Let me be clear. I am not an acro aficionado by a long stretch. After learning some of the basics- SAT’s, asymmetric spirals, big proper wing overs, etc I took my first acro course in 2012 with Jocky Sanderson in Oludeniz with the goal of dialing in deep stall and learning helicopters. But my instructor, Johan said attempting to learn helis with only a week would just be frustrating and suggested we focus on the dynamic stuff- loops, SAT to loop, dynamic full stalls, etc. At the time I was flying the Niviuk F-Gravity and doing the dynamic stuff on that wing is a blast- it’s a wing that has a lot of energy.
Since then because of where I live I rarely get an opportunity to practice acro and when I’ve done it the goal isn’t to become a rad acro pilot but to become a safer XC pilot. After the X-Alps in 2015 I made a goal to get totally dialed on deep stall, tail slides and spins so I could more safely get out of trouble flying in dicey conditions. After speaking to some of the greatest acro pilots in the world on the podcast (Pal Takats, Theo De Blic, Ondrej Prochazka, etc.) it became clear that learning these more technical maneuvers that require a much finer touch on a freestyle wing is really hard. These guys all said the same thing- want to learn Acro? Get a low end B wing! A freestyle wing like the F-Gravity is twitchy and jumps at mistakes. Tail slides are easy, but the next progression is deep stall and helis and it seemed like every other attempt at deep stall would end up in riser twists and one in four would have a cravat.
My acro partner Cody Mittanck could see that I was struggling, even though I clearly had good wing management skills and could acro and full stall all day. He made the same recommendation as the acro jedi’s I’d spoken with on the show- get a low EN B wing to learn.
Wing manufacturers have also been listening to this advice and I was thrilled to get my hands on the new Niviuk E-Gravity which is built specifically for learning acro. It’s a certified B wing, infinitely more forgiving of mistakes than it’s cousin the F-Gravity but still energetic enough for all the playful stuff- Misty’s, dynamic full stalls, SAT, Rhythmic Sat, loops, wing overs, etc. The deep stall range is much, much wider than on higher end acro wings and after my first few stalls and tail slides I started playing around with doing things wrong just to see how it behaves. I’ve yet to have a cravat- in fact the shape of the wing and the line plan makes me think a cravat might be close to impossible? More testing is needed, but I did some pretty silly stuff and muffed up a ton of helis and never once had a riser twist or cravat. Was I nailing helico? Far from it. I’ve got a long ways to go, but it was a lot of fun landing after every run with a big smile and wanting more rather than trying to talk my heart down from being pinned for 5 minutes.
In summary- if you’re like me and keen to learn some of the more technical acro moves and also like me and have a limited playground, do yourself a favor and get the right kit. It’s sexy getting a bad ass acro wing, but you’ll pay the price trying to tame it. Everyone I’ve spoken with who has helis dialed says it takes hundreds and hundreds of attempts just to get close. You can get lucky every once in awhile, but to really nail it you’ve got to have a lot of time, a lot of patience and the right tool.