The Peter Powell Stunt Kite is a classic, and copies popped up such as the Cayman stunt kite in the picture down there. Unlike most modern stunters, it was a steerable Diamond. This design enjoyed huge popularity and is still well-known today, although the original design is no longer being manufactured. Every kite came with a 30 meter (100 feet) plastic tubular tail which aided stability and put a grin on the face of anyone watching!
It was fairly straightforward to stack the Powell kites too, so people had fun flying several at a time.
You have to wonder if all those super-long tails ever got tangled when more than one kite was attached to the lines. Perhaps only one tail, on the furthest kite, was the way to go...
In the 1970s, millions of Peter Powell Stunt Kites were sold when stunt flying became a craze in the U.K. Mr Powell himself lives in that corner of the world and has sons who no doubt have flown a kite or 2 themselves by now.
Although multi-line kites have also been around for a long time, it
was the Peter Powell kite that really boosted the popularity of this
kind of controlled kite-flying. Instead of just a handful of expert
enthusiasts being involved with stunters and traction kites, the general
public ended up embracing all kinds of multi-line kiting.
Steerable Diamonds from a few manufacturers can still be found online. However, the Delta variety and 2-line power kites like those over there on the right have become far more popular!
These kites are not available for sale any more. However, you might find these technical details interesting, particularly if you have never actually handled the kite itself.
The photo near the top of this page shows a red and yellow Cayman. See how this sport kite is actually a Delta in disguise! It has nearly everything a single-line Delta has, except a keel. The 2 leading spars are there, as is the spine down the middle and the spreader keeping the leading edges apart. However, the spine is so long that the sail shape looks just like a Diamond from a distance!
Here's some specs:
Thanks are due to the guys at windpowersports.com for the above details plus the photo.
The very first kites came with bamboo spars! That's a great choice for home-made kites, but perhaps they don't lend themselves to mass production. These stunters had black plastic sails.
By this time, things were going crazy. The distinctive Diamond stunter was being churned out en mass with aluminum spars. The initial color choices for the sail were Red or Blue, but Yellow, Pink and Black and others soon followed.
Enormously long tubular tails which inflated in the wind came in bright red and yellow, and probably some other colors as well.
Wooden handles for the flying lines were supplied and the instructions were printed on parchment.
This was the age of fiberglass spars, and the Peter Powell design followed suit. Maybe safety was a concern too! Aluminum is a great conductor of electricity. Not a great material to hoist way up into the air on the end of a couple of wet kite strings, in bad weather. Could be a ... erm ... shocking experience!
Black sails were still available at this stage, although the material was now that great kite-making stuff, rip-stop nylon. I imagine the range of color schemes was more varied than ever before, by this time.
Post Millenium (2000 onwards)
A little birdie told me that Mr Powell gave up selling the design altogether, back in 2006. I suppose serious historians rely on more than little birdies, but anyway...
The value of these old kites, some of which are still lying around forgotten in cupboards and old sheds, continues to rise. In fact, it's getting harder to put your hands on one now. If you try a search on eBay, you might just have to make do with a poster showing some Peter Powells in flight... Perhaps people are hanging on to them, now that the value of a flyable original is climbing past US$100 or so in 2009!
Kite fliers still reminisce about the Peter Powell Stunt kite online in forums and other meeting places. A handful of kids are lucky enough to have a genuine original that was once flown by their father or even grandfather. The excitement reverberates around, with talk of how easy they were to fly and how impressive those long tails were. Some of the kites that are still flyable limp into the air with packing-tape patches.
The Peter Powell Stunt Kite lives on!