The 1 Skewer Box Kite

Floating And Darting In Gusty Fresh Winds

Arriving at our usual kite-flying reserve, it was clear that the 1 Skewer Box kite would get into the air without too much trouble. Or so I thought! It turned out to be a bit marginal after all, with the wind strength dying too soon after each gust lofted the kite a few meters into the air.

1-Skewer Box Kite flight report

So began a whole number of short flights, not helped by the wind shadow created by the trees upwind.

So, I tried moving towards the middle of reserve, where the moderate gusts coming through made things a bit easier. But still, no real success. Grr ... little kites can be a pain sometimes ...

However, persistence breeds success! Finally, the light orange 1 Skewer Box kite was up and away. Flying more than a couple of tree-heights up, in stronger and more consistent airflow. With 30 meters of line out, the time was right to pull out the Samsung digital camera and crank it up to 5x zoom.

Even just taking pictures of little kites is harder than for larger kites... Not just because of the size, but because it is harder to keep a small kite off the ground on a short line!

You just get it framed up, and then ... darn.

When the freshest gusts hit the kite it was clear that it was pulling to the right under stress. So I added a little more plastic to the tail-let on the left side. You can see the original tail-let in the photo over there.

A brief flight showed that still more was needed, so I added a complete extra loop to the tail-let. This turned out better, but at some wind speeds the kite would suddenly pull left! Perhaps just more length on the main tail would help. But the kite was flying OK most of the time and getting more altitude.

Eventually, with the average wind speed creeping up, the full potential of the tiny box kite was on show. Frustration started to give way to relaxation and good old kite-flying pleasure! A tight line, sun on your face, wind on your back, you know what I mean...

Much of the time the kite sat at around 30 degrees but occasionally it was pushed higher by rising air. At other times, tail down, the kite hung lower and pulled hard. Or it tried to - at this size, no kite pulls 'hard'!

By now the sun was shining brightly, the sky mainly blue with most of the morning cloud cover gone.

A small bird circled briefly below the kite to take a look, before flying off.

Speaking of birds, a lone magpie shot past below me, keeping close to the grass, some time earlier. A couple of white cockatoos flew silently by, several hundred feet up. They only seem to make a huge noise when moving in large groups!

Feeling some extra tension in the line, I was able to let it out to 60 meters (200 feet). The 1 Skewer Box kite seemed so small at this distance, and started flying higher than it has ever gone before. It shuddered in thermal turbulence for just a moment, before soaring up in the rising air that was nearby. The boundary between rising and sinking air often contains a small region of rough air, and you can actually spot it happening sometimes, with a kite in the air.

The box kite was covering a lot of ground, sometimes being forced into slow loops to the right under strong wind pressure, and just scooting left or right at other times. When sitting on top of a plume of rising air, the line drooped vertically down underneath the kite, before arcing back to where I was standing on a grassy mound.

Several times the 1 Skewer Box kite ended up very low over the grass, but willingly climbed back up. Sometimes with a little help from me, tugging it back up into faster air - when it happened to be pointing in the right direction!

The wind strength was definitely increasing. Looking around, dozens of tree tops were all showing some small branch movement. The closest ones were generating a fair amount of leaf noise in each long fresh gust.

And then a magic moment. A large thermal came through, and I let the line out to about 80 meters as the little orange kite climbed rapidly. Just a speck way up there, the 1 Skewer Box kite floated on its face, the 20 pound Dacron line describing an enormous S bend as various wind gusts tugged at it from different directions. At an angle of about 50 degrees, the kite was about 170 feet above the ground.

Soon after this, the kite sank nearly all the way to the grass, clearing the trees downwind by only a few meters. Some time later, after bringing in some line, the kite come to ground in the middle of the reserve.

I moved off to the side to collect the wind meter and equipment bag. Also, to pick up the winder and start putting line back on. Imagine my surprise when, halfway through winding, I looked up to see the 1 Skewer Box kite flying once again! The line had caught on a thistle, after a gust must have rolled the kite around and bounced it back into the air.

To get a better idea of the real wind strength, I put the Windtronic wind meter on the grassy mound for a few minutes. It came up with an average of 7.1kph, gusting to over 15kph. I'll bet it was closer to 25kph at times, up where the kite was!

Anyway, it was a good outing. The best actually, with this particular 1-Skewer kite! Bear in mind that the video below was shot with full optical zoom (5x)...

The story above was an actual flying experience with the described kite. My write-ups are definitely warts-and-all since things don't always go totally as planned. However, half the fun of kiting is anticipating the perfect flight. When it happens, it's magic!

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  1. Flight Report:
    Dowel Box Kite Rides Inland Gusts

    Sep 16, 14 05:51 AM

    A recent bout of sickness has left me with double vision for a while, which rules out driving the car anywhere. So it was time for a return visit to the small grassy reserve where many of the 1-skewer designs made their debut years ago. The easy walking distance from home was the main thing!

    Looking out the window, the breeze shifting the tree tops around seemed capable of supporting the Dowel Box kite. The Fresh Wind version with its smaller sail panels. Sure enough, down at the reserve, the kite managed to grip enough air around 50 feet to stay up fairly comfortably. A couple of times I had to interrupt some movie-taking to coax the kite higher as it threatened to sink right back to the grass.

    After 20 minutes or so of flying near the lower end of the kite's wind range, a period of fresher breezes began. In the somewhat sheltered location where I stood, the wind meter showed around 8 kph gusting to over 12 kph. However, the breeze was clearly over 20 kph higher up. The firm pull on the flying line was one indication!

    Isolated rain showers had been forecast for the area, so fairly low cumulus clouds were everywhere. No rain had fallen all day in our suburb though.

    The cloudy sky-scape made for some attractive footage of the 2-celled Box surging about in the gusts, lulls and wind-shifts. Due to the small size of the reserve, it was wise to not let the kite fly on more than about 45m (150 feet) of line. But that was enough to let it take full advantage of the moderate-strength (20kph+) airflow over the treetops.

    So, some enjoyable box kite flying today, with the 50 pound Dacron feeling like thread compared to the 200 pound variety with which I do most flying these days!

    About This Post: These days, most flight reports are in the short format you've just seen, above. However, longer format reports are done occasionally, which also feature photos and video taken on the day. Here is a link to all those full flight report pages on this site.

    Read More

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