Tuesday, 18 July 2017

A.R.C. Reflex

As some of you reading this blog will know, I have a soft spot for unusual kites. Make that a very soft spot. It's fun to fly something that looks different in the sky, kites that you don't see anywhere else.

So you can probably understand that when a pair of A.R.C. Reflex kites was offered for sale, I jumped at it. I knew absolutely nothing about these kites, had never even heard of them, let alone come across them, but their unusual shape, with a single curved leading edge, appealed to me. Add to that that the seller only asked me to pay for postage: no way I could say no!

So here they are in the field, ready for take-off (notice the very long stand-offs!):

The Reflexes don't need much wind, and the spars also clearly send out the message that these are kites for lighter winds. We first flew them in 6-10mph winds, and that was perfect for them. They speed up quite a bit when the wind approaches double figures, so around 10mph is pretty much their maximum. They do tend to oversteer, especially on take-off, and especially if the wind drops. So a relatively narrow wind range.

Obviously, we had to fly them together!

Flying the two Reflexes together showed that they weren't a perfect match. The black/yellow kite was a bit slower than the blue/yellow kite, and handled slightly differently in general (less easy to steer than the blue/yellow kite, for instance). The bridle consists of three separate lines on each side, so no easy option to change the angle of attack by moving the tow point slightly up or down. Having the two in the sky close together also made clear that the shapes of the two kites are subtly different: the blue/yellow kite shows a wee bit more curvature. And indeed, when measuring their wing spans, the black/yellow kite had a larger wing span by about 20cm (2.50m vs 2.30m).

And that brings me back to the question of what the story is behind these kites. Searching the web resulted in exactly nothing. According to the seller, these kites are prototypes of a kite that never went into production. The fact that the two kites aren't exact copies of each other, and that only one sports the name A.R.C. Reflex also attests to that.

Obviously, if anyone reading this knows more about the story behind those kites, and who actually made them, I'd very much like to hear from you!

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