It's an archive of sorts, although there are no dates and times. Kite flying is timeless, don't you agree? I trust there is plenty in here to educate, inform and often entertain!
Try the Making The MBK Dowel Diamond Kite PDF, if you are interested in making the Multi-Dowel and / or the Dowel version for yourself. Handy for working offline or from printouts.
These short flight reports once appeared in the site blog page - that's the one you enter via the 'what's new!' site navigation link. Just scroll down and stop at any heading that appeals :-)
Big Diamond Chases The Sun
It's been hard to get out and fly this month, due to the very wet weather. And ever since the start of the month, I have been looking for an opportunity to get out to a particular location by mid-morning for some KAP (Kite Aerial Photography). Today was a possibility, but time got away and it was decided to just go for a fly instead...
Weather conditions were hard to assess from the online weather sites. One direction and strength at one location and quite different wind data at another. To cover all possibilities, I packed the Fresh Wind Sled, Multi-Dowel Diamond and the Multi-Dowel Rokkaku.
On arrival at Knox Park, the breeze seemed a little too lively for the Rok, taking into account the higher wind speeds up around 200 feet. Clouds were slipping by, so it wasn't exactly light up there.
So, the big blue Diamond was chosen. For a while I just flew it around quite low, taking movies and photos. Wouldn't you know it, the sun was doing its best to align exactly with the kite, making photography very tricky. Hence I let the kite move around a lot in the rough air down low, waiting for every little photo opportunity.
With the camera work out of the way, it was time to let the Multi-Dowel Diamond kite up high. A small rain squall was approaching, so the kite's drogue chute gave peace of mind as the gusts tugged harder and harder at the drop-sheet plastic sail. I took some more photos with the kite on 105 meters (350 feet) of line. By now the sun had disappeared behind thick cloud cover.
Not wanting to chance it with the approaching mass of even darker cloud, I took the kite down and departed. Although somewhat short, it was still a relaxing outing! As for the wind... 10 to 15kph according to the wind meter, while an online weather station recorded 11 to 19kph.
Late Afternoon Magic With Big Diamond
The huge Multi-Dowel Diamond took shape on the dry grass, while being sniffed by a large dog. The curious canine was on a leash, thankfully, and it's owners soon moved on. This was down at Knox Park once again, with light gusts barely shifting the upper twigs of the surrounding trees. Not to worry, since the 2.4m (8ft) tall Diamond is at home in light winds.
A float-out launch was just possible. A bit of a skill-test really, since letting-out was only possible during gusts. It also involved taking a few backward steps to keep the tail clear of the ground at times. There was certainly no point in attaching a tail or drogue chute under these conditions. After a minute or two, the big blue kite was hovering well away from the field perimeter, in clear air. Subsequently, a climb was initiated on about 30 meters (100 ft) of line. Easy!
Once well above tree height, a little more line tension came on, and it was clear that conditions were absolutely perfect for the kite. I continued letting line out, pausing at 30m (100 ft) intervals to allow the Diamond to reach full height each time.
So after just 10 or fifteen minutes, there it was, floating placidly at a high line angle, lit from the side by the late afternoon sun. The huge dowel and plastic craft barely moved at times, riding the smooth light breeze from the South.
Eventually the kite had to come down, and my small son earned 50c for laboriously winding on the line while I took the kite down hand-over-hand. Nice flight indeed!
Big Diamond Strains Over Sand
Down at the beach with relatives from Perth, it was a toss-up whether to pick the Multi-Dowel Diamond or the Fresh Wind Sled, going by the weather report. It seemed a bit light, on getting out of the car, so the Multi-Dowel Diamond was selected. Once down on the sand however... the steady breeze blowing along the waterfront was not so light after all.
The first job was to pile quite a few handfuls of sand into the calico shopping bag that doubles as a small sand anchor. Just a few kilos would be required for the Diamond even though it would be flying near the top of its wind range and hence pulling rather firmly.
Launching was quickly accomplished, but the kite showed a tendency to drift to the right. Not the best situation since that brought the huge blue Diamond right over the lapping water-line! So, I walked out to the kite and made a 2 cm (1") adjustment to the appropriate bridle knot.
Now the line could be let out further, and the kite ended up battling away on a length of just over 60m (200ft). The bridle adjustment was doing a good job of keeping the kite away from the water. In fact, the strongest gusts were now forcing the kite down low, to the left. One more very small adjustment to the bridle was made, back the other way.
Wind gusts at shoulder level were reaching 17kph according to the meter, but were considerably more at 100 feet above the sand.
