Wednesday 30 March 2016

Superman & Lois Lane

Cast your mind back to 1987, East Coast Stunt Kite Championship at Wildwood, innovative category. Ron Reich enters the arena wearing a strange-looking belt while his ground crew carries two kites into the arena. As far as I'm aware, this was the first time one person flew two kites competitively. Ron flew a custom-made pair of Spin-Off kites, one mostly blue with Superman graphics, the other grey and pink, depicting Lois Lane. Music of the routine was the 'Love Theme' from the Superman movie.

You can see part of  Ron's 'Superman' routine in the following video, starting at 11:46 and lasting until 12:38:

Fast forward almost 30 years. The sails of these Superman and Lois Lane  Spin-Offs appeared on eBay, and were snapped up by an American kite flyer who was aware of their historical significance. He wanted to make sure these sails remained within the kite-flying community. He set out to re-frame and re-bridle them, and asked for advice on the Gone with the Wind forum, where he also posted some pictures of the kites. I expressed an interest in the kites, and to make a not very long story even shorter, soon afterwards the two kites flew across the Atlantic towards me.

So here are these unique historical kites, on the ground and in the air in the UK!

Besides being excited about flying kites with such a heritage, and honoured to be trusted as the custodians of these kites, I wanted to add a little extra to flying them. One obvious extra would be to give Superman a cape! Following a suggestion from Ca Ike on the Gone with the Wind forum, I got myself two lengths of organza, one red (for Superman) and one white (for Lois). Two questions: does it look good on the kites, and does it interfere with their flying?

Answer to the second question was a clear 'no'; the organza is so light it hardly creates any drag. And you be the judge as to the answer to the first question ...

Obviously, when we fly them at official events, we have to maintain the tradition of flying them to the 'Love Theme from Superman', and I picked Shirley Bassey version for this.

Hopefully coming to a festival near you soon!

Saturday 26 March 2016

A full set of Joel Scholz dualies

Those of you who have been following this blog for some time may be aware that the origin of the name 'Flying Fish' lies in our very first team-kites: a pair of 'Fish' and 'Shark' kites, designed by Joel Scholz. These particular kites are made by Go Fly a Kite, and are a cheaper version of the original Joel Scholz kites, made by Sky Delight Kites. As that company no longer exists, original Joel Scholz dualies are rare as the proverbial hen's teeth ...

As we had a pair of 'Fish' and 'Shark' kites, I was looking for second 'Fish', to allow us to fly three kites with our team L-katz, with the 'Shark' chasing two 'Fish'. While doing so, I stumbled across a full set of original dual-line Sky Delight Kites, for sale for a very reasonable price. The rest, as they say, is history ...

The weekend weather this year so far has been either wet and stormy, or without any wind, but Good Friday finally offered the perfect opportunity to let all five take to the air and try them out. So here they are, in order of flight on the day!



Luna Moth:



They fly well and should, I feel, be considered as light-standards. They do need some pressure on the sail. Not much, but as long as it's pretty constant, they're fine. So they can go quite low, down to maybe 3mph, but are decidedly unhappy when the winds goes above 15mph. Personally, I wouldn't want to fly them above 12-13mph.

So here's the full set at our normal flying field in the New Forest! Isn't that a sight for sore kite-flying eyes?

Obviously, the aim is to fly them together, so we spent some time tweaking bridle settings to make sure all kites flew the same. As Neptune felt best when we flew them one after the other, we decided to match all kites to Neptune. First up was Jaws, and it only required bringing the nose forward by a tiny amount to make it fly happily with Neptune.

We then matched both Kestrel and Hummer to Neptune, and again it only required minimal bridle adjustment. With all kites matched to Neptune, the prediction was obviously that Kestrel and Hummer would also fly well together and, sure enough, they did!

And what about Luna Moth? From the moment it took to the sky, it felt different from the others. Not surprising, as it's designed differently. Flight was very slick and smooth, and, as it lacks the tail, also completely silent. But despite the difference in flight 'feel', it matched the others very well in terms of speed, so no problem flying Luna Moth with one or more of the others. We do intend to fly all five with L-katz in due course, and I'm not sure that has ever been done with a set of these kites.

What we didn't get around to, because the wind had dropped down to nothing by the time we had matched these five to each other, was to match our original 'Fish' and 'Shark' to these five. Will do so at the next opportunity!

Jacqui, thanks for the opportunity to get my hands on this full set of Joel Scholz dualies, and it's only appropriate historically that they remain together as a set.

Saturday 5 March 2016

Double Frisbee!

Among a job lot of 1970s kites I recently got my hands on was a pair of 'Frisbee King Kites'. Now I was aware of a 1970s Frisbee Skite, but not of this particular one. The Skite is mentioned in Ron Moulton's book "Kites", which was published in 1978, So possibly the Frisbee King came on the market a bit later, in the early 1980s?

The Frisbee King has a fibreglass frame, no cross spreader, and a thick polythene sail. I got them without tails, but added a pair of original blue Peter Powell tails, as I felt that would make the tail a natural extension of the kite. So here they are on our regular flying field in the New Forest!

How do they fly? Well, they're obviously not as precise as a modern sport kite, but I didn't expect that at all. The trailing edges start flapping quite a bit when the wind goes towards 20mph and above, so they're happier at 12-15mph or so. 

Flying them together works fine, as long as you don't try to fly sharp corners; they really don't want to do that. But loops and curves, multiple wraps and patterns like that are fine. And because of their rather unusual frame design, they really look different from any other kite we have, almost bird-like. We'll definitely fly them for fun after a practice session, and who knows, maybe also at a festival or two. 

And, by the way, if anyone has more information on these Frisbee Kings, such as when they were made, we'd love to hear from you!