Date: Mon 1 Oct 2007
Location: Old Reynella (reserve next to school)
Weather: very light breeze, thermals, blue sky
Kite: Windjam kite
Duration: 50 minutes, +/- 2 minutes
Comments: It was a Public Holiday, so after a few hours work
on this website in the morning, we headed off to our latest favorite
kite flying park. Just a bit of a rustle in the bushes
around the house was enough, since most of our kites are good in light
There seemed to be thermals popping everywhere, judging by
the gusts disturbing the highest treetops in cycles. Perfect for the
Windjam delta! Well, it took quite a few attempts before a good gust got
it to treetop height. Once there, it climbed strongly in the light but
steadier breeze higher up. May started the stopwatch on her mobile
phone, since this was a perfect opportunity to break our kite duration
The delta went straight up to around 300 feet or so. It
has a distinctly different feel to my skewer kites, due to the
flexibility of its fiberglass spars. They are free-floating too, not
being solidly attached to the nose. Give it a good pull, and it absorbs
the tension for a second or so before accelerating upwards.
After a while, I got a bit bored with a mere 300 feet, so
out went some more line. We don't have measurement tags on this line
yet, so we don't know for sure how high the kite was. So no setting a
height record on this occasion. However, with roughly half the line out,
I think the Windjam delta was pushing close to the erm.. legal limit of
400 feet above ground. Yes, it's got to that. To set altitude records
from now on is going to require some arrangements with CASA, the Air
Safety authority. On that point, we did notice 3 aircraft which flew
overhead or close by. Two light aircraft and one jet, all under 3000
feet by my estimation!
After 25 minutes elapsed time since we started the
stopwatch, it was time to start reeling in. The idea was, we would take
ages to get the kite down, and the duration record would be broken by
the time we did this. With Aren strapped into pram, I pulled in the 8 kg
monofilament line hand over hand while May wound it onto the reel.
Doing things like this has 2 advantages. It's fairly fast, and the line
gets wound onto the reel with low tension. Remember the last time I
reeled the Windjam delta in by myself, and it crushed the plastic reel?
It turned out we were winding in too fast. In order to set
our duration record, we needed to pause for a while. May had some fun
flying the kite at around 200 feet or so. After that, we just wound the
line around the pram handle a few times, with the reel sitting in the
plastic tray. It held fine. This reminded me of a mathematical formula I
once came across. In a nutshell, the frictional resistance of a line or
rope wound around a cylinder increases extremely rapidly with the
number of winds. So just a few loops will hold something, like a kite,
quite firmly. Anyway, enough of the applied mathematics ;-)
We eventually starting winding in again, this time with
May pulling down the kite and me winding the line onto the reel. Aren
'helped' May with the pull-down from time to time :-) As the kite got
down to about twice tree-top height, we began to hear the fluttering of
the tails. Down below tree-top height, there was very little air
movement so it bobbed and glided around until gently settling on the
grass about 15 meters away. 50 minutes air time! A new duration record.
On this site, there's more kite-making info than you can poke a stick at :-) Want to know the most convenient way of using it all?
The Big MBK E-book Bundle is a collection of downloads - printable PDF files which provide step-by-step instructions for many kites large and small.
Every kite in every MBK series.
Date: Fri 17 Aug 2007
Location: Old Reynella (vacant block)
Weather: Cold, light to moderate breeze, variable
Kite: MBK Skewer Sled prototype 1
Duration: 38 minutes, +/- 1 minute
Comments: It was getting a bit late, but there was some breeze
so I decided to quickly repair the sled kite and head off. Went past
the reserve, but it looked risky with kids playing and kicking a
football, so headed back up the hill to the vacant block. Pretty soon I
had the kite out and hooked onto the fishing line. No problems launching
with the fresh breeze. A bit too fresh, as I discovered a tendency for
the kite to hang left. Sure enough, each gust would send it looping left
and losing height.
