ICE: looks nice and flies niceIcaro 2000 is well known in Russia for its helmets for aviation sports. But the paragliding pilots are in general aware about the fact than Icaro produces also hanggliders. The Laminar is among the most known спорт class hanggliders worldwide. But the fact that there are Icaro paragliders is not well known despite of the fact that they invoke external designers.Michael Nessler, the autor of Ice, is more known as Independence gliders designer.
The Icaro L (29.8 sq.m) has been tested with the total flight weight about 110-115 kg. The total flight weight given by manufacturer is 95-120 kg. Test flights were performed using AVASport Sprinter harnesses (high performance model with high weight shift sensitivity and great feedback). Weather conditions: ground wind about 3 m/s, up to 12 m/s at 750 m above the ground; very small turbulence; very small thermals (0.5 to 0.8 m/s). Launching technique: winch towing.
Alex: The first thing you see while dealing with Ice is its high aspect ratio and impressive wingspan. The wing shape is classical, mostly like an ellipse with the chord smoothly decreasing from root to wingtips. The number of cells is very moderate for this AR, and the openings are unexpectedly wide and totally opened (no fashionable closed cells). But it is easily explainable by Ice's complicated inner structure: the wing has V-ribs wich do not terminate at the top surface but come to an additional inner surface which takes an important part of horizontal tension and makes the top sail steadily stretched and nearly wrinkle free. The wing is however lightweight: only about 6 kg for size L due to the very light NewSkyTex clothing (40 g/m2). Each ear has only four closed cells, and the wingtips have the "buttholes" closed by velcro.
The complicated inner structure of Ice gave it a very small amount of lines. Only one cell of three has lines attachments, and each bottom line splits only once on its way to the bottom sail. The lines formula is A2A'1B4C3D3. The lines are expectedly Edelrid, they are soft and do not tangle. The ear line is marked by a different color: no problem if you have to untangle a cravat! The lines are fixed on connectors by plastic triangles which are difficlut to unmount or loose.
Dmitry: The rear edge has a lot of top lines -- every cell is connected.
Alex: The rizers are simple but convenient. The brake handle is very rigid and big enough to pass a хэнд with summer glove inside and outside effortlessly.
Dmitry: Howewer the winter gloves may bring you some problems. The rigid elements can be unmounted from brake handles without any tool. The brake handles are fixed on D risers by a relatively weak magnet clip. The speed system is short and has classical Brummel hooks.
The first attempts to inflate the Ice and to put it overhead gave us some positive shock. Despite of its high AR the Ice comes up easily and steadily, it doesn't demand high or well-dozed efforts. The wing doesn't overshoot and it's very easy to keep it overhead. Ice pardons itself many ground handling errors and admits any launching technique. We tried the "alpine" launch, different reverse techniques, asymmetric launch... No matter how you launch the Ice -- it gently comes overhead and stays there ready for further action. Even a rough body impulse (with no aid of arms) makes Ice come overhead! Very impressive for a high-performer...
Dmitry: The launch of the Ice is extremely easy. We had no unsuccessful launch attempts despite of various launching methods we applied. It's very easy! Surely the Ice's perfect launch even in strong conditions will protect its pilots from extra adrenaline rushes... and may save someone's health or even life. It's difficult to make Ice overshoot, and if even so, the wing can be easily stopped. Where are no "dead points" while launch, the wing comes steady from ground to overhead position. In general, the launch of an Ice is comparable with launch of typical intermediate or even school gliders. Excellent!
Alex: While towing at 4 to 5 m/s vertical speed the Ice has an important pitch angle. The glider has a good stability, it drifts slowly away from the towing direction. The brakes have a small load and are not very efficient -- deviation over 20 to 30 degrees from towing direction demands deep brake application and weight shift. The pitch damping is very good, roll damping is moderate, and in general the towing is comfortable.
