Paraglider Review: 2010 Apco Force, Small (25.5 Flat)
Reviews, Flown July, 2010, Added 2010-Oct-04 | Ratings: 1 is bad,
10 is good |
| About the Testing
The Force is Apco's entry into the high-end
Reflex category and they've done a good job. I'll admit to having found
previous Apco wings a bit more difficult to inflate and not terribly
sporty handling, so I didn't have high expectations. The Force changed
all that -- I was pleasantly surprised.
My clip in weight was about 200 pounds (my
145 self and 55 pound fueled Miniplane). A light wind and mid-morning
thermals made for somewhat bumpy conditions in Delphi, Indiana:
elevation 800 feet and temp 75�F.
The wing does feel like it may have some
coating on at least the top surface but it still inflated quite well.
Small size helps, as with any wing, but I tried inflating it with just
the risers (no A's) and it came up fine.
The Force incorporates typical high-end
reflex risers including tip steering toggles. The magnetic clips are
well implemented in a way that won't allow clogging with iron-laced
sand. Nice touch. Trimmers have sewn-in markings to identify trim
settings while preventing the fabric from slipping. Tip toggles like to
tangle in things if they come unclipped, even more than brakes.
About Reflex Gliders
Handling (5 with just brakes, 8 with
brakes and tip toggles): Brake pressures were fairly high but the tip
steering toggles, which could easily be held concurrently with brakes,
made it a different, and much better, experience. Tip steering was very
effective, nearly as good as the Dudek Plasma, in both full accelerated
(trims out, full speedbar) and slow. Like several of these type wings I've
flown, the tip steering actually cups the outboard trailing edge.
With the brakes alone it's not as divey as
some others making it want to turn flatter. But with both toggles and
brakes it dives nice--a feature greatly appreciated by anyone who enjoys
steepish maneuvering. And the tip toggles are easy to reach, even while
holding the brake.
Inflation (7): Easy to inflate which
is especially good considering it's a reflex. Being small helps since it
doesn't pull back as hard. This is an improvement over some previous Apco
models I've tried so its nice to see. It was easy to inflate the wing with
moderate pull on just the risers with no A's.
Efficiency (-): It's hard to tell
without hard data points but I had enormous energy on landing, being able
to come in hands-up, withOUT swooping, and climb back up several feet
after skimming the ground. It seems reasonably efficient.
Speed (-): No hard data points but it
sure felt fast when I pushed out full bar and with a large range. It
didn't seem as great a range as the Plasma or Nucleon (on which I've spent
some time) but it ought to be darn close.
One interesting thing (check your manual in
case this changes) is that, according to South Africa distributor Keith
Pickersgill, there is no limit on using speedbar even with the trimmers
slow. Most reflex wings I've encountered *DO* recommend against this
behavior so be careful. And the manual does not prohibit using brakes
while trimmed fast but recommends to only do so from a safe altitude.
I'd want a reserve.
Construction (8): Seems well built but
not overdone or excessively heavy.
Certification & Safety (5): I didn't
put anything about his in my notes so you'll have to check the
Overall (8): I was impressed mostly
with the improvements and what turns out to be a great combination of
characteristics. They've improved the inflation and handling
characteristics dramatically from previous Apco's that I've flown. For an
overall wing that goes fast, this is probably a pretty good bet. Although
a few schools are using it for new pilots, I think it's more appropriate
for a solid PPG2 or higher, mainly so as to not complicate matters with
the additional toggles and limitations. But for those pilots, it's a good
choice -- up there with other top reflex models.