Yes, the 2013 ParAvis is all about high-tech, which even the big names have never dreamed of. I'm not kidding! Let's start with the materials. Renewed gelvenor with the legendary silicone impregnation, which is not afraid of the sun and water and can easily withstand 300-400 hours of rather aggressive use. Previously, this impregnation was only available on fabrics with a density of around 50 grams per square meter - but today's gelvenors have a density of around 45 g/m2. Comparable to Skytex with E85A impregnation and even less, but it's probably a more resourceful solution. The tricky modern gelvenor is only used where it's really needed - namely along the first third of the chord. The rest of the wing is made of lighter fabrics. The leading edge is backed by lines, which are becoming traditional - only in Dream they are thick, rigid and have quite a long length. The internal construction of the wing fits the epithets "complex" and "advanced" quite well. There are additional ribs in the trailing quarter chord, a clever trailing edge riffling system, and a wide ribbon in the trailing chord. But the shape of the Dream's wing is quite traditional, and the family kinship with the Joy is visible at once - the same shape in the plane, the same "ears" shape, and similar twists. Except that the elongation and the number of sections have grown noticeably. As to slinging, ParAvis does not seem to suffer from conservatism. I was very much impressed by the top flatless slings of maximal small diameter, which are more typical for stinging-cutting componenets. The bottom tier of slinging, though, is assembled from quite traditional braided slings, for the resource of which you can not fear. And, finally, the loose ends. We have all the usual features like lightweight softlinks instead of traditional metal hardware, narrow but very strong 15mm ribbon, very thin main loop and very familiar from Rio tandem -newnew brake handles are very thick, soft and comfortable.
Takeoff, work with the wing on the ground
Specifics of Armenia, unfortunately, did not let us to fly with all our heart. But all the starts were the real battles in the strong thermal weather often with a very strong wind. In these difficult conditions Dream showed himself very good. When starting in a strong wind Dream goes over the head surprisingly smoothly and fixes well in the flying position. A slight tendency to overtake is present, but it can be easily fixed with a couple of small brake strokes. The mistakes on roll are easy to forgive, and that is mainly because of the quite relaxed behaviour of this wing at the start. If you make a mistake, you always have time to correct it.
You wanted "big brother" Joey - get this! All in all, expectations, that we had before the test drive, was completely fulfilled. Well, or almost justified. The features and peculiarities, which are inherent in this wing, are quite excusable. The main thing is that ParAvis managed to keep the strong points of the Joy and carefully transfer them to the Performance class.
Flying ability. It's not easy to evaluate it in real mountain flying conditions. It's not the wing that decides everything in the mountains, it's the pilot. But in spite of that Dream managed to show its best side. Passes on balancing mode "ear to ear" with BGD Tala - one of the best modern middle-class performers - showed the parity in planning angle and a small, but quite noticeable advantage of the Dream in horizontal speed. For the sake of objectivity, I will note that the Dream was loaded more heavily than the Tala, but the difference in speeds was too great to be explained only by the inequality of specific loads.
In general, the parallel flights in the turbulence at first had some completely incomprehensible results: Dream and Tala flew next to each other, but then suddenly they were too far apart in altitude, and for some reason it was always Dream who flew higher. I was not able to solve the mystery on the first flight. It looks like the Dream was one of the first EN C class craft with a pronounced ability to gain altitude by taking energy from turbulence. In russian it's called floatability, and usually this interesting effect is shown only on the best-looking sports bolides like Ozone Enzo or Niviuk Icepeak6. But the Dream, surprisingly enough, "knows how to swim" too! Every hit of turbulence throws the Dream a bit higher, and in a couple of minutes of such flights it's easy to get 50-60 meters of extra height. This kind of behavior is still new to performance flying, and it's great that the Dream was one of the pioneers of this style of flying.
The speed increase on the gas pedal is another trump card of the Dream. The tendency to deliberately cut speeds for the sake of EN C certification is starting to get a little annoying. It was even more enjoyable to see the speed increase of 10...12 km/h in the first stage of gas pedal and not less than 15 km/h in the second one. The quality when flying on the first stage practically did not change and began to deteriorate noticeably only at speeds above 50 km/h. The minimum descent rate deserves a cautious mark "good" - in this respect Dream did not impress, but also did not disappoint. Anyway, "soaring" properties of any paraglider depend more on its maneuverability characteristics...
Maneuverability. Worthy of a cautious "good" rating and definitely not one of the Drim's strong points. I quickly understood why ParAvis invented such awesome brake handles - you have to work with your hands quite aggressively and with a lot of effort. The brake play of the Drim is small, about 10 cm at most, and you can see a real noticeable difference in braking response from about 20 cm. You can't expect sharpness and quickness in reaction to brakes from Drim - the plane goes into a turn with quiet laziness, doesn't twitch above head and doesn't demand fast and accurate piloting. Accuracy of control is not too high, the device begins to "go for the hand" only at a fairly large stroke of the brakes. The weight work makes the turn a bit more responsive - but not more than that. However, don't think that the Dream is stupid and clumsy - flying with large (30-40cm) brake strokes, this glider can be pushed into virtually any thermal, it just does not do it as dashingly as on the more maneuverable Performances. The progressive increase in sharpness of the brakes as you lower the arms is accompanied by a progressive - and very pronounced! - increase in stress on the arms. This is the behavior of typical school-post-secondary wings, which forgive the pilot for being rude and inaccurate in piloting. Such glider's performance looks a bit strange, but it has certain advantage - a pilot who starts his EN C experience can safely use Dream without fear to overdo it or lose control over the glider. The whole behavior of Dream reminded me of a kind of condescending Sensei, who is not in a hurry, not surprised and not angry for a long time. Dumb? No, comfortable.
