In some ways the new Cayenne was quite in line with my expectations, in other ways it surprised me, and strongly at once. Surprise number one (evident already when preparing the wing for takeoff) were the lower tier lines. On the front row they are all (except A') braided! They are quite thin though. The top tiers are, of course, braidless. Surprise number two is the incredible abundance of lines in the construction. Every section without exception is equipped with fishing lines, and along the chord the lines extend from the forehead up to 70-80 percent of the chord. Of course, with such a monstrous length the lines can't be solid, otherwise it's not clear how to pack all this stuff in a backpack without damaging the lines. Skywalker had to divide the lines into sections. The first section (if you count from the front edge) is relatively short (Artik 4 is longer), but the second - as in the most sprawling sport twin lines, about a meter. And multisectional lines are observed both on the upper and lower surface of the wing. It seems to be a precedent for paragliders of the three-row scheme - I've never met anything like that not for two-row gliders.
Let's lift the glider above our heads and look at it from a new perspective. Elongation is on the verge of being appropriate for a fair "performance", well over 6. The unframed spans reach four sections, which is a lot for a three-row machine. There is some hint of shark-knows, which in our case is rather a tribute to fashion, because the shape of the front edge near the intakes differs too little from the classic one. There are quite a lot of sections, and there are also additional half-nervous ribs along the trailing edge. There is a 3D-cut, and the leading edge is "licked" well, at least under load. The shape of "ears" is surprising - it is very peculiar, and mainly because of its "ears" Cayenne 5 is not similar to any "performance" known to me. It's hard to say what associations this shape evokes. Aggression? Well, maybe just a little. Sportiness? Yes, definitely. Aesthetics? It's good Handsome, indeed.
The loose ends are a modern skywalk classic. Narrow 12mm ribbon. Everything is done simply, but with intelligence and love for its craft. Gas pedal travel is sane, not too big and not too small. Quality bearing blocks and soft slippery dyneema in the gas pedal wiring hint thickly at the "racing" potential of the subject. Everything is serious!
Launch, wing work on the ground
Ambiguous. There are pros and cons. I will start with the cons. The glider is so easily launched, that there is a pronounced tendency to overtake and outrun the pilot. In wind over 5-6 m/sec. you have to stop the Cayenne with brakes very vigorously, otherwise you won't be able to start. When the wind is less demanding the ease of taking off is a plus. Already on the ground Cayenne V starts to show its character brightly: on the one hand, such obedience, such a quick and clear reactions to the actions of the pilot in the "performance" class, I've not seen for a long time (and maybe never). On the other hand, this sensitivity of the wing leaves almost no margin for error to the pilot. A few minutes of careful wingplay, and we begin to understand each other. The Cayenne jumps up above our heads, lays with its ear on the ground, gets back to the flying position... It's time for the sky!
I don't remember such transformations in my perception of the wing during all my test drives. In the couple of hours I had to get familiar with Cayenne V, my flight emotions ranged from "why is it so complicated?" to "wow, what a great wing! The final aftertaste includes both extremes in a complex proportion, which we will now break down...
Volatility. On the whole, it is at the level of the best machines with formal EN C certification. First of all it concerns the aerodynamic quality, also on the gas pedal. Unfortunately, I was not able to test-drive it together with some good modern "performancers" but the image quickly became clear even without such flights. It flies! And how it flies! It confidently blows through the dense headwind without losing quality on the first stage of gas pedal and keeping a perfect glide even with full convergence of blocks. Turned out to be next to the old Vega a couple of kilometers of transition against the wind "fell" under the Cayenne at 100 meters. In this case, of course, Cayenne flew even much faster. About the top speed so far cautiously silent - the air on the test day was strange, the spread of measurements was just huge. At a glance - normal speed, not a record, but by no means low. I will measure it accurately when I get a chance. The rate of descent when loading under the top of the fork was a pleasant surprise. Both in straight flight and in a turn, in which the Cayenne is absolutely not inclined to "crumble", even if one twists very compactly. Perhaps, the Cayenne Fifth confidently claims for laurels of the best "survivor" in its class. In your internet you can find a video, where the owner of the Cayenne Fifth flies for several minutes above the plain at a height of 20-30 meters - yes, this unit quite allows this (of course, if there is enough quality gasket between the wing and the suspension). In general, impressive!
