WW Falcon 2, review after 10 sled rides or so, one soaring flight, and experiences after one hg course.

Falcon 3 195 “review”, added October 4th 2007.

A couple of days ago I had the opportunity to test Steinar’s Falcon 3 195. The launch was by scooter tow, 50 cc scooter, and I only got a short flight. My impression is that the Falcon 3 is as good as its predecessor. It seems to be a little faster and more responsive. This is difficult to tell after only one short flight, but Steinar, who has flown both Falcon 2 and 3195 a lot, points this out. As such it is a good recreational glider, but we are a little concerned that it has become a little less ideal for courses and beginners. Maybe we are wrong?

New from the Falcon 2 is that the Falcon 3 is delivered with a speedbar, a nose cone, and has a transverse batten which makes the wash out support the two out-most curved batten. In addition, I think that the sail cut is improved and it is small changes to the hardware.

Falcon 2 – 170 and 195, additions to the original review, added October 4th 2007.

Since the review below I have flown the Faclon 2 170 and 195 quite a few hours and flights, and I have done so in all kind of conditions. I have launch in strong conditions to very weak tailwind (not recommendable even with a Falcon 2), and I have aero towed it and scooter towed it. Further, I have flown ridge soaring, thermals, in strong and weak conditions, and so on. We have also used the Falcons at our hang glider course. My first impressions of the glider have just been confirmed. I have had no bad experiences with the glider, and still nothing I would have liked to change. Most important, it is still fun to fly; I am sure I will never be tired of flying these gliders. Steinar J. has even made quite a few decent xc-flights on his Falcons 2 and 3.

 

Bjørn Hammer, March 29th 2005.

In Norway anything that is fun is either heavily taxed or prohibited. Consequently, I fear that the Falcon 2 will be banned from Norway. The reason is that this is by far the most fun glider I have ever tried.

Delivery
The Falcon 2, as all Wills Wings, come with a comprehensive manual, a few spare parts, and a WW cap; nice. Further, the follow up from the manufacturer is very good. At least, that is my experience.

The glider
The Falcon 2 is, as far as I can tell, a modern and well manufactured hang glider. Most tubes, including the battens, are of 7075 aluminum. The battens have lever tip ends, except the last cured one towards the wingtip, and the straight batten used for tensioning of the sail. I was little skeptical of use of lever tips ends on a school glider, but so far we have had no problems. Only one lever tip has broken, but obviously you need to instruct the students/users better than for an shabby old wreck of a glider.
Otherwise, the glider has the same “standard” high quality solutions as other models from Wills Wing. See the Falcon 2 gallery below for detailed pictures.

Flying the Falcon 2 – sizes 170 and 195
Easy launch, easy flying, and easy landing! To elaborate a little. The Falcon 2 is very light and feels relatively neutral on the shoulders. This makes it easy to launch, and even in 0-wind conditions I felt that I had full control during the entire launch run. In the air both sizes have very good and light handling, although the smaller size was a little more responsive – but that is hardly a surprise (I hook in about 105 kg, 90 kg netto. Having observed both sizes in the air with a light pilot on the 170 and a heavy pilot on the 195 it seems, however, that the 195 has a noticeable better sink than the smaller size. This, could have something to do with the hook in weight, but the wing loading should be somewhat the same for both gliders.
Pitch pressure is relatively light, but still noticeable, and it is easy to pull in some speed. Actually, I was quite surprised by the speed potential of the Falcon 2. In 0-wind I measured speeds of 60 km/h without problems (GPS measurement). The glider has a kind and not too scary stall, and it recovers speed and ordinary flying quickly. During landing the flare window is wide and the glider is forgiving even when flaring at high speed – I tried this and was not scared.
I have also flown the Falcon 2 195 one flight in pretty rough conditions, with hard and fast high pressure thermals in a lea side and rotor. I had one “weightless” out-of-the-thermal experience, managed gain over 700 metres, and I also had steady 5,5 m/s sink towards the LZ in these rough conditions. The Falcon 2 feels steady and safe all the way, and it handled also these conditions really well.

The response from the hg-students that have been flying the Falcon 2 is only positive. They all love the glider, and think it is easy and fun to fly.

What could have been better?
I can not think of anything substantial (and that is unusual for me). I would have preferred pip-pins instead of bolts and nuts with a safety ring for the bottom-bar. But this is easy to fix, and the bolts and nuts are probably safer.

My previous beginner and intermediate glider experience (the comparison): La Mouette Atlas 16, Aeros Target, Avian Clubman 16, Avian Elan 150, Avian Amour 159 (my first glider).

For pictures, see the Falcon 2 gallery.

Falcon 2

Øyvind Ellefsen ready to test fly the Falcon 2. Photo (C) Bjørn Hammer.

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