The NOVA Mentor 5 is an EN-B certified glider designed around the concept of being a cross-country monster. The wing combines excellent performance with high passive safety.. this places it firmly within the “XC-intermediate” category of gliders. This wing has serious potential to take an aspiring cross-country pilots flying to the next level!
NOVA MENTOR 5 – First Impression
(click to englarge photos)
If you purchase a new NOVA Mentor 5, you get the glider, a very well made NOVA branded rucksack, a NOVA branded wind sock, a beautiful NOVA manual, an inner bag to hold the glider, extra speed system cords and a glider patch kit.
A thing of beauty..
The first thing I notice after opening it up is that the wing surface materials have a beautiful high-end shine to them. The bottom surface is semi-transparent white, which gives you a nice view of the super complex internal structure of this glider.
It becomes perfectly clear how much thought and expertise were put into the design of the Mentor 5.
The external design is simple, yet intentionally efficient and refined.
The final wingtip cell on each side takes on the color of the leading edge of the glider. It appears that they have combined the color scheme of the Mentor 5 with the original 3D shaping sewing points they would have on the nose of the glider anyways.
This seems well thought out and intentional and shows that NOVA always kept an eye on efficiency and performance when developing the external design.
The risers are very well made and match the excellent quality of the wing itself. NOVA branded tags are sewn onto each connection point that shows the size of your wing on the backside, this is a really nice touch. The speed system uses unsheathed Dyneema lines, and the speed system pulleys are hard plastic with a protective covering on each pulley.
It’s a “Split A” riser, so that gives you more options for launching the glider, and also makes for grabbing “Big Ears” much easier.
“And what about the brakes?” You may ask..
The handles themselves are nylon webbing, with a soft material covering about half of the loop right around where your hand would be centered. They’ve added something to the soft section that keeps the handle in a constant open state without being too rigid. This makes grabbing the handle mid-flight really easy!
The brake handle itself is attached with a nice quality gunmetal swivel, and the brake line passes through a high-quality metal pulley, rather than a basic ceramic/metal loop. I can imagine that this should give the brakes a silky smooth pull.
On The Ground
Unpacking the glider felt surprisingly quick and easy for a glider of this size. Just throw it out of the bag, tug on the tips and the glider is ready for line sorting. Also, because of the color scheme, it’s really easy to identify which end of the packed glider is the leading edge.
Is it easy to use?
MOST of the lines are sheathed, but not all. The A, B and Brake lines are fully sheathed all the way to the glider. The C is still unsheathed. Which isn’t so bad when you think about it since only the C lines take a little additional work to sort. Considering the performance level of this glider, the lines are exceptionally easy and quick to sort.
Yeah, I said it, this wing feels like a performance powerhouse, even during ground handling. The second you tug on the A-risers in light wind the glider begins its smooth upward flight. As soon as the cells fill with air (only a moment after leaving the ground) the wing becomes a complete airfoil and launches toward the balance point over your head.
At this very moment, my eyes widened and gleamed with surprise..
Because that’s when I felt the sheer power that this glider could generate. Interestingly, the power tamed right around the balance point, and although the wing does shoot slightly forward if you don’t check it with the brakes.. it still felt very manageable, and I was able to stop it above my head with minimal brake input.
In The Sky
Launching the NOVA Mentor 5 is just like bringing it up during ground handling. The start moves quickly from a smooth inflation to a powerful ascent to the balance point over your head. And just as with ground handling, the wing does attempt to shoot past that balance point.
BUT it was surprisingly easy to check the glider with the brakes before it passes over your head. The Mentor 5 immediately reacted to the brake input and stayed right in the “sweet spot” to continue your launch.
Considering that the NOVA Mentor 5 and its predecessors were designed to be cross-country excellence, I expected the glider to be a bit more difficult to manage, especially in the thermals. I mean, all that performance must come at a cost right?
Well, I was pleasantly surprised to find..
That the EN-B certified cross-country monster did indeed fly like an EN-B! It was easy to manage. The glide was solid as a rock, when hitting thermals the wing did not excessively pitch, roll or spin, and as a semi-experienced pilot myself, the Mentor 5 was in general just a really enjoyable wing to cruise around with.
In order to create more performance, designers normally would need to make some sacrifices. For example, the wings ease of use, manageability, passive safety, or overall comfort would need to go down in order to create the additional performance.
The NOVA Mentor 5 is special in this respect because the designers have managed to clearly pack a very usable amount of performance into a glider that is just downright comfortable to fly.
That being said, the wing is still very powerful, and as the pilot, you can feel that power while you fly. So although it’s a comfortable EN-B glider which is easy to manage, it still has the potential to scare the hell out of any new or casual paragliding pilots.. and scary = not fun.
The NOVA Mentor 5, comfortable performance.
The Mentor 5 maintains its wonderful cross-country pedigree but brings more comfort and ease of use to the table. As a cross-country intermediate, the wing has the potential to bring an aspiring XC pilots flying to whole new levels.
The best part? That new level of performance won’t even have to come at a cost of reduced safety, ease of use or comfort. Win win!
So who would want a NOVA Mentor 5?
The Mentor 5 is not intended for new or very casual pilots, it’s designed to take experienced pilots to a whole new realm of cross-country excellence. The Mentor 5 certainly has the potential to do that, but it is a very powerful wing, so it’s highly recommended that you have sufficient flying experience under your belt before you take this powerhouse out for some epic XC flights!
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