Salt Lake Trial
Visiting Salt Lake City and Flying the Ozone Viper 24 Powered
The last time I tried this it was raining off and on. There I sat,
wet and wingless atop the "South Side" with its usual perfect wind being
But that was last week.
This week the stars lined up perfectly and I got to meet up with
Steve Mayer, Mike Steen, Bill Heaner and some other locals. Steve had
arranged for me to borrow a friend's Viper 24 motoring wing to try. I've
been wanting to try this ever since seeing Vipers pilots perform in Turin. It
was the right tool for that job and, although my Axis Pluto did yeoman
duty, I need to go faster. This wing is a semi-reflex glider with good blood
lines and I wanted to give it a try. A limited review of it will appear
in the wing section.
When I got there it was blowing strong enough to keep all but the
hang gliders, speed gliders and one heavily loaded paraglider down.
I was trying out a heavily loaded paraglider designed
for speed so it was no problem. After kibitzing a bit at the bottom, I
kited up the hill. It's an easy hill to do that on but it has two
downers. 1) ridgetop is a lot farther than it looks and 2) rebar weed. Do not,
and I mean do NOT get a line into that stuff. The term "vegetation"
doesn't do this tuff stuff justice. I worked mightily hard at ensuring that
it didn't get caught.
Once on top it was absolutely magic. For those who haven't
experienced Salt Lake's south side, nearly every morning a perfect wing
blows up a perfect slope just as pilots arrive. When it gets too
strong the paraglider pilots go halfway down the hill for training
flights where compression and friction slows things down. It's truly an
amazing place to train. It's even more amazing to fly.
I'm interested in a very specific set of capabilities. Namely
handling, high speed, a big range on the speed bar and the ability to
use speedbar while trimmed fast and using brakes. That's required in
competition and I'm learning that all the reflex wings essentially don't
want you using brakes while fully reflexed (trimmed fast). It
defeats the reflex's collapse resistance. But they do allow brake use
with half trims.
I loved it. The handling is amazing and it keeps energy extremely
well. It should, the top lines are razor thin and may even be
unsheathed. Plus the aspect ratio is up there with high-end soaring
Liking a wing this much is a mixed blessing since it increases my odds
of buying one. I've got three others that I'm interested in, the Dudek
Plasma, Nucleon and Paramania Fusion. I've flown and liked all but
suspect the Plasma and Fusion would be more my interest over the
Nucleon. We'll see. I hope to have the Plasma and Nucleon for a full
week of flying over the next month.
I did lots of moderate wingovers using the speedbar as it swung
level. That lets me keep the energy in speed while going straight
instead of having it climb back up. These maneuvers simulate coming out
of cloverleaf turns with speedbar. The Viper handled it quite well. At
24 m² it was a bit larger than ideal for my scrawny 150 pounds. I'd want
a 20 (flat) but this gave me a good idea of what to expect.
Thanks to Steve Mayer and the wing's owner, Wade Hutchins, who let me fly it.