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This list is by no means complete and it is meant to be added to by others until we arrive at a somewhat more definitive database. Initially the comments, manufacture dates and recommended skill levels will mostly reflect my own recollections and opinions. As others contribute to the list, the number of comments will grow and I hope the result will be broad based and reasonably objective.
Note: It is my policy to include every comment that contributors to this list choose to make. So these comments range from fairly neutral statements describing gliders that people have seen flying around to somewhat less neutral rave reviews of wings people own (or make) and have fallen in love with. So the reader is advised to take the information found here as a good starting point in comparing gliders, but as with all hang gliding information, always fly before you buy.
Glider Years Sizes (sq. ft) Rating Comments Raven '79 - '81 179, 209, 229 1 Floater, easy handling Single surface trainer Uncambered fiberglass battens Poor penetration Statically tail heavy 229 used as tandem glider These are getting very old now, but some are still flyable. A real floater, and very popular in the late 70's. Check the sail carefully if you get one. Harrier '81 - '84 147, 177, 187 2 Easy handling trainer (I & II) Single surface Cambered aluminum battens Relatively tight flare timing for a trainer Getting pretty old now, but an excellent single surface glider. Possibly the fastest turning glider ever made. and for a contrasting view: The Harrier and Duck hang ratings given here suffer from the "older is easier" syndrom. I believe the Harrier was marketed as a Hang 3 glider. As you note, the Harrier has critical flare timing. It is NOT a training glider, because of this. Duck '81 - '83 130, 155, 180, 3 Double surface glider 200 OK handling for an early '80s competition glider, but stiff by contemporary standards. Extremely tight flare timing Originally marketed as a hang 4 glider, the Duck is stiff handling with critical flare timing - many modern higher performance (Hang 4) gliders are easier to fly. I think this glider and the Harrier should both be listed with their original rating guidelines, because they have negative handling traits which have been improved in modern designs. Attack '83 - '84 155, 180 3 Similar to Duck but with Duck minor improvements (half-ribs, straight tips) SkyHawk '84 - '89 168, 188 1 Refined Harrier for training use. Easy handling / landing. One of the best single surface gliders ever made, I think. Low top end speed, but it will turn on a dime and is well-engineered. Easy to set up. HP '84 - '88 170 3-4 Stiff handling, fast competition (1 & 2) glider. No keel pocket Early models in particular were difficult to turn. HP2 added kingpost hang system and improved handling somewhat Sport '86 - 150, 167, 180 2 Recreational Double Surface Glider (& AT) No keel pocket. Compromise (& Supersport) of good handling, reasonable (& Sport American) 143, 153, 163 landing, glide and penetration (Supersport) characteristics. 7075 tubing made for relatively light weight. The Sport American was the same glider with the more common 6061 tubing. This was about 5 lbs. heavier but was otherwise very similar. 167 Sport AT has proven to be better than average rec. class glider. Landing flare timing not critical. Very distinct flare cues. Not tail heavy as in previous WW Watch for excessive wear on corner fittings. Some gliders came with unsleeved down tubes. Replace with sleeved ASAP. Super Sport is NOT a huge gain over Sport AT if at all. Try and find a used SportAT 167! They are that well liked. HP-AT '89 - '93 145, 158 3-4 VG (lever). Easier handling than earlier HP models, but still reputed to have moderately tight flare timing. Spectrum '91 - 144, 165 1 Current generation double surface trainer I owned a Spectrum 165 and thought it was more for a hang 2 or 3. It was very manuverable in the air but I could never land it consitently well. Also the set up was a bit tedious compared to my friends Pac-Air Pulse. I traded the Spectrum in for a WW Falcon 195 and since I only platform tow once a month or so and I enjoy the Falcon more. Also, the Spectrum I had was called the "plus" model that was $400 more and included wing tips and faired down tubes. RamAir '93 - 146, 154 4 Very fast, excellent energy retention and good flare authority, though some pilots report unusual handling characteristics. Has undersurface scoop designed to pressurize the wing at high speed. XC '95 ? 4 Variant of the RamAir (without the undersurface scoop), reputed to maintain the performance of the Ram with better handling characteristics Falcon '95 170, 195, 225 1 Single surface trainer. Light, very easy handling. 225 is a good tandem glider Fusion '97 150 4 No upper rigging. Fast "Handles similarly toother Wills high performance gliders" (a bit trucklike, but good in turbulence) Ultrasport '97 147, 166 3 Successor to Sport and Supersport but reputed to have better performance. Has VG (a first for non-comp level WW gliders).
