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Choosing a high-performance BASE wingsuit
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outrager
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Mar 15, 2020, 1:40 AM
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Choosing a high-performance BASE wingsuit Can't Post

First, some background:

I have been BASE jumping wingsuits from 1999. I went through the entire Birdman/PF line-up from Classic up to V3, Venom and Prodigy1, including some nice prototypes. In 2011 i tried Apache and flew it happily for the next couple of years until my interests slowly shifted away from jumping. I didn't fly at all between 2013 and 2015, and only occasional borrowed suits from 2015 till 2018.

Coming back to the sport in 2019, i have found the scene and the gear have changed so much that i had to start from the scratch. With this post i would like to share my experience of learning to fly again and looking for a new suit during the last season, and also to invite more flight data (Flysight tracks) to be posted online for the benefit of other jumpers trying to make an objective choice.

I have always enjoyed safe(ish) long flights from new cliffs and never cared about tree-trimming proxy, so my priorities for a new suit lined up as following:

1. Maximum performance, i.e. max L/D (glide ratio)
2. Fast start
3. Easy cruise flying
4. Easy and safe pull

I have found right away (thanks Tolik & Lex!) that you cannot fly to modern standards on feelings alone, and the quickest way to re-learn performance flying is by using live feed from Flysight ("Forward Speed" spoken every 2 seconds seems an industry-standard setting). This got rid of some bad old habits quickly, and evaluating the tracks afterwards proved an invaluable tool. After getting current again and making another 100+ flights around Europe on Rebel2 and Jedi2019, i felt that a higher-performance suit would be nice: for example, there are 3 projects at home that require a mandatory exit-to-opening L/D of 3.0.

Looking around, i noticed a surprising lack of hard data to compare the new suits out there. Quite a bit could be gathered looking at Skyderby tracks, unfortunately it is missing statistical data for many of the new suits. For speed, there's no question: C-Race/CR+ and Jedei Nite rule every BASE challenge & competition. For glide, the picture wasn't as clear.

Generally speaking, you need to know typical conditions at the particular BASE site and look at a number of tracks there to get reasonably accurate comparative L/D numbers for a suit model, removing the wind and pilot variables. A good guess of the jumping conditions can be made looking at a specific track when you have many more tracks online from the same pilot on the same WS. Pretty accurate picture emerges once you have a large number of BASE tracks online. Hence i have asked many pilots and the manufacturers to upload their new WS tracks on Skyderby, with limited success. Brento tracks would be particularly useful, as many jumpers are frequent visitors to Arco and the site allows for accurate comparison in well-known typical wind conditions. Most have refused or ignored such requests, as if embarrassed by the data it shows.

In the end, i had to borrow and try a few suits under the local "laboratory conditions" (Brento left-hand half-circle in light winds) to get a first-hand picture. After a season of demoing wingsuits i have found that i tap into 90+% of my top L/D potential for the suit model on the first couple of Brento flights (i.e. the suits that i have continued to jump beyond that improved in many other aspects but gained very little in terms of max glide).


This is what i got on the Brento benchmark left-hand half-circle flying pattern (Skyderby exit-to-opening Glide Ratio). This pattern typically has negligible wind error and results in about 0.1 (~5%) lower L/D numbers compared to a straight line flight. My regular suit numbers for the reference:

Rebel2: consistent 2.4 (four glide test flights)
Jedei2019: consistent 2.4 (two glide test flights)

Borrowed suits:

Jedei3 #1: 2.8; 2.7; 2.9;
Aura3: 2.6;
Jedei2: 2.3; 2.3; 2.2; 2.2;
Jedei3 #2: 2.7; 2.8; 2.7; 2.8;
SU Competition: 2.3; 2.3;

Also, straight-line flights from Brento past the stadium in Dro, where wind effect comes to play (roughly 10% difference in glide between still air flights and strong North wind):

Jedei3 #1: 3.0 in light to no wind
Jedei3 #2: 2.9 in light to no wind; 3.3 in strong North
Aura3: 2.8 in light to no wind


Other priorities review:

2. Starts: between Rebel2, Jedei2019, Jedei3 and Aura3 i can see no statistically significant difference (all start in 200/200..200/250m range in no wind conditions).
SU Competition starts were poor (200/157 & 200/167m), which wasn't surprising for a faster PPC suit with small inlets. Jedei2 starts were lousy, 200/170..200/190m.