Maneuverability. I'm not afraid of these words - Cayenne Fifth sets a new standard of maneuverability for mid-upper EN C class vehicles. Before the Cayenne, the BGD Tala and MacPara Elan were at the top of my personal EN C-class maneuverability rating - but after the Cayenne, my idea of how "en-chains" can spin will never be the same again. The Cayenne Fifth's pivots are playless, rigidly loaded from the first centimeters of travel. The reaction to them is the same - instant, rigid, somewhere even nervous, as a thoroughbred horse. Instant, explosive entering a turn. Winging of 70-80 degrees with one lazy move of hand and body. I feel uncomfortable in terms of other "performances" - Cayenne is much more compact, I want to overtake those who work nearby and get into a tighter, tighter spiral. And if you give free rein to your wish - then everything happens so easily and quickly, that you don't even have time to prevent others' wings from going sideways and downwards. The combination of sensations is almost like being on a decent computer. Is it good or bad for a machine with the EN C label? I don't know what to say. Great - if the pilot is adequate to such a machine. Not so good and even dangerous if the pilot is not yet ready for such maneuverability.
Comfort and informativeness. It smells like two rows! Surprisingly, the behavior of the Cayenne Five in a bumpy - it's almost the behavior of two-row vehicles. Probably it is "blamed" for the lines, with which the Cayenne is stuffed with an incredible cleverness. There is a lot of information. Very much. And it's quite unusual informativeness. Despite considerable elongation, Cayenne Fifth is not inclined to flap "ears" or wriggle, which is nice. But any thermal bubble responds resilient, but a powerful blow on the suspension and brakes. When flying in complex, poorly organized thermals there is an interesting feeling of "jumping up the steps of an invisible ladder", characteristic of two-row. The Cayenne "breaks through" the turbulence with short but vigorous motions, hardly moving in pitch and changing the roll set by the pilot weakly. But, again, there is a lot of information coming to the airspring and to the brakes. And it is useful information, not chaotic jerks and kicks as it sometimes happens with other machines. The pilot's comfort with this style of flight is difficult to estimate. Powerful hits on the suspension are somewhat surprising at first, but you quickly realize that they are not dangerous. And then comes the joy of the clarity and straightforwardness with which the Cayenne shows its pilot the behavior of the surrounding air. A rattling mixture that every pilot is sure to perceive differently. Very impressed by the flight at top speed. Cayenne goes very smoothly, steadily, with the shape of the leading edge almost flawless, and the reserve of the angle of attack before folding is quite large. Extremely comfortable mode! Perhaps even more comfortable than flying at lower speeds. You just need not to relax and keep in mind that the risks increase with speed.
Dynamics and power capacity. Somewhere at the very limit of what is appropriate and acceptable for the average "performance" level, and somewhere beyond this limit. The Cayenne enters a abrupt spiral with half a turn, thus speed increases so quickly, that already in a turn or two one wishes to slow down the device a little. Forced exit tosses Cayenne in a powerful "hill", which, however, almost does not threaten folding - resistance to them in Cayenne is very great (again we remember about the mega-fibers along almost the entire chord). Vingovers made timidly and carefully - not accustomed to such an apparatus, you risk overdoing it and get the wing in some intricate spatial position, from which then you do not know how to get out. You reach a roll of 70-80 degrees on the first roll and it is probably not the limit. Speed gains are appropriate. The pre-descent swoop is very powerful as expected, even with a noticeable headwind it is possible to glide close to the ground for some time, smoothly losing the accumulated speed.
Dangerous flight modes
I should probably give it an "excellent". To be honest, though, I didn't really understand what it was. And I'm not sure if my methodology for learning about folding is appropriate for the Cayenne. When I pull the A-row, I get a kind of inarticulate dint of the leading edge by 10%-15% along the chord, which opens instantly, with a pop, and the machine has almost no time to "feel" that it's been folded. Flips, course deviations and loss of altitude - well, not zero, but close to it. We get mad, we get mad, we grab the A-strings much higher than the connectors, we yank from the bottom of our hearts. Same result. Clap, clap, keep flying. As if the folding had never happened. However, serial photographing from the ground (3 frames per second) shows a slightly different picture. Namely, folding, which develops by 70 percent on the span and 50-60 percent on the chord. That is, everything is fair. It's just that the fold unfolds so quickly that it is almost impossible to visually assess the scope and depth of the fold. And this is the rule, not the happy exception. There were dozens of folds in one test day, and the behavior of the machine was invariably the same.
