Safe wing?

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scotts
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Safe wing?

Postby scotts » Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:41 pm

Back from 2 weeks in Roldanillo, and now less than 2 weeks till baby girl coming and officially a dad...
Add to that our winter weather, and I've been mostly grounded and spending way too much time reading and dreaming about flying, still weighing risks, and generally waiting waiting waiting around for the due date, and being around for my girls.

While in Roldanillo, I took another collapse on my Gin Zulu (not as bad as the first in Woodstock). Was heading generally towards the house thermal off Tanques launch, got close, wing unloaded some before !wham- feet over my head for a moment; "free" fall; then trusty Zulu recovers without input or delay, or even course change. Still, shook me up some. I went on to have my best flight ever, catching (my own) relatively strong thermals and even reaching cloudbase for my first time ever!

My mind was on my girls for the rest of the trip. And my first baby...

Since, I've had plenty of time to think about things, and I'm still not sure the safety margin is there for me. My current strategy is to try and stack to odds in my favor by being conservative and always trying to make the safer decision when I can (yet still fly on occasion) and only fly if its all "perfect." (this all means I wont be flying as much, which I realize is a catch22).

That brings me to the topic: safe wings. My premise was I might be able to find a current generation EN A wing (or Low B, perhaps) that offers greater passive safety than my 2005 Gin Zulu (DHV 1-2). I started by researching current EN A designs by major manufactures. I looked at wings like the Nova SuSi (very interesting design concept) and Prion 2, Skywalk Mescal 4, Advance Alpha 5, Gin Bolero 4, and Ozone Mojo 4, and Buzz Z4 (low B). Then I went back and read the cert report on the Zulu, which of course is a different standard of testing, so not apples to apples comparison, but I couldn't really pinpoint why the Zulu was rated a 1-2 and not a 1, and I only found one or two people to say anything negative about it in all the posts on paraglidingforum and the rest. So, I concluded that updating my wing to a current EN A design probably isn't going to get me any better passive safety. So- that's my question-- Am I wrong in this conclusion?? And I again welcome any comments on how to continue flying safe, and/or if you think I shouldn't be when starting a family... I tough question and one for which I don't really feel like I have enough experience at 50 some flights to make a fair judgement on; hence why I'm here asking...

Thanks for your comments.
Scott S.
P4; skywalk Chilli3S; Mesa, AZ of all places!
Get busy living!

Sam Crater
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Re: Safe wing?

Postby Sam Crater » Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:45 pm

Scott,

One thing I would say is, your wing is nine years old - that's basically older than me in paraglider years. Pretty likely it's no longer in anything like the original trim - it could easily be very different from the glider that was certified nine years ago. I would definitely upgrade to something newer.

The only other thing I would say is not to undervalue the importance of flying with more experienced pilots, who will not only double-check your judgement, but also help you acquire the skills to be a little less at the mercy of your wing's passive stability. So I encourage pilots to come down to Lookout as soon as you're qualified and start getting sponsored flights with us there.

Sam

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Mike Jobin
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Re: Safe wing?

Postby Mike Jobin » Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:48 am

Hi Scott,

I agree with Sam, that it is not that your wing's design is unsafe... it is that old wings go out of trim even if you don't fly them. A wing designed to fly slow in the first place will fly even slower when it is out of trim and that is not safe. Years ago, I was flying next to a HG pilot (new to paragliding) on a Zulu. He had a massive frontal about 20 ft. away from me. The wing recovered nicely... nothing happened to me on my en D glider in the same air. I would suggest sticking with the en B group of wings because you will have some options (speed) to get yourself out of a windy situation. Most gliders these days recover nicely after collapses, etc., but what is safe? A wing that allows you to get away, or a wing that has you parked in the venturi of a canyon or in the compression zone? Take a look at the Golden 4 from gradient, it is a low enB and is designed to last many years.

Jobin

scotts
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Re: Safe wing?

Postby scotts » Thu Mar 06, 2014 12:14 pm

Agreed regarding the speed issue. The Zulu is a 1-2 with 5.07 AR and 50 cells, so it shouldn't be on the super slow side (50/38/23 kph are the stats I could find on para2000 for whatever thats worth). Anyone know where to find performance figures other than what can (sometimes) be found on para2000? I've been drawn to the EN A wings partly due to the fact that few (or none) manufactures publish much of anything hard about performance, so there's really no way to know if you are getting anything different, other than giving up safety as the ratings get higher (I guess there's just some implied inverse relationship between EN ratings and performance- not really good enough for me). Top speed and stall speed SHOULD be part of the safety rating!

Regarding trim; is there a way to measure? maybe compare to the original specs, but I dont see lengths on the line plan in the manual.

I'm getting pretty close to meeting the requirements to fly lookout, so I will definitely be seeking sponsors and listening to all advise from those with more experience than I.
Scott S.
P4; skywalk Chilli3S; Mesa, AZ of all places!
Get busy living!

Ed Williams
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Re: Safe wing?

Postby Ed Williams » Thu Mar 06, 2014 12:31 pm

Scott,

I second Sam and Jobin's comments. I also congratulate you on being a new Dad and I commend your decision to stack the odds in your favor regarding safety.

My $0.02: I think Jobin's point about using the speed of a faster wing to get out of compression is a good one. For that reason, I think it makes sense for a relatively experienced pilot to stay away from A's as long as he or she can fly at least fairly regularly. However, watch out for those B's. Some of them are really hot as the manufacturers are really racing each other to make the fastest possible B these days and the consensus among many is that Bs are becoming more dangerous because of this. Read up on your wing choice and ask here on this forum about certain wings. I have heard a couple pilots describe the Golden 4 as "more active than they expected".

