Sunday, September 25, 2005

Third flight in PW-5

The weather reports and the soaring forecast did not predict a good day today. A low pressure system was centered right on the local area, and the air was very stable. But since I had not flown for a while I went anyway. As expected, there were very few ships flying... one or two very experienced pilots staying up.

J took a 4000' tow and only got 22 minutes out of it, reporting one area of weak lift right near the Initial Point, at pattern altitude, therfore hard to exploit. I also took a 4000' tow. I should have let off at about 3700' because we went through some OK lift. After I released I went back to that spot but could not find anything.

This was only my third flight in the PW-5, as I've been flying the Grob 103 lately. My takeoff was fine but on tow it seemed a bit squirrely, and I had to make an effort to stay slightly above the towplane. Not too bad, but something to work on. Using a lighter touch on the stick seemed to help.

Off tow, I found it very comfortable to fly. My other flights in the PW-5 were on stronger, turbulent days and I got bounced around pretty well. Today was (unfortunately) quite smooth. I finally did find a bit of lift at about 1500' AGL but only worked it up about 300' before losing it all very quickly to the sink monster.

Pattern and landing were good. Light crosswind from the left. I got a little slow after the flare, but because I had stalled a landing some weeks before I was prepared. I adjusted well with elevator and spoilers and had a smooth, straight touchdown in the box and great rollout.

I had been hoping for a fairly relaxed, satisfying flight and I got it... but short, only 30 minutes since I couldn't find much lift.

Just before takeoff, my PDA/GPS combo got into some sub-screen of SeeYou Mobile that I could not get out of. I didn't want to delay takeoff, so I put it away and ignored it. So I still have not had an opportunity to try it out in flight.


Anonymous said...

I have *1* flight in PW-5, and was enormously satisfied with that (a great ship). Right after the flight I was hit and run over by a car, pretty much ending my gliderpilot career for a few years. When Bielsko-1 folded, my semi-dream of buying my own PW-5 went with it (I'm 6'5" tall and PW-5 is comfy/roomy wow).

Anonymous said...

Went window-shopping for a PW-5, now that Bielsko is back in production. Along the way, googled PW-5 (not pretty). The glider community is mostly theorists. Chat-rooms filled with people who do not own gliders, bashing PW-5's for a variety of reasons (mostly cost/performance ie used ASW-20 is cheaper/better etc). Yes but "staying up and sightseeing" is what most pilots really do (not race). If you want "new" for $25K, PW-5 is it. So, I'd really like you to keep posting your PW-5 experiences.

Anonymous said...

That's not quite right. It was "theorists" who dreamed up the PW-5 concept and expected the gliding community to adopt it. The gliding community has patiently looked over the PW-5 over the years and has largely rejected it for a variety of reasons. You can still buy a PW-5 if you want but don't whine if better informed pilots choose not to follow you.

Anonymous said...

Well sorry for the long delay, but I just-now wandered back to "posts of long ago".

Mr. Anonymous posted "The gliding community has patiently looked over the PW-5 over the years and has largely rejected it for a variety of reasons."

Au contraire. The "gliding community" has wholly embraced PW-5. From the North American importer Charles Yeates:

"Approximate numbers are 90 in USA, 10 in Canada, 22 in New Zealand, a lot in Egypt and others in Japan, Argentina, Spain, France, Germany, Belgium and
Scandanavia adding up to a total of approx 260."

This number *260* coupled with the fact that the glider is still in production (by 2 manufacturers!) indicates that PW-5 is THE MOST SUCCESSFUL GLIDER OF THE MODERN ERA.

As for your second comment "You can still buy a PW-5 if you want but don't whine if better informed pilots choose not to follow you."

Remember this: When "better informed pilots" buy a different glider, by-definition that glider is used (because new-production gliders --other than PW-5-- are extremely small in number). This means THE SELLER IS DISSATISFIED WITH THE MACHINE for some (largely unknown) reason. If used-glider sales were done for the reason of "moving up" we'd see *lots* of ASW-27/28's (etc) around, which of course we do not.

