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07 October 2020

Maria Dmitrienko

Petra Review: Amazing piece of modern parachute engineering

“The Petra is an amazing piece of modern engineering. It took all NZ Aerosports knew about canopy piloting and pushed it so far forward that it created a new category of wings all on its own. It’s so powerful and aggressive that after creating it, NZ Aerosports had to create a “slower” version of the Petra, the Leia! This new breed of hyper performance wings came in to push the discipline even further. And when it came time to choose I knew that the best tool for the job was and still is for sure the Petra.”  Read the full Petra review by Gonçalo Resende below.

 


 

Why did you choose the Petra from NZ Aerosports?

 

This new breed of hyper performance wings came in to push the discipline even further, and when it came time to choose I knew that the best tool for the job was and still is the Petra. I came from a background of NZ Aerosports Daedalus project wings, namely the JVX full sail. This made me really want to continue on the brand. After seeing the flight performance of the Petra and trying her out myself I felt that she was the best tool for my objectives which was to compete. Please read this Petra review to hear the whole story!

I bought my first Petra before I was sponsored by NZ Aerosports and would do it again. It’s really the best out there, unmatched in openings, building speed, recovery arc, slow flight. She does it all better than all the others. 

 

 

Your Petra review in a few first thoughts?

 

I still remember my first jump on the Petra! It was a 69 sqft that Carlos Faustino let me take out for a spin and it was amazing. I was actually scared to be overwhelmed by the power of the wing, but it wasn’t too tough to control. I was loading it at 2.3 so it was super light, but it still made me feel like a little kid with a new toy. Shortly after I wanted to get a wing for myself and got a Petra 62 to load at 2.5. Finally I started to feel like I was flying a real hyper performance wing.

I got bigger and heavier and 2.5 became 2.8 so I wanted a bigger Petra. This was mainly to use for distance and zone acc. I decided on a Petra 67 and she is amazing, my main wing and I love her! Regular WL is about 2.5 and it’s super comfortable. You can easily go up to 2.8-3.0 and still be comfortable on free fall jumps. I just like to fly light on work and fun jumps.

 

If the Petra was a movie, what would it be called?

 

Probably “Icarus Strikes Back” because of how NZ Aerosports rose back to the top in 2010 by bringing her into the market. Or maybe even “The Godmother” because of how she not only created the new school of wings but also will always be on top of them to the day of her retirement. When that day comes, it will leave a forever lasting legacy. It’s also not a coincidence that some of the best movies ever made were what came to mind when thinking about the Petra. I wonder why 🙂

 

Goncalo Resende landing the Petra canopy at the end of his swoop

Gonçalo Resende landing the Petra

 

The difference between the Petra and the Leia

 

The Petra is the mother of all wings. She is the race car and the Leia is the sports car. The sports car can be driven by any experienced driver and is fast and can even be your daily driver! But when it comes to winning gold, the race cars are used, with race pilots driving and no extra features, no air conditioning, no headlights, nothing. It’s designed to go fast and win gold, just like the Petra.

The Leia is your daily driver for experienced jumpers, it goes fast and it goes far but it isn’t the fastest out there. It isn’t the fastest because it compromises to get good openings and a long fabric life. The Petra however requires your full attention and its pilot needs to understand that it is a literal race machine. NZ Aerosports wins points for making their magic and having it do free fall with amazing openings. Ultimately, it’s still an ultra fast competition wing.

 

Who is the Petra for?

 

I believe the Petra is a tool designed for competing and going fast so it should be used accordingly. It’s a wing built for the professional canopy pilot. However, we are seeing more and more top level free flyers doing top level swoop comps and scoring the podium. It’s now becoming more common to see a Petra being used by a free flyer on his/her/their fun jumps. Not only does the wing allow this but also the community, since there has been a clear increase in overall proficiency that allows for this to happen! (If you want to progress this way, please don’t just read this Petra review to match your skills, but seek professional canopy coaching!)

