Thu 8 May 14
Leia is born from a simple idea: bringing the Petra technology to the open market!
After bringing Petra to the CP competition scene three years ago, we have had many more orders than we could reasonably deal with. Everyone wanted one! But as I was going through the infamous ‘list’, I realized that about half were not the original target market of Petra. People were asking for bigger lines, insisted on a ZP version¹... They wanted the fun of it but were not planning to compete.
It became quite obvious we would have to go back to the (computer aided) drawing board to infuse some of the Petra DNA into a more accessible canopy and create Petra’s little sister.
She would have to fit in a small Freefly container and be jumpable every day and so we could see her first curves appearing:
2. No hassle
3. Good openings
She also needed to keep Petra’s epic flight characteristics such as a high roll rate, a very long dive, high harness sensitivity and the widest speed range ever covered by a parachute (Petra can fly with a tandem or a wingsuit without trims). The picture was getting clearer:
1. High ellipticity
3. Steep trim
4. Compact aspect ratio
Here’s the breakdown of our project all the way to Leia:
1. Bridget https://vimeo.com/88124824
We first decided on a 7 cell format and we couldn’t wait to learn more so we cut two cells out of a big Petra. Bridget was born. This was a fun experiment but it wasn’t quite right. The aspect ratio was too small, the toggle range was weird and the flare wasn’t powerful enough.
In a nutshell, this prototype was a little frumpy looking, but still kinda hot! Her low aspect ratio gave her some luscious curves. And while we love curves, we reckon a sleeker wing might suit our purpose better for this project!
2. Candy https://vimeo.com/89085167
We gave it more thought (and more computer simulations) and used our secret recipe… a mix of science, beer, experience, overheating computers, head scratching, experiments, overheating sewing machines and beer. And finally went back to the dropzone with a much better design. We gave it a more reasonable aspect ratio and ditched the Mini Ribs³ that appeared useless on this type of design. She was awesome and the test jumpers were looking for excuses to keep jumping her. When they couldn’t find any more, they started fighting to get her in their personal rigs. And so she started to go around... a lot! We thought that was a good sign.
She was truly flying like Petra so we thought about calling her Petra Lite but she deserved better than being her little sister forever. She needed a personality of her own to grow big in this world. We called her Candy, for her acid drop colors and sweeeeet openings.
3. Leia https://vimeo.com/92211502
We knew we were onto something so we kept looking for things to improve. We changed the lineset, refined the panel designs, put more beers into it and made sure every detail was worth her surname...
We invited TJ Landgren, Katie Hansen and Nick Batsch to try it while they were visiting NZ this summer and they all loved it. Nick did an impressive 175m swoop on it on his first jump (nil wind and at sea level) confirming the awesome potential of the canopy! He didn’t say much straight away but his smile left us confident that she is better than any other ZP competition wing on the market.