Sky brought out the Apollo 2 in spring 2019, and the lightweight version followed in January 2020. The Apollo 2 is Sky’s high-B cross-country wing, and fits into their range above the low-B Kudos, which I reviewed in issue 194 and enjoyed, so I was looking forward to trying the sportier model, in particular the light version.
Sky sent their Reverse 5 lightweight reversible harness to fly with it, and what was delivered was a complete XC-friendly lightweight wing-plus-harness package that together weighed around 6.5kg.
Sky make their wings in their own factory in the Czech Republic, and have a good reputation when it comes to the finish of their products. I’d say deservedly so judging by the finish of the Apollo 2 Light, which is very neat in all aspects.
The Apollo 2 Light is based on the Apollo 2, but as well as being made from lighter materials, Sky say they modified the internal structure so it benefits in terms of performance as well as weight and pack size. The light version is made from Skytex 27 in the panels with 32 on the leading edge, where the heavier one is Skytex 32 and 38.
The weight saving is around 650g in the S size (3.4kg vs 4.05kg) or a winter-rations bottle of water, but the full-fat version is already a pretty light wing (the S is around a kilo lighter than the S-size Rush 5, for instance). Sky changed the lines on the Apollo 2 Light version too, using really skinny 0.38mm Dyneema in the top galleries.
Design and build
The glider has 55 cells and a flat aspect ratio of 5.59 (4.23 projected), similar to the Advance Iota 2 and a bit higher than say a BGD Punk (5.4) or Ozone Rush 5 (5.55). It’s a nice-looking wing, with the stylised Sky ‘S’ design on top and a white undersurface and I liked the lime /blue/white colours of the test wing I was sent.
It has a slight sharknose, constructed with nylon rods stitched onto Mylar, and longer Hypalon bands at the edges of the cells supporting the air entries. As well as adding rigidity to the cells, the Mylar means the rods don’t rub on the cloth, so it seems like a good idea in terms of durability as well as adding rigidity.
The cells are ‘triple 3D cut’ (two cuts on the top surface, one underneath) to shape them for a clean and smooth leading edge. None of the rods are excessively long, so there are no issues with packing the wing down small.
There are three risers and three main line levels, with the Cs bifurcating to Ds at the top. The risers are made from 13mm black nylon and have zig-zag stitching colour-coding them to match the line colours. The As are split so there is a big-ears riser, and the C-risers have steering handles.
Swivels keep the brake lines from twisting up, and there’s a short finger bar on the brake handles to rest your fingers on for precise steering. Sky opted for fuss-free poppers to attach the brake handles to the risers. The lower lines are sheathed, and Sky’s branded plastic inserts fill the gap inside the maillons that attach them to the risers, so the lines can’t slide around.
Choosing a glider size is sometimes not obvious. I usually fly at around 70kg all up, which puts me right at the top of the weight range on the XS, so I opted to test-fly the S (23.5m2 for 64-81kg). The Kudos has the same weight ranges, and I was happy with the S size that I tested although it was with a slightly heavier harness.
With the Apollo 2 Light / Reverse 5 harness combo I ended up around 68kg, and although I didn’t get the impression the Apollo 2 Light was too big for me during these winter-time test flights, if I was buying one to fly year-round in strong thermals I would definitely have tested and probably opted for the XS. I guess this is one reason that testivals are so good – you get the opportunity to try two sizes and decide, before committing.
In the air
I flew the glider for around seven hours in February, in winter conditions at Gréolières in the south of France. Conditions ranged from very light and scratchy to some beautiful winter thermals and sightly feisty convergence.
On launch, the sail feels like a lightweight. It needs only the lightest of pulls to get it into the air, and a small dab of the brakes to stop it from overflying. It’s easy to steer on the way up if it comes up slightly off-centre. Forward launching is also very easy. In stronger winds you need to be gentle to avoid being unceremoniously hoiked off your feet (ask how I know this!).
It’s a very intuitive wing in the air, with light brake pressure but immediate and direct steering, so it’s really easy to put where you want it and a pleasure to thermal. I felt at home on it straight away. It turns nice and efficiently flat, and reacted well to weightshift despite me being quite light on it – I assume this aspect would be even better if it was more loaded.