Simply put, the Petra is for the current professional canopy piloting competitor that has the skill set necessary to fly her. Whether it’s on a daily basis or in a competition situation. It’s a beast of a wing and after flying a 69, 67, 65 and 62 I can assure you she is perfect for high level flying! Zone Accuracy, Speed, Distance, XRW and many more things!! Just not so good for wing suiters, students, weekend warriors, etc.

 

Petra Review: Flight characteristics

 

The trim on this wing is not what we can call flat, not even close!!! While the toggles are stowed you might even for a moment think “this is a pretty normal glide”. However, once you pop those toggles, well, you are pretty much in free fall again. You will actually feel the legstraps lose their pressure on your leg because the air resistance on your body will literally start to lift you!

Front & Rear Risers

Now fronts, they are light and easy to manage. You can easily hold on to them for the first 180′ of the turn to really get that speed going. No turbulence or loss of pressure on the trailing edge whatsoever when you alter the trim of the wing and gain speed, which is a problem some other brands face. The rears are incredibly powerful and quite sensitive, same goes for the toggles.

Harness

The harness is super sensitive and if you are not used to the sensitivity it might be overwhelming. You may even over rotate on the first few landings, especially if you are used to whipping it hard in the end of the turn. You will get used to the harness flight super fast and love it!!

Recovery Arc

The recovery arc is perfect! You can finish the turn super high and she will stay in a dive for a long time. Even when she recovers, unless you use the rears, she will keep falling. In the first landings you might finish high, from what I’ve seen, and the wing will lose a lot of power.

Once you start to really nail the recovery arc you will truly start to feel the power of the Petra. Work on making your body area as small as possible because you will come with so much speed. The recovery arc is quite long, 3-4 seconds, so if you relax and stretch your body you will lose tons of power. 

 

 

What about the wing loading for Petra?

 

It’s best flown at high wing loadings. When I strap on full weights and get her to 3.0 she is a beast for Distance! Even with downwinders at 2.5 she goes for miles. However, the sweet spot lies between 2.6 and 3.0 depending on the wind conditions for Distance. I’d go for a bigger Petra (2.2-2.6) for downwind Distance and Zone Accuracy. Mid size (2.6-2.9) for Distance on nil wind days, downwind Speed and headwind Zone Accuracy. And a small Petra (2.9-3.2) for headwind Distance and nil and upwind Speed.

My personal arsenal includes a 67 and 62 but I’d add a 72 and 57 no problem to have a tool for each job. Of course, you can still be a master of your craft with one wing and it’s the recommended approach for starting competitions!

 

What are the openings like?

 

The openings are amazing. This is the easiest part of reviewing the Petra! If you take care with the pack job you will probably have one or two off-heading openings every 100 jumps. The snivel portion of the opening is quite fast, but not too fast where the slider immediately comes down. It stays up there for just enough time to slow you down and inflate the rest of the wing. It’s actually so good to have a shorter snivel in these wings because that’s one of the more complicated portions of the opening. We have high speed air going through the wing, but none of our controls are functioning yet at 100%.

Nevertheless, the Petra eliminates this problem all together and gives you nice and comfortable openings. This makes it the perfect tool for any regular free fall jump. Whether it’s camera flying (unless you’re carrying DSLR’s, a bunch of GoPros and camcorders), coaching, any type of free fly jump and maybe even AFF.

The only concern is the wing loading. If you load it at 2.8+, do a turn bigger than 450′ and you use the full RDS on free fall, then it’s probably smart to pull a little higher than usual. Maybe 4500feet, just to have time to deal with the slider all the other shenanigans.

 

How about landing this swoop machine?

 

Start of the turn

The flight characteristics make the setup and turn go perfectly well. You will have plenty of power from the wing to finish the turn with a tremendous amount of speed. The rears are huge and will drive the canopy out of the recovery arc with tremendous amounts of power.

The best way to use the rears during the recovery arc in my opinion is to again make yourself small and create less resistance. Let the canopy recover by itself during the first two thirds of the recovery arc. Then to give it a little bit of rears, touch the water and relieve the pressure on the rears ever so slightly for about the first 30m. This will let the canopy regain some pressure and not break it in half from too much rears.

