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Bulls or sheep? Ok... Bulls issue. Sky Country Discovery-2

It has been a long time since we were thinking of a test fly of this glider. At first we didn't have it, then we had it but we were too busy with other test flights. And then the weather was bad. Then we had good weather, but we wanted to fly ourselves and we flew other gliders. Then we were lazy, yet we had couple test rides on it anyway. Then we were not lazy anymore, but we have lost some test results which were done before already.
This glider wasn't lucky with us. And that wasn't fair to it because once in a while we flew it when our opinion about other guinea-pigs was getting worse and worse. If this glider didn't exist, many of our tests results would have sounded more negative. Every time we compared this wing with the same DHV rated ones, and not only with the same, we realized what 'well done' means. You can make it average, but you can also make it better! You can make a wing just to pass DHV tests or you can make a wing that is actually really safe.
Icaro Ice showed us how easy it is to bring it up when you launch, and despite the enormous aspect ratio, just as D2 showed us how a paraglider should behave in a really challenging situation. It also showed us that a true paraglider designer doesn't need a compromise; he can design a fast and safe wing at the same time. Really safe and really fast!
Of course there're dark spots on the sun, and this wing does have some disadvantages. Some of them are quite important, while some of them are kind of advantages. One of the pilots of vector-pg.ru team has been using this wing for two years already, that's why we got used to a quite inexperienced pilot flying much like we do who fly dhv2 and dhv2-3 gliders. For all that time, the pilot has never had any incidents related to weather or rough conditions. He has never had a lack of speed as well.

Test conditions.

SC Discovery-2, 30 m2, 100-120kg weight range. We were using our harnesses AVAsport Sprinter and Edel RX2000. Wing loading was from one third to two thirds of weight range.

First impression.

D_I_M: The design is simple with some innovations. The risers look handmade and feel unpleasant in the hands. Fat aramide lines are мейд in Feodosia, Ukraine. There are big carabiners on the line attachments, but that's all for negative impressions. The glider is мейд from a good very durable material that isn't too heavy. The internal design is well done, and in some places even smarter than the same level gliders of well-known companies. The speed bar system is not too simple and it has quite a short travel.

Theoretic: Interesting combination of reasoning and good quality. You can see right away that this glider is not Western maid. The canopy looks modern and sporty and has a closed section somewhere in the middle of each side of the wings; it makes you think about a guinea-pig's advanced flight characteristics. There are many sections for this level of a glider, but there aren't too many lines. Its wing surface is quite smooth, but there are some little wrinkles on it. The sewing and cutting looks like it was мейд well. The colour of the wing itself looks pleasant, but reminds me of some MAC ParaTechnology gliders.
There are thick aramide lines on the version of the glider that we were using for our tests and not too many of them; they do not tangle much.
D2 can be ordered in different versions which come in different materials, lines and line-riser attachment carabiners. Depending on the chosen components; glider behavior may be varied. We will talk about this later.
The risers' design is simple with attention to unnecessary details; functional and with some innovations. The chart is A2A'1B4C3. The risers' webbing is quite soft and narrow with little oval connectors. The original speed system goes between the A and B risers. The break handles attach to the C risers with very good quality nonmagnetic clips, which is better then the OZONE ones. The break handles are soft and comfortable, but a little small. A gloved хэнд goes through it with some difficulty.

Ground handling.

Theoretic: D2 paraglider behavior depends on material and size. Sizes x27,28 and 30 (governor) comes up easier than size 29. Size 29 comes up good, but a little bit sluggish and it has some tendency to not come all the way up. Small sizes (24) мейд for governor, also might come up relatively sluggish.

Take off.

D_I_M: Big sizes do not have any problem. They come up smooth and solid with no 'dead points' on the way, but there is another opinion about the small sizes. They have a tendency do not come up all of the way. This is not my opinion because I am too heavy for flying small sizes. Ground handling would not tell me much too because it feels like kite to me.

Theoretic: Once again, the glider behavior definitely depends on its size. Big sizes (27 m2 and bigger) are easy to launch, even too easy. They quickly take load, accept different launching techniques and are quite forgivable of pilot mistakes, but size 24 (governor) sometimes needs a special launching technique and if pilot doesn't pull hard enough, the wing comes up slow and has a tendency to fall down again. The behavior of D2 with its large size is great in strong wind conditions: it doesn't attempt to pull a pilot out from the ground, but works gusts out smoothly. D2 could be easily put on one 'ear' and brought back up again.

Towing.

