I love small wings and it’s tempting to keep going smaller but know the risks and tradeoffs. I’ve flown an 11 meter wing which was, not surprisingly, remarkably responsive.

  • What happens after a motor failure? If it happens just after takeoff, you’ll be faced with a dramatic surge and dive at very high speed. If you’re a foot off the ground, an immediate pull of brakes should keep the bones intact. If you’re 10 feet off then a brief pause to allow slight surging to a mostly level attitude must be followed by nearly immediate flaring. If you’re above 100 feet than all is well as you would have enough time to let the wing surge with some dampening (to prevent front tuck), establish a glide and do a normal flare. If you have not rehearsed fine pitch control already, the instinctive responses required cannot be thought out.
  • You’ll be running really fast, especially in light wind and/or higher elevations. Tripping on surface perturbations will have graver consequences.
  • Another tradeoff is high fuel flow. Just like with reflex wings trimmed fast, it takes a lot of power to overcome our enormous drag.
  • Handling will be extremely sporty especially on models already known for sporty handling. I can only imagine what a 16 meter Spice would be like (admittedly I’d love to find out). A common cause of crashes on high end racing-type wings is an oscillation just after takeoff.
  • Lastly, although speed is great, if you do suffer a collapse the recovery will be “dramatic” at best.

So indulge in small wings carefully, understanding that with speed, inflation ease, and lightweight, comes sharp teeth that will bite unwary bravehearts who don’t pay appropriate respect.