Fun, light and user-friendly – Seb Ospina flies this new tandem
The Parus 2 is Icaro´s newly released tandem glider designed to keep up with the increasing demand for tandem gliders that are fun to fly and light while still being user friendly.
Having never flown an Icaro glider I was very excited to try something new and see how it compares to the current rivals. I flew with the 41.5m2 version, which is certified up to a rather generous 230kg.
As usual I tested the glider in my daily job as a tandem pilot in Interlaken, Switzerland for a couple of weeks in autumn conditions in October and November, and experienced a wide variety of conditions and passenger types.
Icaro has a reputation as an innovative manufacturer, not afraid to experiment, with strong roots in freestyle and acro. Based in the south of Germany they have an intriguing mix of wings in their range, which are aimed at two different parts of the pilot spectrum.
On the XC side of things they have four wings, from the Pica (EN A) through to the Buteo (high EN B). They then don’t have any EN-C and EN-D cross-country wings at all. Instead they have freestyle and acro wings: the Aquila, Xenus and Nikita. Accessible EN-B XC machines, plus energetic and fun acro gliders. As I said, an intriguing mix.
The Parus 2 is Icaro’s tandem glider, and it is a full redesign from the Parus 1. It is built using what Icaro say is “the most sophisticated material on the market to date” – Techfibre STA15. Techfibre STA15 is a 30g/m2 lightweight nylon that Icaro says offers the best compromise between lightness and durability. Along with a sharknose design, this gives the wing “extremely easy starting and landing behaviour” as well as “benchmark” handling characteristics.
It is aimed at all tandem pilots, including those who just want to fly with family and friends as well as commercial pilots. There are two sizes available. For “freestyle or sportive oriented” pilots the 35.5m2 wing offers handling characteristics that are close to a solo wing, say Icaro. “It’s been developed for pilots looking for the ultimate fun tandem glider up to 185kg take-off weight,” Icaro say. In contrast, the larger 41.5m2 size is aimed at professional pilots.
Finally, the design will see you standing out. The top surface is the heart of Icaro’s edelweiss logo, blown up large, and comes in bold colours. The bottom surface is left white, so professional tandem pilots can add their own advertising or logos.
One of the first things to notice on the Parus 2 is the weight: at 7.2kg for the 41.5m2 version it sits amongst one of the lightest commercial tandems out there. The smaller 35.5m2 version is just 6.5kg. For professional tandem pilots weight is crucial – it’s one of the first questions we ask about a wing. If you are doing five flights a day and have to carry a glider any distance, then weight-savings count.
Other obvious features are the sharknose and Mylar reinforcements on the leading edge, along with an extra 40 mini-ribs along the top-sail. Compared with the original Parus there is 35% less drag from the lines. This is achieved by using thinner Dyneema lines and optimising their size. The risers possess a rather original big-ear locking system and a set of customisable brake handles.
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On the job
When launching the Parus 2 the glider has a good balance between being gentle and reactive. The wing comes up steadily to the 12 o’clock position, then requires very little correction. The tendency is to stay above your head, although the feedback on the risers and brakes takes some adapting to as they both feel very soft. Launching with any headwind, from zero to strong, I chose to have the trimmers fully slow and it worked fine. The few occasions when I had a little tailwind, the trimmers were slightly off.
Once in the air the glider feels very stable and safe, requiring very little attention even in active air. The brake pressure is low and the wing responds in a progressive manner to inputs. When thermalling, the Parus 2 showed great climbing capabilities thanks to a good roll, controlled pitch and great sink rate. However, when going on glide I did feel like the Magnums and Bi-Betas around me had a slight edge.
Going down on big ears the wing stays docile with zero flapping about on the tips, all made easier by the clever big-ear locking system, which comes as default on the risers. When releasing the ears the tips inflate effortlessly and often without any input.
My favourite way to get down quickly was actually wingovers. The Parus 2 is a wingover and loop machine, which came as a surprise to me as it is such a docile glider. I was also pleased with the gentle behaviour exiting the stall. If the 41.5m2 version is that fun for tricks, the 35m2 one must be amazing.
Landing the Parus 2 was generally a very gentle motion, did not require massive amounts of speed on the swoop to bring me down slowly and, thanks to the light brake pressure, doing that final flare felt good on my arms, even with heavy passengers.
Icaro has managed to develop a very competent and user-friendly tandem wing for commercial or recreational use. Thanks to its easy take-off and landing characteristics, light weight, good climbing ability and gentle behaviour, pilots and passengers are guaranteed an easy going ride. For those who want even more fun and adrenaline, the Parus 2 will certainly deliver thanks to its energetic wingovers and loops.
Icaro say: “Fully re-designed tandem with sharknose technology”
Pilot level: Tandem rated
Flat area (m2): 35.5 and 41.5
Certified take-off weight (kg): 100-185 and 130-230
Glider weight (kg): 6.5 and 7.2
Flat aspect ratio: 5.45
Certification: LTF / EN B
Published in Cross Country Issue 207 (Feb/Mar 2020)
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