3. Easy flying: no physical effort was required on all TS suits. The same was true for Aura3. SU Comp felt more physical, not as bad as Vampires back in the old days, though. All suits were intuitive to fly from jump one. I expected tricky starts from Aura, this wasn't a case - it felt natural and familiar from the first moment, so much so that i was comfortable flying it to Dro on the second jump (which was also my second jump ever on any Squirrel).

4. Easy and safe pull: all TS and Aura3 were comfortable to pull at any speed and flight configuration. SU Competition was trickier and required a good flare even with open internal zippers, same as SU-T i have tried early in a season (before i could produce any meaningful tracks). I did not give SU-T another chance later on since its glide was only matching my Jedei2019, but without Jedei's easy pulls.


So, which BASE-friendly suit has the best glide? This is what i found out so far:

Surprisingly, an old Jedei 3 came up as a winner for a safe high-performance alpine suit with the best glide, fast starts and easy pulls. It had a reputation for misbehaving in deep dives, which is irrelevant for me personally. I would have chosen Aura3 (or now maybe 4?) if i wanted to dive and proxy in addition to good glide and fast starts. If all i did was sharp diving proxy on less demanding starts i would likely try SU3 and SU'20. Jedei2 was simply an overall failure. SU Competition was a disappointment: PPC suit doesn't really belong in BASE environment. For smaller jumps with demanding starts and lower openings Rebel2 was a very comfortable suit. I haven't tried Corvid as that niche was already taken by my Rebel.

Raw data for this post (and plenty more tracks from public exits) is available here:

https://skyderby.ru/...5Bprofile_id%5D=1449

I still need to try Aura4 (expecting L/D similar to A3) and C-Race & CR+ with custom BASE inlets (not as BASE-friendly, though). It would also be interesting to see the numbers for Alpine '20 and maybe give it a chance (would need a big step-up in glide over Alpine3 & SU-T to catch the competition). Please feel free to comment, but try to back it up with tracks and Flysight data - they carry a lot more weight than words alone. Especially if you are currently flying Aura 4 or Alpine '20: don't be shy and upload!


# June 2020 updates:

For those interested in Alpine'20 performance while Brento access is somewhat limited: Alpine'20 is flying at an exit-to-opening average L/D between 2.6 and 2.7 in the hands of PF at our local sites. These numbers are based on the two home exits requiring a glide flight to remote LZs:

At the first site, Alpine '20 gets to the fields that require 2.6 exit-to-opening average (3600m distance over 1600m altitude difference), and does not reach the bottom of the valley that needs 2.8+ (5000m distance over 2000m alti).

At the second site, that has a tracking LZ below but requires 2.8+ (3000m distance over 1200m altitude difference) to fly out of the valley and land at the car, with no outs in between, PF sticks with Oncies and doesn't use wingsuits. Being the closest to the factory with an easy legal access, this site will no doubt get utilized by PF for WS testing once Alpine can reliably reach the LZ. As of now, the site is only being flown with an old Jedei3, so Alpine is still 4 years behind the curve.

I am sure PF will update and/or correct the numbers above if they spot an error. So far they have refused to release any performance tracks, presumably because they hurt sales.

Meanwhile, it has proven impossible to get a new Jedei 3: after 6 months and 2 attempts to clone an original J3 with a serial number & measurements of a factory pilot, TS (what's left of it after Tony has retired) has somehow managed to build a Jedei 2 instead (incidentally, the worst-flying of Jedei series) and then a closer copy of J3 but without the glide - this one only getting 2.3 averages due to the wrong sizing. Your best bet at the moment is to catch a used Jedei 3 - if you get the size just right you'll get a better glide (and pull) than any new suit on the market at present, for a 1000$ less. Sizing for max glide proved to be a tricky one, however - it tends to work better when the suit fits slightly big (an inch or two) but anything bigger than that drops the performance down again. I have 2 oversized J3s in a basement that don't even come close to the performance i was getting on the other 2 borrowed J3s that were sized just right, so sizing is everything here.

Obviously, another step up in performance and some progress in the wing efficiency is long overdue - hopefully we will see some results this summer, stay tuned!


bsbd! Yuri.

Edited to incorporate June '20 updates.


(This post was edited by outrager on Jun 25, 2020, 5:16 AM)

Rotbrett

Mar 15, 2020, 6:02 PM
Post #2 of 15 (3381 views)
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Re: [outrager] Choosing a high-performance BASE wingsuit [In reply to] Can't Post

Great post and info !

