Thanks to Tom for posting the photos from yesterday's flying. I know many people are eager to know that the LM5 is like in the air so let me give you my first impressions from flying it yesterday. Firstly some context - it was a windy unstable day with a low cloudbase, creating conditions Tom described as 'sporty'. The conditions were demanding, not necessarily a first choice to try out a new wing but in fact this meant that in the 6hours and 30mins I flew the wing for, it had a pretty thorough test!
Let's first talk about the feel in the air. Compared to my LM4 the brake pressure is much higher and the brake travel relatively shorter. This means the handling is more direct and more precise, which is great but took me a bit of getting used to at first. It turns beautifully, no tendency to turn out of the climb and easy to bank over tightly when needed. In really knarly thermals (and we had a few yesterday) it was possible to be very aggressive when handling the wing - it always felt like it wanted to fly and never hung back like the LM4 could if you tried turning too sharply.
The speed is very good, so much so that I was nervous about using the whole speed range. On half bar it felt comfortable, despite the impressive speed, and I was happy to cruise at this speed but full bar felt extremely fast and unstable - this is probably just feeling, so I need more practise at this speed. One thing I did notice was that there is a lot of pressure in the C risers so controlling and steering on the C's when on speed was difficult (especially with the skinny risers!).
Overall performance is of course difficult to judge. The friends I normally fly with all fly R11/12's Icepeak 6's or Enzo's and frankly on my LM4 I simply couldn't keep up. Yesterday when flying the LM5 next to Tom on his R12 I felt remarkably close in performance - at one point pushing into a strong headwind both on about 50% bar there was not that much difference in speed. Glide we couldn't judge as we were on different lines. Clearly the R12 is a higher performance wing - but I felt like I could 'stay in the game' which hasn't been the case earlier in the spring on my LM4. Net, I would say a huge jump in performance!
So, I still have a lot to learn but given the day was not great it is testament to the wing that I could just get on it and fly places. The first flight was a morning flight from Plan Fait. After the photo shoot (see previous post) I climbed up to the cloudbase at 1600m, followed the clouds to Veyrier and did a little local triangle when only 2 other wings had even scraped up to the teeth! Landing at Tailloires, more photos and lunch, and then we headed back up. This time I set out on a 'Tour du Grand Lac' with Tom (tracklog is here). The crossing from Veyrier to Semnoz was challenging with the low base and very strong SW wind on the north end of Semnoz. It took forever to establish here and work south along this windy ridge. I was having to us the bar to push low over windy ridges in turbulence (focuses the mind)! But the glider was solid. Once established on Semnoz, I continued to Croix de Nivelles, before dropping back into the Bauges and flying back past Annecy once again going north past Parmelan and back into the headwind to home. Not a bad little loop to take my new toy for a spin and testing enough with such a low cloudbase (mostly around 1700m).
So awesome wing. Thanks Ozone.