This is the original Reflex wing. I remember
going down to Florida to try a Sky Cruiser top 80 and one of these
wings. At the time I had only been flying for a year or so but was
intrigued by the claims of collapse resistance and heard lots about the
wing. Kudos to Michael Campbell Jones for introducing the concept for
the first time.
My first flight was in gusty conditions on
a then-new Sky Cruiser and, admittedly, it wasn't a long flight. Besides
barely being able to gain altitude, the brake pressures were so high I
was worried that I would struggle with landing. Mind you this was in my
first year of flying. I've flown the wing many times since then, trying
to like it, but just wasn't able to pull that off.
Handling (1): This set a new low for
handling, rivaling the most beginner of beginner gliders for a lack of
brake responsiveness. And it got worse when the trimmers were let out.
Not surprisingly, you were supposed to use tip steering when flying fast
since the brakes were there mostly to do pullups with. Mind you, like
any wing, you could get it to yank and bank it just took enormous
The glider's mission wasn't handling, it
was collapse resistance and speed, both of which it excelled at.
Inflation (1): This was right down
there with my first wing, the Apco Santana. Yes, I was able to inflate
it running in the field, and yes it did tend to come up straight but, oh
my god, the effort required! Having berated it for that, know that it
tolerates an enormous amount of "A" pull which, if you do every time,
and make sure to get moving quickly before letting go of those A's,
you'll have great success.
Whenever I struggle with a wing it's nearly
always because I don't have the right technique for that wing rather
than the wing itself. If pilots are launching it consistently with
success than its up to me to figure out how. But then that's part of
what I enjoy about trying new stuff.
Efficiency (1): I could barely keep it
aloft with the trimmers fast let alone with speedbar, not that I had one
on the demo machine I was flying. I remember thinking there's no way the
motor would last very long having to work this hard.
Speed (7): It's faster than average.
It has trimmers and speedbar and is relatively so
Construction (9): The lines were built
to handle flying a tank. It was exceedingly well made to the point of
being overbuilt. That was probably part of its inflation struggle—it
weighed probably 18 pounds.
Certification & Safety (7): It
never got certified because the testing didn't know what to do with it.
The wing was so hard to collapse that they couldn't induce some of the
required deformations. But that says a lot for its safety.
Overall (-): This clearly wasn't my
type of paraglider. It excelled at going quickly but with horrible
handling, making it great for pilots wanting to go cross country without
needing to do lots of maneuvering. If that's your main activity then
it's pretty good but nothing like the current crop of reflex gliders.