Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Double LiteFlite!

One of the first, if not the first, dual-line kite specifically marketed in the UK as an 'ultralight' was the Kite Store LiteFlite. Few years ago, I got my hands on a LiteFlite for very little (£15 if you want to know), as I was curious about this very early ultralight, officially stated to have a wind range of 4-15mph.

Let's just say I was underwhelmed by the kite ... I felt it was unresponsive, didn't turn well, and I really didn't click with it. To make a short story even shorter, the kite quickly disappeared in a kite bag, never to come out again ...

Fast forward, and I was more or less given another LiteFlite (I bought a Spin-Off from a fellow kite-flyer, and he basically threw in the LiteFlite). Just prior to that, I became aware that some early UK teams (The Blitz, Blast) actually flew LiteFlites for a while. Well, if teams like that considered the kite good enough to use, I ought to give them another chance, right?

Second LiteFlite was first flown on its own, in a mostly 6-9mph wind.

It certainly didn't fly as bad as I remembered. Quite slow flight with reasonable tracking; little oversteer or understeer. But it really struggled with lack of constant wind pressure on the sail. If that occurred, say, at the edge of the window, the kite would become totally unresponsive and likely to flutter out of the sky. My guess is that this at least partly caused by the kite being pretty flat. It does have long stand-offs, but these are not at a 90 degree angle with the sail, thereby creating a clear 3-dimensional shape; rather, the angle is more like 30 degrees, resulting in said flat sail.

Keeping their weakness in mind, time to fly them as a pair!

There was no need to tweak the bridle of any of the two: they were matched in speed from the off.

It's clear that I wrongly dismissed the kite as unflyable a few years ago. We could fly basic pair shapes without too much problems, though we had to take care to always keep wind pressure in the sail. Something vaguely resembling axels and half-axels could be squeezed out of them, but they clearly weren't happy doing those (the flat sail again ...).

It definitely was interesting to fly a pair of these very early ultralights. If someone would like to see them in a festival arena (TC? Andy King? Paul Reynolds?), they only need to ask and we'll bring them.