Saturday, 30 April 2016

2016 event schedule

Quick overview of where Flying Fish will fly this year:

Weymouth Kite Festival - May 1/2
As usual, the opening of our festival season.

Streatham Common Kite Day - May 15
Flew there last year for the first time. Guess they liked what we did as we were invited back.

Basingstoke Kite Festival - June 4/5
We've been attending Basingstoke every year since we took up kite-flying in 2009, and this will be the 4th time we're part of the invited line-up.

STACK National Championships, southern leg, Dunstable - June 11/12
STACK National Championships, northern leg, Sunderland - July 2/3
Third year we're competing in the nationals, and this year over two legs. We've been working on a completely new competition routine over the winter; hope it results in a significant improvement of our scores!

Dunstable Kite Festival - July 30/31
Our 3rd time flying at this festival; hope the weather is better than last year!

Portsmouth Kite Festival - August 13/14
Another festival we're been going to from the start of our kite-flying life. This year will be the 3rd time we fly there as invited flyers.

Exmouth Kite Festival - August 27/28
Our 2nd time at Exmouth; again, they seem to have liked what we did last year, especially, so I heard, our impromptu 5-person tails display with Airheads.

There are one or two other events still in the pipeline potentially. And in case you're wondering why Brighton Kite Festival is missing from the list above: I have to work all that weekend, so Flying Fish can't be there (sadly, as Brighton gave us our first festival invite in 2012). Irma will be there though and hopefully fly with Neil as a 2-person L-katz.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Congratulations to Start'Air!

If you're into team-flying, you will know the 2016 World Championships dual-line team-flying took place last week in Berck-sur-Mer. Unfortunately, work made it impossible for us to be there ...

Line-up this year consisted of 13 teams, from France, USA, China, Malaysia, Russia, Colombia, and, of course, the UK (represented by Flame).

So, after the retirement of three times world champions the Scratch Bunnies, who would take their crown? Thanks to active posting on Facebook by many people, we could stay up to date as to what happened during the three days of competition. Wind was mostly light, and several wind recesses had to be called. And those three days of competitive flying resulted in the following ranking:

Congratulations to Start'Air!

And well done to Flame on becoming fifth in the world!

Below are videos of the routines of the bronze, silver, and gold medal winners. Enjoy!

Aerial photo credit: Garder Le Kap (?)
Start'Air photo credit: RICV Berck-sur-Mer

Monday, 4 April 2016

Drone footage of practice

During a practice session last week, we took a bit of a break. Guy walks up to us, introduces himself as Ken, and asks if we would be ok with him flying a drone with camera above us, and capture the kites flying from up above. Bit of a chat to make sure he was aware that the propellers of the drone would rip the kite apart if they touched the sail, but he said he was fully aware, and his drone costs well over £1000, so he wasn't going to risk anything anyway!

So off flying we went, and up in the air the drone went. Ken was kind enough to share the footage, in two files; one lasting about 40 seconds, the other a minute and a half.

We didn't fly a specific routine, but combined infinities, wraps, jumps, waterfalls, etc in the hope of creating something that looked varied from above.

Judge for yourself; it certainly isn't every time you can see yourself fly from 80m up!

Video credit: Ken Spooner

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Several pairs of vintage Peter Powells

You may have seen on our recently-created sister blog (Peter Powell kites collection) that we got our hands on a job lot of vintage Peter Powell Stunters.

Of course, we already have a pair of Peter Powell Mk III Stunters, customised for us by Mark and Paul, and signed by Peter himself.

But the job lot gave us the opportunity to add a few vintage Peter Powell Stunters to our team quiver. First of all, we now have a pair of black Mk I Stunters, with fibreglass frame.

We decided to attach new silver tube tails to these black kites, and especially when the sun catches the tails, the black and silver colour combination works really well!

A few more pics of these black Stunters are here.

And then the two yellow, one red and one blue Stunter you see in the picture above. Also Mk I, but with an aluminium frame and fibreglass cross spars. These were bridled and stacked as a 4-stack, and we decided to split them and so create two 2-stacks.

Flying these two 2-stacks together worked really well and they looked great together.

Go here for a few more pictures of these 2-stacks.

As this was the first time that we flew stacks with tails together, we had to get used to keeping enough distance on the ground as well as in the air, in order to avoid the front kite of the leading stack catching the tail of the back kite of the following stack. We almost got away with it, but did have a tail catch, which we managed to get out of quickly again.

Happy with the vintage additions to our pair quiver!

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Superman & Lois Lane

Cast your mind back to 1987, East Coast Stunt Kite Championship at Wildwood, innovative category. Ron Reich enters the arena wearing a strange-looking belt while his ground crew carries two kites into the arena. As far as I'm aware, this was the first time one person flew two kites competitively. Ron flew a custom-made pair of Spin-Off kites, one mostly blue with Superman graphics, the other grey and pink, depicting Lois Lane. Music of the routine was the 'Love Theme' from the Superman movie.

