Press Release from NOVA:
On May 10th 2012, NOVA team pilot Werner Luidolt succeeded in flying a FAItriangle
on his ION 2 covering a distance of 223,9 km. He started his flight at Grente (South Tyrol) and flew an average speed of 24,13 km/h. Werner’s flight represents the longest FAI-triangle ever completed with a paraglider suitable for instruction.
With this flight the Austrian pilot won the the »ION 2-Hundred Challenge«.
After his epic flight Werner reported his personal impressions and experiences to NOVA. Due to the fact that his comments turned out to be extremely positive, NOVA emphasizes that they neither asked him for his report nor that they took any influence on his words. Well, this is his story:
“I was rather excited by the flight laying ahead of me. On one hand I did not know the area for paragliding at all and it was also my first flight with the ION 2. (Thanks a lot again to Anna
from the flying school »Aufwind« for lending me the wing). On the other hand weather guru Stefan Hörmann (it’s a forecast especially for paraglider pilots, but unfortunately only in
German) suspected that we were going to face epic flying conditions on that day. Alptherm (also highly recommendable, from Austria) was looking rather good as well. So it was no
surprise to find an illustrious group of highly qualified XC-pilots at the launch at Grente.
First leg – northeast to Matrei: I was not as fast as the others to take-off and hit the first thermal of day. Amidst such excellent pilots I quickly found myself chasing the pack. But as there was already a pretty nice cloud street on the leg to Matrei, I pushed the speed bar a lot and started to chase the pack. This was the first time where the ION 2 really surprised me. I could not only catch up, I even left the EN C-wings behind. Of course, in this context having certain luck choosing the right line at the cloud base and in between matters. However it has to be acknowledged that the other pilots weren"t beginners after all.
Second leg – west to Ridnaun Valley: From now on we all had to cope with headwind. I was mostly flying with speed bar on about 50 % and found the L/D again very good. Actually I was always able to reach the next reach at about the same altitude as all the Mentor 2 pilots. If necessary, I was also flying at full speed and was excited about the rock-solid leading edge. I arrived at Bruneck together with Oliver Teubert on his Cayenne 4 and Hannes Kronberger on a Mentor 2. Without difficulty I was able to keep up with both of them and later found myself to
be first to traverse to Ridnaun Valley. Unfortunately, I had never flown there before and consequently I wasn"t aware of the possibility to get in at lower altitude. Hence, I headed for the safer but slower version to the north. Moreover being the first I didn"t have any “helping dummies” ahead.
My conclusion on this leg: EN C pilots definitely have more work-load while flying in strong thermals. I was able to focus on the best lift underneath a cloud instead and could beam myself up without any incidents. The ION 2 climbs outstandingly well, no matter whether in narrow or wide turns. (Information: I flew the wing in size S, loaded with approximately 100 to 102 kg, which worked out very well).
Third leg – southwest into the Dolomites with a tailwind: Not knowing the notorious Lüsner Alm, I deliberately reduced my pace because. I couldn"t judge the traverse for a lack of experience and besides, everyone gave me advice to be cautious beforehand. This time wellexperienced Oliver Teubert flew ahead and I hoped he would show me the right entrance to the thermal. I arrived slightly lower at a still convenient altitude. The wind was blowing strangely from all different directions at the same time. Yet the ION 2 stood rock-solid above me, enabling me to successfully climb quickly and comfortably. In the Dolomites the whole thing turned out to be a bit tricky: overcast sky due to some cirrus clouds and no way of cloud-base of 4000 meters. Therefore, I now switched to more defensive flying because it was my prior goal to reach the 200 km. Besides, 2000 euros for the first FAItriangle on an ION 2 are no to be sneezed at as well. Finally, everything worked out well. I not only completed the 200 km, I achieved 223,9 km!
What is the ultimate potential of the ION 2? Of course, the day itself was excellent, but nevertheless I could have flown it further. A take-off 20 minutes earlier could have been possible, and one more hour flying time in the evening was also possible. The conditions in the Dolomites left a lot to be desired with less than 4000 meters cloud base. So the leg southwards could be expanded. I would guess that on a perfect day without a lot of wind 250 to 260 km can be achieved with the ION 2. Considering that this wing is suitable for instruction, it is definitely a huge potential.
Interferences during the entire flight: 1 x mini front-collapse at full speed, 1 x 20 %
asymmetric collapse at Lüsner Alm. What is my conclusion? NOVA describes the ION 2 as a perfect paraglider for a major part of the paragliding community. I fully agree on this: you don" t really need “more” – at least I don"t. That"s why I decided to use the ION 2 for XC-flying this season. I still love my Factor 2 with its direct and precise handling and its straightforwardness. However, concerning my XC ambitions with my present paragliding skills, I am convinced that an ION 2 or the Mentor 2 are
the better options. Until recently, I flew glider planes pretty successfully, so I know about meteorology and thermals etc. Yet I"m not a master in paragliding. Since I have quit any kind of competition flying, it nowadays is of the utmost importance to me to be able to fly in a laid back style. I don"t feel to be skilled enough to fully achieve the performance, which a wing such as the Factor 2 would be able to deliver. Of course, other more experienced pilots might do so. But not me.
Another reason why I was able to fly such a long distance is the fact that I didn"t have the feeling of discomfort in a single moment. I sincerely hope that many others will make this experience as well. This kind of paragliding doesn"t just offer more safety, it also grants you more fun. These are the aspects that NOVA always promotes. I can just truly confirm and emphasize them.
What do I not really like about the ION 2? Due to my profession as an art designer I always consider about aesthetics in general. The Factor 2 and all the other high-aspect wings are literally a feast for the eyes. Additionally, you certainly have better chances to impress women than with a plump ION 2. What could be done in this department?
An additional personal note: Sometimes there exist signs that one should make use of. First the unexpected lending of the wing from !Aufwind" school and then the first real collective flight with the good paragliding buddies. People who are all very friendly and push each other to a very high level – but always in a playful way that contains a lot of positive energy and team spirit. Originally coming from the full size glider department, I can pretty much be regarded as being a career changer into the paragliding community, which in my opinion is rather uncommon. But in doing so I get to know a lot more people and I am able to gain new friends which is very important to me as well. Therefore I want to thank the NOVA team for enabling me to develop myself further and to make all these great new experiences full of joy.”