Dmitry: The pitch while towing is greater than common. It's not very comfortable. The drift correction is rather better with weight shift than with brakes. Weight shift steering is good even at high tow thrust. The reaction to brakes is not instant, and it's desirable to use brakes minimally. Otherwise the pilot witn level of experience recommended by us will have no problem. Nevertheless we dont recommend to use this wing for studying the winch towing. The pitch damping is very good.
Flight and handling
Alex: For its AR the Ice is a very friendly wing. This feeling emerges mainly because of the excellent pitch damping. The pitch movements are very slow and damp themrselves in a couple of periods with virtually no aid of pilot. The roll stability is not so high -- the Ice transfers even the small transversal movements to the harness in a gentle and smooth way. Imagine you pilot an aggressive high-performer in turbulent thermal conditions: it's like driving a car on bad asphalt at high speed. With Ice it's another story -- like cruising a big jeep on a good highway ;) Every motion of a glider is calm but Ice transfers a lot of information. The brakes load is also informative... if you use brakes 1/3 or more. The small brakes travel appears not very effective, it gives much less feedback and has greater effect on glider speed than on turn. The moderate and high brake input (from 30-35 sm) is much more efficient.
I cannot say the Ice is an agile glider... but it doesn't have a lack of maneuverability. It just has its own handling style. In turn the Ice doesn't follow the brake but demands a well-dosed and well-timed brake and weight input. The key to Ice's turn is having a right doze of control input at a right moment: if you do so the Ice changes the angle and speed of rotation instantly. But if you're wrong about time and doze -- the handling will most likely have no effect, just some oscillations or a turn which will be far from your expectations. However if you have a good feeling of the wing you can turn or re-center as you wish, there's no problem.
Dmitry: If you need to abruptly tighten your thermal spiral the Ice can do it in a quick and relatively safe way by applying lots of brake. While doing wingovers the wing demands some attention -- but it isn't very strict. Some wings with less AR may have more demanding behaviour.
Alex: Thermalling with Ice is very efficient... if you remember the "time and doze" principle. Yes, the Ice can turn flat with an impressive sink rate -- but you need precise handling to make it re-center or tighten the spiral. The thermal spiral of Ice is very stable, there's only a small chance to be thrown off the lift. Despite of the ability to turn flat the Ice is more funny and efficient in spirals with roll about 20-30 degrees.
Dmitry: The transition from flat to narrow turn may be as quick as you wish but it demands coordinated handling.
Alex: The brakes effort is greater than in common but still pleasant. The brake travel is very long -- of course you can stall it but only if you put your hands below the sitting pad. Impressive for a high-performer with high AR. The reaction to weight shift comes with certain (admittable) time lag. Probably some 10 liters of ballast could agitate the things...
Dmitry: Having total flight weight 10 kg bigger than Alex i can say the Ice is relatively agile. In general only the weight shifting is enough for handling. The ability of turn is good enough for a XC-oriented glider. Probably Ice may even do some acro tricks -- and its _magical_ AR will мейд these maneuvers very spicy ... but for this you should _really_ load it.
Alex: The total level of flight perfos is supposedly high, especially for soaring. The good mix of small sink and efficient flat turn is just what it is needed to "survive" in narrow and scrappy thermals. The glide ratio is not brilliant for this AR -- but still close to the highest values in DHV 2 class. Trim speed is OK (about 37-38 km/h). The speed gain on max speed (according to GPS measurments) is 12 to 13 km/h -- so the max speed is slightly over 50 km/h. Not the top in its class... but still good however. The glider behaviour at maximal speed remains safe and pleasant; the leading edge has virtually no deformations, and A risers conserve a good load. The minimal speed is also good and well usable.
Dmitry: The slow speed is usable and efficient in thermals -- the canopy has a small sink and conserves a good ability to narrow the spiral again. The re-centering and other transitional flight regimes are well balanced and do not result in appreciable height losses or roll oscillations.
Abnormal flight regimes
Alex: Excellent. It is difficult to provoke a collapse deeply into the chord -- most collapses stopped after 25-30% of chord. The inflation is quick but progressive (not abrupt). The wing tip frequently remains closed but has no effect on glider behaviour. The course deviation is only about 90 degrees -- very impressive! The pitch is moderate (about 30-35 degrees) and lasts for seconds. The height loss is small -- about 10 meters.
