Impressions on the Dudek Snake – Part 1.5 – Daily Dosage of Vitamin G

Update to the Snake If you haven’t read part 1 of my Dudek Snake review Click here

 

I woke up Monday morning with one thing on my mind – gotta get more airtime with the Dudek Snake.

It had now been a week since packing my paramotor up in Lake Whales, FL and sending it to my home in Utah. Thanks to Ryan Shaw, I was able to hold onto the Snake 20m demo to do further testing and verification of what I had found to be the perfect advanced motor wing.

My shipment wasn’t due to arrive until later that day, and the weather forecast was looking like a strong south wind all day long – not ideal for most of my motoring spots. However, as the windtalkers were reporting 19g22mph south winds at the Southside ridge at the Point of the Mountain, I figured I could try the Snake out as a high wind speedwing alternative.

The Southside is a world-famous ridge that is only about 300ft tall and ¼ mile long. It’s consistent winds have been the training grounds for so many legendary pilots over the years, that it is the perfect proving ground for free-flight tests of all types of wings. Laminar flow can be expected in the AM until about 10am, after which thermic activity picks up and it’s generally not as friendly to fly. It is, after all, a ridge soaring site; and a small one at that. Average altitudes are 20-50 ft on most days. On miniwing/speedflying days, small wing enthusiasts scratch the ridge only a couple feet while staying in the lift band.

I got there early, and only two hang gliders were flying. Pretty standard, as it was too strong for paragliders, and speedflyers aren’t exactly “morning people” in my experience. I had little reservations about inflating the Snake in a 20mph wind – after all, the “drag” should only occur in the zone between 30-60degrees of inflation. After that, I should theoretically be okay as the Snake trims at 28mph for me.

No surprises there, although I should note that the Snake comes up incredibly fast yet doesn’t have a tendency to overshoot like a high-end paraglider. Ground handling is a little strange with the tip steering lines being connected to the brakes, but you get used to it. The southside is typically a pretty difficult place to kite as you stand on the edge and get massive wakes challenging your ability to keep it open. This is why the “Point Rats” are comparatively really good at pitch control. Throughout the morning, the Snake was pretty idiot-proof on pitch stability. Neither myself or the other two pilots who flew the glider so much as took a tip fold despite the variety of traffic that tried to wake them.

shane-southside-snake

Once launched, the glider accelerated to it’s trim speed and started showing it’s merits as an efficient paraglider. To just fly back and forth after the hill became populated was a different experience than what I had flown before. I was faster than both a Little Cloud 18 and Firefly 16.5, yet constantly soaring 30′ high as opposed to their 5′ scratching. When I wanted to get low and scratch, I just jumped on the bar or let the trimmers out halfway.

I’ve never been into speedglider soaring. I don’t know why, but it’s not fun to me. What I’ve always enjoyed about paragliding/motoring is the swinging inertia you get from turns, and with a speedglider you just don’t get that. The nice thing about speedgliders is that they’re incredibly easy to fly because being a modified ram-air parachute they’re quite pitch stable.

This wing combined the efficiency and feel of a paraglider with the speed and stability of the speedgliders. Prior to this, you could only get that type of feel with a miniwing, but they lacked the pitch stability that speedgliders or reflex designs offer. Traditional reflex wings that I had flown at the Point prior to this had too high of a sink rate and too high of trim speed to be able to utilize the lift – it’s really embarrassing to sink out when the wind is blowing 22mph and you’re on a 24m wing. This was the right combination of dynamic handling, stability, speed, and efficiency.

I landed after a few passes, and let my friend Ric trade me for his 18m miniwing. He was 165lbs, and had a little trouble getting to the edge at trim speed. It turned into a hovering session, so we ended up having him soar with the trims close to full out. He loved it, super stable in reflex mode – yet still very responsive using the 2d steering. It was his first time flying a reflex glider – he should have had a 16m.

Next up was my 190lb friend DC, who was in a leg brace but still wanting to try it. He was able to launch okay with the trims slow, but his favorite setting was slightly out. He too enjoyed the dynamics and stability of the wing – but had never flown a reflex wing. Being a paramotor acro-star, he wanted to try the wing with a motor as well. He should have been on an 18m.

After a long morning of ridge soaring including flights well into 11am (thermal time), I concluded that the Snake was a supremely rad choice for those high wind days. Would it replace speedwings? Well probably not as it costs almost twice as much. But for those that have the means and a consistently blown-out free-flight site, it’s a viable option.

