Sunday 15 October 2017

Flying the Nova Mentor 5 in Canberra

A few months ago I starting flying a new Nova Mentor 5. It is so lovely that I decided to write a few words about it. Read on to hear about it's precision, stability, and performance.

This blog post is only loosely related to the BlueFly. One of the common queries I get from BlueFly users around the world is what wing I fly, and sometimes what the flying is like around Canberra. I will answer both of those questions in this post. 

What kind of pilot am I? In between a full time job, making and shipping well over 100 BlueFly's each month, and doing family stuff, I get time to fly. I have been flying paragliders since 1995 and am probably best characterized as a classic weekend pilot. Most of the time I stay pretty close to launch; dancing with light thermals below airspace, or making optimum use of a little ridge lift. I also fly tandem with family and friends (not commercially). 

What is Canberra flying like? Our sites around Canberra are not suited to big XC. The flying here is very technical if we want to make use of limited lift to do some little XC. We have a great club, and you can read more about flying Canberra at

Launching at Collector near Canberra - I actually ended up catching a few thermals after a sinking launch. 

Why an EN B wing? With over 20 years flying paragliders I have flown all kinds of wings. If you have been reading this blog since the beginning you may recall that I had a bad accident when flying an EN C wing. In fact, it was recovering from that accident which gave me the time to mature the BlueFly from a few prototypes to begin shipping them around the world. After that accident, I got a Nova Mentor 3 (M) and have enjoyed every flight on it.

I don't get enough spare time to travel to many far away places, or any time to fly during the week. Around Canberra we are often low to the ground and the air can be quite rowdy. A comfortable EN B wing strikes the balance between performance and stability for someone like me who might go a month without flying, and then not get many consecutive days. 

Why the Nova Mentor 5? I loved my Mentor 3 (M), but after loosing a few kg I was near the bottom of the weight range and decided to get a smaller wing. The Mentor 5 (S) had just been released so I made a quick decision to get one. I have always appreciated Nova's premium quality and support (Nova are not contributing to this by the way; I am just a happy customer). 

Shaun (in front), and me (at the back) kiting in a very light breeze
I have now flown the wing in a lot of winter thermals, and as Spring has begun in Canberra, in a few sharper thermals that throw me around. I have nothing bad to say about the Mentor 5, and love the precision, stability, and performance. 

Precision: This surprised me. Part of the reason the Mentor 5 (S) does exactly what I ask of it is because my wing loading is greater (top third of the weight range), but it is much more than that. I can hold a tighter turn and keep the wing just where I want it. When encountering turbulence I do not get thrown out of lift. I feel like the precision is at least as good as my EN C wing of four years ago.

Stability: The wing seems to stay solidly above my head, with only minor inputs required to keep it there. Even in some rough air I have only had a few little tip tucks, and they have popped out very quickly. The wing easily enters and exits big ears, and the longish brake travel seems like an inadvertent stall is very unlikely. I have not done SIV on this wing yet, but already I have more confidence than my Mentor 3. I am using speed bar much more!

Performance. Near the top of the weight range the sink rate is less than many other wings (when comparing using my 'am I at the top' test with a bunch of other pilots on a ridge). The wing is fast; at trim other pilots comment on the sound of the lines whistling though the air. On speed bar I have found I can already reach a few spots much more easily that my older wings. 

In summary, for a weekend pilot like me, the Nova Mentor 5 is a great choice. 

Well done Nova - another very pleasant wing.