Heat

Mar 17, 2020, 2:46 AM
Post #3 of 15 (3267 views)
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Re: [outrager] Choosing a high-performance BASE wingsuit [In reply to] Can't Post

What a good post!

roostnureye

Mar 18, 2020, 11:42 AM
Post #4 of 15 (3176 views)
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Re: [outrager] Choosing a high-performance BASE wingsuit [In reply to] Can't Post

Don't forget the corvid.
I think it will really feel comfortable for you.

MrAW

Mar 18, 2020, 11:53 PM
Post #5 of 15 (3127 views)
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Re: [outrager] Choosing a high-performance BASE wingsuit [In reply to] Can't Post

Many thanks for all this.
I would love to get you some more data but it's not looking likely this year that's for sure.

skip23

Mar 19, 2020, 5:54 AM
Post #6 of 15 (3103 views)
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Re: [outrager] Choosing a high-performance BASE wingsuit [In reply to] Can't Post

nice post. yoga didn't work?

outrager
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Mar 22, 2020, 4:10 AM
Post #7 of 15 (2961 views)
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Re: [outrager] Choosing a high-performance BASE wingsuit [In reply to] Can't Post

Correction: now 2 projects left at home Angelic

North-West facing wall and ridge (in a shadow, light downdraft). Light South headwind. Flight pattern is very similar to Brento, exactly the same altitude to use, with similar results. Borrowed Jedei3 #2. Flysight data:

https://drive.google.com/...qHSTxItkcyBTjTUr1kLw
https://drive.google.com/...Q3ekeenDTGQAeBVcy7kx
https://drive.google.com/...EbvmE9cznWWBCXZBfGzy


bsbd! Yuri.


(This post was edited by outrager on Mar 24, 2020, 8:01 AM)

Heat

Mar 22, 2020, 4:33 AM
Post #8 of 15 (2958 views)
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Re: [outrager] Choosing a high-performance BASE wingsuit [In reply to] Can't Post

Where is home?Smile

Loonie

Apr 3, 2020, 3:29 PM
Post #9 of 15 (2656 views)
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Re: [outrager] Choosing a high-performance BASE wingsuit [In reply to] Can't Post

Butthead : "Wow...you know what a banghole is?"
Beavis : "You're a banghole, banghole"
Yeah..yeah....uhhhhh

Thanks for the post asswipe!

TomAiello

Apr 6, 2020, 12:17 PM
Post #10 of 15 (2548 views)
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Re: [Heat] Choosing a high-performance BASE wingsuit [In reply to] Can't Post

Heat wrote:
Where is home?Smile

Comrade Cuts Nuts Off is a citizen of the world. Wink

Hanzo

Apr 14, 2020, 10:32 AM
Post #11 of 15 (2332 views)
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Re: [roostnureye] Choosing a high-performance BASE wingsuit [In reply to] Can't Post

This comment ages.....oddly

kleggo

May 15, 2020, 3:38 PM
Post #12 of 15 (1741 views)
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Re: [outrager] Choosing a high-performance BASE wingsuit [In reply to] Can't Post

Excellent post.
Memories.
You were definitely at the top of the game in 1999 / 2000 and onwards.

Ahh, Birdman Classic.
I still have mine for some reason, though it's the 2 zipper model so it might be classic II.

BSBD Indeed!

outrager
Moderator
Jun 25, 2020, 4:46 AM
Post #13 of 15 (1340 views)
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Re: [outrager] Choosing a high-performance BASE wingsuit [In reply to] Can't Post

June 2020 updates.

For those interested in Alpine'20 performance while Brento access is somewhat limited: Alpine'20 is flying at an exit-to-opening average L/D between 2.6 and 2.7 in the hands of PF at our local sites. These numbers are based on the two home exits requiring a glide flight to remote LZs:

At the first site, Alpine '20 gets to the fields that require 2.6 exit-to-opening average (3600m distance over 1600m altitude difference), and does not reach the bottom of the valley that needs 2.8+ (5000m distance over 2000m alti).

At the second site, that has a tracking LZ below but requires 2.8+ (3000m distance over 1200m altitude difference) to fly out of the valley and land at the car, with no outs in between, PF sticks with Oncies and doesn't use wingsuits. Being the closest to the factory with an easy legal access, this site will no doubt get utilized by PF for WS testing once Alpine can reliably reach the LZ. As of now, the site is only being flown with an old Jedei3, so Alpine is still 4 years behind the curve.

I am sure PF will update and/or correct the numbers above if they spot an error. So far they have refused to release any performance tracks, presumably because they hurt sales.

