These Peter Powell kite posts 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 :-)
When the weather's good and you have the time, it's great to get out with a kite or 3. But what about on bad weather days? Then it's time to pull out...
"Kites Up!" - my downloadable kite-flying board game! Apart from towing indoor kites, doing a spot of imaginary flying is the next best thing :-)
PP Mk3 Inland Again
There were a couple of things I wanted to try, with the PP Mk3 dual-line diamond. To save time, the tail was not attached...
The Peter Powell MkIII Diamond
The Peter Powell MkIII Diamond
Perfectly smooth air was not a requirement today, so I just went down to the large square field in Morphett Vale. Moderate strength gusts were ruffling the tree-tops surrounding the field. Ample sunshine was slowly drying out the grass.
The first idea was dealt with fairly quickly. That is, it didn't work out at all! Since the PP diamond was a very robust design, it seemed reasonable to trap 10 or 20cm of the tail end under my heavy carry-bag. The idea being to simply drag the kite free and into the air. Unfortunately, the rough air soon shifted the kite around to either side. It wasn't possible to get more than a few meters away, laying lines, before the kite needed attention.
So, on to idea number 2: the tail end of the kite was fed through the handle loops of the bag, letting the nose rest on the grass. With the kite angled down in this way, the wind could not interfere. This seemed promising - until the kite somehow worked its way free again. I had been adjusting the relative line lengths with a few loops still on the handles. Probably, some tension had been pulled into one of the lines, dislodging the kite.
Despite all this, the kite was soon dragged into the air on one line. Up it went, curving tightly away from the ground before the line tensions evened up.
Then followed an enjoyable workout, with the kite encountering air pressures from not nearly enough to plenty! Wide loops and square maneuvers were tried. The kite's airspeed was erratic and it sometimes felt like I had a big fish on the line. Some of the big gusts had a vertical component, causing the stunt kite to almost over-fly on it's 30m (100ft) lines, while centralized.
It was fun doing big horizontal 8's back and forth. They were certainly easier to judge than vertical 8's! Just one reason being that the circles can be bigger when placing them side by side.
A few brief attempts to fly the kite with both handles in one hand didn't work out. This would certainly be more realistic to try in smooth air down at the beach. I wanted to be able to reach down to a small tripod and start taking some video...
PP Tail-less In Gentle Breeze
Down at the beach, the Peter Powell Mk3 was just flyable in the Gentle range (12 to 19kph) northerly. It helped having the tubular tail removed...
However, the flying window was limited somewhat and occasional loss of control resulted! For example, after a low flat pass to one side of the window, the kite sometimes refused to nose-up. The only option was to gather a little speed in a dive and pull around under instead of over.
Anyway, the line tension was adequate for a bit of fun. I had plenty of practice doing large circles as smooth and accurate as possible. Also large squares. Everything was practiced in clock-wise and anti-clockwise direction. The square corners certain looked better with a push/pull technique on the handles.
On the last outing, my fast low passes from left to right were a little wobbly but today's session managed to tighten those up nicely. Being right-handed, going left to right with accuracy seemed less intuitive, initially. I wonder if that is the experience of most right-handed beginners. Yep, I have done very little sport flying up until now! What a brilliant kite the PP is for learning the basics.
Aren was with me and took the controls for quite a few minutes. Both of us had to take care to avoid flying the kite too close to people walking up and down the beach. Like last time, the tide was in and space was limited.
Finally, the kite was landed in the dunes off to the left, where Aren was waiting for it to touch down. Off to the right was only water!
I could actually get more interested in flying this thing ;-)
PP Mk3 Goes Tailless
The Peter Powell Mk3 hadn't seen sunlight for many many months...
That's going to change, at least until the 2020 festival. Just for a change of pace, I'm going to attempt to gain some figure flying skills in windy weather. The PP is designed to cope with a huge wind range.