Dmitry: It is difficult to collapse the Ice -- it persists and resists. I could not provoke a deep collapse using only the A riser. The inflation is fast but progressive, from root to wingtip. The turn is steady and not agressive. Brake countersteering is efficient, even the turn to the uncollapsed side is possible. However I don't think it was really funny to play this game... Excellent.
Alex: Excellent. The collapse is followed by marked speed loss, and the canopy comes back. The deflation is instant with only small pitch and small height loss. The retrieval of horizontal speed, however, is a bit long (some seconds).
Dmitry: An additional detail: during the recovery there is a moment when the wing stops overhead, and after this there's a kind of slap somewhere inside the canopy and then there's the pitch. The first time it occurs this slap may impress the pilot but it has no effect on glider behaviour. Excellent.
Asymmetric prestall from thermalling
Alex: It is difficult to reproduce this test twice in a similar way due to Ice's specific handling. However the overall results are good. The inner wing begins to stall only at very long brake travel. Just before the stall the brake effort is big; entering the stall results in appreciable brake pressure loss, and the wing accelerates its turn. The stall progresses relatively quickly, you have only a couple of seconds to recover in a safe way. If you rise the brake when the stall phase is only at its begin the glider makes a moderate pitch movement... and calmly continues its spiral.
Dmitry: If you don't want to stall the inner wing and simply give more and more inner brake the wing simply accelerates the turn. Good! If you мейд a prestall and recovered from it in time (before the asymmetric stall occurs) the recovery is steady and calm.
Quick descent techniques
Alex: Excellent. The B risers have a normal load. The entry is quick, with a couple of fast pitch movements. The sink increases slowly, reaching 7 m/s. The stability is very good. The recovery after quick release is near instant, the pitch is moderate. The horizontal speed recovers for some long seconds.
Alex: Excellent. Both the classical spiral dive and over the noze spiral are possible, as well as asymmetric spiral dive. It is desirable to accelerate the spiral steadily -- the rough attempt to launch a spiral dive will most probably result in asymmetric stall or even SAT. But if you're patient enough the Ice gently enters an impressive spiral dive with sink rates around -20 m/s. The asymmetric spiral is very pleasant to do because of great responce to brake input and moderate number of Gs. Despite of our спорт harnesses we didn't find any spiral neutrality or stability: it is enough to rise the inner brake progressively for return to normal flight. The Ice needs about 2 turns to stop its spiral completely. The pitch after spiral is very moderate and long and demands minimal countersteering.
Dmitry: In over the noze spiral I reached a sink rate of -13.7 m/s. The recovery is simple -- just a regular rise of inner brake is needed. The recovery took about 1 turn. The oscillations during recovery are small. Excellent.
Alex: Ears are easy to inflate and have moderate efficiency in terms of sink rate (about -2.6 m/s). They open themselves very slowly, and a slight brake input is enough to reopen them.
Dmitry: Just easy. The final deceleration is steady, and the stall is well predictable. Good.
Alex: Despite of its high AR the Ice is calm and pleasant to drive. However it is a high-performance wing for experienced pilots and should be compared with other high performers. The passive safety is excellent for this type of wing; the Ice is fully usable even in rough conditions. The main destination of Ice is cross-country flying, this wing isn't a good choice for acro due to its small energy retention and high overall damping.
Dmitry: The Ice is a high-performer which has lots in common with Airea Revolution: not very agile, high level of flight performances, the brakes are long and relatively soft. It looks nice too. However two years of progress have come and the Ice does not compromise on speed and safety as Revolution did... Ice is a fair DHV 2, even at max speed. Freex Blade is also comparable in feeling -- big AR, moderate top speed but brake control is a bit better. The demanded skill level is about 2-3 seasons of amateur flying with minimal amount of flight hours in the range of 80 to 120 hours.
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