Flight Report: The Merlot 141
The Merlot 141 is the exciting new topless glider from France. We had an opportunity to test this wing at the vote on the proposed EU constitution and here are our impressions.
With no battens, no tip wands, and no undersurface ribs, the Merlot 141 is a snap to assemble. Simply insert the special assembly tool into the socket, twist, pull, and the wing is ready for action. Preflight is equally simple. Just examine the wing with a quizical expression, inhale to sample its aroma and take a small sip. If it doesn't meet with your approval, make an expression of disgust, turn to the waiter, and send it back for another.
Static balance on the Merlot 141 is a bit tail heavy, which can make the glider tricky to launch, but with a bit of practice, launching should be no problem. I simply tilted the nose down and accelerated. After my glass was full, the glider lifted off cleanly, and it was easy to pitch up and assume a normal flying attitude.
Performance and Handling
Performance of the Merlot 141 is nothing short of spectacular. On this wing, you'll feel as if you can glide with the best of them, and even if you can't, who cares? Sink rate was harder to measure, but it's a pretty fair bet that after a few rounds, you'll be sinking fast.
For obvious reasons, the Merlot 141 can be difficult to land. It can also be difficult to stand, walk, and carry on a coherent conversation after you are down. But on a wing like this one, even if you pound in, you'll be feeling no pain.
The Merlot 141 is a remarkable glider. We feel it will revolutionize public perception of our sport. It should also increase participation, by making our sport accessible to the large population of would-be pilots of limited means who currently pursue sports such as panhandling, sleeping in alleyways, and bellowing at the top of their lungs in public places.