Thursday, 19 May 2016

Streatham Common Kite Day

We flew at Streatham Common Kite Day for the first time last year, and they must have liked us, because we were asked back! Like last year, there was a very relaxed community atmosphere. The mostly sunny weather ensured that loads of people attended, with many flying their own kites around the arena.

And like last year, the wind was extremely difficult to fly in ... very light to start with, full of holes and turbulence, often turning direction up to 90 degrees in seconds, and with very little oomph even when it seemed to pick up.

Still, we did what we could, flying three slots with our new "Chariots of Fire" choreographed routine, and our 'make it up as we go along' routine to "Adiemus".

I mentioned the wind turning directions. In our second slot, the wind turned such that we couldn't hear the music from the PA anymore, and I can tell you that it is really really difficult to fly to music you can't hear!

We did go out on a high, though, because in our final routine of the day, we managed to do the double catch! I think Chris Goff was rather surprised at the ending of our routine.

Team Spectrum, our regular and loyal kite festival neighbours (they had even reserved a space for our tent next to theirs!), was also present, and they flew their usual sets of three routines (Carl flying two kites, Bryan and Carl flying pairs, and Carl flying three kites).

They also struggled a lot with the wind, and had to restart their routine more than once after the kites dropped out of the sky.

I didn't really have the opportunity to take many pictures, but a few more pictures of the day are here.

And finally, there were two tv stations present, who wanted to film the event, and interview us! First, we were interviewed by Eleanor Cunningham, of London Live. I can't seem to embed the video, but a link to the report and interview is here.

And then we were filmed and interviewed by Ben Tavener of BBC Russia for his ‪#londonблог‬. Not only that, but he also asked me to fly his self-made sled kite. As you will see in the vlog, there wasn't enough wind for me to fly it properly, and I had to reel it in from a long launch really fast to get it airborne.

An 'extra' edition features more of the actual interview:

Picture credit of us preparing and flying: Graham Webb

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Weymouth Kite Festival

As has been the case for a number of years now, Weymouth was once again the opener of our festival season. Sunday saw sunshine and a wind that was all over the place (in other words, normal Weymouth KF wind), while Monday saw cloud cover turn to drizzle and then rain, and a wind that was, you guessed it, all over the place.

Weymouth saw the debut of our new 'Chariots of Fire' routine! First run on Sunday wasn't a success, as the lines of my kite got tangled in the line of a Trilobite lifter several times, and that doesn't really help if you fly a routine timed to music ... Subsequent runs went much better, but we're still not happy with the end sequence, so that needs some more tweaking prior to the next festival.

While flying the first of the two Adiemus routines on Monday, as we were getting in position for the double catch at the end of the routine, I slipped in the loose sand and fell on my back. I was fully determined to make sure the kite did not crash, and managed to steer it towards Irma's hands for a catch while half-sitting, half-lying. People said I had a very determined look on my face!

As last year, both Flame and Airheads were present again, flying several routines each on both days.

And with three dual-line pairs/teams on the beach, mega-teams were unavoidable! We flew four times, with between 8 and 10 kites in the air at any one time.

Not too many errors, despite the really challenging wind, but Barry's idea of an 8-man wrap didn't quite work out as planned ... (or maybe it did; he has a wicked sense of humour ...)

Alan Pinnock put together a really nice video, with footage of the mega-team between 5:20 and 6:21:

More pictures of the festival are here, but I want to pick out one picture for this blog post:

What happened was the following: we saw someone fly this large fish kite, and being Flying Fish, we walked over for a chat with the owner of the kite. To make a not-so-long story even shorter, after we'd walked back to our tent, he came after us and gave us the kite: a flying fish for Flying Fish! Just goes to show yet again what great people kite flyers are; thanks again, John!

Picture credit of Flying Fish and the mega-team: Helen/Stephen Jones (via Facebook)

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!