Fun 190 Upgrade to Fun2; Review

NZs most popular hang glider of recent years, the Airborne Fun 190 is everywhere; as a dune glider, recreational thermal wing and the indisputable favorite for training. When Airborne updated it to the Fun2, It was hard to imagine how they could improve it.


Well improve it they did, obviously in looks with the attractive ‘rim & fill’ sail layout but the new glider has undergone a thorough overhaul in all departments without any sacrifice of the features that made it so popular.

The trailing edge layout should ensure longer sail life as the trailing edge cloth is now loaded straight along the strongest direction of the fabric, which should prevent ‘floater flutter’ for some time more than previously. 

Leading edge pockets are standard, but mylar inserts are optional, the glider has much smoother leading edge panels, gone are the leading edge wrinkles of the earlier Fun and the glider’s performance benefits with better efficiency. I got the mylar inserts with my glider and couldn't detect any loss in handling.

The new cambered outer battens go in much easier, there’s no more fiddling inside the sail to locate those strut hooks. 
Lufflines now attach a little forward of the trailing edge making it impossible to snag on batten ends and they can even stay connected to the kingpost when packed once you learn the sail folding method. 
This glider is definitely a contender for a sub 3 minute rig up which I could never quite crack with the old model. 
On the complete model, new length uprights and fittings allow optional aerofoils and even aerofoil and carbon basebars for those that want them.

In flight, it’s hard to improve on the original Fun's handling but the Fun2 feels just as good to me, however efficiency is noticeably better in turns and on glide. I took it places into wind that required a better glide and it didn’t disappoint. There’s a better glide at speed too though it's still not a fast glider. However it will worry older enclosed crossbar gliders on glide and outclimb anything else in the air as well as having far more control authority if the air gets rough. Pitch pressure is less now but still comfortable, so I’d expect it will be easier to aerotow too.

Overall it looks a lot cleaner, there’s even a nosecone to finish off the front. The improvements provide noticeable performance and convenience with no penalty to the legendary handling and landing ability.

The Retro kit Upgrade

Best of all you can buy a Fun2 kit to upgrade an old Fun 190. Unlike high performance gliders, many airframes on Funs are in near perfect order, as Funs are ridiculously easy to land and many have never been whacked in. This makes them perfect candidates for a sail upgrade. 
Doing the upgrade requires removal of the sail, which is not too difficult on a Fun, and Airborne supplies detailed instructions, but still it's a job that requires an expert, the right tools, some 5 minute epoxy, a large carpeted area, and 4-6 hours. It’s a good time to fully check the old airframe. 
The kit comes with the new sail, new crossbar brackets, new sidewires and lever tip batten fittings, with all the bolts, nuts and rivets required. In many cases it’s time to replace those sidewires anyway. The new wires are a different length to the old ones as they attach in a different position. 
Some of the battens need serious reshaping. Many will find this quite a challenge as these are tough 7075 battens and with the force required, it's possible to break them easily! A batten former is essential to get both the right shape and to get them exactly symmetric.
When you’ve finally got the new batten shapes, and matched the curves on each side, you cut the batten ends to the new lengths and epoxy the new batten sockets in. 
Sail fitting is straight forward and the sail attachments at the nose now fit on the nosebolts, however the keel pocket is riveted to the keel.
Finally the main hangpoint needs to be shifted rearward by 25mm. You can simply swap the main and backup if they are in the old standard positions. There’s a new sticker supplied so you don’t forget the new position. Also supplied is a new crossbar sticker with a new serial number to make it officially a new model glider. 
There's a final checklist to go over once finished and rigged. Setting all the lever tip tensions requires a fair bit of fiddling, but once it’s done, the cleaner trailing edge will surely save some drag. 
Then it's time to head out for test flying and possibly a little more batten tip tuning.

All done, I found it a very worthwhile upgrade. If you have a Fun 190 with a good airframe and a worn sail, it’s effectively a new glider at half price with noticeable performance and convenience benefits that you'll appreciate.

Copyright: B. Degen 2012

UPDATE; Floater performance

The Mt Cheeseman Meet was supposed to be a 'League', then I was told just a 'fun' fly meet, I thought what better to fly there than the new Fun2 and to try out a new instrument. When we got to launch, there was only one other kingpost to be seen and all were kitted out in their comp gear with topless gliders. Several were fresh from competing in Oz comps. 