I like PW-5 because of the large cockpit and easy-rig features (note I do not own one). I have flown the Astir and Grob single-seaters (extensively), PW-5 is superior (clear to me after just one flight). Note I have a "flight test" background and am qualified to make that a statement. Furthermore, I am proficient in *7* different gliders and 2-33 is not one of them!

Am I a PW-5 crusader? Not at all. For big-pilot retract-gear fans, Astir-III is tough-to-beat. The Jantars offer a performance/cost ratio tough-to-beat. But at any one time, there are perhaps 2 of these models for sale in the US, and spares are available but expensive and delivery times can be slow.

Yes there are "deals" in 30yo "performance gliders" but please remember that when you own it, *you own a 30yo glider*.

In closing, let me say if I could have any *new* glider in the world, I would pick L-13AC (acro Blanik), not PW-5. But if I were buying a glider tomorrow, for me, PW-5 would do nicely, and I would be a Happy Pilot.

Cheers, Paul P.

Zippo said...

I was browsing for some for-sale links for a PW-5 and found this thread. My club operates a PW-5 and a Grob Twin III SL and a Ka-8 so I find it interesting you mention both the Grob and the PW-5. I love both machines, the PW-5 is extremely easy to fly and has a great no-force stick that is soooo responsive that gives you a relaxing feel while flying it. It also has a very soft wing that takes much of the turbulence out of the air for you (if it is not too extreme) The Grob Twin III SL is an entirely different animal that though it is easy to fly you are more aware of flying it, the stick is not heavy but you need to hold it with strength because the wing spar is completely rigid so it will show no amount of bending and you feel every movement of the air around you. And that is a good thing, it is so easy to feel on what side the thermals are stronger . Oh right I was searching for PW-5 for sale links, there are surprisingly few for sale given the amount of gliders produced, must be a good thing !

Anonymous said...

I have recently acquired a half share in a PW5 and as a glider pilot with some 400+ hours feel it necessary to dispel a few myths about this little glider. I also own a Kestrel 19 and have flown most contemporary single seaters ranging from Astirs to DGs during my last decade of gliding.
I have flown the PW alongside K8s, Astirs,DG 100s/200s and Cirus's etc etc. This 13 metre glider outsoars them all due to its weight and advanced wing section. It will give any 15 metre standard class glider a run for its money. Due to its unique handling it can scratch away in the weakest of lift and you get phenomenal feedback through the stick and can feel where the lift is.
Neither does it drop out of the sky if you get caught out and it starts to rain where it still outsoars a K8.
It also outglides the Club Astir as the way in which manufactuers measure their L/D is somewhat dubious and PW's I believe conservative.
Its only vice for NOVICE pilots is that you have to be gentle with the stick on an intial winch climb to prevent over rotation but this is no worse than in a K8.
The reason for their apparent lack of popularity is simple it is Polish and has a fixed undercarriage and was n't built by Schleicher or DG who would have marketed it better.
This coupled with the fact that it does not look like a conventional 15 metre standard class racing glider has done little to increase its popularity.
As an easily rigged and flown expedition glider proven to be capable of 300k in the UK it really does take a lot of beating.
I am going to embarrass a fair few hot ship pilots with this little glider this year.

Anonymous said...

Where can you buy a new PW-5?

Roger Worden said...

It's hard to tell, but I think they have not been manufactured since about 2000. According to the article on Wikipedia (, about 200 were made. At the moment I see two for sale on Wings and Wheels ( Look for them under the manufacturer PZL Swidnik. They've kept their value pretty well: asking prices are $18,500 and $28,000.

It's a fine little ship. I flew it cross-country a few times, and was glad for the fairly short wingspan when I landed it on a dirt strip at Olancha between bushes (