Wednesday 28 December 2016

9 Trlbys and 9 Aces

If you're seriously into kite-flying, you will have heard of a Trlby, an American Peter Powell-like dual-line kite, with a fibreglass frame and plastic sail. Of course, a Trlby had to be part of my collection of early-dual line kites, and it didn't take long to get my hands on one:

Not long after, I stumbled across two additional Trlbys, so I could stack them together to fly as a Trlby triple-stack:

Good things come to those who wait ... keeping a regular eye on eBay resulted in six more Trlbys, and the triple-stack could be extended to a 9-stack:

Now why am I writing about these Trlbys in our Flying Fish blog? Well, because some time ago, I got my hands on a job lot of early dual-liners, and that job lot included a 9-stack of Ace kites, the UK equivalent of the Trlby.

So, clearly, Flying Fish had to fly the two 9-stacks together!

Apologies for the less-than-perfect picture of the two 9-stacks flying together, but flying one of the stacks, trying to avoid it catching its own tails on its stacking lines, trying to avoid the tails of the two stacks getting tangled and taking a picture at the same time was a bit of a challenge. This was the only picture with the two stacks more or less in focus ...

One thing was clear: if we are ever to fly these two 9-stacks at a festival, we will need a dedicated ground crew to help us set up and take down.

Tuesday 20 December 2016


During the past festival year, I've become more and more convinced that if we want to attract new people to the sport of kite-flying, we really need to inspire them to pick up a kite and start flying. A technically challenging routine with dual-line delta kites may not be the best to inspire the next generation of kite-flyers, as it may appear to be unachievable for someone who has never even flown a kite. Of course, dual-line kite routines will remain at the core of our festival portfolio; we have no intention at all of abandoning that. We have already become more focused on expanding what we can do in the arena at festivals. Adding a quad-line routine to our portfolio, as we did at Dunstable Kite Festival, is part of that expansion, as is flying our Superman & Lois Lane Spin-Offs, which got their UK premiere at Portsmouth Kite Festival. Reactions to both of these additions to our portfolio have been very positive, with one kite flyer telling us he really liked to see competition teams having a wider range of non-competition routines under their belts for festivals.

Given that big inflatables are always very popular with the public, we are now also looking more at possibilities and opportunities to do more with soft kites and airfoils. As I blogged about recently, we now have a pair of Flexifoil 2-stacks that we can fly if the conditions are right.

Earlier this year, we got ourselves a pair of single-line whales, which pop up on eBay very regularly, and for very little money. Idea was to try and convert them to dual-line flying.

Did that work? Uhmmm, no, not at all. I replaced the existing single-line bridle with a dual-line bridle, played a lot with relative lengths of the various bridle lines, but none of the tweaks resulted in a kite which was even remotely steerable ... Oh well, can't win them all!

Looking around for other options for dual-line soft kites, there are airplane-shaped airfoils, which I'd seen being flown at several festivals before we got serious about flying at festivals ourselves. These would certainly spark the imagination of the public at festivals.

Although I've never seen them myself being flown as part of a pair routine, this video shows it certainly is possible!

Another dual-line airplane airfoil I stumbled across is this one inspired by Wallace & Gromit:

I can certainly see us fly one of these at festivals, to the theme music of Wallace & Gromit, obviously. Just need to get my hands on one ...

And if we're seriously talking about dual-line airfoils, there's always the 4.5m wing span PiraƱa ...

Chances of adding one of these to our quiver are close to zero, especially as they're not sold commercially, and my kite-making skills are most certainly not up for a challenge like that ..... Question is actually whether a dual-line airfoil as big as that will actually be able to fly loops and circles; maybe a pair at half size would be better?

Back to airplanes, we have actually flown one of these, once, at Malmesbury Kite Festival in 2013. It was quite a bit larger than the standard airplane, and we both had a go at flying it, and trying to get it to fly a full circle. Great fun, but it certainly wasn't easy to get the line length differential between left and right hand enough for it to turn. If we ever get our hands on a large airplane kite like this, we may well fly one with the two of us, each controlling one line. That should make flying loops and circles easier, and it would certainly add something novel to the UK kite festival scene. I bet we'd need to practice two people flying one kite!

If anyone has one or a pair of dual-line airplanes for sale, please get in touch. And if anyone has other ideas for dual-line soft kites which would spark the public's imagination and with which we could fly routines at festivals, I'd be interested to hear! 

Saturday 10 December 2016

A pair of Trilobites

When we flew at Portsmouth Kite Festival, we participated in establishing a world record; a mass fly of Trilobite kites. Doesn't matter that, since then, the world record was broken again, and is now back in the US. One thing was clear on the day: we had to have a Trilobite as well, to allow us to participate at Trilobite mass flys at future festivals. And, obviously, as one Trilobite will pine away, it had to be a pair ...

Anyone who has spent time with a kite colouriser knows what happened next: many hours of playing with colours and patterns. We wanted a pair of Trilobites which were ever so slightly different from what you normally see. In the end, we opted for a white back (to allow the body colours to come out crisper) and matching white pygidium (the tail end; black on the majority of Trilobites), while the 'antennae' were also different from what you normally see. Making use of the full range of colours offered by the Kaixuan Kite Company, we ended up with nine different colour schemes.

Next step: which two to pick? Irma was diametrically opposed to my suggestion to just get all nine; saves having to pick and choose! After lots of uhm-ing and ah-ing, we finally decided on the blue and pink/purple one, and justified us getting a pair, because they would be Irma's birthday presents.

I must say the service from Kaixuan Kite Company was excellent. Monica Lou was always quick to reply to emails and very helpful from start to finish. Once the order was in, she kept me up-to-date of what was happening, and sent me photos of our two Trilobites on their factory floor, ready to ship:

Irma's birthday having arrived, our pair of Trilobites could be released from the bags they've been waiting in for the last two months or so!

They flew very easily, and put on a great show together!

Happy birthday, Irma!

By the way, as you're probably aware, there are two people in Flying Fish. And they both have birthdays ....