Setting up, the lines on the Mustang S500 canopy are colour coded. They feel quite heavy and robust, and clearing the lines is mostly achieved with just a quick flick. The canopy appears huge and the cells stay open thanks to thin, flexible plastic inserts. This has to be a bonus to assist take-off.
Strapping in to the Pilot's seat, your feet fit comfortably onto the non-slip foot slide steering controls. A quick turn of the key on the instrument pod and the big Rotax 582 bursts into life. Easing the hand-throttle forwards the massive Mustang canopy glides up above the aircraft and you can feel the powerful forces at work as the 582, GSC prop, shackles, lines and canopy all start to do their work. The roll-out is very smooth, thanks to the rear suspension. There is no sensation of being in a go-kart, this is a real aircraft feel. A further slide of the throttle and the ground disappears below.
The first thing you must work out is what to do with your hands! Instinctively I tried to turn the steering wheel but remembering pretty quickly that I was in a foot-controlled craft, a gentle slide of the left foot had me turning tightly on the tip of the canopy! The linear fuselage acentuates climb and descent as well as the notion that you are indeed in an aircraft. With the large canopy and large glide ratio you really feel like you are soaring with the eagles. The craft is very manouvreable, and on full turn I was surprised to feel the sensation of the focal point of the turn was really close, somewhere about my hip. This, combined with the total ground visibility on each side, will make for great aerial photography.
Landing is equally smooth and gentle. Pushing both legs forward to a gradual full flare the bird gently slides back onto the ground. Reaching directly behind. the steering lines can be pulled in and the great wing gently collapses to the rear. Line socks attach to the craft at one end and zip up the full length of the lines; there is no need for daisy-chaining, knit-one perl-two-ing or knot tying. The big chute packs easily into the canopy bag and buckles into the back seat. And the biggest thing that turned my mates green with envy ? Being able to taxi back to the trailer with the steerable front wheel.
Not only has the powered parachute realised my dream to fly, the Summit now has me dreaming in glorious wide-screen, panavisioned technicolour!