In light and scratchy conditions it’s a winner: really efficient, it seems to just float up the hillside. It gives good clear feedback which makes it easy to centre in thermals, but in the feisty stuff it needs some active piloting – it’s not overly pitchy, but it moves around noticeably more than the Kudos, of course. It feels compact and homogeneous and moves as a unit, so it’s not too taxing.
I think it’s a very straightforward step up from a low-B, and it’s agile and fun. It seems to glide well and has decent speed, which I would expect to have been even better closer to the top of the weight range. I didn’t get TAS probe speed measurements, but from GPS speeds I noted that full bar consistently gave 12-13km/h above trim speed.
The rear-riser steering is something that’s pretty new to me as I’ve been flying low Bs that don’t have rear-riser control handles. I tend to adopt a leaning-crab style of attempting to steer by weightshift while on bar, so it was nice being able to steer with them.
The handles on the Apollo 2 are only attached to the C-risers, and they don’t allow for proper pitch control like some of the more complex riser set-ups out there. However, they are a good place to rest your hands when on glide and want to keep your hands high (for best glide) while staying in contact with the wing, and for easily steering the glider when flying at trim. We asked Sky about this and they agreed: “The risers are quite simple and the rear steering is only on C-risers, which is enough to keep this forgiving glider under control with very little strength.”
Big ears meanwhile are easy to pull in and the wing is nicely settled with them in with no thrashing or rocking about. A simple pump gets them back out again easily.
Sky’s philosophy is to make wings pilots will have fun on, and that don’t push the limits of their classes. The Apollo 2 Light feels to me like an accessible high-B, that’s fun and intuitive to fly. I enjoyed its lightness, climbing ability and performance. All that was missing were some nice summer thermals and welcoming mountainsides to bivouac on, to take this glider out for a romp in the mountains where it really belongs.
Sky say: “Lightweight EN-B glider with higher performance for long XC flights in comfort and safety”
Use: soaring, thermalling, cross country
Pilot level: intermediate
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
Flat area (m2): 21.97, 23.47, 25.07, 26.78, 28.60
Certified take-off weight (kg): 50-70, 64-81, 74-94, 85-108, 99-125
Glider weight (kg): 3.25, 3.40, 3.55, 3.75, 3.95
Flat aspect ratio: 5.59
Certification: EN B
SKY REVERSE 5
The Reverse 5 is a reversible lightweight harness for everyday flying, as opposed to a hike-and-fly lightweight. It has an LTF-certified airbag protector with nylon wires to pre-inflate it, and a reserve container with a Y-bridle built in.
It’s designed for vol-bivouac or hike-and-fly, and I found it comfortable to carry. The strap padding is on the light side compared to some rucksacks, but the straps are well shaped and actually the padding was plenty. The back is well padded with an aeration channel (nothing really stops a sweaty back though!) and the zipped pocket on the waistbelt is big enough to keep your phone accessible and secure. There is no dedicated Camelbak pocket and my kit didn’t leave much room inside the bag, but the deep side pockets can take a big drinks bottle so I carried water this way.
As mentioned above, the small Apollo 2 Light with helmet, instrument and jacket filled the rucksack volume, and I used its expandable zipped section (Cargo Mode) as I was carrying an SLR camera with a big lens and found I needed the extra space. For my purposes, or if you’re going vol-bivouac, I think a bigger volume would have been welcome. There again, if you’re flying with a small mountain wing the space would be more than ample, and you’d need the compression straps that are provided to cinch the load in. It’s a good compromise to suit the different ways it’s likely to be used. The compression straps can also be used to secure trekking poles or a GoPro on a stick in the deep side pockets.
Reversing it to harness mode is straightforward. The harness has a carbon seat plate, neoprene covers on the leg-strap webbing, and padded back and shoulders. Freedom of movement on launch is very good, and it was easy to adjust the harness to a comfortable flying position (I did this on the ground). The M size (163-183cm) was a good fit for me at 170cm, and although the seat plate is slightly less deep than on my usual harness it gave enough support. It has a speedbar retainer and pulleys, and the accessories are high quality – AustriAlpin buckles and YKK zips, and nice Sky-branded twistlock karabiners.
I found it easy to get into after take-off and legs down for landing, and generally comfortable in flight although on longer flights (my longest flight was two hours) I noticed that the back isn’t as supportive as my usual (heavier) harness. It’s a perfectly acceptable compromise for the reduced weight though, and altogether a nice piece of kit.
Available in four sizes, RRP around €750
This review was published in Cross Country issue 211