Yes, Sky Country is changing, boldly and clearly declaring its ambitions. The new backpack is lightweight, very comfortable, unlike the previous ones, carrying a renewed company logo. Inside - a concertina with a wing (qualitative, much better than the same Niviuk) and traditional pleasant little things like a T-shirt and a branded fabric envelope with documentation. We open the zipper and take out our test subject into the bright light of the southern sun.
An unexpected but well-chosen color combination. The new paint scheme is unexpectedly brutal, but no less unexpectedly suited to a wing with a modest extension of 5.2, but quite aggressive in shape. And this is the Discovery, which has always been calm and malleable both in character and purely outwardly?!? The proprietary 3D cutting technology that smooths out the front of the fender surface. The leading edge wires (though not long and quite soft) are not a surprise anymore, but for Sky Country this step was long awaited. Unstitched slings in the upper tiers of the sling. The loose ends are simple but solid, with comfortable padded paddle handles on equally comfortable rectangular magnets. Knowing the history of the Sky Country, you'd never guess it was the same company. I wonder how it will be in the air...
Launch, wing work on the ground
The first fears about the rather brutal appearance of the subject did not come true. The Discovery 5 takes off almost perfectly - smoothly, softly, but with a clear fixation in the flight position. The launch technique does not matter much - the machine will go above the pilot's head in any case, requiring from him a minimum of knowledge and skills. Ground handling with games like touching the ear to the ground is very easy and pleasant, and already on the ground the docile and calm disposition of the bird starts to appear, which is pleasantly inconsistent with its aggressive appearance. Its movements are smooth and unhurried, its reactions to brake and brake weights are not abrupt, but at the same time it is easy to control it. Great!
The brutal design and lines in the leading edge hint thickly at the possible uneasy and even aggressive nature of the updated Discovery. But - thankfully! - it's nothing more than a clever marketing trick. The character of Discovery 5 happily avoided serious updatings, preserving the kindness, reliability and malleability, for which Discovery has been loved by pilots since the introduction of these vehicles. And that's probably the most important thing to say about this wing.
Flyability. Good. No, no, it is good! We are by no means the weapon of the coming victories - the sporting ambitions of the Discovery 5 are reduced mainly to its appearance. But there is nothing to blame Discovery for - in its philosophy it is practically a school wing, whose main task is not to dominate on the routes and competitions, but to comfortably and safely introduce novice pilots to regular flights in all their diversity. And the Discovery 5 copes with this task perfectly. Lagging behind on speed and quality from the best "advanced intermediates" like ParAAvis Joy 2 or Skywalk Chili 3 at moderate speeds (verified in thermodynamics of Chegem), our skater, nevertheless, is able tois able to go quite confidently against rather strong wind in moderate thermals, i.e. it has quite high aerodynamic quality at speeds close to maximum (tested in thermals of Yuca). Balancing speed - moderate, something like 36 km / h with a moderate load. Gain in speed - about 7-8 kilometers per hour on the first stage of the gas pedal (by the way, quite heavy) and up to 13-14 km / h at full convergence blocks. Figures, quite decent for an "after-school intermediate". Somewhat more interesting is the case with the shape of the polar, i.e. with the aerodynamic quality. I repeat - it seems that at high speeds quality in Discovery drops less than can be expected, and this even applies to the mode of maximum speed. If at balancing speed the same Chili 3 has an unqualified glide advantage over Discovery 5, then at 2/3 of the gas pedal stroke it becomes difficult to determine which of these machines flies better. We can't see the same enthusiasm with the sink rate: equally loaded Chili 3 confidently overtakes Discovery 5 in the thermals. Neither good maneuverability of our test, nor its ability to "hold the flow" saves us. However, for a "simple intermediate", Discovery 5 soars quite well and is quite able to compete in the thermals with wings of the same class. The rate of descent as the spiral tapers off is quite typical for post-school gliders, or even better than mid-sized gliders.
Maneuverability. Perhaps one of the most pleasant impressions of the redesigned Discovery. The device is not notable for great reaction sharpness - which is not really necessary in this class of vehicles - but it reacts to steering calmly, very predictably and quite precisely. As a whole - exactly what is necessary for the "after school" wing. On the one hand, the Discovery does not limit its pilot in anything, it allows him to work aggressively in the thermals, and swing powerful, amplitude wingovers. On the other hand, the apparatus quite forgives inaccuracies and rudeness of piloting, inevitable for "unadvanced" pilots. It is achieved by moderate, smoothly increasing sensitivity to brake input, and moderate sensitivity to weight input as you lower your hands. The load on the brakes in the upper third of their stroke can be described as comfortable, but as you lower the arms below 50% of their full stroke the force is no longer comfortable. And that is correct - the "warning" force build-up reminds the pilot that in most cases there is no reason to shove the arms so low. Well, maybe except for rare cases of active piloting in very strong and very choppy streams like Chegem. But the typical owner of the Discovery 5 should not fly in such conditions. De facto, even during several hours of flying in this style, my arms were a little tense but not tired. Discovery 5's ability to tenaciously and accurately hold the given characteristics of a turn was pleasing. Even in strong weather the device practically does not require steering, stands in a thermal spiral confidently and reliably. The D5 behaves in a similar way on wingwheels and tight spirals: calmly, clearly, predictably. It is not too easy to rock the machine on a roll up to oblique loops, but there is no abruptness in its behavior. The plane allows its owner to learn the mode in detail, without requiring super-fast and super-precise piloting. The steep spiral has a nice combination of power and smooth entry and exit.