After bringing the kite in, I tied a couple of extra knots
into the right hand bridle line, with the free end of cotton from the
knot. This little trick shortens the line just a fraction. Sure enough,
the kite took off straight as a die on the next launch. Actually, there
was still a small tendency to hang left with the stronger gusts, but it
was very much better than before. With the take-off time noted, this was
a real chance to break our duration record!
Soon, 50 meters of line was out. I had to stand in just
the right spot to avoid any danger of a tree landing. This vacant block
is quite a small spot to fly a kite! A few people walked past and didn't
seem to notice the kite. The light nylon line must be nearly invisible
from a distance. Not to mention the kite itself if you happen to be
right under it!
Gentle thermal activity was still around, as I discovered
when the little sled soared up to a 55 or 60 degree angle from the
horizontal. It can't make that angle in a steady breeze. Earlier in the
day, 5 pelicans in a V-formation soared over our house and then on into
the distance, without a lot of flapping! Great soaring birds they are.
A lightweight swivel would be handy to have on the line.
The monofilament line is always very twisted from being wound onto the
reel, and this has the effect of twisting up the sled's bridle lines in
flight. This effectively shortens the bridle, so the side flaps tend to
collapse inwards occasionally! Only a minor problem.
I saw a bird flying quickly toward us at about 10 meters
up. It only spotted the line when about 5 meters away from it, hastily
changing course to avoid a collision!
With the sun setting, the freezer bag plastic actually
started to glisten. Particularly the tails, as they made a silvery
glittery dance in the dying evening breeze. Ahem, excuse me while I wax
More down to earth, I put Aren's socks on for the 6th
time, as he insisted on pulling them off in the cold evening air! Also,
my duration attempt was in danger of being cut short as I struggled to
keep the little fellow entertained while the kite moved around in the
wind shifts and gusts.
Towards the end of the flight, the breeze smoothed out,
then finally died altogether. Winding the line onto the reel as quickly
as I could, the kite touched down while still about 10 or 15 meters out.
Date: Wed 23 May 2007
Location: Old Reynella (reserve)
Weather: Moderate breeze, gusty, sunny patches
Kite(s): Modified Baby Sled
Duration: 18 minutes, +/- 30 seconds
Comments: Windy weather due to a cold front on its way
through. Windy periods cycled every few minutes, but on average was
enough to keep the kite in the air for many minutes at a time. Despite
being several tree-lengths downwind of the nearest trees, the
north-westerly air was rough as guts. Despite the long central tail, the
modified sled looped a few times and even decided to do a couple of
beautifully accurate vertical dives to within a meter of the ground! Not
what you want when setting a duration record. Dead spots sometimes
caused the kite to fold and basically fall out of the sky. Mixed in with
all this mayhem was a bit of thermic activity. Sometimes zooming
skywards with light pull, at other times staying low while straining
hard in a really stiff but downward drifting gust. In order to keep it
in the air, I was continually letting out line when there was tension,
and bringing it in hand over hand when it went slack. A bit like fishing
for Marlin I believe. Had a few more tries after the record flight. Let
it land and reeled it in when Aren's squeals signalled his tiredness
with the whole affair.
Date: Sat 24 Mar 2007
Location: Semaphore Beach (adjacent reserve)
Weather: Cloudy, strong breeze
Kite(s): Baby Sled
Duration: roughly half a minute
Comments: Just an excuse to get this page started, basically.
:-) This was when we had just bought the baby sled, and my wife flew it
in the park on our way back to the car. The breeze was so strong,
the little sled flew in circles most of the time. Occasionally it would
straighten just long enough to get up to a 30 degree angle or so on its
short cotton line. We will break this record the next time we go out.
The story or stories above document actual flying experiences.
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!
As mentioned earlier, there's more kite-making info here than you can poke a stick at :-)
Want to know the most convenient way of using it all?
The Big MBK E-book Bundle is a collection of downloads - printable PDF files which provide step-by-step instructions for many kites large and small...
Every kite in every MBK series.