End of the turn

After the first 30m you can give the rears more input and start to lift off. You will make it past the exit gates already starting to climb and just barely break the beam (make sure you do though). And when you finally let her show her true colours and really freely lift off you see why the Petra dominates!

The rears are huge and will fly you for about 60% of the course, but the toggles will quickly steal the show. Toggles are truly immense on this wing. The slow air speed flight characteristics are truly the stuff of dreams. She will fly in toggles until the last bit of speed has been used. Almost no speed will be wasted on dragging your ass on the grass. If you have upwinds you will literally have lift until you come to a dead stop. Stand up landings every time with upwinds and crosswinds, and even some down winds.

 

Petra Review: Canopy Progression

 

(Please note the following suggestion is for the purpose of reviewing the Petra! We recommend you to seek professional canopy coaching for your progression.) To start of course you will go from an aggressive non-cross-braced wing with a nice and steep trim, like the Crossfire, and get some coaching! When you feel ready and your coach agrees you can pick up your first cross-braced wing.

Out of high performance wings, the JFX2 is currently the best tool on the market for that and was designed with that purpose in mind. It gives you the option to start to enter into the bigger wing loadings and turns. Until here it’s well defined but the terrain ahead is still being refined. 99% of the cases will see benefits in going through a Leia as it is the perfect wing for any type of free fall jump, excluding wing suit.

You can even keep it in a backup work rig, after you progress to the Petra, to do AFF, big ways, camera flying. Anywhere you need nice consistent on-heading openings, so really, it’s a win-win situation in all ways. I still believe that the jump from the JFX2 to the Leia is a big one but I believe NZ Aerosports is working on a wing to go in the middle of the two.

What was your personal journey to the Petra?

The path that I took was to go throw an original JVX full sail from 2008 because I already had one so it was easy enough to progress onto it. The fact that the JVX share the same planform as the Petra (9 cells, high aspect ratio, rigid sail fabric) it made me feel right at home when I progressed.

 

Gonçalo Resende posing for a photograph in a skydiving jumpsuit

Gonçalo Resende

 

The Best and Worst things about the Petra

 

What’s the best?

The fact that it does terminal openings for sure! She has a lot of power and comes in with a lot of speed but those aspects are easy to copy. It’s in the openings and slow speed flight that she really shines. During the flare she really maintains her aerodynamic shape to preserve as much rigidity and pressure throughout the swoop. I know that my Petra does not waste any of her energy and pressurisation. It’s all put towards creating lift and flying further and further away! You will fly right up until you have no horizontal speed. Your power will never be wasted on sliding the grass.

It’s hard to find negative points about the Petra, and it makes me think “how will they come up with something better?”. But then I remember what my peers said to each other back in the JVX days, “how will they come up with something better?”. Well they did and she’s been Queen of the podium ever since.

What’s the worst?

I’d say the worst thing when reviewing the Petra is probably the associated price tag. Although it is much justified and if you look at it, it’s actually a bargain! You’re getting the best of the best, there’s no going up from this. Of course, we swoopers know how much we love to have a bunch of sizes in the closet to choose from, hehe! Oh and wing suit openings on the Petra, they suck! Well at least that’s what “a friend of mine” told me :-p

 


 

Gonçalo was introduced to the sport right when he was born. He’s always been on drop zones and grew up among parachutes and jump planes. When he was 12 he started packing parachutes and editing tandem videos to make money for a digital SLR and lenses that helped fuel his love for photography.

When he finished his AFF he started a journey with a goal to become a world class skydiver. He relearned everything he knew about body flight from ground/wind tunnel experience and set out to learn as much as he could as well and as consistently as he could. One of his projects is the Frickflyers free fly team, a junior free fly team where he is the team leader, performer and coach. His main fascination is with no doubt Canopy Piloting though. He confesses to love everything about it and wants to take his Petra to as many comps as he can. Maybe one day even make the podium at a World Meet. He loves photography, videography, skiing, downhill mountain biking, motorcycles and fast parachutes. Oh and most of all he loves everything with an Icarus Canopies logo on it!

 


 

Thanks for reading our Petra review!

 

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