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Flying down from the Dent de Crolles on Susi 3s with Mt Blanc in the background Photo: Nicolas Cochet
Reviews

AirDesign Susi 3 Mini Review

Sunday 9 February, 2020

It’s light and right for a hike-and-fly, says Ed Ewing

Faced with perfect conditions for a hike-and-fly from the Dent de Crolles (2,062m) at the Coupe Icare this year, but with no glider, I borrowed a SuSi 3 from the AirDesign stand. “It’s our best selling glider in France,” I was told.

I’ve known about the SuSi since it was introduced in 2013, but never flown it. The concept is that it’s a Super Simple glider to fly that, depending on your weight and desire, you can match to your ambition.

So if you want to go high-wind soaring at the beach you fly a smaller size; if you are looking for a classic low-mid EN B you take a bigger glider. There are now five sizes. Size 13 is new and EN D. Sizes 16, 18 and 21 are certified in two weight ranges, the heavier wing-loading getting EN C and the lighter wing-loading EN B. Size 23 is EN B.

 

AirDesign SuSi 3

Playing on launch

That’s all slightly technical, but, taking advice, I took the biggest size (I am 99kg naked). “It’s just an EN B, easy to fly,” the AirDesign crew said.

That size 23 weighs 2.8kg and packs down small. Paired with a lightweight harness and a helmet my pack weighed less than 6kg. Carrying it was a breeze.

On the top I was impressed with the construction. It’s a proper paraglider, which meant I was immediately at home. I am not a real fan of the ultra-lightweight kit, as it can seem very fragile (and I’m not lightweight myself). Unsheathed lines on rocks are not great either.

The Susi’s light but robust construction (bootlace risers but sheathed lines, for example) created confidence. Groundhandling it straight out of the bag was easy – it was light, and responded nicely – and the reverse launch in light wind was simple and straightforward, no rushing.

In the air I was immediately taken by its sense of completeness. Soaring a few beats in light lift alongside a couple of full-fat wings I thought, “I’m not going down”. The fly bit of the hike-and-fly was a delight. “If you want it to go steep, it will, it has the energy,” I’d been told. But, sans rescue, I just flew steadily from top to bottom.

On landing I came in behind some trees with a bit of turbulence, and it cut through nicely and stayed stable and responsive to active piloting. Landing behaviour was perfect.

A pilot on a Dudek Run&Fly landed just behind me, and we grinned at each other. “Beautiful morning!” he said, and I could only agree. Beautiful wing too.

GLIDER SPECIFICATIONS

AirDesign say: “The SuSi 3 is a hike-and-fly all-round glider ”
Use: Soaring, hike-and-fly, XC
Pilot level: All levels, depending on wing loading
Sizes (m2): 13, 16, 18, 21, 23
Certified take-off weight: 50-122kg
Glider weight (kg): 1.86, 2.05. 2.29, 2.56, 2.81
Cells: 34
Flat aspect ratio: 4.85
Certification: EN B / C for higher loading

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Published in Cross Country Issue 205 (Nov 2019)

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