D_I_M: There is a slight tendency towards an unstable direction, but not crucial for the safety. The wing steers well with its breaks and weight, and works out cable-yanking well.

Theoretic: Comfortable. While towing D2-30 comes back gently and flies fast. A little bit more than average for intermediate glider, and there is no aggressiveness at all. The glider behaves calm and with dignity. Steering with weight is normal. Steering with breaks is also normal; a little bit lower than average, but it's quite enough for fixing direction fast. After releasing, the surge is long, yet not significant. I flew this one, yet only on a plain using winches.

Flying.

D_I_M: We used different harnesses with this wing. Sprinter is a спорт harness which is more sensitive than other harnesses; its weight-shift steering ability is better than average.
D2 generates small bursts when flying in turbulent air, which may be unnoticed when using an average harness. At the same time, in situations which could lead to collapses for other gliders, D2 makes a slight line unloading of the left or right side of the glider; that's pleasant and does not make one nervous, even an inexperienced pilot.
The brakes feel light and kind of empty. The glider goes into the thermal solid, and with confidence. There is some tendency to hover in the core of the thermal when glider is not fully loaded. Steering could be done by very wide хэнд movements. This wing is very friendly.

Theoretic: D2 utterly polite and precautionary, even in dangerous situations. Flying D2-30 with normal wing loading doesn't feels like it has much feedback at first, but after flying for a while, you start feeling it. In turbulence, the canopy does not jump from side to side above the head; all movements are insignificant. This wing makes you fly smooth and easy; you have to just to find a rhythm of the dialog.
Flying D2-27 with full wing loading in moderate turbulence feels much more alive, but safe too. You feel like a thermal-hunter because the speed and dynamics allow you to fly more aggressively.
D2's maneuverability definitely depends on its wing loading, but stays pleasantly in any circumstances. Having wing loading in the middle, D2-30 reacts right away, and does exactly and sharply without complicated transient behavior. That makes the wing steering ability average or little bit higher for intermediate gliders. In a thermal spiral, the glider flies solid and delicately reacts on inside breaking. Outside breaking is rougher but still quite sharp. In a wide range of radiuses and banks, the wing has the same turning character and it does not fall into a deep spiral when the turning radius is getting smaller. Breaks feel comfortable and the tension on them is lighter than average. Feedback is the same all the way through the break's travel, which is nice. Weight-shifting feedback is normal. Having above average dynamics (speed to height transition) does not make flying harder; even vice versa.
A little bit overloaded, the D2-27 behaves more active then I expected. Its maneuverability reached a very high point for intermediate level. Feedback reminded me of Ozone gliders; the same immediate feedback and high sensitivity, although it has a more predictable turn behavior and controlling it is simpler without specifics. The breaks are sensitive right from the very beginning of the travel. The weight-shift control becomes sharper, but in general, the glider stays nice, obedient and predictable. I was making tight turns while thermaling and the sink rate stayed reasonable; there was no tendency of going in to the deep spiral.
The D2's maximum speed is a joy. The difference between the trim speed and maximum speed is 16-17 km/h, one of the highest for Intermediate gliders. Maximum speed for D2-30 is about 53km/h. Of course, such speed can be explained. D2 is free of strict regulations of DHV (Afnor has much less restrictions). Also D2 does not become dangerous when you fly on the maximum speed. I had asymmetrical deflation while on full speed bar — after releasing glider recovered quickly, by it self and with little height loss (10-15). Even more, D2 has very good glide ratio on maximum speed. Flying in a group against the wind has shown that D2's Vmax is not much less then the maximum speed of many performance gliders and it is way more then most Standard (DHV1-2) gliders.
During slow speed flying, the D2 handles well too. Although the load on the breaks significantly increases, the glider warns you well before a stall and at the same time, maneuverability remains good, even near the stall. The break travel is very big, so stalling the glider could be physically hard.

Alaska: my general impression. The break travel is all the way through the хэнд movement range and their effectiveness stays almost the same at any position. Maneuverability is one of the best for this class, which allows you turn as sharp as you want without sliding or jumping. It is very easy to change the turn radius. Feedback is just super without aggressiveness and not too slow. The canopy very gently informs you about all air instabilities. For some people the glider could seem to have little of feedback, but for me personally, flying in strong thermals is pleasant (the glider doesn't shakes too much) just as flying in the weak weather is too; there is enough of feedback to not miss weak thermals.

Maneuverability.

