The difference between an Atlas 2 and a Calypso

(by Patrick Holmes)

The difference between an Atlas 2 and a Calypso.

Looking at the specs, at first glance there are similarities that might make you believe that the Calypso is just a lightweight Atlas 2, but there’s a lot more to it than that and GIN Gliders are keen to point out the differences and to explain that the Calypso was developed from the ground up as a lightweight wing.

Atlas2 and Calypso
Atlas2 and Calypso packed volume comparison.

It’s pretty obvious when you see these gliders side by side that there is a huge difference between them but is it just pack size and weight? Look closely and it also becomes obvious that the Calypso is indeed very different from the Atlas 2 in many ways.

One important similarity is that on both gliders ALL lines are sheathed.

GIN Gliders Atlas 2 and Calypso specification side by side
GIN Gliders Atlas 2 and Calypso specifications side by side

Both gliders share the same number of cells and roughly the same area, line layout and aspect ratio. This basic configuration, first used with the original Atlas, is very efficient: The two main lines and three risers per side make for a very low line count which gives high performance while offering great handling and top security that is hard to beat at this aspect ratio. This in turn defines the number of cells that can be supported by the layout so this leads to the main design similarities.

Differences include:

Plan shape; most noticeable in the more sculpted trailing edge on the Calypso. This reduces area and weight and influences the handling and behaviour.

GIN Gliders Atlas 2 and Calypso side by side
GIN Gliders Atlas 2 and Calypso side by side

The Calypso has a simpler internal structure with fewer diagonals. This further reduces material use and therefore weight but necessitates an increased number of suspension points and hence more upper lines. Lines are reduced at the tips however and the total line metre count is similar. The line materials chosen are slightly thinner, and are more aerodynamic, again this further reduces weight and affects performance and handling. Reactions on the Calypso are more damped while the handling is more agile and direct (much of this is due to less inertia due to lower weight).

GIN Gliders Atlas 2 and Calypso aerofoil profile comparison
Image above shows GIN Gliders Atlas 2 and Calypso aerofoil profile comparison showing marked difference at the leading edge.

The internals are very different: New profiles across the span help give easier take-off behaviour and quicker, more agile handling. New internal structure is optimised for reduced material usage and the new profiles further reduce weight while giving cleaner surfaces; increasing performance and changing handling behaviour. Redesigned bands and diagonal systems compliment the new internal structure.

All these differences add up to gliders with very different physical properties and quite different flying characters.

GIN Gliders Atlas 2
Flying GIN Gliders’ Atlas 2 in the Lake District.

The original Atlas has gained an excellent reputation over the years, even now, five years after it was introduced, it holds its own in terms of handling and performance. The sink rate and its climbing ability in lift are still amongst the best in its class.

Patrick flying Gin Gliders' Calypso above UK Airsports office
Flying Gin Gliders’ Calypso on Clough Head above UK Airsports office.

The Atlas 2 built on that with better take-off behaviour, easier and slightly more agile handling, very solid feel, first class security and good, solid performance.

The Calypso, like many light weight wings, is very easy to ground handle. Inflation and launch are first class, the glider sits above your head in the lightest of winds with little effort.

In the air, the Calypso is more playful and agile while matching the sink rate and performance of the best in its class.

Both Atlas 2 and Calypso are suitable as first gliders for aspiring, confident new pilots as well as being a great choice for regular pilots with the handling and performance to fly cross country or to soar in a wide range of conditions.

They are both confidence inspiring wings that help pilots get the most out of their flying. This level of low to mid-level EN B class wing is ideal for a much wider range of pilots than many will give credit for. I regularly take out this kind of glider to fly local cross country flights, when I go to take photos, hike and fly, etc. They are very rewarding wings.

GIN Gliders Atlas 2
GIN Gliders Atlas 2 keeping up with higher performance gliders over Clough Head.

One of our local instructors has had an original Atlas for nearly five years. He’s out whenever it’s flyable and flies more cross country miles than most local pilots; his Atlas compliments his skill, enabling him to fly comfortably in a wide range of conditions with confidence. His Atlas now has more than 360 recorded flying hours and is still performing extremely well, and as the wing doesn’t hold him back, he’s not looking to change any time soon!

As GIN says “If you’re a leisure pilot flying less than fifty hours a year, a “low EN B” wing could be the most suitable wing for you. This category of wing offers a high level of passive safety and forgiving handling. When your wing inspires you with confidence, even big XC’s are possible. You may even find yourself performing better on this kind of wing, as you can focus more on the terrain and clouds and worry less about controlling your wing.”

But which one to chose?

To summarise:

The most obvious difference is that the Calypso is a light weight glider whereas the Atlas 2 is a classic glider. Naturally, the Calypso is lighter and more compact to carry, whereas the Atlas 2 is more durable, especially if you fly on rocky or abrasive terrain.

“The Atlas 2 is an easy intermediate wing for beginner and leisure pilots who want a confidence-inspiring wing that still offers great XC possibilities, built with durable materials ready to be flown in the toughest terrains.”

“The Calypso is a light, easy intermediate wing for beginner and leisure pilots who want a confidence-inspiring wing that is easy to travel and fly with, whilst still offering great XC possibilities.”

Hike and Fly Hustinden near Flakstad, Lofoten, Norway
Small pack size & light weight – the Calypso makes Hike and Fly more fun – Flakstad, Lofoten.

Personally I am very happy flying either although because we have to walk to all of our sites, I do appreciate the light and compact size of the Calypso.

A note regarding lightweight gliders and materials:

Modern paragliding fabrics are light but they also perform very well. Porcher’s Skytex 27 CLASSIC 2 performs slightly better than Skytex 40 CLASSIC in terms of air permeability during testing (cycles of washing).

Porcher Marine Stytex 27 Classic v Classic 2

We have had gliders made from Porcher Skytex Classic and Classic 2 material for quite a few years now. We recently tested a couple of four year old ex staff and demo gliders made from 27 Classic 2 that had 300-400 hours use and the results were very good, better than expected. We are confident that when looked after, the Skytex 27 CLASSIC 2 material used for lightweight gliders lasts and performs very well.

When comparing lightweight gliders and the materials they are made from, be aware that there are different versions of Skytex 27 Porcher material; “CLASSIC” with a single coating and “CLASSIC 2”, a more expensive version that is double coated.

GIN Gliders use the double coated CLASSIC 2 material. This has advantages in the long term: It is more durable, has better air permeability after use and is more dimensionally stable over time.

Skywalk and BGD also use this double coated CLASSIC 2 material.

More info about Porcher Marine Skytex materials:

Porcher Skytex range brochures:
Skytex 27 Classic and Classic 2 material info:

More info about the gliders available on GIN’s website:

Atlas 2 / Calypso comparison: and pdf:
Atlas 2 info:
Calypso info:

Jerome Maupoint's photo of Gin Gliders' Calypso at Yttersand, Lofted, Norway
Tim Bollinger flying and Jerome Maupoint on a photoshoot for Gin Gliders’ Calypso at Yttersand, Lofted, Lofoten, Norway June 2019. Photo Patrick Holmes