Comfort and informative. Let's break it down into two parts: informativeness is good, comfort is great. Perhaps, Discovery 5 is one of the most comfortable vehicles, which I came across for testing. The traditional Chegem dash is able to fold and "crack" almost any machine - with the exception of such rare exceptions as Independence Pioneer and our present figurant. The comfort of Discovery Five impresses even by the standards of "after school" technics. Moderate, absolutely not abrupt pitch movements even when dropping out of narrow mountain "heels". Excellent resistance to folding - I repeat that Discovery 5 has not received a single "combat" folding even on the approaches to the Rocky Ridge, which are famous for their steep nerve. The worst thing that happened to the apparatus in such conditions was minor front-edge unloading. Interestingly, at the turbulent flow boundaries Discovery 5, usually monolithic, began to faintly "wiggle its ears" - a behavior typical of much more serious wings. It does not affect safety in any way - just an interesting feature of the wing. The strong currents are inclined to throw Discovery outwards, but such rolls, as well as pitch motions, are moderate in amplitude and very extended in time. Perhaps, the only relatively modern competitor to the Discovery 5 in the "after-school" class is the GIN Atlas (but it lags far behind the D5 in terms of maneuverability). And what's the deal with informativeness? It's okay, or rather, good. The smooth pitch and roll motions and the same smooth load changes (not insignificant!) on the brakes gently and unobtrusively tell the pilot what is happening to the air around and what to do about it. Changes in airspeed on the D5 are also quite informative. And the pronounced "ejection" from narrow, strong currents makes it impossible to make a mistake with the choice of the helix direction.
Dynamics and power capacity. This is a familiar approach: the device stores a lot of energy, but it is in no hurry to convert some of its forms into other ones. Again, this is a good thing for an "after school" wing. The dynamics of the wing shows themselves most clearly in wingovers and spirals. Both are done smoothly, under control of the pilot, but with a powerful energy storage. It is desirable not to exit a tight spiral too energetically, so that the machine does not "hang up" on the "hill" after exit. It is also desirable to stretch out a little in time, without limiting their amplitude. However, even deliberate errors on wingovers rarely result in a fold. In principle, the D5 can overclock, but only if you ask it nicely, because it's very calm for such games.
Dangerous flight modes
Perfect. The presence in the leading edge of the line always makes you a little wary of the sharpness and unpredictability of the flow of the folding. But our hero today is a typical evolutionary, devoid of "childhood diseases" and "difficulties of the transition period" inevitable with the emergence of new technologies. It is not easy to create a fold well developed in terms of scope and chord. The device willingly breaks the first 5-10% of chord and 40-50% of scope, and to get folds of larger size, it is necessary to brutally and frankly yank the A-row. Folds up to 50% of wingspan are "not impressive": the plane opens very quickly, roll and pitch motions do not exceed 20 degrees, loss of altitude is difficult to measure... Was there any folding at all? More powerful collapses make the plane go sideways, deviate from the course and lose some altitude. But even with 60-65% of range and 30-40% of chord, the amplitude of askew does not exceed 45 degrees and the heading deviation is 90 degrees. Loss of altitude is 10 meters or less.
Excellent with a minus. After folding the apparatus is markedly goes back and unfolds while moving forward. I had to give it a minus for its slowness, which leads to a loss of horizontal speed of 10 to 15 meters in normal flight. The take-off pattern is soft and smooth, pitch roll does not exceed 30 degrees.
Breakaway from a thermal spiral
Between excellent and impossible. Even a relatively experienced pilot would probably not be able to achieve a lift by accident - you must coordinate your weight and both hands very precisely, which is not easy to do with the high load that occurs on the brake near a lift. The slightest mistake with the hands - and the machine either falls out of the thermal spiral, or, on the contrary, collapses into a steep spiral. A couple of times we did manage to cause a stall - the load on the inside hand did not drop too much, but the machine started to slide into the turn. The exit when the inner arm is partially released is instantaneous, but without excessive roll and pitch movements.
Fast Descent Modes
Excellent. Very stable, folds with moderate effort, opens independently, with a delay. Reduction is about -2...-2.5. Horizontal velocity with the ears folded is slightly reduced.
gas pedal "ears"
Great. Decrease is about -3...-3.5.
The Sky Country rebranding that has been going on for about a year simultaneously pleases everyone, but also slightly scares fans of the brand. The updated brand identity is quite aggressive - won't the renewed character of the paragliders become the same...? In the case of Discovery 5, the answer is strictly negative. Beneath the mask of a stern sportsman hides a well-known, kind and reliable character of previous generations of Discovery. Flying ability and design of the D5 correspond to the modern trends, but the main thing Discovery has always attracted pilots, this machine has not lost. Flying at an average after-school level or better, the Discovery is so simple and docile that it can be trained from scratch. The best use of this wing is the completion of training and the first one-two seasons of independent flights for those who just learn to fly, or flights in any kind of toughness and complexity for those who are already advanced enough. The minimum flight time required is from scratch!
- High passive safety
- Pleasant, calm character
- Pleasant maneuverability
- Not found
I express my gratitude to Sky Country Ltd. for the loan of the paraglider for the tests.
Photo : A. Tarasov