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What you read here are my personal impressions with my MENTOR 4…

Before you go on, you should know the following: Last winter I applied to become a NOVA team pilot because I really like the vision of the NOVA pilots team – and was accepted. Until then I flew a Delta 2, a wing I enjoyed a lot – and I still think it is a wonderful paraglider. So how would the much-praised MENTOR 4 now feel – in particular as a low aspect ratio EN B-wing? For good reason you will think that my writing is biased. But I would tell exactly the same to my friends – even after a few beers… What you should also know: I´m neither a professional nor a test pilot, who can analyze things really well. Meanwhile I have logged first 15 hours of flying my Mentor 4 S (ca. 98 kg all up) in mostly demanding conditions. These are my first impressions…

January 30th was the day: my brand-new Mentor 4 arrived at my home. After doing some very nice but not „xc-significant“ flights with the Mentor 3 in late autumn, my curiosity on the new Mentor 4 was almost boundless: last season i had a really fantastic time with my Delta 2 – how would the Mentor 4 suit me and my requirements?

Sadly, the weather was too bad for any early spring air missions and, of course, family and job deserve undivided attention. Still I took time to prepare my new hardware for the upcoming season: the Mentor should get C-handles. I really like them and don´t wanna miss them in future. And my mom helped me to sew a lightweight, waterproof and breathable sausage bag. Even though NOVA says that concertina bag packing is not necessary, I still think it won’t harm.

In the middle of February, my MENTOR and me were ready to take action. Unfortunately, only some gentle glide downs from the local mountains, but not what i was looking for: thermaling and get to know the new wing. Early March the thermal conditions got better, but with some minor flaws: strong north wind, low cloud base and lots of lee-side flying in our area. All together about ten hours of flying in turbulent conditions.

After the long and strong wind period, last Friday (the day of the solar eclipse) seemed to become a really nice flying day for mid March. The weather forecast promised cloud base up to 2.600 meters, good thermals and little wind. In fact mostly everything right, yet the wind was quite strong again, 15 km/h up to 25 km/h. For our area (Bad Reichenhall, eastern Bavarian Alps) this means very limited xc possibilities. Then it is quite difficult to get out of the valley basin and proceed to the higher mountains. In addition, there was a really strong inversion on about  2.300 meters (see photos). But no matter, I had a off day, was already on the mountain and wanted to have some pleasure time with my wing.

Immediately after launch, I had the luck of hitting a strong thermal. Climbing higher I made the plan to leave our local area and try the route to Steinplatte, about 30 Kilometers south west of Bad Reichenhall. That would lead me through some fantastic alpine scenery and show the Mentor’s potential in strong headwind and rough air. After two and a half lonely hours over lots of wonderful snow-covered peaks I arrived at Steinplatte and met some other paragliders. Yeaaah!

Unfortunately, my deadline for being home for baby-sitting was 4:45 p.m., so I turned around and flew back home. The west wind fast took me to the steep walls of the Reiter Alm massif and let me soar these gorgeous peaks. A true highlight! One and a half hours after leaving Steinplatte, I landed back home. No big XC adventure – but a wonderful loop in the early season. And a flight that gave me honest feedback on the question: „(How well) do the MENTOR 4 and me fit together?“

Long time before being able to answer this question myself, some of my paragliding buddies predicted that I had made a big mistake with choosing the MENTOR 4. Well, here are my thoughts:

I can’t judge properly, if the MENTOR 4 climbs better or worse than my earlier gliders in calm conditions. But I think there´s a significant difference when getting in touch with rising air. The M4 seems to drag much more efficiently into the thermals than any wing I flew before. For me that´s the most impressive fact about it. Stability of the M4: I would consider the Delta 2 to be an extremely solid wing – even on full bar. When I saw the profile of the Mentor for the first time, I was pretty sure that it would never reach the immense stability of the Delta 2. But I was pleasantly surprised. Flying in hard thermals with lots of wind and wind shears, the only thing the Mentor did three or four times, was flapping a little with the outside cells. It feels rock solid.

Due to these squally and bumpy wind conditions I couldn´t measure exact data on trim or accelerated speed. But what I noticed both in trim and 3/4-accelerated (most of the time my travel speed): the sink rate of the Mentor seems to be lower than the sink rate of my Delta 2.

In our area there are various Mentor 3 (light) pilots. Flying with them I knew that the pilot matters more than the question of Mentor 3 or Delta 2. The overall XC performance of those two wings is pretty much the same – and the better pilot would always be ahead. Now Mentor 4 is two years younger in development. Let’s see what this means on strong and long days.

Last but not least: i also like the handling of my Mentor very much. The input gets immediately and precisely to the wing and the brake travel is – even though longer than on the Delta 2, which must be the case with an EN B wing – absolutely OK for me.

Overall, I am sure that I fly a wing with a great performance. But the most important: the MENTOR 4 gives me a very comfortable feeling and a enormous solid impression. I don´t have to pay attention to my glider, instead I can focus on the more important stuff like watching other pilots, estimate wind and weather conditions, realize cloud phases etc.

Referring to the question above: YES! We do fit together – very well!

All my doubts are blowing in the wind…



My brand-new M4C-Handles
Best mom :-)Preparations finished
Homebase ReichenhallInside the Reiter Alm massif
Fantastic sceneryBumpy thermals
Loferer Steinberge and SteinplatteFast way back to the wonderful peaks of Reiter Alm massif
Lonely……wild and romantic