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Test of the Air Design Rise 3 M part 1, first impressions

Dernière modification: 20 January 2018
1. Introduction
2. Test conditions
3. The flight

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1. Introduction:

This weekend, I finally achieved to test the new Air Design Rise 3 in size M. The first flight lasted a little bit more than 30 minutes and made me a...strong impression.

The glider was loaned to me by the Air Design and Nova dealer in Alsace (France), Nova'lsace, where the service level is always high (see also his Facebook ).

To be fair concerning this Rise 3 test, it must be stated that I was already in discussion with the Air Design brand before the test of the glider to eventually integrate their team. However, I will try in this test to be as impartial and critical as possible.

I have been curious about this glider for some time now. This is mainly due to the good test of Ziad, who praises in particular the high quality in thermals (at least equivalent to the Chili4), the glider's important gliding ratio and it's maximum speed. I also fly on a regular basis with a friend flying the AD Volt 2 (EN C), and I was always amazed by this glider's performant climb rate, in particular in weak thermals (but the pilot is also skilled). It seems that the Rise 3 has inherited this DNA.

The Rise 3 has other characteristics that made it attractive to me:
- A weight range that fits me well in the M size: 85-105 kg, my takeoff weight beeing between 100 and 105 kg.
- A glider weight which is almost "light" with 4.2 kg in M size.
- A flat aspect ratio of 5.95: this is attractive for me since it allows me to get used to a glider with an aspect ratio of almost 6 without going into the C class. Of course I recognize that this is mostly a psychological effect and that the glider could probably be as demanding as an EN C sport class glider.
- The certification report : the glider (in M size) got Bs for the exit of the spiral dive (it takes from 2 to 3 turns to exit without action of the pilot), for the full stall exit (because the glider shoots from 30° to 60°) and a B because the ears take between 3 and 5s to come out loaded at 104 kg (but is this really negative ?). Concerning the frontal collapses, the glider got Bs at 104 kg takeoff weight for the collapses superior to 50% at trim speed, and for the accelerated collapses superior to 50% because the glider dives between 30° and 60° (without changing direction). Concerning the asymmetrical collapses, the glider got Bs for the accelerated asymmetrical collapses superior to 75%, because it turns between 90° and 180° and dives between 15° and 180°. I will talk again about collapses later in this test. The only (and important) negative point in my view is the B for the minimal speed, because the minimal speed is between 25 and 30 km/h. This must be kept in mind when flying with low speeds, in particular in turbulent air.

To conclude this introduction, my pilot experience must be relativised: I started paragliding in 2014 and had about 270 flight hours when writing this test. In the last two years, I flew mainly cross country and local thermal flights when the conditions were not fitted for XC.
My previous gliders where the Skywalk Téquila 4 M and the Advance Alpha 5.

2. Test conditions

- Takeoff weight: 106/105 kg ! I thought that my takeoff weight would be between 100 and 103 kg, but I realized (after this first flight) that the winter equipment and the kgs taken the last two month put me slightly higher than the weight range !
- Harness: Nova SOMNIUM (pod harness with leg loops, similar to the Kortel Kuik 2) with "factory" chest strap setting (neutral).
- Flying site: Markstein/Treh (1250 m) in the Vosges mountains, south take-off.
- Weather conditions: cirrus clouds announce the arrival of a a weather disturbance, S/SE moderate wind, this conditions are not optimal for this SW flying site. The thermal conditions are stable and it is autumn.
- Fatigue: we were on our way home from an exhausting club weekend in the French Alps when we stopped to flight at Treh, and I am quite tired.

3. The flight:

While unpacking the glider, I remark that the A and A' risers are linked quite high on the rises: if one wants to inflate the wing only using the central As, the risers must be taken above this A-A' link.
The risers are clean and the brakes feel comfortable:

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Here is a photo where the link between A and A' can be seen:

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Some groundhandling shows that the Rise 3 rises easily, which was expected due to the glider's light construction. Only a few steps are needed to be in the air.

In the air, it is quite crowded and the "usual" thermal is saturated with gliders, so I fly further.

Full of (Over ?-)confidence in my ability to climb and distracted by the observation of this nice new glider over my head, I let myself being dragged into the lee side of the S/SE wind, with low altitude. Shit.

There, the air is boiling and I encounter violent thermal bubbles. Being low and next to the ridge doesn't help. Compared to the Tequila and her great handling, I have really difficulties to stay in these small bubbles. I have the impression of flying faster (despite the T4 having the reputation to be quite fast) and of having a larger turn radius (both are of course linked). I try to fly letting the exterior brake as high as possible to have the maximum handling, but I must counter several collapse starts as I am not able to stay in the thermal bubbles in this very turbulent zone. Finally, I react once a little bit to let and get an asymmetrical 50% collapse. The positive thing is that the glider didn't turn at all despite my lack of immediate reaction.

After a while, it is still as hard for me to stay in the in the bubbles and I barely maintain my altitude, still in the lee. I scare myself when trying to turn to close to the ridge, and I feel tired. After 30 minutes of survival in the lee side, I decide to play it safe and fly towards the landing place.
The landing is easy with a nice flair and a good beer at the bar.

So, based on this first flight, my first impression is not so great. These were good conditions to learn to know a glider. What bothers the most is the impression that the glider has a lower handling than the Téquila 4. On the positive side, there is this impression of being "sucked" by the thermals without having a too aggressive leading edge that dives forward like the Téquila, and I like this behaviour of the Rise 3.
Also, friend who tested the Rise 3 found the brakes "heavy" (coming from Niviuk Ikuma and Artik 4). I did not have this impression at all, if the brakes would be softer they would be too soft for my taste.

After coming home, this handling and turn radius problems still bother me: this doesn't match the feedback I got from my friends on this glider, who found that the glider had a very good handling... So at home I weight my takeoff weight and surprise ! I thought that my takeoff weight was at 10/102 kg, but I am at 106 kg, over the maximum weight of the Rise 3 weight range (105 kg) ! Now I start to understand...Well, I shall test the glider a second time ! You can read the second part of this test on the next page: