Tuesday 27 August 2013

Portsmouth Kite Festival

The forecast in the week leading up to Portsmouth Kite Festival was pretty poor (read: rain both days), but we were really lucky! It was grey and overcast on Saturday, but no rain (although all day it felt like it was going to rain within the next two minutes). On Sunday, we only had some early drizzle, and it brightened up as the day progressed. The wind was challenging at times, quite blustery on Saturday, and much lighter but turbulent (coming over the hotels) on Sunday.

As usual in my festival-related blog posts, I'll focus on team-flying; a link to general photos will appear at the end of this post.

OK, dual-liners first! Team Spectrum flew solid performances, as always, but did struggle with the wind at times.

I was very glad that the wind had dropped enough on Sunday for Carl to fly his 'Chi Mai' routine, which remains my firm favourite.

Josh Mitcheson flew his one man - three kites routine (as well as a Rev routine). At only fifteen, the next Chris Goff maybe?

Cerfs-Volants Folie gave a couple of dazzling 9-kite shows. Absolutely fantastic and mesmerising to watch; pure kite magic!

And then there was Flying Fish!! We were not officially on the programme, but TC managed to squeeze us in both Saturday and Sunday (thanks again, TC!). Flew our mega-vented Matrix kites on Saturday and our Cheetahs on Sunday. Routines were a bit ragged at times, and there were a few small mistakes (including Irma slipping), but we got out of it and I don't feel we made a fool of ourselves. Really good for our experience to fly at a festival as big as Portsmouth.

On to the quad-line teams present: Decorators, Fusion, The Flying Squad and Karasu

Without meaning any disrespect to the other three teams, I just want to single out Karasu. Why? Several reasons. First of all, I'd not seen them fly before. Second, they flew Revolution Blasts, which I'd not seen done before. And third, their three routines were a great combination of dance, humour, and skill (Blasts were not designed for precision, and it was amazing to see how Karasu controlled them). On top of all that, Toru and Sachie are really delightful people. So here they are once more:

Of course, all Rev-fliers present joined in a 24-Rev mega-fly. It wouldn't be Portsmouth without it!

Over a hundred photos of the festival weekend can be found here. But I do want to highlight one particular kite. Who can fail to be impressed by a Rolf Zimmermann Wyverex? His name is Smorg!

Picture credit of us flying: Roger Backhouse

Monday 26 August 2013

Malmesbury Kite Festival - video update

In my blog post on the Malmesbury Kite Festival, I said that I wasn't aware of anyone taking pictures of us flying, but it turned out that someone did video the first of our two routines on the Sunday, when we flew our Cheetahs. With permission from Dave Green, who made the video, and should be regarded as the copyright owner, I post it here:

You can clearly see us struggling with the wind dropping away at times, and there is nothing like seeing a video of yourself flying for identifying the mistakes you are making ...

Dave, thanks again!

Saturday 17 August 2013

Flying Fish on Facebook

Completing the triumvirate of blog - twitter - facebook:

So you can now also visit Flying Fish on Facebook!

Glite - on one and two lines

In previous blog posts, I've already talked about my interest in the early history of dual-line kites. And gradually, I've build up a wee collection of early dual-liners. We've got a pair of Dunfords Flying Machines, we've got a Peter Powell, we've got a Gayla Baby Bat and Sky Spy rebridled for dual-line flying, I've built a Rogallo Flexikite and a Davis Rescue Star, and I've devoted several blog posts to the building of a pair of replica Target kites.

And here's the latest addition to our kite museum, a North Pacific Glite! Glites first came on the market in the 1960s (so prior to Peter Powells and Dunfords), and were sold as single-liners. But the instructions did contain some details on how to bridle it for dual-line flying. I wonder how many people actually did that, and I suspect most Glites lived their life as a single-liner. I managed to get my hands on a new Glite, still in its original package, for the princely sum of $8 (shipping from the US cost a lot more than the kite itself!). We decided to fly it first as a single-liner, with both tails coming off the spine. The Glite flew as you would expect a plastic 1970s kite to fly: needed a decent wind to stay airborne, but flew 'ok'. By the way, as a single-liner, the Glite doesn't have a bridle: the flying line connects directly to the spine.

Then, following the instructions, I bridled the Glite for dual-line flying. Nothing in the way of a fancy bridle: simply one attachment point low down on the spine, and one on each of the two leading edges. To increase manoeuvrability, I attached the two tails to the ends of the leading edges. First attempt was less of a success, but after some tweaking with the position of the tow points, I finally managed to get the Glite to fly basic loops and infinities (just about).

Of course, the Glite doesn't compare in any way to modern dual-line kites, but it's fun to go back to the dawn of dual-line flying. I guess that for someone in the 1960s or 70s, who only knew kites flying from a single line, being able to let a kite respond to commands was something special.

And in case you're wondering: no, I'm not looking for a 2nd one to fly in a pair routine (;o)

Sunday 11 August 2013

Wings on Strings: new line-up!