Snake-free-flight-acro

I thought that was the end of my free-flying experience for the day. I then found out that Justin Brim, proprietor of Cloudstreet Winch, was heading out to the West Desert to do some over-the-dirt towing. I headed out to the remote site and waited for the group to arrive while I made a slight adjustment to the brake line length to optimize it for free-flying. I was up first since my gear was already out, this is both a blessing and a curse. The first person to tow is generally the “wind dummy” who helps the tow tech figure out the winds aloft and find the best line for max altitude. Generally speaking, all tows after that get more altitude. Couple that with the fact that I was flying a reflex glider, and I wasn’t expecting to get much more than 2000′ to play with.

Wrong! Utilizing the 2D steering I was able to hold the glider at minimum sink during the tow, and actually got up to 3000′ before pinning off. I can’t say if the glider does actually climb that well, or if the success was just because I had the best winch operator in the US pulling me up.

Shane pulling an Asymmetric Collapse

Shane pulling an Asymmetric Collapse

I wanted to pull a couple asymmetric collapses, but over the dirt that was about all I was willing to try. This is, after all a super-dynamic and uncertified glider. The asymmetrics at trim speed were no more eventful than a high end EN B wing in terms of violence and heading change. The tips did tend to stick and needed a violent pop to pump them out. After a couple pulls, I found that the Snake had a descent rate of about 2500fpm in the hands of a pilot with an insatiable hunger for vitamin “G.”

A fast approach and landing to a dirt road proved that the Dudek Snake had great efficiency and flare authority, no surprises there. I spent the next ten minutes wadded up in the glider in the back of a pickup truck while getting a ride back to the launch spot, thinking about what this thing will do over the water when spring time rolls around.

Conclusion – For those who motor and free-fly, this can be an extremely versatile freestyle wing.

Here’s the videe!

Initial Impressions on the Dudek Snake – By Shane Denherder

After flying the Dudek Hadron for the first time a mere six months ago, my only question to Dudek was “Awesome – so when are you going to update it?”

I was late to the party. The wing that was a “game-changer” for me had come out nearly three years prior to my first flight on it. The only model of it’s type, the Hadron had a high aspect ratio (5,9) providing efficiency that rivals modern traditional paragliders, with nearly the speed and stability of the fastest of competition reflex wings. I loved this combination – as a heavy guy who rocks high altitudes, I love the launch ability and climb rate that an efficient wing provides. Aside from that, high efficiency provides an added safety margin for low flying, a conceivably better life span for your engine, and of course my favorite; energy for maneuvering.

Over the past six months of being blown away by the Hadron; I didn’t know that Dudek had developed a more solid, maneuverable, and faster sequel – slithering through the grass slowly and waiting to bite the paramotor community.

We were perhaps first introduced to the Dudek Snake when the Polish Paramotor Team posted a somewhat crudely-edited video of them training with the 16m Snake on a barren, frozen wasteland in January of this year. Everyone’s reaction in the US community seemed to be the same – unimpressed, as these were not known athletes, and they were not demonstrating any measurable capabilities over other slalom wings.

Boy were we wrong.

Their early season training paid off, as five of the top 10 slots in the 1st FAI World Slalom competition were taken by their team, and seven of those 10 slots were on the Dudek Snake. Skill plays the largest role in any competition, but when seven-tenths of the leaderboard in a 60 pilot competition is one particular model – it warrants a look.

Looking at the data of the Snake, it’s interesting to try to imagine what it flies like. A 5,8 aspect ratio suggests that it should have near-Hadron efficiency with slightly more maneuverability. It also claims an impressive 65km/h accelerated speed, but that’s also what a Paramania GTR claims – so it’s top speed is nothing revolutionary. Where Dudek wins is in having usable speed, thanks to high efficiency.

Looking further at the data published by Dudek we see that they are achieving a 25km/h minimum speed, which is impressive because it tells us that this wing has the highest published speed range of any dedicated “slalom” wing. Now you have a tool that can smoke other gliders in the turns and win the slow/fast tasks and make picking up / dropping objects easier. Practical benefit: Easier to launch and land.

Speed isn’t everything, especially when it comes to this wannabees usability.