We read above about asymmetric folding and continue to marvel together. Opening is instant, but it is not easy to visually see the depth of folding along the chord, because the machine unfolds almost immediately. There is practically no pronounced roll and speed increase, because the apparatus does not have time to change flight mode noticeably in the process of folding and opening. But the "ears" are in no hurry to open, and in general there is quite a pronounced tendency to parachuting. Therefore, the rating is only "good".
The thermal spiral take-off
Excellent. Skywalk really messed up (in a good way) with the behavior of the Cayenne's trailing edge. As the hand goes down, the "ear" comes the fastest to the disruption. And the "ear" is also the first to come off, if you go over the limit beyond which the stall begins. Then all characteristic effects begin - drop of load on the hand, back bending of the wing, acceleration of rotation, increase of slip - and all of them are expressed very, very well. Of course, there is almost zero chance of inadvertently causing such a manoeuvrable wing to stall, but the Cayenne backs up the pilot even in case of such a gross mistake. Once a stall starts, the pilot has about a second to correct the mistake. The exit from the mode is instantaneous, with a small amplitude but very powerful roll. The aircraft remains in a thermal spiral.
Fast Release Modes
A B minus, if not a C. Unstable! And unstable "ears" on a machine with an extension over 6 is fun. So much fun, in fact, that it feels a lot like a backslide. Honestly, I tried to feel the arm stroke, which stops the unit twitching and wobbling - and I didn't. Although I admit that with a different specific load, in different weather, with a different suspension and a different pilot, the mode may suddenly be more or less stable.
Everything is the same as without the gas pedal, only the shakes and jolts get even worse.
Oh yes! Skywalk has once again done something that breaks old market standards and sets new ones. Above all, it's about maneuverability. Let me repeat: at the time of its introduction to the market, the Cayenne Fifth simply has no competitors among the mid- and even upper EN C machines. Perhaps the closest to the Cayenne in terms of maneuverability is the legendary UP Trango XC2 - but it is hardly correct to compare this almost-competitive with the Cayenne, which is probably still generally less demanding to the pilot. In terms of flying ability Cayenne didn't disappoint at all (although questions about maximum speed after one day of test flights still remained). The outstanding maneuverability and very low sink rate inherent in the Cayenne make it a super weapon for "survival" in weak, narrow, difficult streams. But the Cayenne, too, will prove to be a super-weapon under tough mountain conditions, where the maneuverability of the vehicle sometimes determines whether or not you can enter the stream. Is it all raptures? Not really. The medal has a downside. The Cayenne also sets a new standard of demandingness for the pilot. Piloting by centimeters movements of hands and a body, almost full absence of the right to a mistake on difficult maneuvers. Now - it concerns the fifth Cayenne as well. No, there are no claims to passive safety of this wing. Simply this machine reacts to any actions of the pilot very quickly, very vigorously and very literally. If you are ready to have a relationship with your wing, it is a long and happy one. But if he is not ready, it is better not to take it. The boundary of "ready - not ready" for the Cayenne Fifth runs somewhere around a stable annual flight time of 70-80 hours for 2-3 seasons. And this should be a fair, varied flight time in conditions from very weak to very strong. To take the fifth Cayenne for realization of young ambitions, peculiar to almost any pilot in the first or second season of flying, I categorically do not recommend. The right Cayenne Five owner is an experienced pilot who understands well why he needs so much maneuverability.
- Great maneuverability
- High flight performance
- Good passive safety for such a flying performance
- Unstable "ears"
- Character as wings one and a half to two classes above the middle EN C
Thanks to Sergey Shelenkov, my Skywalk dealer in Russia, for the loan of the glider for the tests.
Photo: I. Tarasova.