Tuesday 20 December 2022

Double Stranger!

Over the years, our quiver of kites has come to include a small number of Flexifoil deltas to fly together. So we have a pair of Psychos, which are a real hoot to fly together when the wind picks up.

We have three Scorpions, two of which are stacked together. Flying the stack and the singleton together is fun and opens up new possibilities.

Then we have a pair of Stranger Level 7s. Anyone having flown a L7 will be well aware how much of a challenge it is to fly a pair of these mad kites together, but flying them together we did!

But what has so far been missing from the quiver is a pair of Flexifoil Strangers. Up until now, that is. We got our hands on a Stranger recently, due to a dear friend passing away, and his entire kite collection being given to us. That collection included a Stranger. And soon after, I was offered the chance of buying another collection of sport kites (also due to someone passing away) for a price I couldn't say no to; that collection also included a Stranger.

So off to our flying field we went to fly the two!

They didn't need any bridle tweaking to fly together well-matched. Definitely not designed as team kites, but we had fun flying them together!

Sunday 11 December 2022

Six Falhawks!

Recently, I was offered a set of six THP Platinum Falhawks: two super-ultralights, two standards and two venteds. Falhawks were flown in the late 1990s by Team High Performance (THP), and I've always been interested to see how the AVS (Automated Venting System) of the vented version works. Never flown or even seen a Falhawk AVS before, and the asking price for the set of six was very reasonable, so now I had the opportunity!

I'll report on flying the three pairs in the order in which we flew them. Standards ('Pro Comp') first.

They felt good and solid on the lines, relatively slow-flying and with good tracking. Slightest touch of oversteer coming out of corners. Basically, very nice kites to fly, so that's a good start!

Vented ('AVS') next. 

The venting system is both variable and automated. The vent panels have zippers which can open or completely close the panel; this is the variable part, because a completely closed vent panel essentially turns the kite into a standard. With the zippers partly or fully open, the automated part consists of a bungee cord between the free corner of the vent panel and the lower spreader. The idea behind this is that the bungee allows for the panel to be pushed more open with stronger winds/gusts. So, in essence, the arrangement would smooth out variation in wind strength. 

So does this actually work?

General flight characteristics are very similar to the standards. So far, so good. To get an idea of what the variable venting does, we also flew together with one having the zippers fully closed and one fully open.

This resulted in a clear speed difference, as you would expect: the kite with closed vent panels flew faster and pulled a bit more than the kite with the open vent panels.

And then finally the SULs.

We flew them in virtually-absent winds; 2mph was a gust. 

In zero wind, we really struggled to keep them flying, but they only needed 1-2mph for us to feel pressure on the sail. They had drive in such low wind, and flew slowly and serenely. 

So, overall impressions: Falhawks are good classical team kites, they're pleasant to fly and track well. I'm not sure the automated part of the AVS really works; we need to try in blustery winds with one kite having the bungees in place and the other not. And we need to get a better feel for what the optimal wind speed is for the SUL; I'm impressed as to how low a team kite from the 1990s goes; SUL is wrong; XUL is much more appropriate!