The large dark blue kite remained up while we talked and Aren (9) had fun getting up and down the small sand cliffs nearby. A small amount of turbulence was occasionally reaching us, coming off the houses and buildings way up-wind. The big kite was generally flying low, forced down by the drag force of the airflow. Gusts would sometimes push it down to one side, to within several meters of the sand. Once in the slightly slower air down there, the kite would recover, soaring straight back up and climbing even higher as the gust passed. Over and over, impressing my non-kiting brother with its reliability!
The Northerly breeze finally moderated just a little. The sun was starting to near the horizon, producing blazing pinks toward the West with all the upper and mid-level cloud about. Also, the tide was almost in, lapping just meters away, so we took kite down and rolled it up. It was a logical time to leave.
Launching With Centimeters to Spare
Just on impulse, we dived out to the back yard late yesterday afternoon. With the ... Multi-Dowel Diamond. Quite comical really, given that the ideal launch direction meant the kite had to rise up from the skinny end of our back lawn.
There it was, propped up by the swing set that Aren no longer uses. A swift pull would jump-start the big blue kite, causing it to come forwards and up, just missing the sharp corner of our back verandah. And just missing some bush foliage on the opposite side.
Several short flights were had like this, into a very soft and variable breeze that was having a hard time negotiating houses, fences and trees. Never-the-less, the big Diamond almost got its teeth into some flight-sustaining wind as it drifted over the highest portion of our roof. Nearly every time, it was an exercise in judgment to bring the kite down on its face, to a safe landing spot. The Hills Hoist clothes-line was one such spot!
Aren (8) managed to take a few photos in the several seconds he had available on each flight.
Of course, when it was time to pack up and go indoors for tea, the breeze freshened ever so slightly. Grr. It would have been perfect for a flight of several minutes on perhaps 15m (50ft) of line!
Using A Kite Log
A new page going up soon on this site will feature some discussion on using a Kite Log. Just as pilots of all types of aircraft log their hours, so do some fliers with kites at the larger end of the scale. According to one site visitor who contacted me, more of us should be keeping logs!
Accordingly, I have put together a small PDF and called it a Kite Log Book Sheet. Today, with a log sheet printout in a pocket, I went out with the Multi-Dowel Diamond kite to test it. The log sheet that is, not the kite ;-)
The breeze was very light to begin with and the big Diamond had a brief flight to about 100 feet before sinking back to the grass.
On a second attempt the kite managed to stay in the air. But not without a lot of help from the guy working the line down below! With plenty of weak convection going on, there were periods of faster air and areas of rising air coming through occasionally.
Eventually I worked the kite up higher and managed to get 75 meters (250 feet) of line out.
Some video was taken as the Multi-Dowel Diamond kite drifted slowly this way and that at about 50 degrees of line angle. A tension test revealed that the kite was only pulling 2.5 kg at most.
In fact, on my first attempt to measure the tension, the kite sank out to within a meter (3 feet) of the ground. I promptly put down the scales and hauled the Diamond back up again!
Time was limited, as usual, so the kite was soon being pulled down. Otherwise, it might have stayed up for another 20 minutes or so without any intervention.
Diamonds Large And Small
Another breezy day, and to my surprise Aren was keen to go out kite flying! Perhaps the recent session with the Peter Powell stunt kite has enthused him anew. But we mainly fly single-liners...
It seemed an ideal opportunity to test how the Multi-Dowel Diamond would cope with moderate wind strengths. To date, this kite has only flown in light air.
Aren requested the Tiny Tots Diamond, which I knew would have no trouble since it has flown in near-gales before! Single line attachment plus that long light tail you see.
Anyway, back to the very sizable Multi-Dowel Diamond...
As expected, the big kite struggled at first in the moderate gusts. The horizontal spar bent so much that the bow-line fell undone. Result: two little Dacron tails draping from the side tips.
After a couple of short flights I moved the towing point forward almost as far as the bridle loop knot. This put the towing point somewhat forward of the spar crossing point. On an Eddy-style kite, that's a long way forward! It did the trick, relieving a lot of line tension but not compromising stability.
Now it was possible to let the kite up much higher with confidence. Eventually we had it tethered to the wooden railings with about 80 meters (280 feet) of line out.
The strongest periods of breeze were pushing the kite to the right so I took it down, adjusted the bridle loop knot left by just a couple of mm (1/8"+) and put it back up. Beautiful - straight up! While doing this, Aren had the great idea of securing the carabiner to the line and then watching it slide down all the way to the fence, as the kite shot up. He tried to beat it, but the carabiner won.
A wind check revealed an average around 12kph with one big gust to 28kph. So the light-wind Diamond had probably been hit with 30kph+ from time to time! So glad it survived - but the bridle adjustments were critical.
Don't forget to try the Making The MBK Dowel Diamond Kite PDF, if you are interested in making the Multi-Dowel and / or the Dowel version for yourself. Handy for working offline or from printouts.
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