I took part in three competitions in the USA this year: Flytec Championship, Flytec Race & Rally and East Coast Championship.
The glider I was flying was a Combat 12.7C.
The first thing that impressed me was the transportation possibilities. The glider is very easy to break down to 3.5 meters package just by taking the outer LE off it. This must be the shortest package of a topless glider on the market. This feature together with the glider’s light weight (31 kg without bags) makes it very easy to transport with airlines.
Combat 12.7 C is a glider with high aspect ratio, so the horizontal stabilizer is required to fly it safely and efficiently. New generation of stabilizers is very light and it does not feel in the air at all, but together with the glider’s new advanced airfoil it gives a visible advantage on glide in turbulent air.
I haven’t done much tuning to the glider, just spent some time before the competitions trying to eliminate left turn, benefiting from my early arrival to Quest.
Without flying cross country with hang gliders at all since last year, just flying sailplanes all this time, it appeared that I felt not as confident as I used to in decision-making. In fact, I was making too many mistakes in the air. On the first competition day I made a big detour off the course line, heading for the nice-looking cloud street. I thought I would make it much faster on the first leg (at least it might be like that if I would be flying a sailplane) and it was a big surprise for me to see the lead gaggle in the distance far in front of me after the first turn point. I almost caught up with them on the second turn point when I made the same mistake again on the last leg. After this flight I changed my mind and decided to stay with the lead gaggle and do nothing special. This was the right thing to do. This year I had a glider which allowed me to climb better than the others. The glider was very easy to fly and effortless to control, nice coordination without even a sign of adverse yaw – this was a remarkable feature compared to our previous gliders. Light bar pressure all the way up to 80 km/h, after that it was increasing progressively. The most remarkable feature of the glider is its climb abilities. Without any training at all this year I was easily overclimbing gaggles and was able to stay above for most of the time, which made some of the pilots really upset, I assume.
So, the main feature of the Combat C is its incredibly good climb. Actually, I knew that the glider was climbing better than the others, but this one with a new profile was just like a hot air balloon bringing me all the time on top of gaggles. The new airfoil makes a really huge improvement on climb.
Another immense advantage is that the glider absorbs turbulence and it does not feel in the air that turbulent if compared to flying any other glider. This allows feeling the air much better and searching for the lift more efficiently. Because of this I was also able to glide very well, quite often arriving to the next thermal higher than most of the pilots.
Regarding the sprog setting: I had the sprogs exactly within the tolerance range of the certified configuration. The glider feels very nice in the air, entering and leaving thermals is very different to the tailless glider. It does not pitch up when entering a strong lift, I didn’t have to hold the speed bar from going forward. There was the same feeling when leaving a strong lift. The glider does not pitch down at all. The whole flight is very relaxed. When pilots are talking about rough air, it is hardly possible to believe the air was rough at all, so smoothly the glider sits in the air.
I love flying at Quest, this is my favorite place. We had a really nice weather, but it is always like that in Florida this time of year – hang gliding paradise. Next year they want to shift all comps a bit earlier to avoid risk of overdevelopment, so it might be even better. I’m really looking forward to fly there again.