The coincidence Weather/Libelle is very good because at the moment in France we have very high pressure for few days and consequently a sunny weather with no wind at all. so it was really the time to try such type of sailplane ! I did the maiden flight at the local slope with no wind, then the day after, we flew at the Pierre Percée, a nice place to make a shooting session, with plenty of snow and still no wind. So what to say about the Libelle:
Using normal technique (by the fuselage), the launch is pretty easy, but the height reached is not high. With the discus launch, it is much better. I'm a total newbee in this, so doesn't have the technique at all. With my onboard altimeter probe and telemetry, I recorded my best launch at 25+ meters. I expect an experimented launcher to reach 35meters and possibly a bit more. Pilots expecting the Libelle to compete with high end fully moulded HLG will be disapointed, but the airframe made mainly of foam is not rigid enough and it is everything but a surprise. However this altitude of 20 to 25m is enough to catch thermal, explore the field and enjoy flying. Remember the goal of the libelle, as explained by the designer himself: HLG for everyone !
The Libelle is a pure joy to play with. It is very agile, light at the sticks. It shows a good cruise speed and penetration, and it can circle literally on the wing tip. The efficiency of the rudder is excellent and I surprised myself by using more the rudder to trigger the turn, than the ailerons. I found that the 3 camber positions give really different behaviors. A the neutral position, the plane is already fast and can explore the field easily. in Reflex mode, speed is a bit higher (launch, aerobatics). In thermal position, with only 2 to 3 mm, the plane slows down greatly allowing to "work" the thermal, center it, and extract as much heigth as possible from it. At the opposite of this dymamic/active flight where you alternate transition and circling, The libelle is also very good at low speed. you can slow down it a lot, given that the stall is very very late and very gentle. When the air is very neutral, you can, like this, stay in the air longer, optimizing the sink rate. On my transmitter (XG8) I can change the camber rate with a trim, so I can adapt the camber to the conditions.
Despite it is not designed for that, when you got some height then you cannot resist so let's do it. Vertical manoeuvers (reversal, and looping) are lacking of amplitude because of the low weight. Some reflex (launch position) however helps a lot as the plane accelerates better. Rolls and even 4 steps rolls good, well axed. Inverted flight with reflex camber is a piece of cake.
Catching the Libelle is very easy, but I recommend to catch it by the fuselage, not by the wings or you will "compress" the leading edge foam and at the end let some marks. The landing position of the flaps slows down greatly the plane which is a plus to prepare the catch.
The libelle is very innovative in its design and construction, affordable, an provide lots of pleasure during the assembly (the kit is clever and well thought), and even more in flight. Without competing with high end HLG, it is however allowing you to touch the essence of this popular and beautiful discipline. After flying and enjoying the Libelle for few days already, I predict that it will quickly become a best-seller like the Alula and the Weasel were in the past.
- wingspan 1200 mm
- wing area 21.31dm2
- weight 278-290 gm (Mine was 275g)
- wing loading 13-13.6 gm/dm2
- Price: 120$
- Manufacturer: Dream-Flight
Below is a video filmed during the afternoon when I maidened the Libelle.