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Gear Reviews posted by Joellercoaster

  1. I bought my Vision 150 at 400 jumps, having ordered a Pilot 150 with a new rig then decided I wanted something a bit sportier in the long UPT wait period. My feelings about the canopy are positive, but kind of mixed - the executive summary is that I'm going to keep it and learn it well, but have a feeling that there might be something better out there in the same sort of class.

    Before this I've jumped mostly Pilots and Sabre2s, sizes 210-150, and preferred the Pilots in general. I have the HMA lines, not because I am a swoop god, but because I ordered them by accident. So far, they seem pretty good and I like the way they pack, though we'll see how they wear eh?

    The good: Openings are positive and regular. Noticeably quicker than the Pilot, which I have to say I like, and generally on-heading, seems fairly sensitive to body position during the snivel (you can steer it if you're watching). Mine is prone to occasional end-cell closure, which is annoying but not really a big deal. It spun up on me and put me on my back on the second jump, but it hasn't done it again now that I leave a good 2' of line between the last stow and the risers.

    It's fun to fly - initially about as responsive to toggle input as the Pilots I've jumped, but requires me to think a little more about oversteer as it will happily heel over and spiral if I (for example) yank on a rear riser too hard, without counter-input. Good exercise for the future, needing to think another step ahead. It certainly dives harder and longer than the Pilot, and it's easy to build up a lot more speed and keep it. Front riser pressure I'd put at 'medium'; it doesn't take a lot of effort to start something but it can be a strain to hold onto - the difference being, you're getting more for your input even though it feels like you're not pulling much further.

    It notices when you shift your weight in the harness. Leaning into turns makes a world of difference.

    The bad: As other people have said, the Vision can run out of flare just when you want to shut it down. I've noticed mine only does this on straight-in landings; the flare is fine on front-riser approaches. I asked another Vision owner about it, and he said he had the same thing until he downsized... an idea emerges.

    Looking at the Aerodyne website, they recommend Visions be loaded at 1.6 to 1.8. And the plot thickens further. 1.6 is a hefty loading even in the accelerated Mad Skillz world we live in now - the Vision is at the lower-performance end of the elliptical spectrum, viewed by buyers as maybe a decent 'first' elliptical for people who don't want the really long recovery arc of a Crossfire or a Katana, and are a bit suspicious of the Stiletto's opening reputation. But 1.6 was a step too far for me, and it seems I'm underloading mine because I feel like I'm right on the bottom edge of the useful performance envelope, flare-wise. Which makes me wonder, exactly who is this canopy aimed at? 0.2 pounds per square foot is not a huge window of wingloading range.

    On double fronts or carving approaches though, it's a happy bunny. So I just land it like that mostly, and flare hard and late when I have to land straight in.

    Overall, it's a good canopy but I don't honestly know who to recommend it to. I'll demo a 132 in a few hundred jumps and see if the shutdown does indeed improve with higher load, because other than that I really like it. Failing that, I dunno... Nitro? Crossfire2 in the same size?

  2. I bought a Pilot straight off student status after trying out a Spectre and Sabre2, and now have about 50 jumps on it. It's a 188 that I load a bit over 1.1:1. Few too many pies after I ordered it, maybe.

    Openings are soft - perhaps a little too soft... I've had a couple of jumpers deploy at the same time and be momentarily worried as they see me fall down away from them. The snivelling also seems related to my having a closed end cell about one jump in four, but it's easy to sort out with the risers.

    On the upside, only one slammer in 50 jumps (entirely due to deploying partly head down, nothing to do with the canopy :P), and no others that could even be described as "firm".

    I can say that the Pilot has never once given me cause to regret buying it. And a couple of times, I've had cause to be very glad I did. Novice pilots will inevitably make mistakes, and there have been a few times now I've come out of dumb decisions without a scratch. Most notably, when I was going to land in a 10' hedge... I had to flare out to level flight to miss the hedge, and was still able to flare again on the other side and stand up the landing.

    The Pilot has a really short recovery arc coming out of turns and dives, which is good for your confidence when you're new but still want to be able to throw it around the sky, and still feels agile enough for entertaining and sudden changes of direction :) It flies very intuitively - it has always done exactly what I asked it and nothing else. I have to really whip down a toggle and hold it through a couple of revolutions to get any noticeable oversteer. Rear riser turns and flares are fine, but front riser turns are prohibitively hard over about 180 or 270 (even with the handy dive loops) and you can forget about double fronts - I can just about do chinups on mine without too much change in angle.

    Packing has been hard, but that's to be expected on any new ZP canopy. One thing that is cool is the addition of coloured packing tabs on the line groups... very highly recommended for any newbie packers out there, they remove one big potential source of error before you even start.

    Landings are probably my favourite thing about this canopy. If I time it right I can get a nice little toe-drag across the grass, but if I don't, it's no big deal. The window of landable flare times seems huge, and there is flare power all the way through the toggle stroke. I can't stall it with toggles at all, and I have very long arms! I've landed it crosswind, downwind, over hedges and ditches and in fields full of crops, and it has never once let me down.

    I love my Pilot.

  3. The Navigator was my second student canopy (started on large PDs IIRC) and I have nothing but praise for it.

    I was flying a Nav 240, which I loaded somewhere around 0.85 for the seven jumps I put on it over two days last week. The first time up, I had two or three line twists and you'd never have known from the way it flew - it just kept on going in that nice flat glide.

    Compared to the old PDs, it certainly turned crisply when I asked it to (and not before) - though not as crisply as the Spectre I flew next, obviously. Still, it gave me a nice feeling that I was actually doing something up there and not just the proverbial bag of dog food.

    Landing was a breeze. PLFed the first one just in case but after that it was clearly trying to land me on my feet, so I let it. The flare stroke was gentle and quite long, to the point where I had a bit of trouble landing a similarly-loaded 7-cell for a jump or two (which has convinced me to buy a 9-cell, if nothing else, nice though the Spectre was otherwise).

    I didn't try, but our instructors told us you simply can't stall your Navigator, which means no matter how badly you jump the gun on your flare, you can just keep the toggles down and it won't thump you.

    Highly recommended.