Episode 04 – Buying your first wing

Hy everybody! Welcome to Flumen paragliding
tips and tricks podcast. I hope you are doing just great!
In this episode, I’ll be talking about which equipment should be your first. So stay tuned! So you are leaving school, and you want to
get your self-flying equipment, and the question is, should you buy an A glider or a low B
glider? Probably some of the equipment sellers won’t
like this video. Still, to increase overall safety amongst
the beginner pilots and also to help the instructors in making good choices this is the video you
should watch. Over the past years, things have changed a
lot. The paragliders changed a lot. However, unfortunately, a lot of the pilots and instructors
are still with the old school mentality choosing the wing that should be your first.
Bad advice can lead to improper equipment, and later adding other factors, you end up
having an accident. My students know that I am a strong advocate
of having an A-class wing as your first glider. I will explain to you why, and you will, for
sure, agree with me. To be honest, I really don’t have any idea
why you would actually buy a B-class wing as your first wing. If someone has a good
explanation, please leave it in the comments below the video. Let me pass with a couple of Common sayings. Let’s start with this one: “A-class wing has
no performance.” Hmm. OK. The facts. Modern EN-A paragliders
have already really amazing glide ratios. You can have an A-class wing with a glide
ratio of 9 to 1, which some years ago was a glide of a competition wing. Like GIN Boomerang,
for instance. People were flying XC flights with those glides, winning World championships,
so I don’t see a reason for you not making an XC flight with an A-wing. So the theory
of lousy performance does not stand ground anymore. And In the end, the difference to
low B class is insignificative in terms of glide. Maybe like 0.3 to 0.5. In numbers that
are on a 5-kilometer glide difference of approx 30m. This is what you can gain, like nothing
making nicer 360s. OK. Another one is: “it does not fly into
the wind; it does not penetrate.” This common misconception always makes me laugh. Both
gliders will have the same trim speed, so if you both fly into 20k wind, you both go
the same speed over the ground. Things do change a bit when you start pushing
speed bar, but the fact is when you are a beginner, you barely use a speed bar. Most
of the pilots below 50 hours does not use speed bar unless their instructor tells them
to. So zero gain in performance, but you lose
something else. Also, to be honest, in most of the cases, the low speed of an A-class
wing is due to trim change and no maintenance. So yes, the A-wing can fly slower, but if
the wing is out of trim. Another common saying is: “I will fast outgrow
the A-class.” You won’t! Period! You need at least 60h in
less than a year to gain control over your wing. To fly it entirely in control, add another
60h. That is for most of the beginner pilots at least a year and a half. When you master
the piloting on an A, you will have zero trouble of stepping up to a B class. Better later
than sooner. “I will become a better pilot if I buy a B
wing. I will grow into it.” A very misleading saying! The only thing that will happen is
that you will be scared of flying in rougher air after your first collapse. Then you will
fly less time, less time in turbulent conditions so your airtime will decrease and your level
will be going down. There are some exceptions for some super talented pilots that have so
much free time. They can do other extreme sports, and they can handle it, but for most,
it is more of a burden than as it is actual gain.
The paraglider is a jealous mistress that wants time together. The higher the class,
the more time you need to dedicate to flying. Another one. “B class gives more performance”.
That is true when you know how to fly, and as a beginner, you don’t. If you are a pilot
that flies all the time with a bit of brake pressure during the glide, then you can be
sure that if another pilot flying an A glider comes with his hands up, you will get your
ass kicked. Flying a B glider with all the time a bit
of brakes during the glides is total performance kill. You fly slower than an A-class wing.
So if you are flying your wing with being scared of putting your hands up or having
a fear of pulling the brakes hard, you are flying something you should not.
So zero performance gain, actually you lose. Let’s talk now about some severe stuff that
you actually get or loose. Flying an A-class wing is a no brainer. Total
zen, peace, freedom, calmness… Nothing happens, and if it does, you don’t even realize it.
Why is this important for a beginner? The wing is more roll and pitch resistant, so
if your roll and pitch control is missing, nothing will happen. Our brain is a CPU that can handle a certain
level of actions or tasks at the same time. Not all of us have the same CPU. Some are
better for resolving different tasks than others. It is a fact. So now let’s say you have 100% brain computing
power. When you are flying scared thinking your wing will collapse, what do you think
how much of your computing power you lose? 30, 50% or 70%. Where is the computing power
for thermalling, the vario, the traffic, looking around? There is very little if any. It is
like when you start driving a car. First times you could not even talk while
driving as you needed all your computing power put into the driving. Now, after many years
of driving, you are probably even texting while driving (not that you should do it).
So having more focus is gained by not spending our brainpower on unnecessary things. Where do you want to put your focus when you
are a beginner? On fear? Nooooo. Yous should focus on traffic first, then piloting
and steering than thermaling. You are building up the skills one by one. When one skill becomes
automatic, you can assimilate the next one quickly. If you are in fear, you don’t assimilate
