I finally got my new Litespeed RS 3.5 on Friday. It has the new type of inlaid smoke sail (not so smoke anymore, more light gray) that Gerolf was testing in Bassano, and all carbon options. It’s white/White/Fluo Orange, and has the Litespeed RS logo so I can tell it apart from my old RS 4 that Jan Erik now flies :-)
I did not expect to go flying whis weekend as the weather forecast was bad, but when I checked it again late Friday night it had improved a lot and it actually looked quite flyable with low winds and a red thermal prognosis. Since I was itching to test my new toy I changed weekend plans, kissed the wife goodbye and set off to Vågå – Only to realize I was too tired to drive 4,5 hours at night, so I went to bed instead and got up at 5:30 Saturday morning to start driving.
320km later fueled by coffe and RedBull I was in Vågå, and met up with Steinar, Terje and Benedicte. We quickly got ready as the day looked good already at 11:30, Benedicte got off early and had her first real thermal flight. I did not have any plan other than testing the glider to see how it flew.
AK and Tom (PG) were declaring an out and return to Kvam (75km), looked like a good day for it. Stein Are (PG) and his crew were going for open distance. Steinar wanted to set a new personal best by flying to Åttekanten at Fåvang and have a burger there, I thought that was a good plan and when I took off and got a feel for the glider and the air I might join him.
There was an inversion around 12-1400 meters, so thermalling up in front of launch was a bit tricky in the beginning, but I found a nice thermal to the west over the old ski lift, and got to 1800 meters. I glided to Gråhøe and then towards Tordkampen where I saw some of the Paragliders thermalling up under a nice cloud where I got to a rather cold cloudbase at 2500m. From there I saw the conditions were really good looking towards the south, and I committed to going XC, Steinar was thermalling up underneath me and I expected him to tag along, but that was the last time I saw him in the air.
At Torgerkampen I found a real boomer, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the vario blank out completely with 9 m/s climb (around 1800 fpm for my metrically challenged readers), it was rough but I hung on for a few turns until cloudbase. I catched up with Stein Are in that thermal and we glided towards Vinstra and a nice cloudstreet towards Frya.
My glider had a strong left turn in it, both thermalling and on glide. Since I’m out of flying shape my shoulders and back started to ache and cramp up on me because of all the work keeping the glider going straight, so by now Åttekanten seemed like a very good place to land. I took a nice slow glide from Frya to the TP at Fåvang kirke, and turned north again to glide back to Åttekanten and landed next to the cafe.
Thanks to Benedicte for driving, she drove from Vågå to find me, and we drove south to Øyer to get Steinar who had passed me while I was finishing my dessert, he had set a new personal best XC with 104km flying his WillsWing Sport 2.
The glider, good, bad, and ugly
I had borrowed Nils Aage’s RS 3.5 a few weeks back, so I expected my new glider to be much the same but maybe a bit stiffer due to a new sail. I was in for a pleasant suprise…
When setting up the new “smoke” sail felt lighter and a lot smoother and softer than the previous smoke. It looks like it has a lot more reinforcement fibers, but it feels very light. The sailcut looks more or less the same as my older RS4, but the 3.5 looks a little more loose in the center section when the VG is loose. I need to compare the two gliders to be sure though.
The handling was a lot lighter than I expected, it’s still a competition glider that demands refined skills to fly, but compared to my RS4 it’s feels super nice and light. In thermals where I normally would have to manhandle the RS4 using brute force, this glider turns into lift with just a little input and corrections. This glider handles a lot better than Nils Aage’s glider did when I flew it, maybe it’s the new sail, but it can also be the setup of the gliders.
In the rough air the glider felt very solid, it had good barpressure and felt reassuring when entering or leaving thermals. I had to do less highsiding than with the RS4, with similar trim speed, so this looks like a winner for my aching shoulders.
Performance is hard to tell without climbing and gliding with others, but it felt very quick and I think the better handling will improve my climbrates more than a bigger glider.
The XC bag did not fit, it’s way too short, this is negligence from Moyes as the bag was marked LS3.5 (Which I believe is shorter)
This is the 8’th new Litespeed I buy from Moyes. I’ve had 4 Litespeeds, 2 Litespeed S, and 1 RS before this. I change often since it’s convenient and makes some economic sense when traveling to Australia for flying anyway, besides that I like having new gliders – they smell nice :-)
But it’s quite annoying that almost every Litespeed I get have to be adjusted before it goes straight. It’s (usually) not difficult to do, but it takes a lot of effort and time when I don’t have areotow or reliable toplanding sites available. It’s a mystery to me why Moyes fail time after time to deliver a glider that goes straight.
The RS I got now have definitively been testflown, I saw the sand left on the speedbar and A-frame corners. The left turn was not small, it was very noticeable within 10 seconds from takeoff in rough air. So now I have to spend the next flyable days tweaking the glider, as usual. Flyable days are not that common here in the far north, and it would be nice to spend them flying in glider that goes straight from day one.
The first Litespeed I bought in 2000 did go straight, and the Litespeed S that I got for the Oz worlds in 2005 was also good. The glider I got in Australia in 2001 had not been testflown, so it was expected to need some tweaking, that’s all OK. But this glider and 4 others were delivered testflown by the Moyes crew, it’s their job to make sure that the glider meet the customer expectations. They have failed repeatedly.
I’m very pleased with the Litespeeds and Moyes in general, they have the best glider, the best service, and the Moyes crew and pilots are really nice to be around and fly with. It’s definetively worth it to get a Litespeed that’s not quite straight, but if Moyes would invest in some more QA before delivery it would make at least this Litespeed customer a lot happier.