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Andrei_Serban

PD Silhouette W/L chart

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Hi there,
here's a beginner's question.

I'm around jump #50 and the chief instructor at my home DZ recently encouraged me to move from the Navigator 200 to the Silhouette 170. I jumped it 3 times so far, in strong winds as well as in no-wind conditions, and it was great.

Now, here's my question: while I completely trust the instructor's assessment and have indeed encountered no problems with the Sil 170, I'm puzzled by PD's "official" wing loading chart (here it is: http://www.performancedesigns.com/silhouette.aspx) which would suggest that I fly at least size 230! (My exit weight is 180 lbs.)

I've already read other people's comments on this forum stating that "the Silhouette flies small" - which only puzzles me further.
Shouldn't it be desirable for a canopy to "fly big"? what's the use of 170 sq ft of canopy in your backpack if it flies like, say, a 150?

Thanks for your time & your thoughts,
Andrei

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Terms like "flies small" or "flies big" are highly subjective. Who knows what canopies the people that said that have flown, their experience level, or if they're just parroting comments to make themselves sound insightful.

PD's charts are very old and very conservative. Not to say that's bad, it's just a fact. People regularly greatly exceed even the "MAX" weight listed. I've even flown a Silhouette 150 with an exit weight over the MAX... I even swooped it and managed a decent surf while wearing/dragging a wingsuit behind me. :P

To me, a Silhouette doesn't "fly small", it feels like a boat because of the range of canopies and loadings I normally fly. It just feels like a normal "square" canopy that opens a bit sharply and has a mediocre flare with not much on the bottom-end.

If you're landing it safely and you have an instructor (who knows you) that recommended it, you're probably fine. It's a very conservative design which is not much different than the Navigator you were using. You'd probably enjoy flying something like a Sabre2 190 more though if you can find one to try out, it's just a better overall canopy.

NSCR-2376, SCR-15080

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I'm also flying a Silhouette 190 (at ~1.2 wingload), and have done for well over 100 jumps now (with lots of Lightning-jumps in between for the real work).

In my opinion, although the Silhouette is very similar to the Navigator (different name, different size is all the differences I've found so far) it's a great canopy even for intermediate jumpers. It's responsive enough to afflict me with some serious enjoyment (helicoptering down for example ^_^), but conservative enough to get you out of shit creek if necessary. And due to this conservative behaviour, it's excellent to learn many advanced techniques on (braked final, rear-riser flare, stall behaviour and recovery etc.)

At nearly 450 jumps, I'm nowhere near willing to switch to another general-purpose freefall canopy.

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Hi IJ,
thanks for chiming in.
I'm new to this sport (~60 jumps) so please bear with me :)
I've done a couple of jumps more on the Sil 170, and also on a Pulse 170.
The Pulse is touted as a more agile canopy by the PD marketers, yet to me it felt noticeably more sluggish than the Silhouette.
I was just about to post a question regarding this :) but I think I now know why... an instructor at the DZ mentioned that the Silhouette has got some sort of tune-up, shorter & thinner lines, possibly altered angle of attack, particularly shorter toggles.
I guess that must be the reason why this particular one is more fun.
What is your experience, can changes of the line setup dramatically change a canopy's behaviour?
Cheers,
Andrei

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Andrei_Serban


...What is your experience, can changes of the line setup dramatically change a canopy's behaviour?
Cheers,
Andrei



Yes. From openings to "In-flight" handling to landings. Lines will shrink over time, and the canopy starts to act "funny" a reline can bring it back to original performance.

Some canopies have optional "trim packages" to upgrade the performance. Brian Germain's Jedi has the "Eagle Trim" package. There are probably others out there.
"There are NO situations which do not call for a French Maid outfit." Lucky McSwervy

"~ya don't GET old by being weak & stupid!" - Airtwardo

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Linesets and wear have a very strong influence on how the canopy flies, although I don't have personal experience with the Silhouette regarding this. My experience is mostly with the Lightning, where flying a sequential trim left me way above big-way formations (unless I buried my fronts below my chest-strap), while switching to a world-record trim gave me much better matching to the rest.

If you want, you can use the PD linetrim chart (can also be found here: http://www.performancedesigns.com/silhouette.aspx) and measure the linetrim. This will tell you if it's the original one, and how much out of trim the lines are.

My own Silhouette has fairly old lines, with a guessed ~500 jumps on them. Even though it's about due for a reline, I don't notice unusual behaviour in her.

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