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Firebird Spider Paraglider

The Spider paraglider from Firebird in 2005 is an intermediate wing, and has been given a DHV-1/2 rating. So it will appeal to those wanting a bit more than learner-level performance. But given the recent tightening of DHV standards, it is still very safe and easy to fly. It's getting harder for manufacturers to get their DHV ratings these days, which basically means safer paragliders for all.

Firebird Spider paraglider.



Construction

The Spider paraglider has 49 cells and like all others in the current Firebird range, a swept-back plan form. Full diagonal ribs help to maintain the wing profile in flight. Somewhat unusually, it also has a set of E-lines which also help to maintain the wing profile.

Firebird's Laser-Cut Technology ensures great accuracy and quality in the wing construction.

As is the current trend, much attention has been paid to minimizing the number and length of the various lines which support the pilot under the canopy. All adds up to improved performance, particularly at the top end of the speed range.

Split A-risers are kept neat with a magnetic popper while the canopy is on the ground, similarly with the brake lines. Pre-flight inspections are made a bit easier with lines colored according to the riser to which they are attached.

Built-in Dirt Holes aid in keeping the Spider paraglider clean when washing it.

Carefully designed edge protection on the sail extends the life of the canopy by protecting the bits that tend to get worn the quickest. Similarly, the harness and brake toggles have features to reduce wear and tear.



Specs for Medium-sized Version

take-off weight incl. glider 80-105 kg (176-232 lbs)
wing area (flat) 28.50 m² (307 ft²)
wing area (projected) 23.75 m² (253 ft²)
wing span (flat) 12.6 m (41 ft)
wing span (projected) 10.4 m (34 ft)
aspect ratio (flat) 5.6
aspect ratio (projected) 4.6
min sink 1.1 m/s (216 fpm, 4.0 kph, 2.1 knts)
best glide ratio 8.4:1
speed min (mid weight range) 22 kph (14 mph, 12 knts)
speed trim (mid weight range) 37 kph (23 mph, 20 knts)
speed max (mid weight range) 49 km/h (30 mph, 26 knts)
Also...
  • pilot weight (min) 60-85 kg (132-187 lbs)



Handling

The claimed advantages of the swept-back plan form are narrow turn radius and improved slow flight characteristics. This plan form is also helpful in preventing locked spirals. Locked spirals?!! This safe behavior is required by the latest DHV standards.

Another behavior required by DHV these days is that a large deflation of one side of the canopy should not swing the pilot around too much. Obviously very important if you happen to be flying your Spider paraglider really close to a mountainside in bumpy air! The Spider will remain controllable until the canopy re-inflates.

Handling is described as 'direct and precise' which helps to reduce fatigue when flying for long periods. One reviewer described its thermalling behaviour as 'agile, with no tendency to overbank'. The same reviewer was impressed with the Spider paraglider's combination of good performance and ease of piloting, and the fact it really didn't require much 'active flying' despite the roughish conditions.

Speed bar use operates in 2 stages, and is light at first. Heavier around the middle and end of the range.



Colors

The Spider is available in Red, Blue or Gold. But if you are prepared to wait a few weeks, and pay a little more, you can get a custom color wing! No other manufacturers do this, at this time.



Pricing

Currently going for around £1900 in the UK, new.



Other Comments

The Spider paraglider was the first Firebird wing to be released after the manufacturing operation was shifted to Switzerland.

When bought new, it comes with a rucksack, two stage speed bar, patches, key ring, wallet, detailed manual, DHV test sheet and a price list for Firebird gliders and accessories. According to one reviewer, the rucksack was found to be comfortable to wear and large enough for a modern harness + helmet.

If you buy your Spider new, it comes with a 5 year warranty!


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