What allows Snake pilots to dominate the leaderboard is the maneuverability, speed, and stability of the best “slalom” gliders while not trading off it’s glide ratio for pitch-stability. Sure, your reflex wing can do 42mph in a straight line, but how far can you bank it while accelerated and not lose altitude? That is something that only a higher aspect ratio (or an insane amount of power) can help you with. Also with increased efficiency comes the ability to launch and fly a smaller size than you could in another model. Higher wing loading = more than published speed.

Top-tier reflex speed and precise handling make it great; but the efficiency to retain energy while exercising those traits is what makes this wing special. I predict that the Snake will dominate the comp scene as well as “advanced glider” market for the next few years. After pilots fly it and “see the light” about how important high-efficiency is, other manufacturers will hopefully shift focus onto what will essentially make their gliders more usable for every pilot.

This is a good thing for the industry.

My initial flights on the Snake were conducted at the Wings Over Winter fly-in over the course of a weekend where conditions made testing glide ratio and speed incredibly difficult. However during a flight with winds aloft gusting to 20mph, I was able to fly a few circuits with my variometer and come to some initial numbers that were extremely impressive.

I was consistently pulling 37mph at fast trim in level flight – cool. The stunner was my initial l/d test showing a 7.55:1 glide ratio. That’s 7.5:1 with a paramotor on my back at idle. That would be incredible. I don’t believe it either, maybe I was too sleep deprived. So I insisted that I take the Snake home with me and try the test a few different ways in smooth air.

What follows these initial impressions will be a comprehensive test of the Snake showing it’s most important innovations. Where hard data is not available to demonstrate traits e.g. “maneuverability,” I can only call upon my experience and give the most objective opinion while trying to use measurable substance wherever possible.

The next installment of this test will also include in-depth descriptions of the features of the glider, their intended application, and wether or not they are all they’re cracked up to be. Then we will get to the important stuff – the glider’s characteristics during advanced maneuvering!

If the winter temperatures warrant, I’ll try a third installment after completing a three-gallon cross country flight focusing on the features that will help go the distance.

I will be sure to record as much as possible with video, and publish the test procedures. I would also welcome any open discussion about the merits of this wing and how it may potentially change the industry.

By Shane Denherder

Continue reading part 1.5 –  “Daily Dosage of Vitamin G”

 

See the SCOUT Paramotor at this years Wings Over Winter Fly In November 4-10

Team Fly Halo will be showcasing the SCOUT paramotor at this year’s Wings Over Winter paramotor fly in held in Lake wales, FL.   We will be sending our demonstration pilot Shane Denherder along with the SCOUT 185 to the event!  

The SCOUT will be available for demo flights by qualified pilots.    If you are interested in test flying the SCOUT, please email [email protected]  with your name, pilot skill level and let us know of your interest so we can setup a time for you to demo the unit.  Wings Over Winter runs from  November 4th through 10th, we’ll see you there.

scout_paramotor_twins

 

Here’s a video we filmed earlier this year at the site of Wings Over Winter with Eric Farewell, Jeff Goin and team pilots Shane Denherder and Jeff Toll. Come fly with us in sunny Florida!

 

 

Visit WingsoverWinter.com for more information

The Ultimate Beginner Wing? Dudek’s New Universal Reflex Paraglider

Dudek has just released a new hybrid style wing called the Dudek Universal.    The Universal is perfectly happy free flying with trims in yet when the trims are released – it turns into a full fledged reflex paraglider with fast speeds at the pilots disposal.    This glider is aimed at the beginner and intermediate markets and is currently finishing up it’s EN testing ( En-B) and DGAC testing.

More information on the Dudek Universal can be found here.

We hope to have pricing information available very soon.   Please inquire for more details.

Fun Times in Monument Valley, Utah

We got the band back together this past week in Monument Valley, UT.   Shane, Byron and Jeff all came down to hang out at surely one of the biggest gatherings ever held @ Goulding’s Airport.     Team Fly Halo was represented well and had many great friends hanging out with us for the week.   We’ve captured some pretty amazing photos and will have some videos trickling down the pipeline in the coming months.

The SCOUT paramotor was a big hit,  lots of people really enjoyed the smooth curves of the SCOUT as well as it’s performance at altitude.  Our New Dudek Hadron 20 also performed great launching in the tough conditions famously known in the area.     To check out some of our photos from the fly in,  visit our facebook page or click on the image below.

