A typical BGD creation. Minimalistic design with light cloth which is great for takeoff and overall safety but may cause certain questions about longevity. However it's nice to see that all lines are sheated -- good for rough use typical for entry-level free flying or paramotor pilots. The famous CCB (BGD's 3D-cut technology) didn't shine this time in terms of wing shape perfection -- a well-appreciable fissure is present on the top surface around 15% chordwise where the surface quality has the strongest effect on the aerodynamics of the whole canopy. Hey, dear reader, take a deep breath and relax -- the ultimate performance isn't the goal in this category of gliders, the safety is much more important! Discrete wingform with AR below 5, huge air intakes and the really thick airfoil confirms that performance was not of the highest priority for Bruce while creating the Wasp. It should be emphasized that Wasp is delivered with two sets of risers. The "freeflight" risers (mounted by default) have a decent and sturdy look, and the build quality is perfect. The risers for powered flight are of the same reassuring build quality, they're shorter, have two main attachment points, the speed system travel is also shorter, and trims are installed. Brake handles are of simple -- but very convenient! -- design, sized large enough for any arm with any gloves.
Ground handling and takeoff
The temper of our today's subject is clearly revealed since the first minutes of ground play. It's a naturally born school glider, for sure. Getting the canopy overhead is super easy, the wing comes in the flight position in a smooth and calm manner without any appreciable trend to overshoot even in a marked wind. You don't need to apply lots of weight -- the canopy is light enough to be set in flight position using only the A risers. Wasp also pardons most of the possible pilot errors during takeoff, it just gives you a huge stockpile of time to recognize what's going wrong and to fix it. In fact there's no matter which way do you rise the glider -- it will come into the flight position anyway, just don't give up and stay aware. The "cobra launch" (or, which is almost the same, touching the ground with one ear) can be easily made, mainly due to Wasp's above-average collapse resistance and good brakes efficiency. The takeoff occurs after an unexpectedly short run but everything is going smooth again, maybe because of the relatively high wing area.
Bruce Goldsmith likes to create wings on their own, not like others. On the other hand, a school wing (which Wasp really is!) should be super sumple, no pitfall or trick is admitted. And even more, the safety is the absolute priority. Making something different but staying within industry standards becomes a very challenging task this time... but i'm happy to confirm that Bruce really succeed in this game!
Clearly above average for such a simple wing. Wasp doesn't play on par with typical intermediate wings for free flying (like the perfect Skywalk Tequila4) but has the overall performance level which is more than enough for local soaring and even XC flying in moderate to strong thermal conditions. Max glide is very difficlut to evaluate because of Wasp's capability to loose speed and glide in every turbulent bump. But calm conditions make Wasp reveal its full potential. Flying close to Sigma 7 showed the comparable glide at trim speed -- wow! The sink rate is also much better that one could expect, maybe because of high wing area. But even while thermalling with 30-35 degrees of roll the sink rate has no dramatic increase, certainly due to Wasp's good glide ratio. Max speed? Who needs high speed while flying the school intermediate wing?.. Okay, let's push the bar pulley to pulley. In this configuration the speed increase is about +10 km/h, no wonder. But the leading edge stability, collapse resistance and overall comfort at max speed are fabulous. The max speed is very usable even in the rough staff, nice!
Another strong point for Wasp. In general entry level freeflight/PPG allrounders have modest turn ability which (in combination with heavy sink rate) makes thermalling a real challenge. Fortunately it's not the case when you fly the Wasp! This glider is a real rule-breaker in terms of maneuverability and thermal efficiency. The response to brake input is fast and relatively precise (for this category of wings), and the overall turn behavior is direct and coherent. Breakes sensibility is above average for a school wing; of course Wasp cannot rival free flight intermediates in terms of brake sensitivity -- but it easily outperforms the previous-generation beginner wings. Thermalling in strong and tricky conditions at Tenerife island impressed me a lot: Wasp had no problem both while working the strong and narrow thermal cores and while zeroing a couple of meters away from slope. During some days of such a flying the glider didn't limit me at all: difficult to achieve this nice feeling using a school glider! The brake effort is well balanced: lite in the upper third of brake travel, moderate to heavy in the second third and below, preventing the beginner pilot from doing obvious mistakes. The brakes precision depends on the brake travel: the first third didn't impress me alot (but it makes the wing more "foolproof"), much better in second third and below. The response to weight shift is good even while using not very sensitive harnesses.
Comfort and feedback
Maybe the most specific part of Wasp's nature. In strong conditions Wasp behaves like... two diffenet gliders coupled together. The concrete-firm center part reveals almost no reaction to turbulence, but the external parts of the canopy like to rock and are relatively fragile: small collapses (around 10% of wingspan) may occur even in moderate turbulence. While getting a real-life (not simulated) 75% collapse the only thing I had to do was to wait for a couple of seconds. The wing center opened itself in a fast but smooth manner, but the wingtip stayed folded for some extra instants, having almost no effect on glider behaviour and demanding no pilot input to reopen. It's difficult to evaluate Wasp's comfort and stability using a single mark. Let's say it's "perfect" for the wing center and "average" for the wingtips. As to the feedback -- it's vice versa: ear movements give lots of feedback which is converted both to brake effort changes and to main carabiners load differences. The pitch movements and airspeed variations are less pronounced and produce only a small feedback.
