Flight Test - Windtech Tempus
Report by Dave Massie
The Tempus is Windtech's latest offering in the beginner market, intended both for school use and as a first wing for the qualified pilot. Unusually, Windtech have previously had two wings in their range for the beginner; the Coral for school use and the Tonic for the newly-qualified pilot. They have decided that the new Tempus can successfully fill both roles and thus replaces both models.
The Tempus is available in sizes 25, 27, 29 and 31m2 to accommodate pilots from 60kg - 130kg all-up weight. At the time of writing all but the 25 size had passed DHV1, with the 25 expected to get the same rating. I flew the large Tempus (31) for this review at 115kg all-up, putting me in the lower half of the certificated weight range of 105 - 130kg, with a Sup'Air ProFeel harness.
The Tempus is made from 45 g/m2 Porcher Marine Skytex 9092 with E85A coating on top and bottom surfaces. Internal ribs are made from the lighter Skytex 9017 with E29A coating. Lines are Kevlar and the brakes Dyneema.All this means that you have modern, durable, UV-resistant materials combined with light weight for easy handling.
The wing comes with stuff-sack and strap, carry bag, and a speed bar with Brummel hooks. Windtech's bags have come in for some criticism in the past, and the good news is that the Tempus comes with an improved bag. My extra large harness and wing were a rather tight fit, but otherwise the bag was fine and sits well on your back for carrying. Owners of smaller harnesses (most of you out there) should have no problems.
At the time of the review the manual had not been printed, but I was able to download one from Windtech's website [the printed version now comes with the glider. Ed.].This seems to be well laid out, clear, and with useful information for the beginner pilot, such as speeds to fly, minimum sink and maximum glide settings. I was surprised to see that it says that the harness chest strap should be set to a maximum of 38cm between the karabiners. For my harness this is much too restrictive and I set mine to the more usual 46cm, which seemed fine in practice.
Opening up the wing reveals a very basic construction with smaller cell openings than the Coral and no diagonal ribs. In this respect it looks rather old-fashioned at first. The Windtech brochure stresses its modern cross-section with added reflex at the trailing edges.This should prevent the wing from diving too hard and help it pass the new DHV tests which are now, among other things, even more exacting regarding the dive after a tuck.The glider has the usual four-riser setup, with split A risers for easy big-ears. Brakes are attached to the risers by magnetic poppers.
Alpine launching is fairly effortless, the wing coming up immediately and stopping overhead. Having watched many a student struggle with forwardlaunching the old Coral, this is a great improvement.The new wing section presumably helps here. Even if the wing is laid out carelessly it will launch fine. Reverse launching is possible in very light winds, with just a small pull on the A risers, or by merely leaning back in the harness.
I gave the wing to some inexperienced pilots and they found the wing easy to launch and to ground handle. Most appreciated was the ease of holding the wing above their heads at launch.
Once the wind exceeds about seven or eight mph the wing will launch by itself without any pilot input at all. Simply hold the brakes in the correct hands, walk away from the glider, and that wing section does its work and the glider will come up straight. Even when not directly laid into wind, the wing will come up and fly. Indeed, the issue for beginner pilots will not be the difficulty in launching the wing, but the difficulty in not launching it. Most of my testing took place on windy days, and by far the biggest problem I had was preventing the glider flying when I didn't want it to. After a few attempts at trying to hold it down with the C and D risers, I found the best method was to take two or three feet of D lines in hand, whereupon the wing would stay put quietly.
Landing in a light wind was easy with no requirement to take a wrap. In much stronger conditions you need to pull the wing down with the C and D risers, then grab more D lines to stop it flying again by itself.
First impressions of the Tempus are much as expected for a beginner wing – a solid feel and brake pressures to match.The wing communicates what the air is doing but doesn't scare you when it becomes rough.
The high brake pressure is alleviated somewhat by weight shifting, to which the Tempus responds well. Most pilots on this class of wing are likely to be ridge soaring for most of the time, and with weight shift and about four to six inches of brake the Tempus turns nicely with moderate brake pressure. When flying in thermals the wing needs a firm hand to turn it around, and I initially found the stiff construction of the brake handles uncomfortable after an hour or so of flying. If you fly with a wrap this won't be a problem, of course.
After a while I found that the wing turned best by giving the brakes an initial strong pull, and then easing off as the wing comes around. If you don't start with that firm pull you need to add more brake as you come around in order to maintain the turn.