Down at the big square reserve in Morphett Vale there was movement in the tree tops but not nearly enough breeze for fully controllable flight. There was definitely no point in adding the very long tubular tail, which would have made things even harder!
After several attempts, dragging the kite off the grass, it finally made it more than a couple of meters up. From there the deep blue diamond powered on to reach nearly full height on the 100 ft polyester lines. That was in a gust, mind you. After several passes this way and that, the wind strength would falter and the PP had a curious way of responding - it would swing it's nose directly at the ground! Not a frontal stall, but simply a sharp sideways turn.
Several short but quite enjoyable flights were had before the inevitable forced landing each time. Running backwards just wasn't enough in most cases! That would usually result in a momentary regaining of control, only for the kite to sag again and sink out to the grass.
Of course, the beach is the best place to fly steerable kites so that's probably where I'll go from now on. Some windy days are ahead, according to weather predictions...
Pint-Size Peter Powell Pilot Performs Perfectly
Humor me, it's my blog page. And I'll alliterate the titles if I want to :-)
Nine year old Aren spent most of the time on the handles this afternoon,
in moderate to fresh winds. Rather gusty and inconsistent too. The
Peter Powell Sky Master MkIII did everything from barely hang in the air
to accelerating strongly away in any desired direction. Aren has seen
me land the kite off to one side, and today he very competently
performed his own landing on the damp grass.
Setup just gets faster all the time with this stunt kite. Familiarity
speeds things up and a little trick comes in handy too... Reversing the
handles allows the lines to pull straight off them when backing away
from the rigged kite. You could jog backwards and it would still work!
flew first for a couple of minutes. It was immediately clear that we
had forgotten something - the loooong tubular tail! After landing the
kite we rectified that situation before Aren took the handles for a
while. He had fun doing daring Vertical Eights and generally flying
around at all heights.
Aren had to struggle at times to keep
the kite under control during lulls in the breeze. In fact, he needed a
re-launch once or twice. At other times he enjoyed ample line tension,
but somewhat short of the heaviest he has ever experienced. There was a
time down at the beach when this kite nearly made him lose his footing!
It's on video, in an old old FB post.
Boy Begs For PP Stunt Action
On a breezy day like today I would normally be reaching for a fresh-wind kite such as the Fresh Wind Sled or one of the Box kites. But, Aren made a request to fly the Peter Powell MkIII, a dual-line stunter. He's home on the holiday break from school, with just over a week to go. So, we took the blue PP bag and the usual 'kite equipment' bag and headed off for a large oval.
While setting up, I made an interesting discovery about the PP line handles. When reversed in your hands, the handles allow the line to slip off ever so smoothly and easily while backing away from the kite after rigging!
Aren had attached the hugely long tubular tail and soon kite and tail were away in the moderate gusts coming across the grass. After a few passes and lazy loops, I handed over the handles to the lad. This provided an opportunity to get some video.
Aren flew to his heart's content - which for an 8-year old can finish rather abruptly after not very long at all, it seems! He was keen to ensure that the video was running while he did various maneuvers in the almost cloudless sky.
A couple of checks with the wind meter recorded a gusty breeze averaging around 12kph, with a max gust to 19.6kph. From time to time the kite felt like it was flying in the mid-twenties though. Only occasionally did the kite falter as the breeze lightened off in lulls. We were flying on the full line length - about 30 meters (100 feet).
The weather has been uncharacteristically cool and wet for this time of year. This afternoon, in transition back to normal Summer heat, it was very pleasant. Some stinking hot days might be coming up though!
Rare Stunt Kite Outing
No, we didn't fly a rare model of stunt kite - it's just that we usually fly single-liners!
Aren (8) recently requested to go out with our old $10 stunt kite that hardly ever gets a fly. Today there was an opportunity, with gusty thermal-boosted winds in our local area. So, while the wife was out shopping, we pulled up at a local school oval to fly. The kite was already rigged so it was just a matter of finding some space and unreeling the lines from the handles.
