Sunday 16 May 2021

Kata - A. Pallas Kites

We regularly get asked by people interested in getting into flying sport kites, at festivals and via email, what would be a good kite to start with. Obviously, a high-end, custom-made, £200+ kite is not necessarily something you'd recommend to someone who has never flown a sport kite and isn't sure yet that that is really for them. 

The Skydog Dream On is a kite I have often recommended in the past, due to its price, use of 'simple' carbon spars (rather than Skyshark or similar), and wide wind range. Unfortunately, coming from the US, the kite has gradually increased in price in the UK and prices will only go one way post-Brexit. Also, the sole UK source is often out of stock, being dependent on imports. 

When I was asked again very recently by someone who got very interested in getting into sport kite flying, I looked for options in the UK. Key aspects for me were: 1) wing span of more than 2m, as larger kites are easier to fly for someone new to the sport; 2) price below £100, to keep it affordable for someone who is not sure yet whether they like it; 3) use of simple spars, so breaking one won't break the bank; 4) wide wind range, so the person new to the sport can fly it as often as possible without having to be overly concerned that the wind isn't 'right'.

Using the above criteria, I homed in on the Kata, designed and made by Adam Pallas. Wing span of 2.10m and for a price just under £100, you even get to pick your own colours! Based on Adam's reputation as a kite builder (we bought a pair of Hurricanes from him last year), and based on the experiences from other flyers who have Katas, I felt confident to recommend the Kata to 'you know who you are'.

I must admit, it did feel a bit strange recommending a kite I'd not flown myself .... You surely see where this is going! Yes, we ordered a pair of Katas for ourselves, customised using our usual green/orange colours and they arrived earlier this week.

Note the matching kite sleeves .... example of Adam's attention to detail ...

Several reasons for getting a pair of Katas, even though we don't actually really need them, having full competition sets of Airdynamics T5s and Impulses we regularly fly with. First of all, we really want to get to know this kite, so we can recommend it properly, based on actual personal experience. Secondly, several people new to sport kite (pair-)flying have recently bought Katas, so having a pair of our own means we can give these people a taste of team-flying (and maybe even join in a Kata mega-team at some point). And, last but not least, the UK has very few designers and builders of sport kites, so any excuse to promote a member of this increasingly rare species

Enough talk, let's get the kites out and fly!

When we arrived on our regular flying field in the New Forest, there was no wind, zilch, nada. Forecast was that the wind would gradually pick up in the early afternoon, and that gave us the opportunity to get a feel for the minimum wind speed they need to fly. When the wind had reached 5-6mph, the Katas were flying, though with some walking back and forth.

As the wind increased a wee bit more, going up to 11mph, we could get a good feel for how they fly, individually first. And that was pretty much how I expected them to fly. They feel stiff and solid on the lines, with very little oversteer. Axels and half-axels come very easily.

Flying them as a pair is next of course!

Tracking is good, and they come out of sharp corners best following a pull-turn as opposed to a push-turn. With more wind, this may be different, though. Refueling is easy, and we went through a range of figures, which they flew without any problems. Of course, we want to test them out more, in stronger winds (they can certainly take quite a bit more than what they got today), see how they perform and what their full wind range is.

Choice of colours was spot on: when the sun came out, the green and orange panels really lit up, and the dark grey started to shimmer a bit.

As you probably gathered, we're very happy with our pair of Katas. The build quality is very good, as I've come to expect from Adam. In terms of flight characteristics, they have the perfect balance for someone getting into sport kite flying between tracking and tricking. Excellent value for money at just under £100, and I was absolutely right recommending this kite; I will continue to do so at every opportunity. 

And finally, just to showcase Adam's level of customer service and attention to detail, this. Together with the kites, he sent us an embroidered patch showing our pair of Katas, which has now been sewn onto the kite bag they sleep in.