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Review of Windtech Pulsar
by Norbert Aprissnig

Review courtesy of Gleitschirm Magazine

Translated from German by Verena Burns.

The Spanish producer Windtech pulled-off something of a coup in the DHV 1-2 category with their highly acclaimed Serak. Gleitschirm tested it’s successor, the Pulsar.

To beat a successful model is a particularly difficult task for any manufacturer. In the case of a successor for the Serak, the objectives for Windtech constructor Alvaro Valdes were clearly set, but hard to realize: Keep the advantages of the Serak, increase the performance and eliminate any down sides. The Serak’s all-round harmonic performance, manoeuvrability and handling was very much appreciated by pilots, so it’s difficult to find many downsides. Perhaps I would like a little more roll stability, and there is some potential to improve it’s climb-rate in weak thermals. Some pilots found it a little more difficult to get maximum height gains in the weakest conditions because of the high trim-speed and the tendency of the Serak to bank-up high.

The Windtech Pulsar is available in 4 sizes. DHV 1-2 for the models 25, 27, 30. The small 23 got AFNOR Standard. The old DHV criteria was still in use at the time the Pulsar was tested. This is important if you compare it with other DHV 1-2’s as the Nova Syntax, Swing Mistral 3, Airwave Sport 2 or Gradient Golden. The pendulum stability of these gliders was tested using the new DHV criteria which effects the dynamics after collapses, and possibly also the banking. We tested a Pulsar size 27.

Construction and Finish




Risers and lines are tidily sewn, the Pulsar strikes with high quality material like AustriAlpin metal pulleys and magnetic brake-handle clips

The general shape looks quite similar to the Serak. Chief Designer at Windtech, Alvaro Valdes increased the Aspect Ratio very little to 5.13. The wing is made of 52 cells and different diagonal rib systems are used inside it to achieve a homogeneous wing. “To use the diagonal-rib systems effectively you have to adapt it exactly to the different parts of the glider” says Valdes. It requires more effort on the sewing but helps improve the glider’s performance. In general the seams on the Pulsar are of high quality and very cleanly made, line connections tightly sewn-in, tidy and hemmed edges show a high-quality finish. All internal seams are turned tidily inside (i.e. top and bottom surfaces) inclusive of the Design changes - which must take some skill with the new ‘zigzag’ Windtech design. The Kevlar lines of different diameters are also cleanly-sewn. Windtech used Dyneema material only on the lower brake-lines. The risers are also very tidy and feature AustriAlpin metal pulleys and magnetic brake handle clips. The lines are fixed with plastic karabiner clips and round of the impression of high quality. We measured accelerator line travel of 35cms - the highest in this category. Depending on your harness you might well need another step on your speedbar.

Launch Characteristics

Launching the Pulsar leaves nothing to ask for. The wing rises easily and fills with air evenly above the pilot. I could not find any tendency to either overshoot or hang-back. Reverse launching in strong conditions I would advise to pull the A-riser up fairly quickly. Avoid corrections during the first phase of the launch which make it difficult to control. Once the wing is above the pilot the control is simple and easy and great fun to ground handle.

Flight Characteristics

I still remembered the performance and feel of the Serak and therefore was particularly looking forward to flying it’s successor. My first impressions (and they’re usually best) were: a subtler-feeling wing, easier brake pressure, very good handling (like the Serak) but it felt slightly different and it’s trimmed a touch slower (confirmed by measurements later). I did not want to just go on memory, so I flew a Serak 27 again, only to confirm my first impressions on the Pulsar.

The smoother and slightly subtler-feeling of this wing makes it easier to find the lift in weak conditions. The Pulsar turns nice and flat in weak lift, using weight shift and brake input. Losing out on performance, due to banking too high, is not likely and that is also helped by the slower trim speed. The Serak sported a sensational 38km/h, whereas the Pulsar sits more within it’s category at 37km/h. Amazing what a difference 1km/h makes in the world of thermic flying!

