Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Another Monkey Pod

It seems like there are more and more pods popping up in our skies. I flew today with Alex in a Tanto and Ike in a Delight. Jorge was testing out a new harness, though not a pod, the Acro3 from SupAir. Ike and I snuck into a quick window for about 45 minutes. Jorge and Alex flew, then top landed to hide from a squall, then flew again. Alex tried to bay cross as Jorge put on an acro show. After we landed, we had a discussion on the beach, mostly about pods.

When I first started flying, there were no pods to be seen on Oahu, or at least while I started actively watching and then flying.

The first ones I spied were supporting Jorge, Fireman Dave, B-Ray and then maybe Nikki Johnson. After a Rat Race or two Alex jumped into one. There may have been a few more that spotted the skies on occasion. I think Scot has one but rarely flies it.

I started with a leg cover, which, if some remember, gave me a peculiar profile while flying. I actually liked it for the warmth, and it was a good leader from which to transition to a pod.

Why a pod? A good question to ask yourself, before you go jump into one. Why do you need one or why do you want one? Once you give yourself a good answer then make sure you get one that your gonna like and that suits your flying, since they ain't cheap.

Alaska Jack visited with his Advance Lightness, which was cool, but even he said it may be too light of material for our well groomed launches.

Soon I was trying a Sol XCX. It was super comfy, but it weighed a ton, and you had to turn the a/c on until you were at 2,000 feet. Doug Hoffman is now flying it high in Washington. I then scored an Impress 2 due to the big run to the Impress 3.

Joey got an Impress 2, Duck slipped into a KamaSutra, Mad Dog jumped into a SupAir reversible pod, and Franky and Flystrong grabbed some deals on SupAir Delights. Why have we all gone the way of the pod?

The obvious answer is that it is more aerodynamic and warmer. The first question is: are you planning on doing XC flights, for which the pod shaves some drag and keeps you warm during long flights. If you're staying local or want to get some acro going, a pod is not for you. Second, if you are going to compete, and think it will help you achieve goal, keep in mind that Frosty did not use one at the Rat Race, and he did pretty darn good. Mainland flying is also cold, and pods can help greatly staying warm.

What is the disadvantage of just using a pod all the time? First, are you proficient in the harness and wing you're in right now? Just to inform, I jumped into a pod too early and have switched back to my original Swing without the leg cover. I am in remedial training to get my weight shifts and wing control better, which can be difficult to master in a pod. Second, you got to remember to get your feet out prior to landing: if you get them stuck, you're landing on your butt.

Okay, so you gotta have a pod. There are tons out there, with the latest craze leaning for light weight and no seat board. After reading reviews of the Impress 3 when it first came out, it was not an 'oh gotta have' and the price was ridiculous and still is. Many comp pilots seem to be sticking with them so they must be good for some people.

It is always best to try one in flight and not just the simulator. I did not, but got lucky with the Impress 2. I adjusted it and after several flights I still find it stiff across the lower chest on launch. Joey agrees. I do like it in flight, and on a long trip I am comfy, so I am looking forward to staying warm in Canada next month.

As you can see in the picture above, Don finally decided to get one after flying for 13 years. His reason: warmth. He gets cold easily, and is off to Italy and France shortly to try and follow Mad Dog across the Alps. He was trying out the SupAir Delight and decided it was not for him. He also flies with a chronic back. The lack of a seat board in his opinion would not make a long flight possible for him.

Flystrong is liking his Delight, and I am still waiting to try one on for size. Reaper just got the Woody Valley GTO that has sparked my interest. Jorge's new pod, the Skypper from SupAir that is sitting in my office, would be a good comparison to the GTO, since both of them are light in weight and have seat boards.

So, if a Pod Monkey is what you want to be, make sure you're ready, do the research, and then,

It's Time to Fly Far and High, So Get Your Gear and Go!!


Ka'a'awa Larry said...

Your take on "Why to get a pod" leaned very heavily to the side of keeping warm in flight. Being the cheapskate I am and not necessarily a herd-follower, I'll just stick to putting Levi's on before flight.

I believe that there is more of a drag-reduction benefit than your article gave credit for but at my level of performance, I'll save the money and stick with my ratty old Swing reversible.

The hard part is that I want the best and newest just like every guy on the planet (bigger boat, faster plane, trophy wife, mansion etc.) but I'm trying to keep that all in perspective........or maybe it's just sour grapes!

Thom said...

Ya, Larry did not want to make it sound like it was only for warmth, yes pods can shave off quite a bit of drag, especially for us bigger boned monkeys. But it has been so cold here in Hawaii, I guess that got stuck on my radar. Good news is my blood is getting thicker for that Canada trip.

Waianae Jim said...

That "leg cover" was way more sexy looking!

sandy said...

Question: I've read (and tried out in a simulator) some pod race harnesses where the hang points and body position make weight-shifting muuuccch different from average harnesses. When you're laid back and the weight shift comes more from roll rather than lean, it seems to me that you get tossed around more by turbulence -- or maybe that was just my lack of practice with that type of harness.

So podders -- does your harness have you laid back and rolling more than leaning? How do you like it in turbulence?