Petra Project Episode II: Looking for Leia
Leia is born from a simple idea: bringing the Petra technology to the open market!
After bringing Petra to the CP competition scene three years ago, we have had many more orders than we could reasonably deal with. Everyone wanted one! But as I was going through the infamous ‘list’, I realized that about half were not the original target market of Petra. People were asking for bigger lines, insisted on a ZP version¹... They wanted the fun of it but were not planning to compete.
It became quite obvious we would have to go back to the (computer aided) drawing board to infuse some of the Petra DNA into a more accessible canopy and create Petra’s little sister.
She would have to fit in a small Freefly container and be jumpable every day and so we could see her first curves appearing:
- No hassle
- Good openings
She also needed to keep Petra’s epic flight characteristics such as a high roll rate, a very long dive, high harness sensitivity and the widest speed range ever covered by a parachute (Petra can fly with a tandem or a wingsuit without trims). The picture was getting clearer:
- High ellipticity
- Steep trim
- Compact aspect ratio
We first decided on a 7 cell format and we couldn’t wait to learn more so we cut two cells out of a big Petra. Bridget was born. This was a fun experiment but it wasn’t quite right. The aspect ratio was too small, the toggle range was weird and the flare wasn’t powerful enough.
In a nutshell, this prototype was a little frumpy looking, but still kinda hot! Her low aspect ratio gave her some luscious curves. And while we love curves, we reckon a sleeker wing might suit our purpose better for this project!
We gave it more thought (and more computer simulations) and used our secret recipe… a mix of science, beer, experience, overheating computers, head scratching, experiments, overheating sewing machines and beer. And finally went back to the dropzone with a much better design. We gave it a more reasonable aspect ratio and ditched the Mini Ribs³ that appeared useless on this type of design. She was awesome and the test jumpers were looking for excuses to keep jumping her. When they couldn’t find any more, they started fighting to get her in their personal rigs. And so she started to go around... a lot! We thought that was a good sign.
She was truly flying like Petra so we thought about calling her Petra Lite but she deserved better than being her little sister forever. She needed a personality of her own to grow big in this world. We called her Candy, for her acid drop colors and sweeeeet openings.
We knew we were onto something so we kept looking for things to improve. We changed the lineset, refined the panel designs, put more beers into it and made sure every detail was worth her surname...
Here is Leia...
We invited TJ Landgren, Katie Hansen and Nick Batsch to try it while they were visiting NZ this summer and they all loved it. Nick did an impressive 175m swoop on it on his first jump (nil wind and at sea level) confirming the awesome potential of the canopy! He didn’t say much straight away but his smile left us confident that she is better than any other ZP competition wing on the market.
We said everyday, not everyone...
Leia is a very high-end design targeted to the most experienced jumpers out there. The way we see it, Leia will NOT be the best choice for:
- First Crossbraced canopy
- Distance world record
But will be an awesome wing for:
- Awesome swoopers who want to fun jump, work and play with their canopy, and swoop the shit out of it too – competitively or not!
- Zone accuracy (currently tested by some of the very best pilots)
- Everyday canopy that flies similar to Petra to stay current while working
- Competition wing
- Mountain flying
- Something you guys will come up with.
- Cells: 7
- Chambers: 21
- Structure: Crossbraced
- Tip chord to Center chord ratio: 0.4 (!)
- Aspect ratio: 2.65
- Wing loading: 2.2 to ?
- Features: No stabilizers, Integrated slider stops, Powerband², No Mini-Ribs³
- Deployment system: Normal slider, RDS available on demand
- Materials: ZP (maybe a hybrid version later on)
- Lines: Black HMA 400 (maybe HMA 600 later on)
- Sizes: Any
- Price: The price hasn’t been decided yet but it will be around 3100USD.
- Availability: Leia is our current project and we are proud to share it with you but this is not an available product at the moment. We hope it will become available sometime in 2014 or 2015.
1. Petra is only made out of Sail fabric. This is a generic and misleading name for a range of Polyurethane coated nylons developed for paragliders. It gives more rigidity and a better controlled shape to the competition canopies thanks to its low stretch characteristics. Unfortunately, it also packs bigger and doesn’t last as long as our good old ZP (Silicone coated nylon) so it needs to be treated with much more precaution. To learn more about how to increase its life span, contact Julien@nzaerosports.com.
2. We call the Powerband the black part on the top leading edge. It is visible on Petra and makes it easily recognizable. It helps defining and controlling the shape better in this critical area where lift is created making a real difference in performance.
3. The Mini-Ribs are partial ribs covering about 20% of the chord starting from the tail. They allow better shape control on the tail and a sharper trailing edge decreasing the wake turbulence and form drag. This is a design feature commonly found on paragliders and on some wingsuits but Petra is the first parachute using it.
Keep checking this space or our Facebook page to check the new stuff we are working on!
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