Glider Years Sizes (sq ft) Rating Comments Esprit ? Vision '83 - '86 160, 180, 200 1-2 Easy handling double surface trainer Good landing characteristics. Poor penetration for double surface Eclipse '86 - '87 170, 190 1-2 Next generation Vision Quasi-keel-pocketless (keel strap) Some had high speed oscillation problems Mark IV '88 - '92 170, 190 1-2 Next Generation Vision Better performance than Eclipse without oscillation problems Pulse '92 - 9, 10, 11 (m2) 1-2 Current generation Vision Magic '83 - '88 133,155,166 3 High Performance Double Surface (3 & 4) 177 Fast, Easy Landing, VG High Pitch Pressures Heavy K-series '88 - 94 144, 154, 160 3 Keel Pocketless High Performance (Kiss, K2 Double Surface, VG K3, K4, K5 Some early models had tuning problems Some models have a high speed oscillation tendency. Different models refer to different sizes (Kiss,K4=154, K2,K5=144, K3=160) Klassic '94 - 144, 155, 166 3-4 Next generation K-series competition glider 1995 models have optional winglets that are claimed to improve both handling and high speed performance Formula ? 144, 154 2-3 Recreational Double Surface Good handling Formulas are yawy gliders but very manoeuvrable.
Glider Years Sizes (sq ft) Rating Comments GTR '85 - '88 147, 162, 175 3 Relatively good handling high 210(!) performance double surface, VG Curved Fiberglass wingtips Heavy. Bulletproof XS '88 - '93 142, 155, 169 3-4 High Performance. No keel pocket (1 & 2) Good high speed glide. Heavy, Bulletproof (very hard to break) XT '90 - 145, 165 2 Recreational Double Surface XL '91 - 145, 165 1 Single Surface Trainer XS3 '93 - 142 3 Lightened XS. Easy Handling with good performance. Small control frame. VG Xtralite '93 - 127, 137, 147 4 Smaller Lighter XS Descendent 157, 164 Fast, Relatively Easy Handling Some improvements in set up ease over XS series. Wider range of sizes than most competition gliders. 127 and 137 sizes are available with smaller control frames and narrower faired tubes for smaller pilots. SX '96 - 127, 137, 149, 153 4 Direct descendent of the Xtralite (SuperXtralite) with some hardware modifications (narrower faired tubes, easier VG) Also contains internal deflexor cable as in Enterprise Wings Desire. This is claimed to improve low speed handling. The four sizes are also referred to as the SX2 - SX5. CSX 97 149, 153 4 Version of the SX with a carbon spar and no top rigging. Reputed to be very fast with a great glide.
Glider Years Sizes (sq. ft) Rating Comments Sensor 510A 82-84 160, 180 4 VG and keel pocket Sensor 510B 85-87 160 4 VG, no keel pocket Sensor 510C 87-89 160 4 VG compensator system Sensor 510E 90-92 160 4 Sensor 610 93- 144, 152 4 Improved handling and landing characteristics while maintaining excellent performance. '94 and later models have "flap" system to improve low speed sink rate. Note: The comments associated with the next entry are widely varying.
Sensor 610F 95- (135), 144, 152 4 The latest 610F has the control bar attached behind the CG for Better flair authority. There are 6 shear ribs per side in lieu of 3 per side previously. The air frame and ribs are constructed of 7075-T3 Aluminum alloy. The 152 weighs 70 lbs. The flap system is integral with the VG system. Sail areas are actually 152, 144 & 135 Sq.ft. respectively. The stall speed is 19 mph correct airspeed with flaps (12 mph indicated airspeed). Min. sink is estimated at 160 fpm at the recommended wing loading of 1.8 lb./sq.ft. The glide ratio is estimated at 14:1. VNE=65 mph, VA=55mph. "Just pull-in on the VG line and watch as the flap system disengages, transforming your floater back into a screaming blade wing." Another contributor writes in rebuttal:
I do not know who put the entry for the Sensor 610F but it is misleading. The 135 size does not yet exist even in prototype form. Delivery for new Sensor exceeds one year as Bob Trampeneau does everything himself. Furthermore, none of the Sensor 610 are USHGA certified. Maybe I am picky but I was looking at buying one and I did some research. From what I heard from other pilots, I will never but a Sensor myself unless I want to be a test pilot for Bob.