Comfortable and informative. Peculiar. Up to the border of hazardous flight modes, the Dream behaves so calmly that, at first, there is even a question, whether it is a "performance"... During a turbulence, you can safely use the first step of gas pedal - the aerodynamics of the vehicle is not spoiled, and its behavior does not become angry. Naturally, it is necessary to steer at high speed not with brakes, but with rear rows - Drim has comfortable enough for this, though they do not have fancy balls, knobs and other clamps. The internal construction of the Dream provides it with decent form stability - unlike more elongated and sharper in its behavior "performances", the Dream holds its form rigidly and is not inclined to wiggle in its swing or flap its "ears" when dangling. The pitch and roll damping of the Dream is above average, and it is quite difficult to navigate by small movements of the wing above the head. That leaves airspeed changes, which are quite informative, and brake loading, which varies slightly when flying in thermals. In general, the comfort-informative balance in the Dream is clearly shifted in favor of comfort. The situation changes only at the very edge of the fold or in "combat" folds. At maximum speed the lines in the leading edge take the load - as well as when flying on the Joy, there may be the situation when the "forehead" areas between the ribs get crushed inside, but the machine is still flying calmly, without thinking about folding. But if the folding does occur, the Dream suddenly "recalls" its membership in the EN C class and comes out of the mode not so friendly. The combination of the Olympic calmness in normal flight and the typical "performance" nature of the exit from the folding mode may be unexpected for pilots used to simpler techniques, it is better to know about this feature of the Dream in advance.
Dynamics and power capacity. Peculiar. You can't accuse the Dream of insufficient energy storage, but the transition in the Dream is very calm. Everything happens smoothly and unhurriedly, so even powerful wing movements are perceived as quite comfortable. This is especially noticeable on steep turns, as the stretching in and out of the wing does not let you know right away how much energy the wing has accumulated. On landing, the calm character of the subject does not allow to play with pleasure in overacceleration and landing with shaving the grass with the suspension, but you can not be afraid of unexpected takeoffs and subsidence, which can make life very difficult for landings in difficult weather on difficult sites.
Dangerous flight modes
Good. Oblique roll and loss of altitude on exiting this mode is slightly above average, but your Dream behaves smoothly and predictably and unfolds smoothly and gradually without any major jerks. Even a little intervention from the pilot can make it a lot easier to get out of the fold.
Good with a minus. If you perform the mode energetically enough, it may create a configuration of "butterfly" type with folded ears, the exit from which is not very fast and not always symmetrical. The loss of altitude can exceed 20 meters. Even so, this mode is quite smooth and calm, with no sudden pitching movements and no great loss of speed. The character of exit from the mode is also surprisingly calm, almost without any "sloshing" and, more importantly, without the tendency to parachute, which is often found in modern wings.
Fast Descent Modes
Good. Efficiency is normal, the descent is more than -2 m/s, the force on hands is moderate, but it is necessary to work carefully with the slings, feeling the stable mode. When you release the slings, they open on their own with a slight lag, you seldom need the brakes to help.
gas pedal "ears"
Quite a bit more effective than without, but the stability problems are evidently greater, and we must be even more careful when searching for the lost damper mode.
The weak point of modern "performances" (EN C) is their low top speed, which rarely exceeds 50 km/h in machines of eminent foreign brands. And ParAvis seems to have decided to strike at this point, the weakest of competitors, while trying not to lose in other characteristics of the wing. It worked! The top speed of the well-loaded Dream is not less than 55 km/h, and at the time of writing the test drive it is a very, very good result in the EN C class. Ability of the Dream to "float up" in turbulence impresses no less - at the time of the test drive only some "competischens" were able to react to turbulence in such a way. The flip side of the coin is the moderate maneuverability of the plane, but it can be understood and forgiven: after all, the Dream is a very calm and comfortable plane in its class (though with the proviso that we are speaking only about the normal flight modes). I think it would be the best glider to fly as your first EN C class, but also to fly in the strongest and toughest mountain conditions, as long as the thermals are not too narrow. On the plain, the Olympian calm of the Dream may turn out to be lack of information, and the maneuverability of this wing may be insufficient for too narrow and weak streams. All in all, I think the machine is a success, primarily because low speeds and high sharpness of control are in vogue now, which is not to everyone's liking.
- Very durable fabric, great choice of materials
- High top speed, overall high flying characteristics
- Quiet character
- Moderate maneuverability
- Quiet on the folding edge, but typical for the "performances" dynamic behavior in the process of folding and out of it
I thank company ParAvis and Alexey Kruglov for providing a paraglider for the tests, and also Armen Sarkisyan for his help with the test-drive.