Sunday, 27 January 2013

Double Dunford!

In a previous blog post, I introduced our Dunford Flying Machine and said I was going to look for a second one. Finding that second one wasn't too difficult in the end. Key to finding one was to ask who marketed the Dunford Flying Machine in the 1970s .... And the price I paid was very reasonable (and way below the £100 that at least one web-site sells them for!).

So we now have a pair of Dunford Flying Machines, one orange, and one blue. The wind forecast for today was 15-25mph, perfect for trying to fly them side-by-side. Turned out that the wind was a bit more variable than that: up to 25mph indeed, but sometimes going down to 5mph, which, if you're flying a Dunford Flying Machine, simply means the kite will drop out of the sky ...

Still, we tried to fly them both, and here they are in the air together!

One thing we had not anticipated was that, because we've had the orange FM for several years and just got the blue one, the sail of the blue FM is much tighter. And that resulted in the blue FM clearly flying faster than the orange FM, which is a bit of a pain when you're trying to fly them in a routine .... There's nothing in the bridle that can be adjusted, so we'll just have to let time take care of this.

We're not going to write a specific routine for them, but intend to make up and call the moves as we're flying to background music. And we fully agreed with Roger: what better song to use for that than "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines"!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Flying in the snow!

Following the indoor event in Swindon in November, another one was scheduled for today. We had planned to fly our mini Dragonfly kites there in some sort of team formation. Alas, the heavy snow that fell Friday, and had frozen by this morning, caused the event to be cancelled ...

To make sure we still got our kite-fix, we walked over to Southampton Common, bringing a few kites along. We used to fly there quite a lot when we started flying kites, as it's only 10 minutes walk away from home. But there are just too many people (and dogs) walking around to do any serious flying, so we rarely go there nowadays. Light snow was falling, the temperature was just below freezing, and it all looked absolutely beautiful!

Wind was very light, 3-4mph max, and we flew our Sweety (an indoor kite: flew fine) and Switch (an ultralight: struggled in the low wind).

I fully admit: this blog post has nothing whatsoever to do with team-flying. It's purely an excuse to post some pictures of kites flying against a snowy background. And given that Rich Edwards, a friend and colleague of mine, posted his snow pictures from Southampton Common earlier, I couldn't really stay behind, could I?

Normal service will resume shortly.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Top teams, past and present

Even though we try to fly through the autumn and winter, as much as the weather allows, it's inevitable that flying activity is less than in the spring and summer. As I write this, we haven't been able to get some serious team-flying practice in with L-katz for well over two months ...

So I thought it would be a good idea to brighten up the low season by posting some videos of the top teams, and especially put one of the earliest world champion teams side-by-side with the two teams which are currently the world's finest.

In the early days of team-flying, we're talking 1980s and early 90s, one team was head and shoulders above the rest: Top of the Line. Here is a video from 1990 of one of their performances:

Now compare this routine with that of Red Bull Kite Force, 2nd at the last two World Championships:

And the 2010 routine of the Scratch Bunnies, the 2010 and reigning world champions:

Without meaning to dish Top of the Line, you have to admit kite team-flying has developed a lot in 20-odd years, hasn't it? Of course, to a large part that is due to the evolution of the kites, but also to choreographies building on from each other, new ideas being developed, etc.

If these videos have whetted your appetite, there are plenty more on the World Sport Kite Championship's web-site; enjoy!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

A Dazzle of Dragonflies

Every once in a while, you stumble across a kite you just ... have ... to ... have. To me, this happened quite recently when visiting my fellow kite-blogger Marcy Marchello's Free Spirit Kite Review. On her blog, she has a link to mini dragonfly kites, hand-made by Tom Tinney. The kites are made from metallic mylar (blue, red, green, or gold), cellophane and heat-bent mono-filament spars, with a long tail of tissue paper, and have a wing span of just 10cm. Can you fall in love with a kite? Have ... to ... have!! Contact with Tom was established, money was paypal-ed westwards, and a set of four mini dragonfly kites, one of each colour, flew eastwards across the Atlantic soon after.

So here I'm proudly showing off the latest additions to our kite quiver: four gorgeous little jewels, our Dazzle of Dragonflies! They come R2F, each with their own mono-filament line already attached and on a little winder, and in a special plastic box.

During their maiden flight, the wind was quite light, 2-6mph mostly, and they fly really well! Pretty stable when the wind is smooth, but swooping, darting and diving in response to even the slightest turbulence. Probably no surprise, given that they weigh 0.3 gram .... Their flight really resembles that of a live dragonfly. And very little pull (;o). It was quite dark and grey when we flew them first, but I can imagine they'll really sparkle when the sun is out.

Taking pictures of them flying was far from easy due to their swooping and darting, but here are two of the best ones (several pictures merely showed a tail or a wing tip!):

And here's a brief video, giving you a bit of a feel for how they fly:

In the second part of the video, the 'loops' you see were basically done on demand: when I released the line and then gave it a short sharp tug, the dragonfly looped, again and again.

Tom, hat off to you for making such beautiful little kites, and Marcy, thanks for alerting me to them!