Tuesday 27 April 2021

Star Wars kites

Even though my allegiance is firmly with Star Trek (yes, I'm a Trekkie), when I saw three Star Wars kites on eBay for next to nothing, I knew that resistance would be futile ...

When the kites arrived, I realised why they were so cheap. Pretty flimsy plastic sail, and a frame consisting of two thin fibreglass rods. No in-built dihedral: just a spine and a bowed cross spar, similar to an Indian fighter kite. So we took them to the field to try them out, expecting little more than nothing from these kites ...

First up, a pair of 'Naboo Fighters', with a 69cm wing span and shortish yellow tails. We decided to fly them on proper 25m lines rather than the very stretchy-looking lines they came with.

We launched them with trepidation .... It took a little while to get used to them, because they are extremely sensitive to input. Don't move your arms, don't move your hands or even your fingers. You can almost think them into turning; the slightest twist of your upper body is enough already.

They do need constant wind pressure in the sail (no dihedral, remember), but fly they did and we could fly something resembling follow-on and parallel infinities!

On to the third of the three, a 'Darth Vader' kite, with a wing span of 80cm, and a (slightly longer) red tail.

Slightly less sensitive to input than the 'Naboo Fighters', and as we were now used to minimal input, we had no problem flying it.

And then, yes of course ...

Obviously, we have to fly 'Darth Vader' chasing both 'Naboo Fighters' at one point!

Thursday 8 April 2021

3 ... 2 ... 1 ... Thornbirds are Go!

A few weeks ago, I saw a set of three Thornbird kites, made by the long-defunct British Kited company, for sale. For the princely price of £20 per kite. Never came across this particular kite before, but they looked like nice team kite with their 2.62m wing span, so I snapped up the set of three. 

Why I got all three, given that we normally only fly as a pair, or a 4-strong team (L-katz), I'll come back to later, but let's first look at the kites themselves.

Wind was mostly 7-14mph, and the first kite on the lines, Thornbird 1, felt very heavy. Especially when the wind picked up into double figures, it developed quite some pull. 

Thornbirds 2 and 3 felt pretty much the same when we flew them, one after the other.

All three kites felt equally heavy, but despite the quite heavy pull, they all showed to have pretty good tracking. 

We then flew them together in all combinations, and that showed they were all matched very well against each other.

Next step was to tweak the bridle settings for all three kites a bit, bringing the nose slightly forward. That really made them fly less heavy on the lines, without losing any of their good tracking. 

The set came with two narrow tube tails, so obviously ...

As you probably gathered, we're very happy with our Thornbirds. A slight bridle tweak was all they needed to fly optimally for us. Yes, they're well-used and patched up in places, but they have plenty of life left in them, and they're definitely worth the £20 each we paid for them.

Now why did we get the set of three? Well, having a set of three full-size team kites like this gives us the opportunity to give someone interested in team-flying the chance to get that first taste of team-flying without having to spend money on a kite. We know of a particular someone like that already (if you're reading this, you know who you are!), but of course the option is there for anyone who can fly a dual-line kite on their own, and who wants to get a feel for what team-flying is like.

Tuesday 6 April 2021

Another pair of Skynasaur Aerobats

Quite a few years ago, at Weymouth kite festival, a woman was selling a whole bunch of kites. Mostly single-liners, but among these was also a pair of Skynasaur Aerobats, in rainbow colours, with a price tag of a mere tenner ... Even though we already had a pair of Skynasaur Aerobats, I couldn't resist!

For some reason, the two rainbow Aerobats disappeared behind a cupboard ... I found them again the other day, and this time they were soon going to get flown.  

Because of the rainbow colour scheme, they really look cheerful in the sky. We flew them on 30m lines, as we felt that flying kites as small as this (they have a 1.27m wingspan) on our normal 45m lines would make them almost disappear at the end of the lines. 

Because these Skynasaurs don't have stand-offs, they really need to rely on the push of the wind in the sail to maintain their 'rogallo' shape. A sudden change in direction (like flying a sharp corner) distorts that shape, and they don't like that. Bring them to the edge of the wind window, and you run the risk of them losing shape completely and just fluttering to the ground. 

But as long as you fly them at wind speeds well above 10mph, and keep wind pressure in their sails all the time, they're fun to fly!