Salt Lake Trial

2009-07-03 Visiting Salt Lake City and Flying the Ozone Viper 24 Powered Paraglider Wing

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 utterly useless.

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 models.

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 m 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.

1. Steve Mayer gives the Ozone Viper 2 a go.

2. Just hangin' around on the South side. It was a fairly busy day for being so windy. Thanks to Wade for snapping pictures with my cell phone.

2. Here is a shot of the Viper's risers. You can see the tip steering toggle which is held in place magnetically.

2015 Jeff Goin   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!