My equipment

As I fly for fun and don’t enter competitions, my choice of equipment prioritises enjoyment over performance numbers. I have no relationship with any manufacturer.

Gliders

I flew a Gradient Aspen 4 in 2013 and 2014. I loved its superb handling and responsiveness, in particular its ability to centre strong thermals. However, I found that after 3-4 hours in lively conditions, I was becoming frazzled by constant attention on keeping the wing well balanced, which was impairing my motivation and decision-making.

The Ozone Rush 4 which I used for the next three seasons (2015, 2016, and 2017) suited me much better – it enabled me to fly in active air indefinitely and still feel fresh and focussed. The biggest plus point of this wing for me was the overall blend of handling, sensitivity, and performance.  I found the feedback sufficient but not excessive, and I enjoyed its agility and efficiency in thermals.  The only negative was a feeling that the top speed was on the low side for the high B class.  In over 500 hours on this glider, I experienced just a single full-bar blowout, which was a non-event, as the wing was flying normally again so quickly.

I changed to the Swing Nyos RS at the start of 2018.  It edged the Rush 5 by being released earlier, otherwise I would have had a difficult choice to make between these two.  I was attracted by Swing’s claim that this is a comfortable glider to fly in turbulent air, which I have found to be well justified, and I really like using the C-bridge when accelerated.  It glides better than the Rush 4, especially on the bar and in rough conditions, but the natural turn radius is wider.  After I had had 100 hours airtime on this wing, I wrote a detailed review.

Harness

I’m delighted with my Swing Connect Race which is now on its fourth season of use; it’s a well sorted piece of kit. I’ve found it very comfortable on long flights, with a balance between stability, sensitivity and authority that suits me (with the chest strap on a relatively wide setting), and it has all the features which you’d expect from an XC-orientated harness. It was easy to set up initially, and I have no difficulty in getting into the pod immediately after taking off, and using the bar. The quality of materials and construction is faultless, and after over 600 hours use, it’s still in good condition, with just a bit of fading on the more heavily sun-exposed surfaces revealing its age.

Instruments

I use a Flymaster GPS SD+. The ability to compose ones own layout is a facility which I value highly; here’s my current main page:

I expect that some pilots would find this screen too cluttered, but it suits me.  I opted for the live tracking facility of the SD+ so that if I haven’t reported in “down and safe” to my wife, she can check that I’m still airborne, or if it appears otherwise and she’s unable to contact me, she can pass on my last recorded position to assist Rega.

The only other instrument on my flight deck is a cheap ball compass, to facilitate maintaining a straight heading in the unlikely event of needing to escape from cloud at the same time as a GPS failure.