Soon the kite leaped into the air from Aren's hands. He's been trained as a stunt kite launcher since we also have a Peter Powell MkIII. With perhaps 2/3 of the line length let out, the kite did its thing in the fresh gusts. However, it was tricky, with frequent lulls almost stalling the kite. The first time this happened, the kite spun around on the spot before taking off again under full pressure. Making me look like an expert trick flier. I wish. It was in fact a complete accident.
Later, we let out the full length of the flying lines and Aren had a go as well. On his first attempt, the kite stalled out of control almost immediately, but he got some longer flights later.
It was a pleasant time, with the wind on our backs and strong sunshine making the sun-burst patterned sail gleam. Most of the time I just tracked left and right, at various heights. Occasionally a loop or two would be thrown in, but this invited an abrupt stall and loss of control at times! We spent a fair proportion of our time just re-launching the kite.
Stunt flying really belongs in smooth breezes down at the beach, but we had fun today anyway.
Sunny And Windy: PP Weather!
By PP I mean, of course, the iconic Peter Powell stunt kite. The quite recently released Sky Stunter MkIII in this case. The wind was just a bit too wild to consider going into town for some aerial photography of the CBD. Even the big box kite would have been pushed hard today.
Standing near the middle of the field, the wind meter at shoulder height registered an average of 13.7kph gusting to 29kph. No doubt the wind speed was reaching the high 30s or even low 40s higher up.
In no time at all we had the stunt kite rigged and attached to its lines. Also attached was the bright orange 76ft tubular tail!
Talk about gusty! Take off was easy, before the kite started to take the strain of fresh wind gusts up around 100 feet off the grass.
Doing precise maneuvers was difficult. Not just due to inexperience ;-) but also because of very sudden lulls in the wind strength. 3/4 of the way around a vertical eight, the kite stopped dead and refused to climb the rest of the way to the top of the figure.
The sun was in an awkward position too. Some of the time I saw random thick lines against the blue-gray sky - before realizing they were after-images of the sun! From then on I tried to keep a little further from the blazing orb.
Eight year old Aren had a couple of goes, and did well to keep the kite in the air for a minute or so on his own. He reckoned he pulled off a figure eight at one stage which I'm sure he did. This time he was quite brave regarding the line tension, which must have felt very heavy to him several times. The kite was flexing noticeably in the heaviest gusts.
Well, it was fun although sport kites aren't really my thing. It's good to have a kite on hand which can be flown in strong wind. With Aren getting sick of the biting cold breeze, I walked around to give the kite more room before flying it over to the extreme right...
One final bit of fun was had - landing the Peter Powell Sky Stunter MkIII as gently as possible on the grass, with just a hint of control remaining.
Festival Debut Of Peter Powell MkIII Stunter
On Day 3 (Monday) of the Adelaide International Kite Festival... In direct contrast to the day before which was almost be-calmed, rather stiff winds were forecast for most of the day. Bad news for our stable of mainly light-wind kites. But wait, what's that leaning up in the corner of my office: our Peter Powell Sky Stunter MkIII. Just the thing!
On arrival at Semaphore, we discovered that the camera was missing from The Bag Which Contains Everything - or is supposed to. However, May (my wife) had her smart phone, so plenty of photos were taken after all. Some will feature in an up-coming page on our visits to the kite festival over the three days.
The breeze seemed to be moderate and gusting into the fresh range, that is, over 30kph. After a few minutes we had the kite ready to go. Most of the setup time is due to letting out the flying lines - all 150 feet per side! Setting up the kite itself is very quick.
We all had a go. Eight-year-old Aren got foot-dragged a few centimeters through the loose sand while he had control of the kite. He did well to hang on, and was also proud to do a complete loop by himself. My wife flew around high for a while, just getting a feel for keeping the kite in the air. I won't mention the crash.