Meanwhile, it has proven impossible to get a new Jedei 3: after 6 months and 2 attempts to clone an original J3 with a serial number & measurements of a factory pilot, TS (what's left of it after Tony has retired) has somehow managed to build a Jedei 2 instead (incidentally, the worst-flying of Jedei series) and then a closer copy of J3 but without the glide - this one only getting 2.3 averages due to the wrong sizing. Your best bet at the moment is to catch a used Jedei 3 - if you get the size just right you'll get a better glide (and pull) than any new suit on the market at present, for a 1000$ less. Sizing for max glide proved to be a tricky one, however - it tends to work better when the suit fits slightly big (an inch or two) but anything bigger than that drops the performance down again. I have 2 oversized J3s in a basement that don't even come close to the performance i was getting on the other 2 borrowed J3s that were sized just right, so sizing is everything here.

Obviously, another step up in performance and some progress in the wing efficiency is long overdue - hopefully we will see some results this summer, stay tuned!


(This post was edited by outrager on Jun 25, 2020, 5:17 AM)

outrager
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Aug 27, 2020, 10:32 AM
Post #14 of 15 (694 views)
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August 2020 updates.

Forget the numbers for a second, think of this as a child's game: "How far can i fly from here"?

This is a question you ask when you want to open a new exit nowadays. Most steep lines have already been flown, but there are endless beautiful opportunities with shallow slopes and far-away LZs still waiting. All they need is a high-performance wing.

The "child's game" makes it very obvious: for example, the 2 wingsuit flights closest to PF factory have only been flown in the old TS Jedei3. Legal and 30min drive away, with an easy cable car access and short walks, they just need a good L/D. A claim of "excellent glide on our '20 model" doesn't cut it here Sly

Exit-to-opening L/D is simply distance flown divided by altitude used: this is all you need to know if you can reach that faraway LZ. It takes into account everything about your flight: the efficiency of your exit, sustained glide and flare out. This average L/D number naturally rises on higher flights and should be compared apples-to-apples (flights of similar altitude).

There has been plenty of advertising mis-information recently, with manufacturers claiming "excellent glide" but intentionally withholding their tracks and flight data because they show a relatively poor performance. I find this disgusting - if you make a great proximity suit just say so, don't mislead the customers on other aspects.


Now back to the fresh numbers:

A new Squirrel prototype at Brento test loop. Zero skydives, brand-new wing shape, a bit of a learning curve. Four consecutive Brento jumps on the same morning in overcast & drizzly conditions with light North wind:

Exit-to-opening L/D: 2.5; 2.6; 2.7; 2.7

Same prototype on Altissimo morning flight (downdraft exit, light North at the bottom), to Campagnola beaches at 4.0km distance:

Exit-to-opening L/D: 2.8.

There's a huge potential to develop this toy into a dream glider. It has matched my previous favorite J3 glide slope and will beat it in a few more jumps.

Can't wait to get back in the mountains in the next few weeks once i finish this work trip - hopefully the next toys will be ready by then. Raw data is on skyderby.ru as usual.


P.S. I just noticed the same silly argument about OnesiePower'20 vs. HalfA performance, with 100+ comments on FB. Just look at the flight data:

HalfA glides at 2.1-2.2 exit to opening L/D (looking at the last 3 tracks on Skyderby, without going any further):

https://skyderby.ru/tracks/48804 https://skyderby.ru/tracks/50147 https://skyderby.ru/tracks/50148

OnesiePower'20 glides at or below 1.9 exit to opening L/D.

1.9 is the best you will ever find for it, on a highly-advertised Croix de Fer flight (opening at -1500, 2850m, data at the end of the video). All other Onesie tracks on Skyderby are well below even that.

Case closed.

Onesie has plenty of other good characteristics and probably is easier to fly, but it certainly is way behind HalfA in glide, plain and simple.


(This post was edited by outrager on Aug 27, 2020, 12:02 PM)

TomAiello

Aug 27, 2020, 12:55 PM
Post #15 of 15 (662 views)
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outrager wrote:
P.S. I just noticed the same silly argument about OnesiePower'20 vs. HalfA performance, with 100+ comments on FB.

Isn't the Half-A a 'trackwingsuit'?

I'd put it more in the class with the Mutation, not the Onesie.

Comparing the Half-A to the Onesie/Sausage class suits seems like an apples-to-oranges sort of exercise. Pretty pointless. But then I guess that's the way most FB arguments are.


(This post was edited by TomAiello on Aug 27, 2020, 12:57 PM)


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