In strong thermic conditions the Pulsar is right-there in its element. The pilot’s heart beats faster when the Vario starts to beep and the Pulsar takes you up in tight turns. Although the wing is more subtle-feeling, it stays willingly in the thermal. The brakes give excellent feedback. This intermediate from Windtech is a lot of fun, even just soaring in dynamic lift, making small or bigger wingovers and experiencing the great potential of this wing. Because the wing is slightly less pressurized, it is more likely to have a wingtip collapse in turbulence, but generally the wing is very stable and gives a lot of feedback to an actively flying pilot.


Constructor: Alvaro Valdes

Duty notes:
Construct a new DHV 1-2 maintaining the outstanding virtues of the Serak, increase the performance and eliminate any down sides

Means and methods:
Test and use of changes profiles. Maintaining of Aspect Ratio and proportions as these proved superb on the Serak)

With pilot-induced asymmetric collapses, the Pulsar is very well behaved and opens after a maximum 180 degrees turn. In big collapses (+60%) the wing is keen to pitch forward but still opens after maximum 180 degrees, and the turn speed slows without pilot input. The Pulsar is easily kept on course with some brake input. Constructor Valdes hasn’t just worked towards “safely through an asymmetric” but started even before: “the Serak was highly praised for it’s active safety, but in the Pulsar I have achieved a quality of not collapsing much at all!”

Flying straight I noticed less roll and truer course. Especially in extremely turbulent air, and long valley crossings, the Serak needed a lot of correction. The Pulsar behaves much more like a new generation XC glider. The speed-system is also easy to use and the Pulsar is stable at accelerated speeds. An XC pilot can therefore use the whole speed range and fly with “half bar” for longer periods if required.

Descent Manoeuvres

Spiral Dive: Split A-risers make it an easy manoeuvre to do, but relatively limited because only a small area of the wingtip folds in. The descent rate can be increased by pulling more line. The glider recovers on it’s own, with a little delay.

B-Stall: This manoeuvre is hard work on the Pulsar. Once you overcome the high pressure into a B-stall the wing is stable and shows no tendency to full stall or anything else which could be dangerous. Descent rates are around 6,5 m/s, which is quite low. The glider recovers quickly and easily, and has no tendency to deep stall.

Big Ears: An experienced pilot will have no problems with this manoeuvre, as the Pulsar’s high dynamics allow the pilot to easily and quickly enter a spiral dive with a high descent rate. Recovery is not difficult but, like with all dynamic gliders, ‘active’ recovery of the spiral dive is advisable.

Suitability

The Pulsar is a worthy successor to the proven Serak. Some improvements on interesting points have been achieved, maintaining the excellent performance and quality laid down by the Serak before it. Because of its high dynamics, the Pulsar is at the top of the DHV 1-2 rating. This lively Spaniard is best-suited to more experienced hands, which can fly it to its full potential in thermic conditions and for XC flying. Fans of more dynamic and responsive wings will find in the Pulsar a great partner for freestyle and games because, for the Pulsar, fun-flying takes the first place.

Specification

size 23 25 27 30
cells 52 52 52 52
weight range (kg) 60-80 70-90 85-105 100-125
span (m) 11.12 11.52 11.9 12.44
projected span (m) 9.22 9.55 9.86 10.31
area (m2) 24.10 25.85 27.6 30.15
projected area (m2) 21.27 22.8 24.3 26.6
aspect ratio 5.13 5.13 5.13 5.13
canopy weight (kg) 7.2 7.47 7.68 8.3
line length (m) 6.71 6.94 7.17 7.49
AFNOR certification standard      
DHV certification   1-2 1-2 1-2

Min. Speed: Trim speed: Max. speed: Min. sink:
22 km/h 37 km/h 50 km/h -

Material: Lines:
Porcher Marine Skytex   Kevlar and Dyneema

Test conditions

I tested the Pulsar 27 in Autumn/Winter 2003/4. Full on thermic flying in Castellucio, and Meduno, in Italy, as well as winter flying in Austria, allowed a range of different test conditions. I made 12 test flights (9 hours) all together and used a Pilots Right Stuff harness.
Test protocol

Brauniger IQ Basis II,
GPS at 700m MSL
V min 22 km/h
V trim 37 km/h
V max 52 km/h
Testpilot 97 kgs
Area load 3.62 kg/sqm
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