We started flying rather early, when there were very few people in the public flying area South of the jetty. This was fortunate since the Peter Powell kite takes a lot of space on full line length. The official action North of the jetty was not scheduled to start until 11am.
When it was my turn to hog ... I mean ... take the controls, I began with some easy and familiar moves. Big sweeping loops to either side, horizontal 8's and whopping great square loops. As square as a low-time pilot can get them anyway. Then I attempted a couple of maneuvers not done before...
Vertical 8's and square horizontal 8's. Poorly executed but heaps of fun!
The square maneuvers put the kite just a meter or 2 off the sand at max speed for a few seconds at a time. I over-controlled slightly one time and crashed into the sand. No problem, since this kite is definitely designed for such mishaps.
Meanwhile, the Festival crowd had started to build and according to my wife, I had ended up with an appreciative audience on the jetty and elsewhere. The magic of the Peter Powell Stunt Kite and its very long tubular tail is back, here in Adelaide. It has been a long time since the last MkII came off the production line in the UK.
Perhaps the MkIII will be seen on the North side of the jetty next year, if it's windy enough and they let me!
Gusty Inland Stunting
It's for the birds, really.... Aren (8 yrs) and I went out with the Peter Powell Sky Stunter MkIII, since winds were gusting well into the 20s in kph. That was higher up. At shoulder level near the center of the grassed area a quick check with the anemometer recorded gusts to 17kph and an average of 11kph.
Down at the reserve, the simple setup was soon completed and Aren did the pre-launch kite-holding with myself on the handles. A few short flights ensued, each ending with insufficient breeze to keep the steerable Diamond in the air. But not before experiencing short but exhilarating periods of firm pressure, high line angles and some effortless looping in both directions. A nice easy sport kite to fly.
The very long tubular tail got some attention from young onlookers too. A couple of kids came running from over where the RC cars were circulating round a dirt track!
Aren got to fly for a couple of minutes, even doing a loop on his own at one point. His Mum got to hear about it, later.
However, doing stunt flying inland with upwind obstacles is really not the greatest. The kite just keeps running out of power at any old time. A very open field would be better for sure, but the inland gust factor would still be there to make accurate flying tricky.
The beach is the place to go. And with this kite, it feels like the stiffer the breeze the better!
Peter Powell Sky Stunter Mk III
Yes, the much anticipated first flight of this re-born classic stunt kite.
A few weeks back I got the chance to interview Peter Powell himself and his two sons. It was great being able to publish such exclusive content on this site, but the icing on the cake arrived several days later... A brand new Sky Stunter MkIII - a nice gesture from Peter Powell Kites!
With my small son Aren's school giving everyone a half-day off today, it seemed a good opportunity to test the family-friendliness of the kite. Down at the beach. Winds had been blowing well into the moderate range during the day. Perfect. Well, not quite, as it turned out.
Down at Noarlunga the tide was well in, but we found a spot where the sandy expanse seemed to widen just enough. The Sky Stunter flies on 200 ft lines, and is flown right out to one side to bring it down. I was keen for that region to contain neither waves nor cars!
To sum up today's flying, the kite proved easy and straightforward to assemble and fly. We all had a go, with myself doing most of the flying in the rather variable winds.
Having an offshore breeze, tumbling over dunes and houses upwind, was not ideal. One gust was recorded to 28kph, but at other times the kite could barely keep flying right up at 150 feet or so. I didn't think to remove the tail, which would have given the kite a little more performance in light wind.
A lot of fun was had, in the form of loops, horizontal eights and traversing fairly low to the left and right. An attempt was even made at a square loop. Needs plenty of practice, this pilot being a stunt flying novice!
As mentioned earlier, there's another alternative to towing indoor kites if it's just not possible to fly outdoors...
"Kites Up!" is my downloadable board game. It's a PDF file which has all the documentation for the game plus images for all the components. Tokens, cards, the board itself and so on. Anyway, just click that link to see more info :-)