Thursday, October 23, 2014
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Ground Launching Speed Flying Sports: What is an Ultra Glider?

What is an Ultra Glider?

An "Ultra" Speed Glider is a wing with more performance (speed) than your average Speed Flying wing. Most Speed Gliders are designed by paragliding companies and are descendants of Paragliders. These gliders have more camber with a thicker airfoil and create more parasite drag.

In contrast, Ultra gliders are descendants of the high performance "swooping" parachute used for canopy piloting. These wings have thinner airfoils and less camber. The wing of an Ultra glider is relatively flat, thin and sleek compared to your typical speed glider.

Ultra gliders have cascaded lines that are attached to four risers, two front risers and two rear risers. The front riser are joined to the A & B lines and the rear risers are joined to the C & D lines. These gliders have very aggressive trims and are designed to be flown efficiently on rear risers. In fact, most Ultra gliders are launched and flown with no toggle input at all. The toggles (brake lines) are typically used only at the very end of a landing or in certain flying conditions.

Ultra Gliders are made with a tri-cell construction which divides each cell of the canopy into three chambers. This "cross bracing" gives the canopy more rigidity and thus more performance. The air ramming into the cells of the glider "locks" the cross bracing in position which creates the added rigidity. Cross bracing is not as effective on larger paragliders or parachutes because these wings do not generate enough airspeed to lock the bracing in position throughout each cell. At slower airspeeds the cross bracing goes "limp" which creates additional drag on the system.

Ultra Gliders are typically 60-135sqft (5-12m) but the smallest Ultra glider ever flown and landed was the JVX 37sqft (3.4m)!

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