Winds were gusty around the house this afternoon, but things looker calmer towards the West. The 2 Skewer Sode kite and the 2 Skewer Dopero went in the boot (trunk) of the car. There are a number of tree tops in the distance that I like to monitor, to give some idea of conditions. It was clear that today it was not going to be a 'light wind' outing! I hoped that at least one of the kites would be up to it though.
After arriving at the near-by local school reserve, and having a quick assessment of the wind, the Sode was picked. It's been quite a while since this kite has been flown, so I was looking forward to seeing it in action once again.
A few pieces of insulation tape needed to be replaced, but you have to expect that after the kite has spent months sitting on the wall...
Nowadays, the routine starts with screwing the tripod into the wind meter, place it down on the ground and turning it on. With the flying line attached to the 2-leg bridle of the Sode, the kite was soon swooping around on about 20 meters of line.
Due to the Southerly direction of the breeze I ended up some distance from the edge of the reserve.
The 2 Skewer Sode kite seemed barely stable, and it seemed to have a very modest amount of tail attached.
Then the memory came - a loop or 2 of tail had been borrowed for another kite, a long time ago! However, the kite behaved itself sufficiently for some photos and video to be taken.
It was around this time i noticed a short strip of builder's plastic sticking out of the ground. Pulling it out of the ground, it turned out to be the right width for some extra tail. With the dirt brushed off, it was an easy matter to tie it to the end of the existing tail. The tough black plastic was a bit weighty, but draggy too since it kept its flat shape in the air. You can see it in the video down at the bottom of this page.
The 2-Skewer Sode kite now flew much smoother and was soon straining away at high line angles, eager to fly higher and higher.
The kite's shadow seemed to be buzzing my own shadow, as the sun and kite were in the same region of sky. The sun blazed down from a completely blue sky. Not a cloud in sight anywhere. From time to time just a few tell-tale bits of dry grass and flying seeds floated by, indicating a strong thermal above.
Talking about strong thermals, the kite was now straining away at a very high angle, forced into loops by vertical gusts of wind! When things had settled down a bit, I went to the opposite side of reserve and flew for a while on 60 meters of line. Just enjoying the sight of the 2 Skewer Sode kite high up, looping just occasionally in the fresh gusts coming through.
With the winder passed around the base of a sapling a few times, it was time to sit down in the welcome shade for a while. Meanwhile, the Sode danced with the sun.
The bright orange kite seemed happy up there so I went back across the reserve to pick up the $100 wind meter and its case. Before someone else or a dog decided to do the same! The Windtronic 2 indicated that the wind over there had averaged 5.4 kph and had gusted to 13 kph.
Back near the saplings, I planted the tripod in a good spot to catch uninterrupted wind. Switching the unit off and back on again reset the figures. The meter was soon reading an average of 9 kph with a max gust of 20! Surely that would have been closer to 30 kph up at 250 feet where the Sode was cavorting about.
I decided to let line out to 90 meters, which seemed enough considering the rather fresh gusts and available space downwind. The Sode was still coping, putting on a real display! Sinking tail-first in lulls and snaking upwards in gusts, looping once in a while. As the gusts grew fresher, the looping increased, but the 2 Skewer Sode kite would always recover before it got below 100 feet or so.
Finally, the wind started to get ridiculous, and I noticed the Sode had a problem near the tail end. One or both of the bottom spar caps had come adrift, but the kite was gamely hanging on. Quite stable most of the time. However, the trim had changed, and the kite was now dragging at the wind at a higher angle of attack than usual. The horizontal spars were bending a lot under the extra strain.
Going down in some trees was a possibility now, so I leapt to my feet and grabbed the line, which was still anchored to the sapling. I guided the stricken 2 Skewer Sode kite towards the corner of the reserve, where it would have just enough room to land safely on the grass.
After much taking in of line, the Sode was down to slower air and seemed totally stable despite the loose plastic near the tail. It was now clear that just one spar cap had come adrift on the bottom horizontal spar. The short horizontal spar had just rotated on the vertical spar, allowing the sail plastic on both sides to behave much the same in the air. Hence there was no real tendency for the kite to loop one way or the other.
Finally the Sode was down, and I walked back to the saplings to collect the winder and start packing up. Also, I was curious about the maximum gust strength as measured by the Windtronic meter, which turned out to be 27 kph! That was just centimeters off the grass. Perhaps it was 35 kph or more up where the kite was. All the same, it was a very enjoyable flight by the bright orange 2 Skewer Sode kite today!
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