And the owner of Seedwings himself, Bob Trampenau, comments:
The 135/610F first flew in July 1996. Most are in Japan, a few are in Calif. As to test flying, I, or qualified factory individuals test fly each Sensor before delivery. The flap system was retro fitted on approx. (75) 610's that were produced prior to the introduction of the 610F. We have 150 Sensor 610's flying now.
Our newest 610 F2 is available in sizes: 150, 142 and 135. The new 610 F2 are all standardized planforms with each other, they all have the same number of ribs. The latest addition to the new 610 F2 design is a turbulator bump on the LE of the airfoil improving L/D and min sink. The new F2 comes in 3 configurations: wire braced (standard), washout struts instead of reflex bridles or negatively cantalivered (topless). The second two configurations will be available by 1998.
Note: In 1995 the designers of the TRX left UP and formed a new company, Blue Sky
Aviation. Gliders manufactured by Blue Sky are currently listed under the UP
heading in the hang glider database.
Certification : All listed UP gliders are HGMA certified.
Glider Years Sizes (sq. ft) Rating Comments Condor 77-78 ?, 269 2 Possibly the slowest flying hang glider ever made. The Condor would still make a good trainer. The 269 was a popular tandem glider for large loads. Comet 80-82 165, 185 3 First of the modern double surface gliders. Good performance for its day, but rather stiff by current standards, high pitch pressure. Easier to land than its contemporary, the Duck series. Gemini 81-84 134, 164, 184 1-2 Single surface Comet. Floating but exposed crossbar. Well regarded trainer of this period. This was a single surface version of the famous UP Comet. Same hardware, same upper-sail planform, just no lower surface. Flies well, turns well, but doesn't fly as fast as the Comet. Comet 2 83-84 165, 185 3-4 Cleaner Comet replacement. Similar. GZ 85 155 4 Small, heavy, fast. Never became popular before UP folded. Axis 88-90 13, 15 (m2) 4 Fast, stiff handling. Well regarded as aerobatic gliders. Has VG Comet 3 89-90 185, ? 3 Intermediate level double surface glider. Not produced for long. Few models in service. TRX 91- 140, 160 3-4 Carbon fiber framed, high performance glider with VG. Significantly lighter than other competing designs. Very good sink rate and landing characteristics. XTR ? ? 3 Aluminum framed version of TRX for intermediates XTC ? ? 1+ Single surface trainer series 205 size used as tandem glider Predator 95- 142, 158 4 Blue Sky's succesor to the TRX. Carbon framed, uses vortex generators on the wing to increase performance. Reported to outperform the TRX. Predator sails may be retrofitted to TRX frames.
Glider Years Sizes (sq. ft) Rating Comments Aero 91- 145, 165 2 Keelpocketless, recreational double surface wing, No VG, 14 battens upper-surface, 4 under-surface. Aspect Ratio 5.2. Nose angle 122. 65% double surface. 56 lbs. Great Novice wing. Rage 95- ? 3 The Rage has a very fast set-up, VG, and very good glide at low to medium speeds. In Enterprise Wings' tradition is particularly easy to fly. Foil 87-89 160, 170 ? 3-4 Competition glider with reputation for good handling. Has VG Combat 90-93 137, 152 3-4 Succesor to Foil. Good handling, relatively high pitch pressures. Desire 93- 141, 151 4 Competition Wing with extremely good handling. named Desire to maintain the letter tradition started when the company's name was Foil. The Combat was the Foil C. The Desire is the foil D. The focus on handling highlighted by the success of the Combat is very clear in the Desire, which coordinates brilliantly in thermals, with no need to highside (particularly the 151), even with VG full on (most pilots would fly it with VG on except for take off and landing). Glide is very good and landing is easy due to a relatively large flare window. Flat rigging and tensioning is possible. Was the glider of choice of the Australian champion. Elite 95- ? 4 Replacement for the Desire. The following is a detailed report taken from the hang gliding mailing list: The planform looks different than the Desire. All 7075 tubing so it is *much* lighter than the Desire. The Leading Edge looks very stiff. There is no any neoprene between the top and bottom surface at the tips. It has washout struts. The top of the A-frame is on a short slide, using the Wills Wing hardware, for laying flat. That is the only WW hardware though. There is at least one shear web in the tip section. There are no tips of any kind, and not even any velcro to install them. Supposedly [Enterprise Wings] had done some wind tunnel tests and the round type tips most gliders have actually make more drag than just the open tip. It has a folding base tube. The VG string travel is quite short and light. The cross bar pull back is very easy also. The nose wires are tight. It has the internal LE deflexor like the Desire, but the cable is heavier and the hardware is improved. The stock TE cloth is a mylar sandwich, and they are using different LE cloth. The sail looks very nice. The top of the A frame is at least 6" behind the hang loops. King post hang system, with a neoprene seal around the king post. Few manufactured before company folded.