In an earlier blog post, I hinted at a change for Wings on Strings, and that change involves going back to a 3-man line-up. I say 'back', because Tony, Neil and Roger flew together as a 3-some before we joined L-katz. So here's the new line-up of Wings on Strings: Tony in #1 position, Neil in #2, and Roger in #3.

Plan for Wings on Strings is to familiarise themselves again with the 3-man routine they used to work on a few years ago, and take things from there, adapting and tweaking as they see fit. One of their first patterns was a pick-up going into a pyramid which then flew diamonds while maintaining pyramid formation:

They're still discussing whether Tony or Neil will do the calling, and haven't yet decided on the music they want to use. I look forward to seeing their routine take shape over the coming weeks and months. Hopefully coming to a festival near you in 2014!

Saturday 10 August 2013

Double Tramontana!

I've always liked the look of the Tramontana for its bold, unique and instantly recognisable sail layout. Recently, HQ reintroduced the Tramontana, as part of their 'retro' series of kites, and for quite a while, I've been uhm-ing and ah-ing as to whether to whether to get a pair to fly together.

Well, the uhm-ing and ah-ing has come to an end ... and here's our pair of Retro Tramontanas!

Now you may be aware that we like to have our pair kites at least slightly different in colour. That wasn't possible with the 'Tramys' as they only come with red wing tips (unlike the older Tramontanas, which came with a variety of wing tip colours). The solution for that was to get differently coloured tails! Premier transition tails, black/white/red for one, red/white/blue for the other. We got one 50' tail and two 25' tails per kite, and the tails can be hooked up to each other, so we can fly with 25' - 100' tails, depending on the wind. Or even with three tails per kite, 50' on the spine and 25' on both the wing tips. Kites and tails came from kiteworld, by the way.

The tails look really great on these kites, and we've basically decided to fly these kites primarily with tails. Perfect for a smooth flowing routine, choreographed especially for kites with tails. One day I'll actually write it (promise ...).

Thursday 8 August 2013

Flying Fish on twitter

I've never used twitter before, and haven't got the foggiest how it works, but as it's everywhere, and everyone is using it, I felt the best way to understand twitter was to start using it. It'll be kite-focused, just like this blog (no tweets about what I had for breakfast, promise!), and will complement this blog and link with it.

Flying Fish's twitter page is here, and I added a button to follow us on the right.

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Tim, welcome to L-katz!

Before we joined the team, L-katz was simply a dual-line kite team. And even though we became part of the team, boosting its numbers from three to five, we already had a name for ourselves when flying as a pair (Flying Fish) and kept using that. Roger and Tony then started flying their pairs routine under the name Wings on String (more on that in a future blog post). So, gradually, L-katz turned more into an umbrella name for the team.

Although we can now fly dual-line pair and team routines in several different combinations, one aspect of dual-line flying isn't really represented in L-katz' portfolio: slack-line trick flying. And with that in mind, we have now invited Tim, Solent Kite Flyers' best trick flyer, to join L-katz officially.

In a way, this formalises something which has already been happening: Tim flew in trick-outs at Weymouth and Basingstoke, and flew full trick routines at Southampton and Brighton. He and Roger flew a pair routine involving Skydancers at Southampton, and, together with my VampDevil routine, first flown at Malmesbury, and the possibility for me to fly a solo Skydancer routine, or even join in with Tim and Roger for a 3-man Skydancer routine, we have several options to fly quad-line displays under the L-katz banner. And all that means that, depending on the circumstances, L-katz can fly a wide range of displays, involving dual-line pair or team flying, dual-line trick flying, and quad-line solo, pair or team flying. Plus there is something brewing involving Neil, Irma, and three kites; watch this space ...

Tim, welcome to L-katz!

Saturday 3 August 2013

Fire Dart

If you've been following my blog, you'll know we're partial to 'old school' kites for our pair- and team-flying. So when a full-size Fire Dart popped up on eBay, I couldn't resist a bid. Turned out I was the only bidder, and for £20, the Fire Dart was mine!

Fire Darts go back to the time that stand-offs were optional, and had to be bought as an extra separately. My Fire Dart didn't have any, but with some help from the good people at the Gone with the Wind forum, who were kind enough to measure the length of their stand-offs, I made a set from fibre glass, arrow knocks, end caps and some tubing on the lower spreader:

So how does it fly? Pretty well! Nice tracking, able to fly tight circles, and quite light on the lines. Officially, the wind range is 3-15mph, but it becomes quite hard to fly below 5mph, and can easily take 15mph and more.

Given how it flies, we want to try and get a second one, which will not be easy. And to make this even more difficult, we're going to be picky about the colour. Ideally black + another colour. So black/pink, black/yellow, black/blue. Even another black/red would do, as we can then turn the sail round so that it becomes the mirror image of the one we already have. Red/blue would also work. I've seen pictures of a white/blue one, which we'd also consider. Or basically any other combination of primary colours. But not yellow/pink, or pink/orange, or any other 'soft colour' combination.

Got one gathering dust? We can offer it air time and the company of its own kind!