Monday, 26 November 2012

Flying Fish goes indoor!

For several reasons, we didn't do much pair/team-flying the last few weeks, but we did do something we'd never done before: indoor flying! Karl & Sara Longbottom had invited us to join them for an indoor single-line kiting session at the St Joseph's Catholic College in Swindon. As we'd never flown kites indoor before, that sounded like fun to try, and a good opportunity to fly the few glider kites we have under the conditions they were really designed to fly in.

So how did our first ever indoor kite-flying session go? First of all, it was fun! And much more different from 'flying outside without wind' than we thought it would be.

So, first of all, we flew our own gliders (a Flying Wings Wala, two Prism Zero-Gs, and of course our new Longbottom Pterodactyls).

Fortunately, we were also able to borrow some other gliders to try out, such as a Flying Wings Emong, iFlites (made by Patrick Tan in Singapore), and several more Longbottom kites (large Pterodactyl and 6-81). Especially the two iFlites we flew (iFlite and iFlite II) were so light that they just floated on the air.

And one glider isn't necessarily the same as another glider. For instance, flying an Emong asked for quite a different technique than flying a Zero-G, which reacted differently again compared to the Pterodactyls (and the large Pterodactyl flew differently from the smaller ones, which is probably not too surprising). Knowing when to give the kite line, when to haul line in to make it turn at the right moment and not hit the floor, when to walk backwards, etc. We still have a lot to learn about indoor kite-flying. Sara mentioned another session in January: we'll be there!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Our 20th anniversary

11/11 is the date that Irma and I got together, and as that happened in 1992, this year marks our 20th anniversary! What better way for two kite-a-holics to mark the occasion than to get a pair of kites to fly on 'the day' for the very first time?

At the Brighton Kite Festival, Irma flew a Pterodactyl, made by Karl Longbottom. She really liked how it flew, bit glider, bit fighter, so we decided shortly after to order a pair of Pterodactyls from Karl, especially for this occasion. So here they are!

They're light-wind kites, and we flew them in winds in the 3-6mph range. The angle of the dihedral can be tuned, to give more stable or more active flight. When set to a wide angle, giving a mostly flat kite, the Pterodactyls start to behave a bit like fighter kites in the sense that they swoop down, and can then be pulled out of their loop as soon as the head points upwards again. Great fun to fly!

Now, of course, this has little to do with proper and serious pair-flying, although we did fly them side-by-side, and had them wrapping their lines around each other through successive swoops. And Roger joined in at some point with his blue "Terror Ducktail", so we were 'team-flying' with them. But who says kite-flying has to be serious? And in the end, this is my blog, so if I want to write about the latest addition to our quiver, I will!

Picture credits: Roger

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Hawaiians again

A few weekends ago, both Tony and Neil couldn't fly for various reasons, so L-katz was down to just Roger, Irma and myself. We don't have a specific routine to practice in this combination, so we decided to do some off-the-cuff flying. Possibly inspired by our flying of one of our Hawaiians together with the 'Babywaiian', we got our three full-size Hawaiians out.

The wind was mostly 10-15 mph, so perfect for flying these classical team kites. Bit of bridle-tweaking to make sure all three flew the same, and we were off! They really looked good together and we went through the range of different patterns in our repertoire, in a more or less random way, and adapting them to three kites as we flew along.

We enjoyed flying these classics so much that we started wondering ..... We've got enough proper routines to work on at the moment, but why not simply fly these to music, without a specific choreography, but with me simply calling out moves and patterns as I see fit? Make it up as I go along? It would add another option to what we can do at festivals, and wouldn't need learning any additional routines.

That decided, we needed some music that has the same feel, speed, and tempo as the Hawaiians. They'll be flying reasonably fast, not slow and flowy, so the music has to capture that ... Didn't take me long to find a promising candidate, and both Irma and Roger heartily agreed:

Now I said in my previous post on Hawaiians that we were definitely not considering flying the 'Babywaiian' as part of a display .... hmmm, maybe we'll change our minds on that, and work the 'Baby' into it in some way ...

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Double Cosmic!

A few months ago, I posted about our aims of getting a limited number of pairs of kites that combined precise tracking with trickability, with the ultimate goal of writing a pairs routine that also involved some slack-line tricks. The first of these was a pair of Fury 0.85 kites and I can now introduce the second of these pairs!

Meet our two Kitehouse Cosmic TC UL kites! We already had one (the 'chocolate' one), bought second-hand from someone at the Drachenforum. Great kite to fly, very precise as well as being able to perform any trick you throw at it (or at the very least any trick I can throw at it!). Cosmics are not exactly cheap kites, but I was lucky in getting a bit of money without having to do anything for it, and so used that opportunity to order a second one via the Fractured Axel shop. There was a bit of going back and forth with Kitehouse on the colours, as we wanted the second one to match the first one in terms of colour patterns, but at the same time be different from it. Turned out we mostly wanted colours they either didn't have or didn't have enough of, but we finally settled on a mostly 'gold' sail, with 'chocolate' bands. We flew the two together for the first time yesterday, and I must say the two really look good together in the sky! Absolute pleasure to fly and they seemed to like each other; Irma referred to them as our two Labradors, as they also come in gold and chocolate (and black, but we're not going to get a third one).

So, we now have a pair Cosmics for low wind, and a pair of Fury 0.85s for when the wind really picks up. One more pair to add, to fit between these two. I know which of our current trick kites I want to double up .... watch this space!

Picture credit: Roger

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Dunford Flying Machine

In the early 1970s, flying dual-line control kites was popularised mostly by Peter Powell, and many people will have flown a PP Stunter, either as a child, or for reasons of nostalgia. A second dual-line control kite on the market around the same time was developed by Don Dunford. His Flying Machine was regarded as the 'Rolls-Royce' of kites in at least one contemporary book on kites, due to its high level of control.

We've got an orange Dunford Flying Machine, picked up, in mint condition, for little money some years ago. We hadn't flown it for quite a while, so last weekend we decided to take it to the field, and flew it in winds ranging from 15 to well over 25mph.

What's all this got to do with pair/team flying? Very little, yet ... The Dunford Flying Machine is a heavy kite due to its cloth sail and wooden dowels. Basically it doesn't really want to be bothered when the wind is below 15mph (it will fly from, say, 8mph onwards, but only reluctantly). When the wind gets to 20mph and above, the kite is really in its element. Snappy corners with some practice (it doesn't need much input), reasonable tracking, very tight turns, and little pull. So .... what if we were to stumble across a second Dunford Flying Machine, with a different sail colour (I know it also came in blue, with orange tassels), wouldn't it be fun to try and fly a routine with a pair of 1970s 'Rolls Royces'?

I think I know exactly where to go first in order to try and find one ...