Gusty moderate winds almost prevented us flying the Dowel Dopero kite,
but a good flight eventuated anyway. Immediately after pulling up in the
car, it was clear there was no point in trying to fly the light-wind
Thermals were popping and although the wind was moderate, the gusts
seemed quite fresh as they tossed around the surrounding leafy tree
Hence we just waited for 1/2 an hour or so, after which a
big blue hole moved overhead.
The active cumulus clouds were drifting
away to the West and starting to die off, losing their puffy whiteness.
With this, the wind became less gusty and the average wind strength
seemed to drop a little too. Good!
Within half a minute of
stepping out of the car, I was surprised to see 4 shadows flit across
the grass, very close to where we were.
Looking up, there they
were - 4 pelicans in a partial V formation, heading South. Incredible
soaring birds, but on this occasion they were all flapping. Not for too
long, I suspect, but we never saw the pelicans again.
The Dowel Dopero kite launched easily, but we had a little trouble
when one of the vertical spars slipped from its corner tape. The air was
still a bit rough! Never mind, it was a good opportunity to fiddle with
the bridle a little before we re-launched.
I slipped the towing
point back a touch to put more tension on the keel lines. Also, one of
the bridle loop knots was way off center, so that was fixed by sliding
it across a centimeter (1/2") or so.
This time, all went well, and
the kite was soon flying on a short line while a few photos were taken.
After letting out another 10 or 20 meters of line, I zoomed in for a
couple of short videos. About a minute in total. Unfortunately, there
was just a featureless pale blue sky as the background this time.
the kite further was a bit slow, since there was quite a lot of tension
on the winder. Despite my experience of the last few years, I almost copped a couple of small line-burns on my finger!
Once in a while the Dopero would send long ripples down the line as it's tail wagged in the fresher gusts.
The Dowel Dopero kite flew at around 200 feet for a while, and tended to track a long way left and right when under pressure. Now, as most kite fliers know, a single-line kite will generally go in just one
direction every time it gets over-powered by a stiff breeze. Maybe the
flexible keels were sitting one way or the other, to cause this
behavior. Maybe it remained in perfect trim, but was bordering on
instability due to the wind strength...
Finally, after more cautious letting out of line, the Dowel Dopero kite arrived at just over 300 feet.
kite seemed nicely trimmed, but was pulling strongly most of the time.
Despite the blue sky, it wasn't totally devoid of thermals. At one
point, the kite was pushed right up to 70 or 80 degrees of line angle,
with the flying line slightly bowed out in 2 different directions.
long after this, the wind strength picked up a little more, and the
Dopero was forced lower. At first I thought it was just flying in
sinking air, as sometimes happens. However, the struggling kite just
stayed down there at around a 45 degree angle. The pull on the line
reflected the stress it was under.
At one moment I saw a huge bow
appear in the trailing edge of the upper sail. How something didn't rip
or pull out, I don't know!
Eventually, all this air pressure took
its toll, and a tape spar cap was pulled loose. With maybe 10 or 15% of
the sail area gone on one side, the poor kite heaved over to the right,
and commenced a continuous loop. There were trees directly under the
kite, so I desperately headed upwind to gain more room.
Dowel Dopero kite now down to under 100 feet, I also noticed trees to
either side! No chance to reel in quickly enough, so I scooted sideways
to bring the kite down between the trees.
Finally, the last loop
was obviously going to meet the ground. With the kite still a couple of
meters from impact, I thrust the winder at it, to lose all the tension
in the line.
At this point, the kite disappeared over a small rise and
came to rest.
As we approached the kite, we saw it had settled
only a few meters in front of that down-wind tree! There was somewhat
more room across to the trees on either side. However, I still gave
myself a small mental pat on the back for saving the kite :-)
Wheeeew. You can't whip up a new Dopero in 20 minutes...
was no other damage to the Dowel Dopero kite, so it must have landed
softly as planned. As we packed up, it was clear that the weather had
definitely got windier and gustier again. In fact, a telling sign was a
small but rapidly-growing cumulus cloud just upwind of us. Perhaps the
whole area was about to enter another cycle of thermal activity.
I guess we squeezed out as much flying time as possible on this day!
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!