You can see part of  Ron's 'Superman' routine in the following video, starting at 11:46 and lasting until 12:38:

Fast forward almost 30 years. The sails of these Superman and Lois Lane  Spin-Offs appeared on eBay, and were snapped up by an American kite flyer who was aware of their historical significance. He wanted to make sure these sails remained within the kite-flying community. He set out to re-frame and re-bridle them, and asked for advice on the Gone with the Wind forum, where he also posted some pictures of the kites. I expressed an interest in the kites, and to make a not very long story even shorter, soon afterwards the two kites flew across the Atlantic towards me.

So here are these unique historical kites, on the ground and in the air in the UK!

Besides being excited about flying kites with such a heritage, and honoured to be trusted as the custodians of these kites, I wanted to add a little extra to flying them. One obvious extra would be to give Superman a cape! Following a suggestion from Ca Ike on the Gone with the Wind forum, I got myself two lengths of organza, one red (for Superman) and one white (for Lois). Two questions: does it look good on the kites, and does it interfere with their flying?

Answer to the second question was a clear 'no'; the organza is so light it hardly creates any drag. And you be the judge as to the answer to the first question ...

Obviously, when we fly them at official events, we have to maintain the tradition of flying them to the 'Love Theme from Superman', and I picked Shirley Bassey version for this.

Hopefully coming to a festival near you soon!

Saturday, 26 March 2016

A full set of Joel Scholz dualies

Those of you who have been following this blog for some time may be aware that the origin of the name 'Flying Fish' lies in our very first team-kites: a pair of 'Fish' and 'Shark' kites, designed by Joel Scholz. These particular kites are made by Go Fly a Kite, and are a cheaper version of the original Joel Scholz kites, made by Sky Delight Kites. As that company no longer exists, original Joel Scholz dualies are rare as the proverbial hen's teeth ...

As we had a pair of 'Fish' and 'Shark' kites, I was looking for second 'Fish', to allow us to fly three kites with our team L-katz, with the 'Shark' chasing two 'Fish'. While doing so, I stumbled across a full set of original dual-line Sky Delight Kites, for sale for a very reasonable price. The rest, as they say, is history ...

The weekend weather this year so far has been either wet and stormy, or without any wind, but Good Friday finally offered the perfect opportunity to let all five take to the air and try them out. So here they are, in order of flight on the day!



Luna Moth:



They fly well and should, I feel, be considered as light-standards. They do need some pressure on the sail. Not much, but as long as it's pretty constant, they're fine. So they can go quite low, down to maybe 3mph, but are decidedly unhappy when the winds goes above 15mph. Personally, I wouldn't want to fly them above 12-13mph.

So here's the full set at our normal flying field in the New Forest! Isn't that a sight for sore kite-flying eyes?

Obviously, the aim is to fly them together, so we spent some time tweaking bridle settings to make sure all kites flew the same. As Neptune felt best when we flew them one after the other, we decided to match all kites to Neptune. First up was Jaws, and it only required bringing the nose forward by a tiny amount to make it fly happily with Neptune.

We then matched both Kestrel and Hummer to Neptune, and again it only required minimal bridle adjustment. With all kites matched to Neptune, the prediction was obviously that Kestrel and Hummer would also fly well together and, sure enough, they did!

And what about Luna Moth? From the moment it took to the sky, it felt different from the others. Not surprising, as it's designed differently. Flight was very slick and smooth, and, as it lacks the tail, also completely silent. But despite the difference in flight 'feel', it matched the others very well in terms of speed, so no problem flying Luna Moth with one or more of the others. We do intend to fly all five with L-katz in due course, and I'm not sure that has ever been done with a set of these kites.

What we didn't get around to, because the wind had dropped down to nothing by the time we had matched these five to each other, was to match our original 'Fish' and 'Shark' to these five. Will do so at the next opportunity!

Jacqui, thanks for the opportunity to get my hands on this full set of Joel Scholz dualies, and it's only appropriate historically that they remain together as a set.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Double Frisbee!

Among a job lot of 1970s kites I recently got my hands on was a pair of 'Frisbee King Kites'. Now I was aware of a 1970s Frisbee Skite, but not of this particular one. The Skite is mentioned in Ron Moulton's book "Kites", which was published in 1978, So possibly the Frisbee King came on the market a bit later, in the early 1980s?

The Frisbee King has a fibreglass frame, no cross spreader, and a thick polythene sail. I got them without tails, but added a pair of original blue Peter Powell tails, as I felt that would make the tail a natural extension of the kite. So here they are on our regular flying field in the New Forest!

How do they fly? Well, they're obviously not as precise as a modern sport kite, but I didn't expect that at all. The trailing edges start flapping quite a bit when the wind goes towards 20mph and above, so they're happier at 12-15mph or so. 

Flying them together works fine, as long as you don't try to fly sharp corners; they really don't want to do that. But loops and curves, multiple wraps and patterns like that are fine. And because of their rather unusual frame design, they really look different from any other kite we have, almost bird-like. We'll definitely fly them for fun after a practice session, and who knows, maybe also at a festival or two. 

And, by the way, if anyone has more information on these Frisbee Kings, such as when they were made, we'd love to hear from you!