The Tempus is quite agile for a beginner glider, responding well to weight shift and hard brake. It can be wound up into quite good wingovers by the more experienced pilot, but is forgiving of errors and is not too radical if the inexperienced pilot tries the same trick. Pulling a brake to full arm's length in the air produces a hard turn but no apparent tendency to stall, a good feature for heavy-handed students or those new pilots who over-react in tricky situations.
Opening the chest strap as far as it will go doesn't improve turning; indeed the opposite is true, as a thermal on one side of the wing will just tip you in the opposite direction.The best setting seemed to be around the 46cm I had set previously.
Windtech's own figures show a trim speed of 36km/h; good for its class but slower than some. Maximum speed is said to be 48km/h, very respectable for a DHV 1 wing. Even flat out the wing feels solid in the air. I found that, even light as I was on the Tempus, I was able to keep up with most others on the hill, even whizzing past the odd DHV2 pilot. Lack of speed for penetration against the wind wasn't an issue while flying. Adding ballast for one flight revealed no real difference in handling, so it seems that pilot weight is not critical on this wing and it can happily be flown light.
In turbulent air the wing feels very safe while still telling you that it's rough up there. The first day I tried the Tempus I ended up being the only person in the air - others had stopped flying because it had become too rough for them.
Big Ears are made easy with the split A risers. The outer risers pull down two of the four lines each, which makes for quite large ears and a good sink rate. This is an improvement on some gliders which never seem to give quite enough increase in sink rate when you really need it. As soon as you let go of the risers the ears pop out quickly by themselves.
I never had the height to do a B-line stall, nor a proper spiral dive. However the DHV test report describes the B-line stall as "Entry: easy; exit: spontaneous," and the spiral dive as "Entry: easy; spin tendency: slight; exit: spontaneous," across the weight range.While flying, you notice that the D risers take no weight at all during normal flight. I'm sure that the wing would fly fine without them. They come into play only with heavy brake applied and, presumably, in a dive where the reflex section does its work to stop the canopy diving too far.
Inducing a 70 percent tuck, by pulling an A riser down and counter-steering the glider, produced hardly any turn at all with a quick recovery. No pumping of the brakes was required. Repeating the exercise and not reacting at all to the tuck produced a 45 degree turn and a fast recovery to normal flight. The wing hardly dives at all. Repeating the process with full speed bar was a little more exciting with a 135 degree turn, but still within DHV1 spec. Indeed the Tempus resisted my efforts to induce tucks and had to be forced to do so. In normal flying the wing is reluctant to tuck. I tried flying hands-off in rough air to see if the wing would collapse, with little effect. The worst case I got was a ripple in the undersurface, starting at the tip.
|span (projected m)
|max chord (m)
|line diameter (mm)
|all-up weight (kg)
||2 year materials & manufacturing
Overall, I found the Tempus a good balance of fun and performance with very good safety. Wing design at this level is always a compromise, and Windtech seem to have got it about right. The wing feels responsive enough that you don't get that DHV1 “mattress” feeling, while having good active and passive safety. Flying light did not cause any problems, nor was lack of speed an issue. Apart from possible problems preventing it from taking off before they're ready, beginners should find it easy to launch and fly.
Active and passive safety
||Stiff brake handle construction.
We're glad that Dave likes the new Tempus so much, and that he was so impressed by the glider's construction, performance and handling, as well as the new Windtech glider bag and Tempus manual.
As Dave has noticed, the Tempus is more forgiving than other gliders when it comes to chest strap setting. The DHV have told us informally that they test with a setting of 42-44 cm, although their official documentation says anything between 25-55cm! Windtech's recommendation of 38cm is where they find the glider behaves best from a safety point of view, and pilots are recommended to fly at this setting. Of course pilot preferences may vary! The Tempus doesn't have diagonal ribs, closed cells or any other marketing gimmicks, of which there seems to be a great rash at the moment. The secret of its great inflation, launch, handling and safety characteristics is its perfectly simple design and an incredible new aerofoil section. As for the excellent performance, I think Dave's comments speak for themselves - whizzing past the odd DHV2, even though he was in the lower part of the weight range!
It's clear that Dave was testing the Tempus hard - flying in conditions that no one else wants to fly in, flying hands-off in rough air, testing on very windy as well as light and nil-wind days. It's a good show for the Tempus that he has managed to find so little to fault - his biggest criticism seems to be that it is too easy to launch!
Carlo Borsattino, Windtech Paragliders UK