Sam Crater
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Re: Safe wing?

Postby Sam Crater » Thu Mar 06, 2014 2:58 pm

Progress on paraglider design has been fairly steady so this year's or last year's wing is very likely to have better performance than a nine year old wing with equal safety.

Adding to what Ed said, in a way ratings don't tell you that much. As Ozone designer Russ Ogden emphasized to a us in a talk, it's possible to design an unsafe glider that passes ratings tests - after a glider's been out a while people will have figured out how well behaved it really is. As far as trim goes, you're not going to be able to measure it - but your results so far kind of suggest to me that, unsurprisingly, it's not in very good trim. In this sport, you can't wait to have it absolutely proven that something is wrong, you have to take action even when there's just an indication.

davidhach
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Re: Safe wing?

Postby davidhach » Thu Mar 06, 2014 5:41 pm

Jobin's point that more speed can help you get out of a venturi or compression is certainly true. However if the goal is to stack the odds in your favor, you should never be in a situation where you've launched into conditions that the top speed of an A wing is inadequate to ensure a safe landing, no matter what wing you are flying. A very important factor in being safe is the personal knowledge of what conditions you and your gear are capable of flying.

For most of us, our wing is not the limiting factor. A hotter wing makes big flights more accessible on more occasions, but I guarantee that you could put any of the guys who have responded to this thread so far (excluding myself :| ) on a Bolero or an Alpha and they could pilot that ship to Boulder on the right day.

At 50 flights, you probably aren't going to max out the performance potential of a modern A for a few more years. Keep in mind that the performance of a modern A is probably about equal to that of your Zulu. If you stick to your plan of only flying "perfect" days (of which there were a short handful last year), you may never max out an A's performance. Stick with what you're comfortable with. Demo some wings. Odds are, you will have better flights on a wing that gives you great peace-of-mind versus a wing that you are constantly worried about.

donh
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Re: Safe wing?

Postby donh » Fri Mar 07, 2014 9:21 am

In addition to the good wing advice on this thread, the best way to be safe is to fly a lot. If you can't fly practice ground handling. You need to keep your skills current to be safe. Thanks for the rides up the hill. When your'e ready, I think you'll find Lookout offers up a lot of safe flying opportunities in the mornings.

Don

flytm
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Re: Safe wing?

Postby flytm » Fri Mar 07, 2014 1:35 pm

Ditto what Don said. In addition to morning opportunity, take advantage of hanging out with the local regulars. On top of becoming part of the community, you'll be surprised what you can learn by just hanging around on launch. It's a great community and there's a lot of knowledge on our little hill.

scotts
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Re: Safe wing?

Postby scotts » Sat Mar 29, 2014 6:48 pm

Thanks for all the feedback. My baby girl is finally here, so the waiting is over. Still unknown how my flying (and life in general) will be forever changed... but it is, and will be, I know.

Currently, I'm leaning towards an Advance Alpha 5 in the 26 or 28 size. Hoping I can find one used, and I have a few on my radar, but they are overseas (private seller from spain, and a school wing from down under). If anyone has one they'd like to sell, please do tell. The Skywalk Mescal 4 is still on my list as well and I hope to make a trip out to point of the mountain to demo one, but I haven't seen anything used, so might be a longer wait to find one. Any opinions on Skywalk in general? Seems like a smaller operation, but generally high quality. Impressions from those of you that are flying Skywalk?

Not much flying lately, but my girls are better settled and home now, and as soon as we have a nice weather window, hope to be back out!
Scott S.
P4; skywalk Chilli3S; Mesa, AZ of all places!
Get busy living!

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jj
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Re: Safe wing?

Postby jj » Thu May 29, 2014 6:29 pm

while I have good experience in HG, I'm still fairly new to PG. Having said that, I will highly recommend the Buzz Z4. Can't say how its speed is compared to other wings, but it is a recent 2013 design. But as a fairly new P2 I got caught out in some Very nasty conditions. Sparky said he got more collapses that day than he had in the last 10 years. The Buzz got through all that with very little input from me other than getting off speedbar and putting my hands up when hit with something nasty. Very predictable and good recovery with little altitude loss. Suggest you do some reading up on it. Apparently it has good performance for a low end B but I can attest that it recovered from a lot of nastys quickly, and doing Big ears or Big Big ears was predictable, with instant recovery (no pumping required). It also has much better feedback than the EN-As I'd flown during training. I find that feedback from the wing is another important safety consideration. My instructor noted that many EN-As are designed to not be responsive or provide much feedback as new pilots might overreact or find them nervous feeling. The reason they guided me to the Buzz was that it provided good feedback and agility while having very good safety. Everyone will like their own brand and each brand has it's niche. Just my perspective.

nofootprints
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Re: Safe wing?

Postby nofootprints » Tue Nov 11, 2014 11:58 pm

Hi. I have read this that with great interest. I am a new pilot and considering buying a gin Zulu.
I have been advised by local pilots it's an eminently stable and efficient wing used by at least one local (sa) competitive pilot with great effect.

Can you elaborate on your concerns

His comments on the wing were
Hi, just getting back to you about the gin Zulu , really nice glider , it is very very safe , I've had a couple of 50% asymmetric collapses on full bar and it doesn't even turn . Front collapse is very rare because of the keel system . It floats like a dream when flown at the correct weight , I'd say he must be top end or even over , too get good performance out of the glider . Brake travel is long , good for beginners , might feel quite active at 1st because it moves around but it is very safe .


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