 5000 hours, I stopped logging years ago ...
I have flown more than 260 different glider till now...
I’m 54now. But i still don’t believe it, though i used the calculator many times, but i think its a conspiracy…My eyes still see 30  :-) 
This is a completely FREE blog. No ads. Its a self sponsored blog.  Free service . 
I own a large business, that keeps my family and I, well supported, and my head full of problems to be solved on a daily basis. 
This blog is just to ‘escape’ for a glimpse. To enter my own “Boy’s box” 
Birds cannot change wings, but we are privileged to do so ! 
My dream is to exchange wings, and now I’m living this dream.
I purchase every glider from my own money. Every glider is held at customs and it’s really a tough time releasing one…
I test fly the glider with joy like a boy reaching for an ice cream or a chocolate bar. I still love chocolate  ;-)  A lot…
Then i sell the gliders on this blog, and buy new ones and so on. Sometimes i get some Euros, sometimes i loose some Euros, especially from those “reference” gliders which i keep for a time in order to compare with the newcomers. 
So it means if a glider is so good, i’ll lose money to keep it, but I’ll gain pleasure in flying it which is the MOST important  !
When a glider meets medium criteria, it has to be written exactly as i felt, in my personal humble opinion.  
To be crystal clear: My balance for this operation is purchasing 8-13 new releases by year.   
I don’t have any relation or business whatsoever with any manufacturer but a deep respect for all their R&D team who tries their best to deliver outstanding flying machines ! 
The tests are made with the most precise way, i know how. They represent “humbly” my own PERSONAL FEEL. And I’ll try as much as i can to deliver the closest feel in written words. 
Please bear in mind that: “Different sizes, and different load could lead in a different feel “
If any pilot or manufacturer, would feel offended or misguided from reading those tests, i sincerely apologize.  
If any of you feels happy reading them and watching the videos, then let us fly together on Aladdin’s magic carpets :-)  !!!  

Don’t take them too seriously also…Every pilot has a different feel for his own flying machine :-)
Don’t buy any glider before a test flight if you can ! 
The purpose is to have fun !  
Fly safe !


Sunday, February 5, 2017

GIN Explorer S

GIN Explorer 

After the Carrera plus , here’s GIN new light B glider with an aspect ratio of 6.1 
Take off is super easy as the glider inflates quickly with no overshooting. 
Flying the Explorer S (75-95) at 94 all up with an X-rated 6 harness. 
The brake pressure are similar to the C+ ones ,and the explorer can be steered with only 10 cm of brakes travel in moderate thermals. The response is shorter than the C+ with (more or less) same agility. And with much more brake dampened behavior.(less sharp) 
The thermals are felt by the risers. Nothing comes through the brakes . The Explorer feels like a solid ,dampened ,comfortable to fly mid B glider. I know that the AR is 6.1 but it doesn’t feel at all … 

Flying next to a loaded Rook 2 seems to show a slight 0.5 km/h faster trim for the Explorer with probably a very slight edge in glide performance at trim. At full bar the Explorer S at 94 all up, has around 8- 9 km/h speed over trim taken at 1500 ASL. The glide at full bar seems close to the Rook 2 with also a slight edge… 
Another example, is that flying a Chili 4 with it’s edge in overall performance, feels more demanding to fly than the Explorer in turbulent conditions. 

The overall performance of the Explorer is quite nice for an easy B glider. The Carrera plus overall performance is slightly higher but with more pilot workout. The Explorer felt much easier, safer, and more comfortable. Flying the Explorer at full speed is very usable. I have tried to pull 10 cm one A riser at full speed and the Explorer leading edge didn’t collapse. So the margin at full speed is fully usable even in turbulence, with the ability to steer the glider efficiently while on bar, with the C risers in moderate turbulence. 
Big ears are very efficient, stable. They reopen by a slight brake amount. 

Conclusion: Let’s keep the original Carrera and the Carrera plus, aside. Their glide performance and especially their climb rate is ‘legendary’ ! 
The explorer could be the most easy to fly 6.1 aspect ratio B glider ! The overall performance are very good for the category, but not comparable with it’s bigger sisters. In my humble opinion, i believe that the Explorer is aimed for a wider variety of B pilots and i think any B pilot coming from the mid, high B category will be welcomed on the Explorer. 
A light, quite maneuverable, easy to fly and to pack, a ‘cool’ companion for adventure flying with good overall performance. That’s the Explorer ! 



