First Flight Review: Nova Mentor 3

First Flight Review: Nova Mentor 3

Nova have refined their successful Mentor 2 with a new line plan, better shaped leading edge and new brake system.

Mentor 3 review

The wing was very reassuring, very calm.

It has a slow pullup, caused by the temporary ridging of the Bs on the wing which is great, it slows the wing during its pullup. This might become more pronounced as the wing ages, but it is not a problem, just expect a minor delay that can help a pilot lacking finesse to get their launch timing right.

During forward launch in very light wind, it was calm and effortless on the pullup. Unlike something like the Delta 2 which will rise without any riser pressure, the Mentor 3 needs a constant gentle pull.

The trailing edge is gathered by simple short spans of tape, which become a V when pulled. This very effective but makes it look ragged. I've heard that this can help stall resistance and here it is certainly noticeable; this wing is phenomenal in slow flight.

Nova Mentor 3 brakefan

^ Mentor 3 trailing edge 3

I did many launches in light wind hanging on the brakes and jumping into the air, to simulate the kind of pilot no wing designer wants, and yet … it flew, super slow.

Of course it will eventually stall, but this kind of impressive tolerance for slow flight means you've got room to make mistakes during tricky toplandings or when bundling it into the rocks at the bottom of the sea cliffs.

Thermaling turns were easy with a moderate pressure that built up over time. In other words it provides a fair amount of resistance but doesn't fight the pilot. Again, perfect for the EN B class, you won't spin it by mistake.

The wing doesn't respond much to outside brake control, so you'll not get the lively whippy turn a more advanced pilot might want. For old hands, it's one of those wings you could clip your inner brake to the riser and go to sleep on.

For someone who has all the adrenalometers redlining when going XC, this wing will help you to get back into the mental green zone. Like a good mentor should, aye?

Mentor 3

I thermaled up to base and went on a glide angle test, which turned out quite nicely: Devils Dyke to Newhaven, about 20km without turning. Good air, of course, but it does make me feel the wing performs well.

Any wing comparison done in thermic conditions is as unscientific as a unicorn race, but when flying with others (Enzos, Deltas, Factors etc) I felt at no particular disadvantage thermaling and flying about. What can you take away from that? If you're on this wing, you don't have to worry about performance, you need to find the good air.

For the level of performance it offers, it looks low aspect in the air, quite stubby. The sizes are generous, and I'd recommend being right at the top end of the weight range to get maximum performance and turning authority.

Full speedbar is a bit boring, it feels as if it has angle of attack to spare, so it kind of bulldozes through the bumps. It gets a bit fluttery in the fabric showing there's some slackness there, but this usually helps to prevent the whip-crack frontals that highly tensioned leading edges can cause.

That's more suited to the EN-C and D class wings, who will presumably have a slight advantage at full bar.

Mentor 3 risers

Big ears were big and easy to engage thanks to split As. Because so much of the stabilising wing tips are 'out of play' you lose yaw authority in your harness, meaning in a pod your toes will swing through the compass points when trying to turn using weight-shift.

40-50% asymmetric collapses produced benign results, a small pitch and small turn followed by reinflation.

Pitch control is where you must be careful with this wing. It really pitches quickly. This makes it suited to pilots who won't mistime their brake inputs, so it's not an ideal first wing. If you're hesitant in thermic conditions, go for something more forgiving. I'm thinking of a pilot that hits a narrow thermal, puts the brakes on for that 'secure' feeling (bad idea), then releases the brakes and exits the thermal … resulting in a big pitch. Learn active flying and pitch control on something less responsive, or take it easy on the Mentor 3 until you've mastered pitch control.

This was a slightly surprising behaviour because it doesn't do this on its own and shows no tendency to move ahead during launch or when using speedbar. Passive safety is high and everything else about the wing is 'low to mid range' EN B. Overall, a very good design job, Nova.

In summary, the Mentor 3 is ideal for pilots who are suited to a second wing that absorbs a lot of the sky's punch. It's a good tool for tough conditions and tricky launches and can be thermaled well, especially in light, steady thermals.

Expect to see this wing in the sky wherever you are on your xc. It will be hard to escape from.

Unexpected performance from a simple-looking wing.  

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