Date: Sat 22 Sep 2007
Location: Old Reynella (reserve next to school)
Weather: moderate gusty breeze, blue sky
Kite(s): MBK Skewer Diamond prototype 2 and Delta prototype 2, Windjam07 Kite
Comments: We thought we'd try a new flying ground today, after checking out all the nearby reserves in the street directory. A short drive away, we parked the car and headed over to the reserve next to Reynella Primary School. Even before we got through the tree line surrounding the park, it was clear that we had found a very good spot for kite flying!
In no time, I had the diamond out but had trouble hooking in the paper clip. Thanks to advancing age and no reading glasses... May did it for me, then started the photo-shoot while I test flew the kite close to the ground.
After a while, I took the camera and by some fluke took a fascinating shot of the brilliantly-backlit kite hovering over our little son like an angelic being.
Once we had plenty of shots taken, I headed out towards the center of the grounds, letting the diamond take out line at a great pace. 50 meters, then 100 meters, and the kite was flying beautifully. With the fresh breeze up aloft, the kite showed signs of wanting a more forward attachment point, but still flew around the 45 - 50 degree mark.
With the late afternoon sunlight glinting off its fluttering shoulders and brightly illuminating the snaking tail, it was quite a sight. Quite a satisfying sight actually, since I have been painstakingly documenting and photographing its construction for a few days! Newsletter subscribers will find a link to the relevant page on the website at the end of the month.
By now, May had the Windjam delta in the air too, and flew it for a while at low altitude. She told me later she didn't want to take forever to wind it back in!
With the extra room available in the reserve, I let out another 50 meters of monofilament. So finally, the little diamond was just a dot in the sky with the ripples in its bright shimmering tail making it a bit easier to spot. It managed to reach about 45 degrees, with a line angle from my hand of about 25 degrees. It might do better with the bridle adjusted better, but 150 meters is a lot of line for such a small kite. I might eventually try it on even finer line.
With this kite, I have dropped the paper clip idea for attaching tails, and gone with using a simple Larks Head knot. Simpler, and most importantly, lighter. All the MBK kites from here on will do it this way.
With help from May, we reeled in the MBK Diamond and packed it away before hooking up the MBK Delta. Maybe I can get the delta much higher! It is certainly capable of a much higher line angle than the diamond. As before, letting out line was very easy in the good breeze. However, the temperamental delta never made it to a really high angle since it was right on the edge of its wind window. Yep, too much wind! It looped this way, it looped that way, climbed a bit, scudded across the sky sideways for a while, corrected, climbed some more, looped some more, on and on. All in all, it never got any higher than the diamond, and I stopped letting line out at around 120 meters or so.
Winding it in was interesting. It got so close to the trees at one point. One time I was sure it hit a house roof! I gave a pull, and it magically re-appeared and shot back up to 20 or 30 meters. A moment later, after some more looping misbehavior, it disappeared from view once more. 'That's it' I thought, but no, it just flew back into view again! I should mention here that the reserve has an uneven surface, and the far side had a considerable downward slope. Eventually the delta hit the ground and stayed there while I walked towards it and reeled in.
I'm really pleased with that diamond! So stable in a fairly strong gusty wind, and yet I expect this to be my best light breeze kite also for quite a while.
Date: Sat 15 Sep 2007
Location: Old Reynella (vacant block)
Weather: light gusty breeze, cool
Kite(s): MBK Skewer Diamond, Windjam07 Kite
Comments: It was late in the day, with a reasonable bit of breeze about. Not much cloud, and a bit cool. The 3 of us went out with the Windjam kite and the MBK Diamond. Approaching the reserve, we found kids kicking a football and others clambering over the play equipment. Ok, it's on to the usual Plan B. Another right turn, and back up the hill to the vacant block.
Throwing a bit of dirt in the air confirmed that we had a Northerly, so we parked the pram near the edge of the grass and attached the diamond kite. Not quite enough wind to launch it in the wind shadow of the fences and tree, so I walked maybe 15 meters or so, laying out line with May holding the reel. A brisk walk back, feeling the tension in the line as I pulled it up to smoother air.
Turning around, I let it pull line off the reel slowly with each long gust. I stopped the reel from spinning once in a while to let the kite gain height. There was only just enough breeze to do this, but eventually, there it was with bright blue tail attached, hovering at around 35 degrees of line angle. It's capable of a better angle, but needs a few more knots of wind! Just over 100 meters of line was out, as indicated by the second bit of dark tape attached to the line. There's one every 50 meters. It took a bit of patience to put them on, I can tell you...
This kite is just like the one I am constructing for this month's newsletter Our one-and-a-half year old Aren came close to wrecking this kite a few weeks ago, hence it flies now with a patched-up hole on one side, and a similar area of sticky tape on the opposite side to balance it up! No doubt, the extra weight has added an extra knot or 2 of wind speed to the bottom of its wind speed range... Never mind, we'll be flying a new one this week.
With sunset approaching, the wind died right off. Just the occasional gentle gust would come through, moving the highest leaves in the surrounding trees. The diamond was down, with May reeling it in across the grass. I couldn't resist trying to launch the Windjam kite however! I towed it up to 10 meters or so a couple of times, but the air was barely moving. It just wasn't enough even for this rather efficient kite. Time to call it a day.
Date: Tue 4 Sep 2007
Location: Old Reynella (reserve)
Weather: light/moderate breeze, thermals, sunny but cool
Kite(s): WindJam07 Kite
Comments: I've been itching to put the Windjam kite through its paces recently, so Aren and I went down to the reserve armed with a brand new 300m reel of 8 kg monofilament line. With the standard MBK paper clip attached of course. :-) With cross spar removed, the kite rolls up and takes hardly any space at all. Weather was a touch windy, but nothing a moderate-wind kite like this couldn't handle. Plus I was curious as to how this kite would react to thermals.
First launch resulted in a short flight, when a tall tree beside us shot the kite down with a swirl of turbulence. On the next launch however, the kite soon had tree-top height and the air was smoother and stronger from there. Not too smooth though! There was heaps of thermal activity around. This was evident when the kite started pulling strongly and parked itself at a 70 or 80 degree line angle for a while! I continued to let out line, with an eye on the trees at the far side of the reserve.
The Windjam kite took some strong gusts, and it became clear that despite having that 'shop-bought' look, it had a small bias to the right. During one particularly strong gust it actually performed a very deep loop to the right, losing more than half its height before recovering. After that, the wind died a little, although thermals continued to push the kite to very high line angles from time to time. The line tension was too great to allow Aren to fly the kite, but I let him hold the reel a few times while I took the line tension in my hand.
With maybe 150 meters of line out and no sign of the kite coming down any time soon, I decided it would be a good idea to start reeling in. Taking note of the time, I started the laborious process, taking care to not let too much line tension end up on the reel. Or so I thought! With the kite on less than 20 meters or so, I heard a small snap. Oh-oh.
Sure enough, with another minute or so, the reel failed pretty badly, with half of one side folding over. See the photo!
I don't know how the line stayed in place, but fortunately it did, while I wound on the last few meters. Lesson learnt. This stuff needs to go on a decent reel right from the very first flight! Another reason was that it took me a full 20 minutes to bring the kite in.
Without really trying, this kite probably broke my height record by a large margin and also nearly broke the duration record.
While pushing the pram home, thoughts of mechanical or maybe electric winches and oversize reels played on my mind...