After receiving some emails from professionals in this sport and friends , asking me about the Explorer test i have written earlier. 
And since dear friends and fellow pilots pointed that the test was made with an “L” size Rook 2  size which goes to 115 kg, and that the Explorer was an S size that goes to 95, i found that they have a logical point there, assuming that they still haven’t flown the glider yet, or see it fly. 
Taking their request respectively, and on it’s positive side, It came also to my mind to check the Rook 2 L which has around 90 hours, and the knots on the A’s B’s and C’s are still factory tuned. After checking with 777, This L size must have the C’s released after 50 hours in order to maintain the performance it was aimed for. I’ll do it this week and hopefully, looking for the performance benefits it will deliver as it was originally designed to do so. 

After the request for a video, I tried to fly the Explorer more accurately again, but now with a Carrera plus size S flown slightly for a season, and my usual mentor 4 S size . 
We made sure that all the pilots carried ballast and some without, to reach equally the weight of 96 all up ! 

Like i said earlier, the Explorer is a super easy and fun glider to fly ! The glide performance is really nice for an easy 6.1 aspect ratio B glider. 
Induced asymmetric are easily maintained without any rotations if counter steered. And induced frontals are hard to pull, a slight altitude loss but with quick opening.

Climb rate is superb if the thermals are not influenced by any wind or valley breeze, I could say that the Explorer is a floater. In head wind or facing the valley breeze, the original Carrera, and  the ‘loaded’ Carrera plus (to avoid its pitch back) seems slightly floatier in entering those cores. But that’s super precise and picky …and won’t matter to most. 

To be even more precise : The Explorer felt loosing slightly some speed in entering those thermals, while the C+ pitch back but floats upward. 
That doesn’t mean that the Explorer doesn’t climb…On the contrary, Its still an excellent climber !  
Now please consider that even the new Bolero 5 have an edge in climbing in weak cores versus some other high end B’s !! I’m not joking here…That’s true. It’s really efficient in climb, but i’m writing my tests not only in one encountered soft thermal without turbulence and wind that could affect some gliders more than others…

The glide at trim and accelerated is very close or similar… But you can easily fly the Explorer S at 93 all up, while to be competitive in head wind glides, the Carrera plus S must be flown at + 95 …or 97…still with a very efficient climb.

The pluses on the Explorer is the cool easy to handle glider in rough air ! Flying it in strong days could be quite fun and easier than the C+. 
The other plus : It seems that the Explorer doesn’t loose heights after leaving thermals, much better than the Carrera plus in that manner.  
Can i say a little minus?  :-)    I wished for a slightly higher top speed .

Kindly remember that test flying wings is not doable ‘only’ with glider side by side flying, but it’s a completely different approach involving feel-able impressions of efficiency, a glider can deliver in difficult, weak or strong moving conditions, given for any sensible pilot who already have the ability to test fly plenty of them before purchase. 

Now flying either the C+ and Explorer, performance in XC flying will be very close,  and the differences are mainly on the pilots skills. So may be i should have said in the earlier test : “Glide is closely comparable to the C +” which could be a more apprehensive and better politically write up.
Again, IMHO, the Explorer is a successful, light, easy to fly, XC glider, and i liked it’s nice handling, good climb, and glide. But can we please agree on one thing ? even GIN admits it…its not a boomerang    :-) 

Since a video is highly requested. Here it is… Enjoy

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

UP Trango X-race SM

UP trango X-Race SM   (The hidden beauty)

After flying practically every Trango, here’s the X-Race, the newest Trango version in its light material construction. 

The Trango X-race has a new and beautifully engineered shark nose ! Semi circular, small opening cells, with a complete unsheathed line construction. I actually never seen this kind of lines before. The lower A’s and B’s are heavily coated and feels like a plastic wire ! Of course, this new technology will surely prevent the aging process ! My friend tells me it looks like the kite lines. 
I flew that glider at 97 all up and the next day at 94 all up. I felt that the optimum weight under the SM goes around 95.
Launching the X-race is really easy and without any hanging back at all. In strong wind, the brakes are needed to stop it from surging forward. 
Before the first flight, i remembered the Trango XC3 and thought that the X-Race could bear some of its genes. It doesn’t !
The X-Race felt completely different.
Once airborne, i could sense a more compact and homogenous feel under the X-Race. This glider moves as a whole. It seems that UP did an extensive work on it’s internal structure. Because the yaw and wobbling of the XC3 in turbulent air is no more present. Instead, there’s a new feeling of a coherent, solid, compact feel under the X-race !
It resemble a bit the coherent feel of the Trango XC2(two) but with an increase in comfort and control over both the xc2 and xc3. 
The SM i received had a super short brake travel, which was probably wrongly set, because just one cm of brake pull after the pulley, activated the trailing edge. So i re-adjusted the brakes by allowing a 10 cm clearance after the pulley or the trailing edge response.

