Berni Pessl about the NOVA ION 5 Light after flying record-breaking FAI triangle in Slovenia
Light and high performing
Here some of his impressions on the ION 5 Light:
"I really wanted to try the ION 5. It was a lucky coincidence that NOVA had just completed the Light version and that I was able to get one of the first serial production wings to test. The 16th of June was forecast to be an epic day in the Alps. First, I had to unpack the ION and sort the lines. It's the usual NOVA style, but with red/green colour-coding for left and right. Then I took off with my buddy Chris Feichtl at the Stallersattel.
In the air, I quickly got that a familiar feeling. It reminded me of the MENTOR 3. In the first thermal I immediately felt comfortable.
In comparison to the ION 4, I prefer the handling of the ION 5. The wing turns more willingly and the steering is more precise. I think this is due to the new attachment points of the brake lines - works super well! The tight turn radius and the comparatively low trim speed allowed me to circle deep and close to the terrain. During my first turns near the rocks, I was surprised how much tighter I could turn the wing.
The ION 5 Light feels really compact - like its predecessor. The wing damps a lot of the turbulence in rough air, but the vital information (like if the air is climbing or sinking and what is happening to the canopy) is still fed back. The combination of the tightest possible turn radius and its directional stability are a real pleasure – even in craggy terrain in rough conditions.
Of course, I wanted to check the ION 5 Light during a cross-country flight… To climb effectively and to be able to get yourself out of difficult situations are top qualities in a wing. But that to do if you already have enough height and a thermically active mountain range is ahead of you? Get going, push the bar! Even if you are still climbing, you can happily apply full speed. At full-bar, the speed markedly increases. This means I soon rack up the kilometres. Unlike many other wings, the ION 5 Light is even more directionally stable when fully-accelerated. So you can be relaxed when heading for the next thermal source. The wing buffers turbulences well – an important characteristic that is often overlooked in XC flying. During long valley crossings I always flew full speed. The difference in glide performance and speed in comparison to my MENTOR 5 isn't really noticeable.
To check the wing's suitability for pilots new to cross-country flying, I naturally also wanted to test the wing's stability and it's extreme flight behaviour (two words that don't really go together when talking about the ION 5 Light). I flew deliberately passively in strong thermals and occasionally windy conditions. I.e. full speed - hands-up, brakes fully released (when I was high over the terrain) – sitting straight. I flew through several strong thermals in this manner. The wing needed hardly any correction. I only had a 50 % collapse on one occasion. I continued to fly at speed and the wing opened automatically, without turning.
I can recommend the ION 5 Light in good conscience to nearly every pilot. Competition pilots and those that wish to feel every movement, or what wish the wing to turn with the air, should consider an alternative canopy. But (XC) pilots who enjoy the scenery, that want to have their hands free sometimes and who value relaxed flying and who want to enjoy beautiful flights even in not ideal conditions should try the ION 5 Light. Playing in front of a peak or top landing on a tiny patch are perfectly possible thanks to the win's stability and low speed.
If you fly the ION 5 Light highly accelerated during XC flights, it is possible to keep up with markedly higher classified gliders. Anyone who doesn't feel safe in accelerated flight will find the ION is an ideal tool to practice full speed - and can learn how easy it is to keep up with others. This begs the question once more: how "high-performance" does a wing have to be in order to fly very, very far?"