After a week of the Ozone X-Alps M4 sitting on my floor begging me to fly it, finally the weather played ball and a perfect evening on the Saleve presented itself to try out the new wing.
Firstly I had to get over the first impression of a wing that didn't look like it should fly at all - it seemed to be made out of tissue paper with shoelaces for risers... but knowing better than that I quickly clipped it to the harness and sorted out the lines. It didn't take long. There aren't that many!
Lifting the glider up was effortless, partly due to the lightweight material, and immediately I was airborne. The hill was lifting well in the evening thermals and I quickly hooked effortlessly into a strong climb straight to the airspace ceiling. In literally a couple of minutes I'd gone straight to the top of the stack. What was really amazing though was the fact that I felt completely at home on the wing. It seemed like I'd been flying this wing for years.
Heading south down the ridge for a bit of a ridge run, I immediately pushed the bar. Wow, next suprise - the bar was very light, which made it very easy to use the pressure on the bar to control the pitch (not that it really needed it in this air). I was loving this wing so much that I was blasting down the ridge only coming off the bar to slow down as I came above other gliders climbing, but hardly stopping to climb myself. there was a group just past the tower lowish trying to get some height to come back but before I got to them I hooked into a lovely climb and was back to the airspce ceiling. I was feeling invincible now and decided to push on right to the southerly tip, despite the obvious fact that the air would not be so good behind the col. No problem for this wing. I went further than was obviously wise and was half way down the ridge as I turned to skim back along.
Well, now I was having so much fun I'd overdone it slightly and I was right down at the bottom of the hill about 7km from the take off, with virtually no wind (so not dynamically soarable) and a dying sun. Still, nothing was going to wipe the grin off my face and in any case if it came to it it would be a nice evening walk back to the car. But I wasn't done yet. Remember, I was invincible on this wing! So I flew out over a small village on a slight slope with a couple of ploughed fields out in the flats. Sure enough there was lifting air here but I was only 100m over the houses as I painstakingly worked my way back up. I worked my little lifty line for about 20mins, finally crawling back about 200m and all the time drifting back toward the launch. Connecting back to the ridge half way up I squeaked back in under launch but very low. Above me beginner wings soared around effortlessly, but I still had my work cut out to scratch back up. As I gradually clawed back the height it seemed to get more difficult rather than easier and I realised everyone else was now sinking out as the day finally started shutting down. I still had 200m to gain back to land up at my car, and it was looking touch and go. Finally I made it, landed back on take off, packed up, jumped back in my car, put some loud music on and drove the whole way home with a silly grin on my face.
What a test flight, ok it was just a mellow evening flight but still, I'd climbed in good thermals (and it climbs beautifully, handling is impeccable), blasted along on bar (great feel and light pressure) worked tight and close in to trees (banks up nicely when you need it to) and worked a low save out in the flats (efficient turns with great sink rate)
What more could I want out of a wing? Thank you Ozone. Thank you, thank you, thank you.