D_I_M: D2 does not have plenty of maneuverability, but at the same time its controls easily and solidly. Its turn behavior is balanced and not complicated. There are not many of the same class of gliders that can compete in maneuverability with it. Controllability of the D2 stays the same all the way through the break travel. Applying the breaks often does not make the glider sink too much, which is good for flying slowly in weak thermals. High speed thermaling is not as good as slow speed for this glider, but it is still alright. A D2 cool trick is to spin the glider when you enter the thermal, but this is for special lovers.

Flying with accelerator.

D_I_M: The accelerator is very effective. Speed increase is more than 15km/h. Not every high performance glider has such an accelerator. The stability remains good if you fold a little ear and it opens by itself. The sink rate increases of course, but the glider doesn't seem to go down too much.

Big ears+accelerator.

Theoretic: it's very good. The sink rate is about -3.5. And the leading edge looks solid.

Небезопасные режимы полёта

Asymmetrical deflation.

D_I_M: One of the things I like this wing for is its asymmetrical deflation. All previous sweets you can find on any other gliders. Flying my old Revolution and using the accelerator is at least a little better. My Proksy is more maneuverable and has much more feedback. The Ozone Vibe is simpler when it turns, but not on any other wing except the D2 because I could collapse half of the wing, hold onto it for two seconds while flying straight at the same time, and then make a sharp turn opposite into deflation, and without stalling the flying side. If I say I was surprised, it means to say nothing. Even school gliders do not forgive such things. What else can I say? If you do nothing during deflation, the wing will open by itself with a slight pitch.

Theoretic: it's excellent! The most important thing is that the glider has basically the same behavior from 45-50 to 65-70% deflation, and that is rare. Anyway, the glider is very predictable and quite calm. If the pilot does nothing during the exit from deflation, the glider will make a 90 to 180 degree turn, and then open smoothly without jumping all over your head. The break and weight compensation is better than average. It is easy to keep straight flight even with 50% deflation. The descent before deflation is about average or lower.

Alaska: When 50-60% of canopy is deflated, the wing gives you about one second for thinking, then it gently dives in a spiral while opening smoothly. It comes out in one turn. If you start compensating during deflation, the wing will start turning out of deflation.

Frontal deflation.

D_I_M: Massive deflation, instant inflation, height loss is insignificant.

Theoretic: no problem; classic. There is an obvious breaking phase as the glider surges back at 30 degrees. Inflation starts when the canopy has not returned to the overhead position. The inflation is fast yet smooth, and the surge is less than average (about 30 degrees). Height loss is minimal.

Imitation of asymmetric stall while thermaling, without letting the spin to develop.

D_I_M: One more peculiarity. The stall is just perfect! We have special methods to make such stalls very nasty, but the glider comes out with an almost straight surge. Even if the canopy dives too fast, and pilot cannot not stop it at the right time, it folds its leading edge a little bit and then stops on the horizon and opens softly; very nice. The stall develops slowly and softly with lots of ear deformation. To miss this moment is almost impossible. The loss of loading on the break is not sporadic, but continuous.

Theoretic: Perfect! I'd say the D2-30's behavior in such situation is the best from all the gliders I have ever tried. The inside break load is a little bit lighter than average, but still not comfortable, even warning. The entrance into the stall is followed by a well-marked inside break loading loss, smooth turn acceleration and very noticeable canopy deformation. At the same time, the glider lets you keep the stall for about half of the turn without difficulties, while recovering. Even after half of the turn exit, it remains smooth, comfortable and predictable. The surge was usually not more than 30-35 degrees, and the glider was not loosing the thermal.

Spin.

Alaska: In order to cause a spin, you must try hard as the wing resists for a long time, even if one of the sides is all wry, but glider still flying. You can release the break at any moment, my wing wasn't able to surge lower then horizon not even a single time. At first glider jumps out from the developed spin pretty fast, but then follows straight smooth surge. Considering the way this wing acts in spin, it belongs to the calmest gliders (first SC Discovery2 — no one gets even close, then Aeros Style, Aeros Select — but entering the spin, Airea Rebel)

Fast descents.

Spiral dive.

Theoretic: Easy and comfortable to do.Glider starts to dive at medium speed and behave smooth and predictable, the usage of inside brake is slightly more then usual. Glider keeps sufficient maneuverability with sink rate more then -10m/s, tendency to spiral stability wasn't found. Exit is not very fast, but smooth and solid,takes about half a turn.Surge and then following pitch needs minimal compensation.

