2016 AirDesign UFO 16
03-17-2016 | Ratings: 1 is bad, 10 is good |
| About the Testing
Air Design is a long time maker of
paragliders, mostly for free flying (like most). The UFO is their first
foray into hike-and-fly single surface gliders and they have done a nice
job but I got to try it out on a motor thanks to Marco Bowles. It's a
well-behaved glider that just about fits in your pocket. It doesn't have
great glide performance, as you would expect, but it's almost
surprisingly fun to fly. Just be ready for landing which is a bit
different. More on that in handling.
My flight was during mildly thermic
conditions in late morning. I flew it on Miniplane Top 80 in 80 degree
air near sea level with enough wind for a reverse which, for a single
surface glider, doesn't take much!
Handling: Responsiveness was really
well balanced. It was nimble and brake pressures were about what you'd
expect. I really liked the handling. You'll want to land with power for
most landings and practice power-off landings in calm air since, if you
get into sink just before touchdown, you'll like having some thrust. I
did some power off landings just to try finessing the touchdown, and
using the swing helped, but I never got to do the little slide means you
got to level out completely at touchdown.
Inflation: It just doesn't get easier
than this. Double surface gliders made of lightweight fabric come close
but not quite. It's really easy to kite. REALLY easy! In strong winds,
though, it'll probably be a handful because of the drag.
Risers: Itsy bitsy teensy weeny little
risers connect thin lines to the bantam weight wing. I wish I had the glider here in my little
Efficiency: It glides pretty good,
maybe 80% as good as other beginner wings. The difference is that, when
you flare, the wing keeps sinking probably 50% more than the normal amount. So
landings will be a bit firm. I even tried slowing the wing down to take
advantage of the pendular swing but it had minimal effect. It worked but
It also didn't require that much power as
evident by not taxing my Miniplane.
Speed: I didn't do a speed test but
expect it to be on the slower end of similar sized beginner gliders.
Wings and the Effect of Weight on Speed & Power Required.
Construction: It seemed well built,
almost surprisingly so given the attention to shedding weight.
Certification & Safety: Placard,
Overall: This is got to be tops among
the hike-and-fly soaring crowd. Welcome side effects are SUPER easy
inflation and the consumption of very little space. If you don't mind
babying the more fragile material, it's a fun little ride.
It took barely any airflow at all to keep it
effortlessly overhead. It's like a jellyfish in water but with good