TFHlaunch

 

SCOUT Paramotor Special, This Week Only. Save $450.00

This week, we are offering a very short promotional on the new SCOUT paramotor for 1 customer only.   We  had an order slot become available at the factory for someone new and because of this, we are honoring the past promo pricing special of $7995.00 until the end of this week.  So if you missed out before, now’s your chance to save $455 on the SCOUT off of it’s current price of $8450.00

We fully expect this unit to be ready by next week, a full 1-2 months ahead of our standard waiting time with the factory.  So not only do you get $455 off, you’ll have the opportunity to fly sooner!

Contact us for more information.

Jeff, Byron and Shane.

Sleek_Rear_Scout_Paramotor Scout_Front_Shot_Paramotor

Team Fly Halo Powered Paragliding Training Reviewed By Jay H

Over the past 8 days I had the opportunity to receive training from the instructors at Team FlyHalo just outside of Galveston Texas. Being new to the sport, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. From the onset, Shane Denherder put the students at ease and gave a great intro into kiting and the proper techniques of handling the wing.

You could tell that there was a genuine interest from the instructors to ensure that each student was safe and had a good understanding of the syllabus and what was expected for the next week. Kiting and form was instructed during the mornings and evenings when the wind was preferable. Ground school was held indoors during the heat of the day.

All the basis were covered from airspace, FAA regs, gear, handling the wing, motor maintenance, and proper set up of rigging. These guys were extremely thorough! When the time came to solo, we had a genuine comfort level from the preparedness we had received. They wanted to make sure that each of us had the knowledge and tools to make a successful and enjoyable solo flight.

For anyone considering getting into power paragliding, instruction and training is a must and the group at Team FlyHalo are the best in the field.  Training with them is a great confidence builder and it prepares you far beyond what you could do on your own.  Another added benefit is being able to use them as resources, bounce ideas, and ask questions even after the training is over and you’ve gone home- they are very responsive. I highly recommend this group of instructors and I will continue to use them for future training.  They get five stars in my book.

Stay safe,
Jay Howard

The First 10 Copies of Master PPG 4 Have Been Sold!

The first 10 copies of Master PPG 4 have been sold, you know what that means!   Using Random.org’s random number generator, we have chosen a winner for the free DVD drawing!   You’ll find a surprise waiting in your paypal account if you won 🙂

 

Congrats for winning a full refund,  your free DVD is on the way!

 

 

Polini Thor 190: A New Contender in the High Power / Weight Category

For the most part, Vittorazi’s Moster 185 has sat on its own in the 13KG category for those engines with 25+ HP.   Polini has just entered the stage and have a very promising looking engine on the way.   Coming in at 13.2KG and producing an impressive 27HP, the Polini Thor 190 will be a great choice for many horsepower junkies that love staying light.     According to Polini, the Thor 190 will go on sale in February of 2014.

Here are the specs on this new engine:

Polini Engine 2 stroke monocylinder
Cooling Forced air
Bore for stroke 64 x 60
Displacement 193 cm3
Power 27 HP a 7400 R.P.M.
Cylinder Aluminum with Gilnisil coating
Compression ratio 11,4:1
Piston Two chromium plated rings mm 1
Intake Reed valve in the crankcase
Carburetor Walbro
Air filter Air box
Ignition Electronic with inductive discharge
Battery charger prearrangement Output power 80 W at 5500 RPM (with electric starter only)
Spark plug hood 5k Ω resistance
Fuel type Lead free petrol with 2% synthetic oil
Gear reduction unit Belt transmission with 2,83 reduction ratio
Starter (Option electric starter) Pull starter with self-winding rope.
Clutch Not supplied
Muffler Expansion with aluminum silencer
Engine weight 13,2 Kg (15,3 with electric starter)
Propeller rotation Counter clockwise

New Dates For Powered Paragliding Training – Galveston Texas

We hadn’t planned on doing another powered paragliding training course for the remainder of the year but with the interest we had over the last class, we decided to open up the gates once again for a final class in 2013.      The dates are October 19th-27th.

We are limiting this class to 3 students, on a first come, first serve basis.      The last day to sign up will be Friday, October 4th so we can make proper arrangements.

This class, like any other offered from Team Fly Halo runs @ $2,500 and includes lodging and gear usage for the first class as well as a lifetime membership to Team Fly Halo’s training course.

Our lifetime membership lets any pilot that trained with us come back free of charge to learn new skills or touch up on existing ones.

Thanks for choosing to work with Team Fly Halo!