Now it was perfect ! The X-race has a moderate pressure. It’s a bit more hard then the xc3 and a bit less than the xc2 and the LM6. The thermals are felt through the brakes which is excellent for a racing machine ! The brake travel is short, linear, responsive .
The X-race with it’s 6.9 aspect ratio is an agile glider in coring thermals ! The compact feel coupled with a coherent structure and a swift, direct brake response, makes circling thermals, efficient and a real pleasure ! I could say it is more agile when circling in turbulent air than the LM6, and the Trango XC3. 

This good handling is integrated in a climbing beast ! The X-race climb showed me a superb climb rate in weak and in strong thermals. The X-race enters the thermal without pitching forward or back. It has the ability to "surf the rising airmass” ! That’s the best way to describe it, as it felt exactly like that !

Each time a thermal is caught, the X-race jumps upward like a spring with a compact feel ! 
Doing some glides in moving air showed an ability to float and move forward giving its pilot a superb glide in racing conditions at trim and at bar!  
Pushing the first bar showed a medium foot pressure and a very flat polar as it seems that the speed increases without the feeling of loosing altitude. The second bar is a bit hard to push on my X-rated 6, and the glide at top speed which is 13 km/h over trim is very competitive with a solid leading edge !  IMHO, i believe that the X-race matches the performance of the today’s best ,3 liner D gliders !

The C steering is a bit hard to pull ! At top speed the pressure is slightly less on your hands as at trim, but still a bit hard to pull. Pulling the C ball has a limiter. Controlling the glider with the C balls is efficient in moderate conditions and the profile remains clean. You can easily pull the C ball all the way when thermalling brakeless, with no event, but i found it climbs best with a little brake pressure.

Ears with outers A’s are stable. Big ears with outers A’s are little un-stable. 
While on bar, pulling the two connected outer B lines are stable and efficient.
Wing overs are easily done on the X-race with a playful character. 360’s also are quick to enter and easy to get out.
Pulling the brakes beyond the hip upon top landing, should be carefully mastered as the X-race doesn't accept to fly very slow with very low pulled brakes. But easy for good pilots to feel.

Conclusion: UP designer and the R&D team has done an amazing job with the X-race ! 
A swift handling, a solid feel, a rocket climber and impressive floater, a relatively easy to manage (high-end C) certified glider.
I believe that the Trango X-race with it’s 6.9 aspect ratio, has the highest score for the overall package of (performance/comfort/handling) in today’s C category. 

Very well sorted flying machine !  :-)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

SKYWALK Chili 4 S and XS

SKYWALK Chili 4   (The powerful package) 
Yes …..They were a bit late to arrive !
 Two SKYWALK gliders with an EN-B certification. One is the S size (85-105) and the other the XS size (75-95)  Both are the new CHILI 4 as a high-end B glider which will replace the floatable Chili 3 !
Lets see what SKYWALK did with the Chili 4 who took quite a while in development. I was very curious to see what are the benefits on the B category and i was keen to see if SKYWALK did manage to keep the excellent climb of the Chili 3.
Looking closely at the glider showed a trendy approach with a shark nose, a  pure 3 line configuration, with very small minimalistic and finely tuned line width ! Some lower lines are sheathed and the higher ones are unsheathed. Putting all the lines on one hand, feels indeed very small, it looks smaller than the Mentor 4 ones.
Launching the Chili 4 XS at 92 all up is an easy task with no delay or shooting forward. A simple glider to inflate.
In the air…and already smiling… The brake pressure is exactly to my liking. Not as hard as the Mentor 4 one, nor as soft as the Rush 4 one. It has a moderate pressure with immediate short response. I could put the glider exactly where i wanted with a linear travel !  It isn’t as agile as the Tequila 4, but close enough! I can say that the Tequila has a playful handling, as it dives on quite playfully when you pull hard. 
The Chili 4 has a Joyful efficient handling. It doesn’t dive but has a “flat” corkscrew ability  :-)  !
The pilot can steer it with a much more flat performance turn ! At my all up weight, i was able to core the inside of any thermal. The agility ressembles the Rush 4 or the Swift 4 which are excellent handling gliders.  
With it’s short, linear, responsive and agile character, SKYWALK managed to fix the old Chili 3 handling problem for good !
I’m going to write now a bit about the brand new S size (80-105) flown at 100 all up versus the Mentor 4 S (80-100) flown at 95 all up. (This Mentor 4 S has only around 50 hours) And still in a very good shape and wasn’t flown beside testing and comparing in XC conditions.  Both sizes are flown 5 kg less than the top certified weight.
Gliding along the Chili 4 S with the Mentor 4 S showed a similar trim speed. Probably the Chili 4 S has a 0.25 km/h faster. Comparing the trim speed of the Chili 4 S at 100 all up and a Cayenne 5 S at 100 all up will give the Cayenne 5 a little more speed at trim . (Just for infos only) 
The top speed of both the Mentor 4 S and the Chili 4 S loaded as mentioned above has the same top speed with a slight 1 km/h more for the Chili 4 S.
What are you waiting for ?  ;-)  The glide ? .. or the climb rate ?  :-)   Lets see…
The climb rate in weak and difficult conditions gave me the impression that the CHILI 3 DNA is inserted deeply into the CHILI 4 ! 
But i think it’s much, much better…The Chili 3 was pitching back a bit before entering. The CHILI 4 has a super stable pitch entry ! I was flying for the last months the Zeno, and when the Chili 4 arrived, to be honest i was worried that i have to loose some flying days testing it…as i thought it will have this B feeling in thermal searching and performance feel  !
  I was wrong! The ability of the CHILI 4 to (slide, sniff, surf) the airmass is amazing, just like flying a higher rated glider. When all is calm above your head, you could hear the vario…Bip, bip, bip… It gives the impression to grab every bubble without the leading edge pitch and movements.
It doesn’t attack and search forward, but it climbs slowly and peacefully.  
Flew with my Mentor 4 S near the Chili 4 S, and i felt this edge in float ability as if my friend was flying his Cayenne 5 S ! Each time the thermals weakens the CHILI 4 floats better.
For sure it’s an efficient climber and here again SKYWALK has managed to keep the excellent climb of the Chili 3. 

