The new Dowel Delta kite had a testing workout in a moderate breeze and
quite strong thermals today. Finally, the kite is flying straight after I
resorted to a little trick that also helps our little 1-Skewer Delta. A
tail-let, fluttering away on one wing-tip! You can see it in the video down at the bottom of this page.
The problem with my new Delta is unusual. It doesn't seem to be
related to the stiffness of the leading edge spars. This is normally the
problem with errant Deltas, and makes an appearance near the top end of
the wind range.
Instead, I suspect the problem was a slight kink in the vertical spar, which of course also affects the base of the keel. Hence, at just about any wind speed, the Delta got 'steered' over to one side! I really can't think of what else it could be.
Before we set out today, I had attached a tail-let. A very short piece of plastic taped to the trailing edge near the left tip.
The first couple of short flights seemed to indicate that more
correction was required. So out came a bit more plastic, which I
attached to the first bit with insulation tape. Which you can also see
in the photo and video!
The extra weight out there wouldn't hurt,
since the kite needed more turn in that direction anyway. However, it's
the aerodynamic drag that really counts ...
Oops, I've got a bad habit of getting technical haven't I ;-)
Well, that final adjustment brought the kite so close to perfect trim. In no time we had 30, 60 then 90 meters (300 feet) of line out.
Dowel Delta kite was doing well, although wind gusts were bending the
spreader horrendously at times. Since the spreader is free to rotate a
little, it tended to bend straight back towards the tail end of the
kite, rather than straight up as in a retail Delta kite. This is sort of
cool, since it moves the center of gravity back just when the kite
could do with a bit more stability!
At ground level, winds were
light and moderately gusty. Up higher, not only was the wind much
fresher, but quite strong thermals were popping all the time. On one
occasion, some of this spreader-bending drama was happening with the
kite vertically above me! In fact, I just let the kite climb vertically
for a while as it strained against the giant plume of invisible rising
air beneath it. Exhilarating stuff.
The extreme operating conditions took their toll after a while. One
of the shoe-lace ties loosened just enough to let a dowel bracket slip
All of a sudden, one side of the kite was sporting a 1/2
meter (1 1/2 foot) length of spreader that had slid through. Instead of
looping crazily, the Dowel Delta kite actually carried on flying for a
while. However, I had to get it down safely before it became
uncontrollable. It did start to loop a few times, but would still fly
fairly straight with the right amount of tension on the line. In this
semi-controlled state, I just managed to get it to ground without
draping the line over any trees. Phew! Only made it by a few meters.
the kite was undamaged. Hence it was a simple matter to re-tie the
ties, as tight as I could this time, and re-launch.
It was a
pleasure to walk back to where the winder had been dropped on the grass,
slipping line through my fingers while I hovered the kite fairly low.
With a decent amount of line between myself and the new Delta, it was
easy to hang on and let it float up, then rocket back up to 300 feet or so. Some time later, I let out the line to 120 meters (400 feet).
If I make another Dowel Delta kite, I will make sure the heavy end of all the spars is towards the rear end of the kite. Yep, balance a typical piece of dowel exactly
in the middle, and one end will usually be heavier! As it is, the kite
is only just stable, which makes recovering from a dive a bit tricky.
Even with tension off the line, the tail end is reluctant to pendulum
back towards the ground.
Eventually, with just a hint of fine
drizzle in the air, it seemed a good idea to bring the Dowel Delta kite
down. This took a bit of doing! Many minutes later, with more than half a
dozen small piles of line on the grass, the orange Delta flopped to
rest several meters away.
Despite being slightly embarrassed about
needing the tail-let on my carefully-constructed Dowel kite, I must say
it was a real pleasure to fly it right up to the legal limit today!
Hopefully, the flying will be somewhat more relaxed if I can pick a day
with lighter and smoother winds.
At least the Dowel Delta kite has proven itself in conditions that would have wrecked the old one!
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!