Aug 19, 2001, 2:48 PM
Post #1 of 10
Cobalt vs. Parafoil
now that i have your attention, i would like anyone's opinion on the Parafoil as a first..and probably only...canopy. i'm an old guy just getting into the sport and have no desire to get into anything fancy. what are it's flight characteristics? is it forgiving? is it relatively easy to land? all the blurbs i've read make it sound so...but then again, don't most of them these days? i'm referring to the lengthy and more than a little heated debate on the Cobalt issue. also, any thoughts on the Falcon would be appreciated. the two reviews in the "gear" section of this website make it sound, in the words of RiggerRob, almost skydiver proof.
I made some student jumps on a Falcon 230 -- I'm just at 200lbs, so this was 1:1 going out the door. It's a pretty soft ride, and even with the steering lines set for stall-proof student use, it lands soft in any/no wind. If you're more interested in the landing than in the flying, this is a pretty good wing for you.
The Parafoil is an accuracy canopy - an old-school, straight down onto the disc accuracy canopy. If that's your thing, it'd be a good choice.
If you just want soft openings and easy landings, check out the Spectre and Triathlon, loaded at around 1.0:1. You can find used Tri's at reasonable prices pretty easily; Spectres are a little harder to come by and a bit more expensive used. You'll be happier in the long run with one of these over a Falcon or other all F111 main - I'd only recommend an F111 main if you absolutely can't afford anything zp. If that's the case, the Falcon is a good main, just make sure you roll the snot outta the nose.
pull and flare, lisa --- I chose the road less traveled. Now where the hell am I?
Newbie question. Are the steering lines different on student canopies than on ... er ... more advanced canopies? How are they different?
Almost all student mains use "de-tuned" steering lines. Generally, the steering lines are longer than they need to be so that even if you have a long-armed gorilla flying the canopy, they still cannot stall the canopy and the turns are slow and do not lose much altitude.
Because student mains are generally very big and under-loaded, they are still quite landable even though the full flare-power isn't there.
I hope this was not a troll. Anyway, Zelmo, the typical 7-cell ParaFoil would definitely not be the hot ticket for a regular jumper's only main. Reasons are as follow:
The parafoil will spank you BAD on openings from terminal velocity if care is not taken to retard the openings. My wife had the entire top skin pull off two ribs on a terminal opening on her 255 this spring. It almost knocked her unconscious! My wife has nearly 2,800 jumps and is a two-time member of the US Style and Accuracy team just so you don't think this happened to her because she didn't know her equipment.
Second: while it is neat that a foil can fly backwards and does indeed sink very well, they are really not meant to be landed on anything other than pea gravel or a tuffet. The flare is one-stage and not very powerful. The ParaFoil does not have much forward drive either, so getting back from a bad spot is not such a good bet.
Bottom line, in my opinion anyway, is that if you want an accuracy-type main, then get a StarTrac or a SharpChuter. They are much more versatile mains.
But, just to stir the pot a bit: I was on the very first 3-stack and tri-plane CRW formation in Guatemala back in 1990. The guys that had previously done the only two-stack did it with old ParaFoils, so they were adamant about using them for the next step. I told them that if I could dock on them with my Bogy 175, then they ought to listen to me. I did, they did, and we did a 3-stack with ParaFoils on the next jump. Right after that I convinced them that they would be much better off using their new HALO rigs (Javs with Manta 288 mains, all camo of course). We did it with them, then I taught them more CRW stuff like side-by-sides and downplanes. What a great six months that was.
Wow! Zelmo, You mentioned three distinctly different canopies. The Parafoil is a 1970s classic designed for hardcore accuracy competition. The Falcon is a 1980s vintage mid-range sport canopy. Finally, Cobalts are at the fast end of the scale and worn by several leading blade running competitors.
Zelmo, the first thing you have to do is ask yourself what kind of landings you want. What will you be doing the most: accuracy, stacking, blade-running, exhibition jumping or just fun jumping? Your second question should be "What are the better canopies in that class?" Thirdly, ask where you can demo the top three canopies in that class. Finally, ask several dealers which one will give you the best price.
I'm very possibly wrong, but it sounds like you are looking for a canopy that will treat you right on opening, be very forgiving of erroneous input or bad spots, and set you down softly. I'm guessing you asked about the parafoil because it looks to be the opposite of todays hot rod "super swoopers." That it is, BUT, as stated before, a hard core accuracy canopy like this is made for ACCURACY. Not soft openings or soft landings. I believe you will be happier with a nice, tame ZP Canopy loaded around 1 to 1 or so. There are many ZP's that will treat you the way you want to be treated (I think) if loaded very lightly. Off the top of my head come the Triathlon, Spectre, Icarus Omega, even the mean old Sabre is great if you slow down the openings if need be. Hell, you can also get a Manta or Skymaster w/ ZP topskin. Any of these canopies will land more softly than a Foil and offer very forgiving flight characteristics.