2014 Nirvana Instinct 230
Flown Nov 8, 2014, Reviewed Nov 13, 2014
Nirvana strives for refined, good looking performers in the premium
price arena. I've flown this machine before (at the Endless Footdrag)
but didn't do a write-up. It's time.
This flight, in November, 2014 at Wings Over Winter near Orlando, was on
Eric Farewell's regular ride. I'm guessing it had 20 hours on it.
Weather was a typical Florida winter day with light breezes of 78° F
Weight: With a half full tank and reserve parachute, this was a
heavy machine, probably 90 pounds. Nirvana lists a 60 pound weight
without harness so it's probably almost 70 pounds with harness.
The Simonini 230 is a powerhouse that extracts it's piece of gravity.
Thankfully, the frame is remarkably well balanced so even my scrawny 142
pounds was able to easily get up myself.
Harness & Suspension: The harness was extremely comfortable,
among the most comfortable I've experienced both in flight and on the
ground. It has an anti-torque strap that you wouldn't want to forget
since it looks like it could reach the prop. If it can happen...
The seatboard stayed flat while walking around and came back to flat
even after leaning over. Many machines, including my Miniplane, struggle
with this and, if you don't get that seatboard flat before launching,
it's far more difficult. I've tried other harnesses on the Miniplane and
it doesn't always happen so it depends on your size.
Regarding attachment, the Nirvana is commonly called a mid hook-in
because of where you clip in while on the ground. But in flight it takes
on typical high hook-in geometry. I sometimes read that low hook-ins are
better for high performance flying and find this to be utter nonsense.
Not only from my own experience but also from competition results. A
good pilot will make any machine sing.
Starting: Electric start
does rock if you don't mind it's extra weight. I wanted to kite the wing
before starting the engine to get a feel for what to expect since I'd
hate to fall and hadn't flown a heavier machine for a while. But after
getting the wing up, turning around and walking, I just pushed the
button, it started and I took off. Brilliant.
Its kill switch is cool but you must be careful. Pressing the button
starts the motor, pressing it again stops it and you don't have to hold
the button. Since it's right there at your thumb it's easy to push
accidentally. My practice on landing is to press and hold the kill
switch to make sure it stops. I did that after landing but released it
momentarily then pushed it again by accident. Of course she started
immediately. No problem but something to be aware--make sure you turn
off the master switch (removing power from the starter) immediately
after landing. You can reach it easily while standing with the motor on.
Ground Handling & Kiting: It's so well balanced, maybe by putting
some load on your waist, that I was able to walk around comfortably after
Launch: The reverse inflation was typical, even easy in
spite of the motor's heft. I'm guessing a power forward would be no
problem up to a 25 sq meter wing or so, maybe much more. Getting into the seat
was easier than many, not even requiring more than a little wiggle.
Climbout & Torque: Climbout was outstanding as you would
expect. Antitorque vanes eliminated probably 60 to 70% of torque effects
allowing a turn against torque using only weight shift. The anti-torque
strap probably helped on launch but my experience is that such straps
actually help only
a little bit.
I first flew these antitorque vanes on the Scout and found they do
work, they're more than a
gimmick. There is some cost in thrust but, judging from the climb rate,
it's not much. Still, I suspect it would benefit from more riser offset
since that entails no loss of thrust.
Flight: This is among the most comfortable, smooth, machines I've
flown. Throttle response was smooth, immediate and predictable through
the range. Idle was a bit high.
Weight Shift: With the anti-torque strap connected you get
very little weight shift so I undid that and wrapped it around
something. Then the units moving bars and other flexibility gave me 3 to
4 inches of travel. It was easy to do weight shift turns but then that
wouldn't take much on my little wing. But it was better than you'd
expect from a high hookin machine.
Thrust: Must have been in the 180 lb range. It would be plenty for
On a reasonably efficient EN 1-2 wing at 10 lbs per sq meter loading I'd
guess you'd easily get 2 hours but that's a SWAG (semi wild ass guess).
Vibration: Harness padding and work on smoothing out the motor
makes this an extremely smooth runner, among the best I've flown. I
remember one of the Pollinis being this smooth and maybe one other.
Sound: About what you'd expect for the power.
Safety: It would benefit from a second hoop just inside the
prop's radius. Like most machines, the cage will not protect a hand in
an accidental thrust-up. The good news is that, with electric start, you
can easily start it on your back. Still, reality suggests that pilots will
wind up starting while standing in front it. It would be nice to have
I already mentioned the kill switch being the same as the start
switch. That's handy but you must get into that habit pattern of turning
off the master right after landing.
It's very well built and good looking but the cowled motor increases
complexity somewhat. Primarily, it will
take longer to get to some components if repairs are needed. A possible
benefit is that cooling may be improved from the cowl parts by directing
airflow into the right places.
I never looked at the temperatures because I
taxed it so lightly.
Transport: This machine is made to travel. It doesn't break down
as far as stick-based models but it sure is faster. It's frame is the
smallest piece but it can pack into a very stout case that even most
baggage handlers won't kill.
Cost: It's at the high end of their already high end, probably
over $10k. A lot goes behind this company -- I've seen their factory and
it's quite an extensive operation.
Overall & More Info:
Smooth, powerful, comfortable, sexy and expensive.