much. Your learning curve is very flat. So what do you lose, ou loose ability to focus
on more important things that will make you fly more and better? The B class has changed. It is not as it used
to be. Manufacturers want to make as performant gliders as they can, complying with the EN
tests, that many times do not tell how the wing behaves with a slight wrong pilot’s inputs
on the brakes. The aspect ratio of the gliders goes up every year, yes the paragliders are
“safer” as long as you don’t touch anything. If you are making wrong moves on an A glider,
nothing serious happens, if you do wrong inputs on a B glider, things can go very wrong. Just
compare the aspect ratios of the current B wings. They are in a range of some competition
open class wings from some years ago. Safety and ease to pilot the wing come in
significant part from the aspect ratio. With an A-wing, you can make mistakes without
getting hurt. The wing will stay open even if you get into the air that is not for you.
I can’t remember any serious accident on an A-wing, but unfortunately many on a B. In one of the next episodes, I will explain
why the current certification is not proper and should not be trusted 100% instead taken
as a guide. I recommend all the beginners to start with
an A-class wing. Let it be you, guardian angel, for the first 100h. Do an SIV on it. Master
flying in strong thermic conditions, master the takeoff and landing. You will see that
it is not the glider; it is the pilot that makes the difference.
And then, when you are flying using the speed bar every transition without any fear, you
will be ready for a safe step up. Choose an A-class wing that suits your site
where you fly, your way of taking off. There are differences between the A gliders, and
an excellent instructor should know which one to recommend.
Gain experience in a safe way, enjoy flying, that is why we fly. Depending of your skill,
you can choose a low A or high A. A high A will have an aspect ratio of 5 but still with
excellent safety. You should master pitch and roll control on
an A to be able to change to a B class. A big part of my flying hours through the
year is on A-class wings. It is not a shame to fly an A-wing if you are a PRO. You really
learn how to make the correct decision, and as an instructor, you put yourself down to
earth. Light wings Another thing that became very popular lately
is the light equipment, so I will address that as well.
The paraglider that was made of lighter fabric will last almost as long as the one made off
the normal fabric. The good thing about the light wing is that it needs less effort to
get it up in the air. The light cloth makes the wing go up in no time. Now the bad thing about the light material.
In general, the wings made of lighter material are less rigid, at least in terms of feeling
during the flight. Brakes are a bit lighter as well. Those things make the wing a bit
shakier during the flight in turbulence and transmit more to the pilot than the normal
wing. Is that something you want? In general, for beginners and novice pilots,
too much movement makes them stressed, so adding, even more, is not very helpful. I
know you want to travel with your light equipment, but there is time for everything. You should
have light equipment as your second equipment, just for hike and fly, and have real material
for day to day flying. If you do want to get yourself a light wing as your main wing, try
it before in turbulent air, so you see if you like it or not. SO don’t get convinced to buy a B wing from
anyone. No matter how much they say that it is safe. Especially if it is a used one. The
B-class used wing many times is out of trim, so it behaves slow, and you feel OK on it,
but that is not the correct state of the wing and at the end, it is easier to stall. If
you retrim it, you get a wing that is above your piloting level.
To fly anything above A class you really need to master slow turn technique, know your stall
point and control the pitch to perfection. If you can’t do it in any class, you can’t
get a higher rated wing. Right weight range Yes, that can be a bit complicated if you
want to do many things with your wing, like hike and fly and xc etc. Luckily on an A-wing,
the differences are not very notable so being inside the weight range will be fine. If you
are getting a XS wing than it is better to be a bit closer to the max weight, but it
is not the rule. Also, be careful if you decide to buy a wing that has a really large weight
range. At the extended weight range, the wing will behave differently than at the normal
weight range. The extended weight range is there for insurance reasons, not because it
is actually good to fly. If you liked my video podcast, don’t forget
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if interested in doing some courses and coaching flights check my school’s website www.paraglidingmexico.com You can always reach this video channel by
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4 thoughts on “Episode 04 – Buying your first wing

  1. Excelent points Marco! I have been flying a Bolero for my first 60 yours. Probably the best thing that I have done after training. Had a wing that I was on the middle of the weight range and took a few collapses with it. Always a non issue with they recovering with no pilot input. After changing for a smaller wing that I'm close to to top of the weight range never had another one. With about 40 hours did a flight in a B and realized it is easier for me to move around in the Bolero than the Epsilon, simply because I'm more comfortable in it.

    With the A wing I am flying slower than other pilots, but going almost as fare as them. The extra safety was a good trade for the performance I would have with a B as my first wing.

  2. gracias por seguir compartiendo este tipo de videos, es bastante bueno para toda la comunidad de vuelo estaría increíble un video de tu experiencia en los x-alps saludos Marko!

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