Little Food For Thoughts!
Hope that helps you understanding a bit more LittleCloud Philosophy. We don't make crazy hype marketing to push some concepts... But behind the extreme simplicity of the wings I design, there is actually a huge amount of thoughts and technology!
I will try to explain what I believe is helping a glider to be safe without taking into consideration the honest target group definitions from the brand!
I’ll run through the main characteristics that I believe makes safe wings.
1- Pitch stable wing
My design background comes from kites. Since I teach myself I had to go through a lot of thinking to really understand the work of a ram-air foil.
One of the major requirements of a kite is to be pitch-stable. It’s impossible to consider having a kite that will overfly you all the time. It would be totally unsafe and very demanding for the pilot.
Since day 1 (and before;-) ), I put a big focus in keeping a pitch stable behaviour with the wings.
This pitch stability is an original signature from LittleCloud!
On launch, having to kill the energy of you wing which arrives above your head too fast is too demanding and too risky in my eyes. A higher stress on an unknown take-off, a lack of concentration, strong wind, and you can get yourself in trouble, lofted of the ground twisted, getting you wing to overpass you and start collapsing. There is a multiple kind of situations where it’s becoming dodgy.
On flying mode, both in flight, where you have to control the pitch of you wing in the turbulence and the thermals and during flying incidents, pitch is always an extra factor to deal with and which takes out your focus from the main one: having fun and enjoying.
In flight, pitch movements are reducing you efficiency. Not only the succession of dives and surges are killing your glide ratio in active air but it uses quite a lot of your attention and energy. Getting rid of these pendulum movements is an absolute benefice for the pilot. Since few years most of the paragliding companies are using this pitch stability as a pro factor.
It’s important to separate the pitch from the bite. Both are linked to the characteristic of the air-foil section: the momentum. The trick is there, keeping a positive momentum of your wing but only in certain conditions… This is how you get a wing to bite into the thermal but that doesn’t pitch to cope with speed variation. One of my secrets ;-)
Through this bite, you have a great tool to read the air, which is extremely important for your safety (and for your understanding of this invisible element).
This is even more important when you have collapses. Why? Because collapses induce very important speed variations (mainly through the variation of the wing load)!
So if you can get an air-foil to absorb wing load variation, its reactions will be more docile.
This is working in combination with the skin tensions. I can’t develop it here, as this is a pretty complex design process, resulting of trying to think out of the box!
Why is it safer?
First, controlling a shoot going far-far away is demanding, and in case of fail can lead to flight incident cascade…more demanding for the pilot.
Second is when this goes well, the high loss is much higher, because of the pendulum effect. Glider shoots forward, pilot catch it, and swings back under his wing. This takes altitude because until the pilot is sitting under his wing, the wing flies more then less (rotation) toward the ground, and the swing is related to the line length of the wing.
To sum up, pitch is useless unless you are flying acrobatics. It’s more demanding, and create more trouble when shit hits the fan.
2- Large brake travel
If you think about flying incidents, the major danger is over piloting.
How to reduce that over piloting characteristic?
Simply in using very large brake travels with very high pressure along the last 10/15cm.
What makes a higher aspect ratio more difficult to handle is one its energy and second it’s smaller brake travel.
The whole game to have a fun but safe wing is to keep stall points far-far away whilst keeping high reactivity and progressivity on the brake inputs.
We have designs solution to keep large brake travels (at least 60cm- hands around your hips) with very high pressure before the end (in keeping the centre part of the wing flying even with 50cm brakes on) and progressive stall (wing will start to stall from the tips which gives you time to release the brake input).
We put focus to have a similar behaviour when the wing is partially closed. This helps the pilots to avoid over piloting because the brake travel remains pretty large (more than 50% of the original one) and very heavy. In stress situations, you can’t be as precise as in normal state of mind.
This is pretty easy to achieve on low AR wing, more difficult on high AR ones ( the chord is smaller, therefore you need less brake input to reach the stall points), and also on very high loaded wings ( Miniwing).
The high pressure before stall is a great indicator. We try to have it on at least 10 to 15 cm to give you enough margins for reacting.
A wing that tells you very clearly when it’ll stall is a very safe wing, because you can easily anticipate its limits, even when you are dealing with collapses (if you trained enough your sensitivity of course) or bad air.
Again, one of the multiples secrets I discovers during the last 10 years of intensive developing and testing.
Again, long reading for you guys!
HappyFlying from the Office!
PS: Désolé encore pour les frenchies, Google traduction fera le job;-)