Fortunately for the topless gliders the thermals were large but unfortunately not going very high above the top of the mountains. Being a bit late, as soon as I got to the top of the stack, I was off - with an Atos chasing me. It was scratchy on the ridges but I was able to turn tight and stay up. Landings would have been tricky for other gliders where I went, but of course no trouble for a Fun. At the first turnpoint there were no other gliders to be seen so I figured they'd all made it back (upwind) to turnpoint 2 and to goal. 

I made sure I had good height before leaving and the Atos cruised past me on the way to the second turnpoint. I worked every little bubble of lift; many times thermalling back, then pushing forward into wind. After a low save from under 500ft in a light but scrappy thermal, I eventually made the second turnpoint too low to find any more lift. It turned out that only one (topless) glider had made the same distance and the rest had landed 5 or so kms behind me. 

Handling, sink rate and patience had won the day. This experience just goes to show that often it's not the fastest glider but the one who can stay in the air that does best. 

T2C Technora

Impressions of the Latest Wills Wing T2C

Most people will be familiar with the Wills Wing T2C but perhaps not with the latest developments.
My Technora 0DL0 with window lower surface T2C arrived just after Xmas and I’ve had a great time flying it. I’ve done hundreds of hours on T2s and my last hydranet T2 handled and performed very well after much tuning. I've flown lots of T2Cs but this latest version really has me impressed. 

It looks tech with the airfoiled carbon keel stinger, black uprights, see-through sail and the pointy raked tips but the best improvement is in the way it performs. This model has a markedly better glide and especially at speed. In addition it tracks perfectly when flying fast and is better the faster you go. Also flare authority is now better than most intermediate wings. There’s still speed and landing space to deal with but flare timing is super easy, even in zero or crosswinds. 

The 0DL04 Technora mainsail is lighter than previous versions and this glider has a Technora ‘window’ lower surface as well. It is seriously flat and free of wrinkles. One pair of lower battens is now gone, which may help with handling and landing. The tinted transparent sail helps a little when setting up as you can see if the sprogs are lined up. Mylar sails were previously impractical for long term use but this UV protected material is surprisingly tough, with superb longevity. It is however, less visible in the air, in fact if you get Technora leading edge panels, it’s hard to see so most opt for a white leading edge panel.

The Speed Battens are 8 flat carbon rods about 8” long that are internally sprung on the trailing edge. I expect they provide support while allowing a more flexible tip area. They are small and easily forgotten in a jacket pocket so you need to watch you don’t lose them.
The Raked Tips on my glider are a little larger than standard. They are essentially Technora and foam triangles supported by surprisingly strong thin carbon rods inserted beside the tip wands and attached with velcro. They are said to reduce tip vortices for glide performance but the most noticeable effect is keeping the glider from winding in when turning with VG on. They allow steeper bank angles without winding in and allow you to slow down more. When landing, the glider appears to go a little longer in ground effect and allows a later flare at a slower speed. They keep the tips flying longer and help keep the glider from dropping a tip. My larger tips slow the roll rate slightly but there is no effect on yaw or co ordination which is perfect. Gliders I've flown with the standard raked tips seem to roll just as well as the standard T2C.
I did a little fine tuning which went exactly as the manual advised using the tip adjusters; It’s easy when everything is made perfectly symmetric.
Then I went xc flying at Omarama. I’d had 6 months of no flying due to work injuries but I’ve never flown so well; clocking up several long (for NZ) flights straight away and a higher XC Champs total in the following month than I’ve ever had. Then due to other commitments, no flying for another month but I then won the Omarama XC Classic. I put this down to the handling and climb being as good as my last T2 but the glide and speed improvement gave me more range. Very handy when flying into wind and crossing large sink areas. I’ve never been over 10,000ft so often either but that would be due to better weather that year.
I think the tighter sail feels a bit more of the turbulence, but when diving away from cloud at speed, the glider goes on rails; keeping stable and straight without the slightest tendency to oscillate. It’s truly turbulence tested now in seriously violent climbs in leeside thermals as well as a load test when it was attacked by a strong dust devil, with one wing up in the air and 2 tiedown warratahs pulled half out of the rocky ground as we held it down, leaving no damage. I’m confident it’s as safe and strong as any glider can be.
In coastal conditions, the speed and glide has been most useful, getting to hard to reach places really well. Handling is as good as you could ask for in a comp/xc wing. 

UPDATE 2019; This years Omarama XC Classic had more stable scratchy days than usual, so I had the raked tips on almost every day. The glider finished in first place and also took longest flight. It's yet to have a single bad landing...

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