Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Red Arrows, again

Some time ago, I posted about our pair of Red Arrow kites. Or, rather, about our three Red Arrows, as one came originally as part of a stack. Recently, I got my hands on a fourth Red Arrow, which prompted me to create a pair of 2-stacks. And here they are on our regular flying field in the New Forest:

Wind was quite variable, but we managed to get both stacks airborne.

And of course we had to fly them together!

As we had both stacks in the air, I heard the noise of approaching jet planes behind me. When I looked around, I saw the real Red Arrows fly past (as it later turned out, on their way to Bournemouth for their next show). What are the chances of flying Red Arrow kites just when the Red Arrows fly past??? Fortunately, I had my camera in my hand!

And mea culpa, I really couldn't resist photoshopping the two pictures together .... This is what it would have looked like if the Red Arrows had passed in front of us rather than behind! 

OK, back to our Red Arrow kites, you may have noticed in the first picture that there is a colour difference between the kites, with two being slightly more red and two slightly more orange. Here are the front kites of the two stacks again, side by side. 

The kite on the left clearly sports the Mettoy brand, whereas there is nothing indicating a brand name in that same location on the sail (or anywhere else, for that matter) of the kite on the right. 

And this is not the only difference between the kites. In each pair of photos below, the Mettoy kite is in the left, the unbranded kite on the right. And, by the way, the two kites within a stack are identical in every aspect. 

The tail end of the Mettoy kites have a strip of red tape reinforcing it, which is absent on the unbranded kites.

The diameter of the red circle in the wing emblem is larger (5cm) on the Mettoy kites than on the unbranded kites (4cm).

The leading edges of the Mettoy kites are not connected to the spine, whereas on the unbranded kites they are.

And the cut of the sail around the wing tip is different between the Mettoy and the unbranded kites.

So what's going on here? Are we dealing with two different versions of Mettoy kites, one of which does not carry a brand name? If so, why not? There is another possibility, though. One kite book mentions the Red Arrow kites first made by a company called Schofield, and later by Mettoy. So are the unbranded kites the earlier Schofield products, with Mettoy making changes to their design when they took over production? Flying them side-by-side showed that the Mettoy kites do fly a tad better, especially at launch. That would support them being a later, improved design.

But I'm purely guessing now. Does anyone reading this know more about these kites?


  1. Do you know where I can get hold of one of these Mettoy red arrows? We had one when I was a small boy and we flew it on Newgale beach and out the back of Lambston Farm, where we holidayed. It was a good kite and had a very long tail, but needed serious wind and then was quite difficukt for a small boy. Ours was the Mettoy variety as it had the reinforced central pole end bars, and it needed them as it had some very fast vertical crashes.

  2. Hi, sorry for the late reply; it appears the email notification for comments doesn't work ..... I'd suggest you keep an eye on eBay; they do pop up there every once in a while.