Glider Years Sizes (sq. ft) Rating Comments Streak 82-84 ? 4 Stiff, fast (for its day) competition glider. Keel pocket, No VG. Detached under surface. Several of these tumbled after tuning modifications Mystic 85-87 155, 166, 177 3 Attempted copy of the then popular Airwave Magic series. Good handling but never had the performance of the Magic. Many called this glider the "Mistake", but Kevin Christopherson did set a world distance record in one. Dream 85- 145, 165, 185 1 Very popular single surface trainer. 205, 220, 240 Docile handling, easy landing, poor glide/penetration. The 145 was one of the few good trainers for light (under 120 lb) pilots (until several small trainers - Pulse 9M, XL 145, small Spectrum - hit the market in the early '90s). The 220 was the de facto standard tandem glider for many years, but the 240 was reputed to be too big and difficult to handle for all but the largest tandem loads. Production on these models has continued through UP and later Air Sports International after Delta Wing folded. Like the Skyhawk, a superb single surface glider. Very maneuverable, easy to launch, land and set up.
Glider Years Sizes (sq. ft) Rating Comments Lancer 79-81 170, 190 1 Easy handling, easy landing Super Lancer 155, 180, 200 trainer. Quick set-up. Uncambered plastic battens Poor speed and penetration Comparable to Raven without tail heaviness There was a huge difference between the old Lancer IV and the Super Lancer. The Super Lancer was something of a Raven clone. The old Lancers were among my personal favorites. 2 Sizes, 170 sq feet and 190 sq feet. They would slow down like a Condor, yet fly faster than a Stratus V. Javelin 81-83 168, 208 1 Easy handling, easy landing trainer Cambered Aluminum ribs Better performance than Lancer series Comparable to Harrier series Demon 80-82 176 3 Early double surface glider. Competitor to the Comet, but a bit heavier (80+ lbs.) and lower in aspect ratio Shadow 83 172 3 Double surface competition glider with reputation for good handling Not many produced before Flight Designs folded. The Shadow has 27 battens and is still the best handling double surface glider I have flown. It does have the ability to spin but I consider this an asset in dropping out of clouds and losing altitude when you want to come down. Fun glider. If you ever get the chance to fly one, give it a try.
Glider Years Sizes (sq. ft) Rating Comments Elan 89- 154 1-3 60% Double Surface, very light Amour 91- 139 3-4 Very light, 56lbs in bag, small A-frame. Good for the smaller pilot. 92- 159 3-4 As 139, 63lbs in bag, superb handling. Java 95- 140, 150, 155 4 High performance glider that handles easy as an intermediate, very light VG, excellent speed range, very good climb.
Glider Years Sizes (sq. ft) Rating Comments Typhoon 81- ? ? Typhoon S4 85- 166, 180 ? Higher performance version of Typhoon Ace 86- 150, 160, 170 ? Early performance Rumour with keel pocket Also available in "RX" racing version Sport 88- 150, 160 ? Rumour 89- 13.5, 14.5 (m2) ? Performance glider, reportedly very stiff Rumour2 91- 13, 14 (m2) ? Performance glider, reportedly bad in roll Rumour 92- 12 (m2) ? Fever Rumour3 93- 13, 14 (m2) ? High performance, improved on 1 & 2 Rush 94- 15 (m2) ? Scandal 95- 12.4, 13.6, 14.4 ? Newest high performance with APS. Active pressure system - holes in leading edge, keep its shape at speed
Glider Years Sizes (m2) Rating Comments Profil '84- 13, 15 3 Intermediate double surface glider. Very nice handling, forgives some mistakes, very easy to control during take off even in turbulent conditions. Sphinx '92- ? ? dual glider Cobra '92- 13.5 ? High performance Compact '92- 13 ? Smaller Cobra Topless '95- ? ? High performance, no top rigging
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