The 2 Skewer Barn Door Kite
Gentle Flying Near Its Wind Range Lower Limit
Today the 2 Skewer Barn Door kite enjoyed a high flight in unusually
smooth and light inland winds. Another unusual aspect was the 100% cloud
cover. It was like 'pea soup' fog at 4000 feet or so, with the
occasional smoothly rounded strata-type formation visible here and
However, the air was warm, with no threat of rain. From a
photography point of view, light levels were reasonable too. All that
cloud could not have been very thick.
Aren and I got the photo session out of the way first. With 3 1/2
year-old Aren obligingly holding the line, I snapped away with the
digital camera. He was doing so well, I even got him to move upwind with
the line to climb the kite while I took video.
The first attempt was rather too enthusiastic! Aren caused the
orange Barn Door to shoot up, then bounce around while he stopped
walking and started hauling the line in hand over hand. The next attempt
was perfect, with the little fellow backing up slowly.
This time the 2 Skewer Barn Door kite gently climbed out above
As you can see in the video down at the bottom of this page.
After all the imagery was 'in the can', we gradually climbed the kite up, slowly releasing line.
We had to follow a careful path though, which
- avoided the elderly golfer practicing his swing,
- took the kite over the corner of the field to avoid trees and give maximum room to fly, and
- also kept some distance from the 2 teenagers using the practice nets for cricket training!
It was becoming a more enjoyable flight by the minute. The 2
Skewer Barn Door kite responded to quite gradual changes in wind speed.
Even above the wind gradient, winds were variable, and sometimes so
light that the kite barely hung in the air. It was sometimes necessary
to just stand there and wait for some more tension to come on the line.
The flying line angle varied from roughly 30 to 50 degrees,
depending on wind speed. The Barn Door was once boosted right up to 70
degrees in a weak patch of rising air, before floating back down on its
face. It's not my best thermal-catching kite, but it was still a welcome
departure from its usual Diamond-style performance!
By this time we were getting closer to the 2 teenagers. They soon
left, as they do when their space is invaded by someone more than 20
years older :-)
Finally, a long lull took the kite right down to 20 degrees or
so, with line about to droop onto the grass. This was followed by a long smooth climb, slowly accelerating as the 2 Skewer Barn Door kite passed through 200 feet or so.
Aren and I ended up on the far side of the reserve, sitting on a
grassy embankment. All 150 meters of line was out, except for 4 turns so we
didn't lose the kite. The kite settled out at close to 400 feet at
around 50 degrees of line angle.
During another lull, I had to wind on quite a few meters of line,
but was able to slowly climb the kite up again. I took the chance to
practice climbing the kite at a constant line angle of somewhere around
40 degrees. With all the line out once again, the kite slowly made its
way up even higher, as line angle increased.
Eventually it was time to go. In these light conditions, it was
an easy matter to simply wind line on to bring the kite down. It was
hard to keep the kite in the air once it got below 100 feet. By walking
slowly upwind, we kept the kite off the grass.
By this stage, some blue patches had appeared in the East
although unusual smooth cloud formations remained in other parts of the
sky. All in all, a nice relaxing outing with the 2 Skewer Barn Door
kite, even with the 3 year old in tow!
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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Sep 23, 14 01:22 AM
This day's flying had been anticipated for at least a couple of weeks. A 'drag bucket' added to the tail end of the 2m (7ft) span Carbon and Tyvek Diamond was an attempt to raise the upper limit on the flyable wind speed for the kite. From earlier experiences it seems the unmodified Diamond becomes unstable at around 30 kph.
The first flight was done with the drag bucket adjusted for fairly minimal effect. As half expected, the kite soon started to fly way over to the left and right. So, the wind speed up there must be at least 30kph! This was down at Brighton Beach, but all thoughts of doing KAP soon evaporated, due to the high wind speed. Not to mention the turbulence coming from some high buildings directly upwind.
For a second attempt, the Velcro fastener was re-adjusted to considerably open up the intake of the bucket. The bucket being two Tyvek flaps which come together over the tail-most region of the sail. This had an immediate effect. More stability! Unfortunately, the extra drag also helped keep the kite at a lowish line angle in some of the fiercer gusts. Lots of line tension ensued, with a huge amount of distortion apparent in the sail.
At this rate, something was going to break pretty soon, so I struggled to get the kite down to the sand. After shifting the towing point forward by about 3cm (1") the kite seemed a little more comfortable. When the sail of a Diamond distorts badly, it reduces the amount of effective area below the towing point. This is like shifting the towing point back - adding to the problems of too much wind!
And then the inevitable happened. The already broken-and-repaired horizontal ferrule gave way and the kite promptly folded up and sank to the sand. But not before I had carefully observed every second of the kite's struggles, trying to learn more about Diamond kite behavior in high winds.
Just an hour after arriving home, the weather station at the nearby airport was reporting gusts to 50kph! It was less further down the coast, but I suspect the Carbon Diamond felt the brunt of around 40kph for at least a few seconds at a time.
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