Above average, but giving no problem because of Wasp's high pitch dampening and slow speed changes.
Abnormal flight regimes
Perfect. Despite of modern design with plastic rods in the leading edge Wasp behaves mostly like the prev-gen "soft" wings. A-risers are loaded moderately, inducing collapse is not a problem. The overall collapse behaviour is calm and smooth. The reopening comes gradually from center to wingtip. Pitch and roll movements revealed no violence and were of very moderate amplitude (around 30 degrees). The height loss during recovery is around 5-10 meters. A behavior of a typical, fair-certified EN A glider.
Perfect again. The only (minor) complain is about the marked speed loss during collapse, but the further process is calm and smooth. Wasp reopens faster than average but gradually, with no sudden surge. The speed rebuilds also very fast. The pitch is around 30 degrees, height loss is below 10 meters. The EN A behaviour again.
Wingtip stall while thermalling
Very good (but not perfect). The wingtip stall is unreachable for lots of modern gliders, but Wasp can do it (if you ask him a lot and really know how to do it). It's really difficult to reach the stall: there's a marked buildup of brakes pressure forestalling the pilot of the vicinity of the stall point. Giving more internal brake reveals the weakness of Wasp: brake pressure doesn't diminish substantially when the stall point is reached. Some visual control of the canopy is needed to recognize the beginning of the stall. The whole situation develops slowly, the pilot has around a second to understand his error and to rise hands. If you do this immediately, Wasp does a very moderate surge, and you have a good chance to keep the glider thermalling without leaving the previously induced spiral.
No problem. Wasp behaves just how a school wing should behave. Almost now body impulse is needed to get the glider overhead, you can easily put Wasp in flight position using only A risers with the minimal risk of provoking a front collapse. Wasp comes in flight position un a smooth and calm manner with no overshoot even if you use only A risers during takeoff. Reverse launch with paramotor is no problem again, the glider pardons slow and awkward pilot actions.
The first thing which should be checked in powered flight is the wing stability in different flight regimes. There are wings formally intended for powered flight but in fact having unpleasant vibrations, wobblings and snakings, especially at full throttle and/or at full speed. Wasp has no such problem, fortunately. The whole range of available flight regimes -- from zero throttle at full speed to max throttle at low speed -- revealed the good state of leading edge and overall canopy stability. The only small imperfection was found at full throttle with full speedbar: sometimes a subtle thrill appears on the lower part of air inlets. However it's not always present and may depend on wing loading (moderate in my case). It's much more important that Wasp has no parasitic roll oscillations and doesn't wobble at all. The powered flight gives the overall smooth, comfortable and reassuring feeling, which is especially good for beginner pilots. In power flight the Wasp's behaviour is very intuitive and straightforward. You may work with throttle and brakes simultaneously, it's not a complex task even for paramotor beginners. After a very short airtime you understand that Wasp invites you to do some (really!) low passes or to perform a couple of narrow turns near the ground. Brake control in powered flight remains simple, there's only a small lag between glider reaction and brake input. Brake precision is also good, and you need just a moderate brake travel to perform basic maneuvers or even a bit more (e.g. some turns with 45 degrees of bank). The powered harness with low to moderate main attachment points admits the use of "regular" (intended for free flight) risers, in this configuration you still have no problem with hand position and brake travel.
Due to above-average brake efficiency it's possible to touch the ground in a very soft manner even if you land at zero throttle. Wasp also tolerates moderate errors during final approach. It's simple and intuitive again.
BGD gliders are always something special. And it's true for the Goldsmith's freeflight/PPG entry-level allrounder: the Wasp. Low AR, high level of passive safety, specific (but, okay, more or less comfortable) behaviour in turbulent conditions... and overall flight perforemance and turn abilities which are unexpectedly high for such a wing. In fact, Wasp's performance level is well suitable for some XC flying (which was more than difficult with the previous generation of gliders of this kind), and, on the other hand, Wasp is a very pleasant, simple and intuitive PPG wing for beginners. The compromises typical for freeflight/PPG wings are minimal, the Wasp implies virtually no restraint both in free and powered flight. Impressive! The owner profile: entry level but well-motivated pilot having yet no decision about his further flying philosophy. PPG or free flight? Come on, why should you say "or"? Use both... and have fun!
- Nice response to brakes and weight shift, good turn ability
- Above-average flight performance
- Passive safety typical for EN A classed wings
- Suitable for entry level pilots
- Nothing to declare!
Special thanks to:
- Sergey Shelenkov for offering the glider for tests
- Mikhail Arzumanov for help with towing flights
- Evgeny for offering the PPG gear