The glide in calm air at trim and accelerated at full speed is very ,very, close to the Mentor 4 …but… 
In all the testing I have done before on the Mentor 4 and other gliders, I was always certain that if any glider could beat the Mentor 4 in glide it would be pretty awesome! 
especially in moving air !  
For example, I was pretty close to the Cayenne 5 S which eventually had the edge in overall conditions. 
Lots of pilots nowadays still ask about the glide in moving conditions… Well IMHO, it’s the BEST way to see the ability of gliders to surf the airmass efficiently…and it’s not done on a single glide where one can get a lift and other will loose it, it’s done on frequent glides, felt and seen, frequently on tip to tip glide comparisons. 
Doing those glides against the CHILI 4 S was obvious to the eye that the edge was now on the CHILI 4 side !!! 
In overall conditions, the efficiency of the CHILI 4 was tested, felt, and validated, to let me conclude that the CHILI 4 with it’s narrow edge is now the benchmark for the high-end B gliders. 
The problem for SKYWALK now is to create a more competitive Cayenne ! 
Flying in some moderate turbulence, the tips flutters a bit without any consequences. The CHILI 4 moves in turbulent air like any high-B glider.It’s not a super comfortable glider nor a difficult one to manage. It ressembles the Iota, Mentor 4 ability to control. 
Big ears are stable with and without accelerator. They open immediately without touching the brakes. 
If you pull two lines on each side, for much bigger ears, it will be un-stable (a bit). I must find something…  :-) 

Pulling one riser and holding it, doesn’t get a high sink rate and it requires a good weight shift and a little brake control to keep it straight. But so easy to handle for a high B.
Induced frontals are hard to pull in. It’s like the feeling of a two liner. Heavy pull is needed to collapse it. The reopening is average to good.
At full speed, the Chili 4 has around 13-14 km/h over trim and the leading edge still feels solid as pulling the riser doesn’t quickly collapse it.
360’s are efficient and the glider stays quite some turns to exit, so braking a bit the opposite side helps a lot.
Conclusion: What can i do when i feel satisfied with a tested glider beside a large smile ? I’ll happily write about it for you to experience my findings ! 
The CHILI 4 with it’s technical line configuration, need a good B pilot to master it efficiently, like any high end B glider and a careful approach to prepare in bad launching areas, with stones and roots. I found it best to fly the S at 101-103 all up and the XS at 91- 93 all up with no worry about the climb in weak.
Apart from that, the CHILI 4 gave me the sensation of a pleasurable flying machine with nothing but ’top’ overall performance, efficient and agile handling, amazing climb and gliding performance!
All that with a 5.65 AR (4.2 AR Projected) !   A very powerful package ! 
I’m very sure that some serious manufacturers are also aiming for excellence. For now the CHILI 4 has strongly earned its place among the best. Lets see what the future brings.
Beside doing competitions with speed tasks, I always wonder why we always look for higher aspect ratio gliders when a low AR good B can offer us tremendous amount of performance, swift handling, good passive safety, pleasurable feel and a deep happy satisfaction !   
Happy landings  :-) ! 

Friday, December 30, 2016


Comfortable, cold feeling, turbulence is felt, very sharp turns, need a very good pilot ;-)



Merry Christmas and happy new year 2017  :-)