346 Kilometres with the ION 4 RC (Release Candidate)
Bernhard Peßl: “Flying cross-country in Quixadá is not easy”
Asked what he thought about the flying conditions in Quixadá, which is seen as the El Dorado of late autumn distance flying, XC expert and record holder Peßl (on the right) said "kind of difficult to fathom". "Stable, turbulent, windy, broken – but somehow it works."
The 27-year-old and fellow NOVA team pilot Josef Edlinger (left) spent nearly three weeks inspecting the Brazilian scrublands. He flew more than 300km on three occasions and his excellent results surprised even himself, said Peßl. Twice he landed in the boonies just short of the 300km mark.
With his usual boundless enthusiasm, Peßl said that the flying conditions were completely different to his expectations. "The layering of the airmass can be relatively stable. Strong solar radiation leads to small bubbles that release suddenly and then disappear shortly after." This means one starts to turn, does a few circles and then massive sink replaces the hard-won climb.
Peßl explains that a Quixadá day begins at the windy take-off "which is unfavourably situated, the wind is usually off the slope and accelerated by the compression". Once the pilot has soared up the face at Santuario, the first critical 30-40 kilometres begin. “The morning thermals are often strong, but the sink is equally pronounced and the operational height is limited. The morning clouds can’t be trusted – they are extremely short-lived” explains Peßl. One has to feel where and how the climbs work. For half the pilots this will be the end of their XC adventure for that day.
Between 100 and 200 kilometres the thermals are hiding between heaven and earth. "It is completely blue!" Peßl explains that pilots need to develop a feel for where the thermals might be and at the same time the massive areas of sink have to be crossed at full speed. Added to this is the strong wind which shreds the thermals and which causes a lot of turbulence. “Anyone who thinks that the flying in Quixadá is super comfortable flatland flying is very much mistaken!”
"When the guys saw that I had flown an incredible 346 kilometres on the ION, their gentle smiles turned into surprised respect."
Peßl was flying a MENTOR 4 as well as an ION 4 RC (Release Candidate), given to him by the NOVA design team. The wing was subjected to an endurance and thermal test and it passed with flying colours. As Peßl describes: "In Brazil nearly every pilot flies a high performance wing. At first they tried to stop me taking off on the ION – they thought I would be far too slow. When the guys saw that I had flown an incredible 346 kilometres on the ION, their gentle smiles turned into surprised respect. Nobody could believe it was possible to fly so far with such a tame wing."
After his test run, Peßl describes the ION 4 RC as "just amazing!" The performance of the ION 4 is comparable to the MENTOR 3 – the wing that Peßl used on the only 300 kilometre FAI triangle flown on an EN/LTF certified B wing to date. And the handling? “A dream come true! The wing practically thermals itself." With a grin Peßl tells the story of climbing in a 5m/s thermal with a brake in one hand while he had the camera in the other to film climbing with other pilots. "This wing is so relaxed!"
And which wing will he fly in the forthcoming Alps XC season? ION or MENTOR? "Probably both!"
Would you like to know more?
- Visit Bernhards XContest profile ↗
- 346.81 kilometres with the ION 4 RC ↗
- 377.02 kilometres with the MENTOR 4 ↗
Would you like to know more about the ION 4 (EN/LTF-B)?
The wing is currently undergoing intensive tests – for this reason it is currently called the ION 4 RC. RC is an abbreviation of Release Candidate. Our development team takes its responsibility very seriously and will only approve the wing for production when it conforms to all aspects of our high performance, handling and safety quality standards.
For this reason it is not possible for us to specify a release date. Be prepared for a benchmark setting wing – Bernhard Peßl’s 346 kilometre flight is just a preview of the performance capability of this glider, which excites with its amazing handling and is true to its motto: an ION is an ION. Performance for all!