B-stall

D_I_M: Very effective, sinking at 8.5 m/s could be reached without a problem. Canopy keeps stable. Exit is fast and simple. Parachutal stall found by Theoretic was not found by me, despite the fact that I tried to find it. May be, my 8 kilos more weight was the reason. But also, maybe I wasn't releasing B risers slow enough. Anyway, parashutal stall was found by Theoretic's, and my recommendation is very simple — release B risers very quickly, and be ready to use a speed bar in order to avoid parachutal stall.

Theoretic: The entrance is fast, the canopy more energetically then average going back and stay there, at the same time transferring from gliding to almost vertical descending, after that follows two-three small pitches — and B-stall becomes stable. B-stall is very effective; sink rate for D-2 was more then -8m/s. At such sinking glider was very stable, and kept shape well. B-risers resistance is noticeably lower than average, it is not hard to hold them at beginning and during B-stall.
When you quickly release B-risers, exit after short energetic pitch at about 30 degrees, is excellent- almost immediate. The loss of altitude is minimal, speed stabilizes quickly. But exit by slowly releasing B-risers is not so unambiguously. The character of exit strictly depends on pilot's actions. I did B-stall with slow releasing of B-risers several times, and not even once D2-30 returned to normal flight quickly and neatly. The worst one was when after releasing B-risers canopy restored the shape, but kept sinking at about — 8 m/s. At the same time canopy was faded, unstable and sometimes began spinning like. All that was going on for about 3-4 seconds, after that was a slight pitch and glider returned to the normal flight. The best one was when glider with faded canopy and course keeping problems, during 4-5 sec was slowly losing vertical speed from -8 m/s to 1,5 m/s .I want to say that it is not so easy to make D2 to do such things, even slight changes in speed of lifting hands could cause significant changes in character of exit from B-stall. Anyway it is necessary to know, regarding such feature of the glider, that during the execution of B-stall(particularly "battle" B-stall) it is highly recommended simply drop the risers — this will guarantee practically immediate escape from the stall.

Big ears.

Theoretic: Very good. Easy to perform, glider is stable. Effectiveness is medium — sinking is about -2...2,5 m/s. Ears opens without additional actions, at the same time glider stays very stable. Pilot can help canopy to recover by brakes if he wants.

Conclusions.

D_I_M: Discovery 2 is a perfect glider. Only for its friendly behavior in asymmetric collapse and asymmetric stall, it's deserve the best rates, despite of the class. However, combination of the best safety with excellent performance makes this glider absolute leader of my personal preferences in Advance Intermediate class. Maximum speed is practically unreachable for other gliders in the same class. And the price! — What a nice surprise!
Minimum hours of air time required for this glider I think is about10-20.Depends on person.

Theoretic: D2-is a very good glider for most pilots. I mean for pilots who already finished the school, flies on weekends, does not have too much of total air time and have some спорт ambitions. Wonderful flight characteristics in combination with good maneuverability and forgiveness make this glider perfect for incredible XC flights and some acro, in the mountains with its strong weather as well as on the plain with its complicated weak thermals. Everywhere D2 will show it self nicely.
Some versions of some sizes of D2 has little problems with launching. And I did not like how it comes out of B-stall when you release B lines slowly. But that is nothing compared with all its advantages.
Minimum required airtime I think is around 15-20 hours, but it satisfies pilots who have more than 100 hours as well.

Alaska: Soft feedback, perfect control and flight characteristics, very safe. D2 is one of the best universal gliders for any flyable weather for pilot with 10 to 150-200 hours of air time.

Advantages:

  • Perfect behavior in most dangerous situations.
  • Very high flight characteristics for its class, combination of high speed and high glide ratio in the right side of the Polar.
  • Good speed and very well behavior on the speed bar.
  • Pleasant and not too sharp control.
  • Calm and predictable character.
  • Possibility for customer to choose material and lines type.
  • Low price.

Disadvantages.

  • Some unreliable sources saying that could be problems with launching on small sizes because of the heavy material (Gelvenor).
  • Not good-looking risers.
  • Possibility of Parachutal stall if B-risers slowly released on a B-stall exit.

  • Sky Country DiSCovery-2 (manufacture's site)
Dmitry Bondarev aka D_I_M (D_I_M@vector-pg. ru)
Alexei Bolnov aka Alaska (alaska@vector-pg. ru)
Alex Tarasov aka Theoretic (theoretic@vector-pg. ru)

Special thanks to Alex Martynov aka Ilich 2-nd — the owner of tested wing.

Special thanks to Denis and Tonya Roumiansevi (tonyaden@mail.ru) for translation with David Fletcher as consultant.




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