Monday, April 16, 2012

Flying the Aeros Combat 13.5 GT - a review

I have about 15 flights now on the Combat 13.5 GT. During those flights I've experienced weak and strong conditions, well organized and turbulent thermals and slow and fast glides. So I think I'm starting to get a nice picture of how the glider handles and performs :-)

First things first. Launching. No problems there (under normal circumstances). Using 0 to 1/3 VG and using the backward position for the CG, the glider gives me a nice feel and has plenty of pitch, which helps finding the right angle of attack during the run.

Next is thermaling. This is where the 13.5 differs most from my previous glider, the 14.2. In well-organized thermals, it feels like the glider can be high-sided a little. It's not quite high-siding as I remember it from the Spyder, but the glider does seem to turn flatter and slower than you expect to be possible. Push it a bit too much and you immediately feel the loss of efficiency, but as long as you don't overdo it, the glider feels extremely well coordinated and efficient. This was a big surprise for me during a late afternoon flight in Bassano, my first thermal flight with the 13.5. But it was a very pleasant surprise.

In turbulent thermals, I can correct the glider faster than I could with the 14.2. I believe this already helped me during 3 low saves. Once in the first task during the winter race and twice during the first task in Bassano, not that it mattered there... But, during competitions, a low save can make a lot of of difference! And I guess that was my weakest point with the 14.2.

When I considered buying the glider, I feared I was not going to climb as well with it as I did with the 14.2. To make things worse, I put on 5+ kg during the winter and wasn't able to run them off due to an overstressed knee, so I arrived at the Aeros Winter Race expecting not to climb well at all. Now, after some practice with the glider and some tasks under the belt, I think, overall, I climb better with the 13.5 than with the 14.2. Maybe not in nice, light conditions - the big 14.2 was excellent for that - but definitely when things get more alive.

On glide, with full VG, the 13.5 handles noticeably better than 14.2. This was not the case when I flew Matjaz' glider. And I cannot say what causes the difference (settings, full technora?), but the glider is definitely less stiff with full VG, while performance is excellent. A 10 km high-speed glide next to Christian Ciech in Slovenia proved that.

It's also clear now, why Aeros put the moveable hang point in production. The 13.5 has a lot of pitch and it would just be tiring to glide without being able to move the CG forward. So, if you buy a 13.5, buy it with the moveable hang point!

Landing the 13.5 is considerably easier than landing the 14.2. The glider can more easily be corrected, especially at the lower speeds just before flaring, even with quite a bit of VG. This might very well be due to the higher wing loading. The loading surely also helps with clean flow separation when flaring.

So, I like the glider, now I just want the Belgian weather to show off in the coming months!


  1. Hi Jochen,
    thanks for another very comprehensible review. Just two short questions:
    - What is the reason for preferring the "old-style wingtips" over the new "winglets" that came with the glider?
    - Would you think a hook-in weight of 92 kg (with the glider bags in the harness: about 94 kg) would be too light on the 13.5 as it is now, with the technora sail?
    Thanks again, best wishes
    Carsten Zülch, Germany

  2. Hi Carsten!

    I'm currently flying the old style due to some Aeros logistics (swapped with someone at Winter Race because he ordered new ones but hadn't received them yet). I had one flight in calm conditions with the new ones. There was not a lot of difference I could notice in those conditions.
    The Belgian Aeros dealer flies the 13.5 with around 95 kg hook-in and likes the glider a lot (he has the classic mylar leading edge and technora upper sail). His previous glider was a 13.2.

  3. I have tried the new winglets both on and off a Combat GT 13.2
    my feeling was it seemed to fly better in a thermal with the new winglets on
    subjective opinion really, because the thermals are never the same... but I would definitely say no downside to using them

  4. glider looks pretty nice ))

  5. Hi Jochen
    What`s your total clip in weight on the 13,5?
    Thanks Christoph

    1. Hi Christoph! That should be just below 110 kg.